Archive for March, 2013

This week’s Catalina Islander reported the good news that the Catalina Island fox’s population has stabilized at about 1,500. That’s good news for a species of fox that was nearly wiped out by misfortune. That’s also good work on the part of the Catalina Island Conservancy So, congratulations to the little foxes and the humans who refused to let them become merely a memory. Back in journalism school, an sports writer told me that the only victories you ever saw reported in the newspaper were on the sports page. (He wasn’t the first to say that by a long shot.) That was an exaggeration, of course, but close enough to the mark to bother me. It’s nice to see the story of a win that had nothing to do with a game.

I tip my hat to Catalina’s Leslie Baer and Mel Dinkel. If you check out the Cat Couples photo on page 2 of this week’s Catalina Islander, you’ll find a photograph of Baer and Dinkel petting a real lion in Africa. They paid to have the experience.

I couldn’t do it. My sense of adventure has always been diminished by my sense of mortality. I tend to agree with the words of Bilbo Baggins, hero of “The Hobbit:” “Adventures make one late for super.”

Besides, I make it a strict rule to avoid contact with any creature large enough to kill me.

But of course it was more than adventure for Baer and Dinkel, wasn’t it? They paid their money to a conservation group. They put their money—and their courage—where their hearts are. Well done.

I couldn’t do it. I could not run in the Catalina Island Conservancy Marathon or any other. The only marathons for which I am qualified are the kind where you sit and watch multiple back-to-back episodes of a TV series in the privacy of my home.

The fact the runners had the courage to even enter the race is worthy of respect. Yes, someone must place first in the races for both children and adults–and their success deserves praise. But to train, to prepare and to actually run at all is a worthy effort. To cross the finish line waling or running, is an achievement. If everyone got a medal, then medals wouldn’t mean much—but you all deserve them just the same.

Come back next year.

I don’t know Fire Chief/City Manager Steve Hoefs well. But I’ve covered five communities with city or general managers during the last four years and the impression I get is one of solid professionalism.

I was impressed when Hoefs and Chief Administrative Officer Charlie Wagner were hired to share the city manager position. I think other cities would benefit both financially and politically from a similar approach to the city manager’s position. A typical full-time city manager lasts three to six years before quitting or being fired. That raises the compensation they expect–and means the smart ones begin looking for the next job as soon as they sign on for the new job.

And that influences the projects they pursue.

Will Avalon hire two part time city leaders again? Who knows? The council may decide the disadvantages outweigh the advantages. They are in a better position to know that than I am. I can only hope that Hoefs’ successor and Avalon are a good match.

You can’t live without water or money—unless you’re a hermit with good hunting/fishing skills.

As I reported in this week’s Islander, the water rate issue has not yet been decided. Here’s my take on it, for whatever it is worth.

As a mainland resident, I can’t say I jumped for joy when I first heard the proposal that mainland electricity users help pay for Catalina’s fresh water.

However, I can’t see how Island residents can possible foot the bill that they would be looking at, even if they have to pay it over a three-year period. A t0-year incremental payment plan might be possible, but I don’t know if Southern California Edison can wait that long. Time is as important to a company’s bottom line as cashflow and productivity. Edison is entitled to make a profit if they can do so legally.

And Edison officials certainly don’t want to bankrupt the Island. A bankrupt customer can’t buy anything.

If I were brilliant enough to have a solution, I’d offer it. I’m not that smart.

Usually, a reporter shouldn’t cover a story if he has a stake in it. In this case, it isn’t possible to avoid being involved. If I lived on the Island, I’d have a vested interest in the water bill. As a mainland electricity user, I have a vested interest in the outcome. The only person who could cover this story without having a stake in it would be a resident of another state.

For what it is worth, I could probably endure a small bump in my electric bill far better than an Islander could endure a large bump in his or her water bill. All I can say is, I hope all parties to the negotiations realize that their interests are intertwined.

Always a pleasure,