Two Captain Kirks and a Record editor

Record Metro Editor Barbara Zumwalt is the neice of famous U.S. Navy Admiral Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt Jr. (1920-2000). Last week she travelled to Bath, Maine, for the christening of the U.S.S. Zumwalt, the first in a new class of ultra-modern destroyers.

In an amusing sidelight to the ceremony, actor William Shatner, famous for playing Capt. James T. Kirk on “Star Trek,” sent Zumwalt’s captain, Capt. James A. Kirk, an autographed photo and best wishes.

Barbara took a picture of Shatner’s gift and ended up in this Navy Times story.

 

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How to revive Valley downtowns

A new study identifies the barriers to reviving Valley downtowns and recommends solutions. The barriers we know.

The solutions (taken from the Council of Infill Builders website):

  • Improving urban design and expanding amenities, such as through “pop-up culture” of food trucks and art shows and by allowing more experimentation and temporary permits for activities that bring residents into downtown neighborhoods.
  • Flexible zoning that allows for new product types and catalytic interim uses for existing buildings or public spaces to encourage revitalization in key infill areas.
  • Regional and local prioritization of infrastructure in infill areas, such as parks, utility upgrades, and sidewalks, as well as upgrading and performing deferred maintenance on public infrastructure, based on municipal assessments and master planning for infrastructure needs.
  • Air district funding to finance catalytic infill projects that will reduce driving and air pollution by reviving downtown neighborhoods.
  • Tiered or differential development impact fees that account for the true fiscal and environmental burdens of outlying projects and encourage new projects in infill neighborhoods.

They’ll get a fight over that last one. Developers do not want to pay the true cost of sprawl.  And there is legitmate dispute over sprawl’s true cost. Setting any fees would involve stakeholder input, meaning it would be a political process, involving one of the most powerful interests. Around here that has historically been a barrier to downtown revitalization in and of itself.

Still, any direction for the way forward is valuable. The report here. 

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Miller’s campaign signs stolen en masse

Four hundred of Supervisor candidate Kathy Miller’s campaign signs — 400! — were stolen in the wee hours Sunday or Monday in a “concerted effort to hurt Kathy’s campaign,” her campaign reports.

Here’s the press release.

PressSignTheft

Without speculating who would play such dirty pool, we can agree the theft was a concerted effort. If the thefts were done over the course of an 8-hour night, signs were taken at the rate of almost one per minute. Clearly a team effort.

Miller’s rival, Paul Canepa, denounced the theft. “I don’t agree with people doing that,” Canepa said. Plus, “It’s going to reflect badly on me. I have no part in defacing people’s signs or taking peole’s signs. I know the importance of having integrity in the campaign.”

Canepa added that two of his big — and more expensive — signs have been stolen.

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Gov. Brown, come on down!

Gov. Jerry Brown should live in the Delta, writes Joe Mathews.

“This idea may seem humorous or provacative, given the hostility of so many Delta residents to Brown and his tunnels,” Mathews writes. “But I mean it seriously. Gov. Brown, people in the Delta couldn’t accuse you of abandoning the Delta at the same time you were moving there.”

Plus it would absolutely horrify the Westlands. You gotta love it, here. 

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KSTN resurrects as “Bro Country”

KSTN-FM/AM returned to the air Monday at Stockton’s only locally owned radio station.

Locally owned for-profit station, that is. As I wrote a few days ago, the Peace & Justice Network is starting up a low-powered FM community radio station.

KSTN exec Randy Black writes:

“A great David vs. Goliath story is brewing in Stockton as local am radio station KSTN returns to FM at 105-9, under the moniker “The New 105-9 The Bull” with a simulcast that originates from it’s it’s south Stockton location and original 1420 AM signal.”

“The Bull” because the format is … wait for it … “Bro Country,” the new, poppier Florida George-type stuff with more beats per minute. 

“Stockton now has a great local owner and radio station who will focus on Stockton and Stockton only, as we are taking on the CUMULUS monster,” Black writes. “Former Citadel and Cumulus employees, including long time KATM KAT Country 103 Personality and Program Director Randy “Bubba” Black along with KATM Promotions and Air talent Bear/Jerry Musson along with the newly-out-of-retirement and Stockton native Johnny Milford.

“We are supporting the move to country with a 30 + billboard campaign all over the port city.”

So Owner Robert LaRue has decided to make a go of his station, after the last deal to sell it fell apart, and it went off the air. And KSTN is going country because most everybody else in this market is rock or urban. With KAT Country talent, and Johnny Milford, of the old KWIN (he also used to announce Ports games).

One question is how local the local yokels will be. The way to compete with KATM is by out-localling them with promotions and appearrances and events. If the format turns out to be standard American radio, at least it’s locally owned.

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Detroit makes pension cut deal

It’s in the New York Times:

“The deals, reached after days of intense private negotiations, called on municipal retirees’ pension checks to be reduced 4.5 percent, far less than the cut of at least 26 percent that had been announced by the city, an official with the boards said. Retired police officers and firefighters would see no cuts to their current pension checks, compared with cuts of at least 6 percent that Detroit officials had said were needed. Retired municipal workers would get no cost of living increases, while retired police officers and firefighters would continue to get increases, though they would be smaller.”

The story elides the big legal issue of whether pensions can be cut at all. Evidently the public employees didn’t want to find out in court. In the “ask” part of the bankruptcy process, though, anything is negotiable.

The modest cuts seem like a sweet deal for public employees but, though Detroit is much bigger than Stockton, its retired emploees received far smaller pensions than ours do. But anyway, there’s the precedent: negotiated cuts to  public employee pensions. It was not done in Stockton where leaders reckoned retirees had been skinned enough by elimination of free lifetime retiree medical care. But it can be done.

 

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Unions attack pension research

PBS and other nonprofits given research grants by a billionaire concerned with the pension problem have “rented their credibility to a right-wing ideologue bent on gutting public pensions,” says Jordan Marks, executive director of the Washington-based National Public Pension Coalition — which, talk about credibility, is funded by seven large unions.

Not only is this union advocacy group speaking out against the billionaire, John Arnold and his foundation, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the unions are pressuring PSB and other nonprofits to reject his research money.

Right. Because research is showing pensions in America are underfunded by $1 trillion dollars. Arnold is trying to help find a solution to keep American government from being swallowed whole by unfunded liability. Even scholarly research is characterized by the unions as an attack on Ma and Pa Middle Class.

The unions have gone from taking unsustainable compensation to attacking people who speak the truth — nothing new around here, but dismaying to see on the national level.

The Wall Street Journal Story here.

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That familiar face in the mural

That man in the lower right of the mural featured in today’s Fitz’s Stockton: do you feel like you’ve seen him before?

Peter Koulouris, patriarch of Stockton's Greek community.

 

 You have, if you’ve had a hot dog at Casey’s on the Miracle Mile.

They hot dog cafe is owned by Pete Koulouris, grandson of the patriarch. Pete figured his grandfather’s old-fashioned moustache qualified him as a Casey look-alike.

 

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Why politicians all visit the south Valley

President Obama, House Speaker John Boehner: ever wonder why they visit the south Valley and not the Delta when water issues bring them here?

Because south-Valley farmers spend so much money in Washington, lobbying for Delta water.

How much?

Read the story here.

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Chloramine and confirmation bias

The evironmental reporter’s well-balanced story about chloramine in Stockton’s water supply gave the issue the airing it deserved. My own feeling is switching from chlorine was a step away from cancer-causing water. To the extent concerns remain about chloramine, they are just that — concerns as yet unverified by scientific research.  

A skeptic disagrees here.

So, what to do? The above-linked article recommends whole-house filtration. Unless you are made lof money, that seems excessive. As does retooling the Delta Water Supply Project at great cost, possibly without cause.

That would sastisfy Menlo Park resident Denise Johnson-Kula, who formed an anti-chloramine group.

Reports the story, “Johnson-Kula suddenly began suffering from “life-threatening” asthmatic attacks every time she showered, and her skin burned “like somebody had poured gasoline on it and set it on fire,” she said last week.

‘”I almost died in the shower,” she said’

Her interpretation is that chloramine is toxic. But an equally valid interpretation of her rare reaction is that she has a special sensitivity not shared by others. When serving millions of people, rare reactions become probable.

“Johnson-Kula argues that if experts haven’t found evidence of health impacts associated with chloramine, it’s because they haven’t studied the matter closely enough,” the story says.

That could be true; equally possible is that no reasearch will satisfy some people until it agrees with their conclusions. Among these are people with a virtually ideological distrust of municipal water that cannot be allayed. They pay user fees for city water and pay again for bottled water.

I’m not dismissing the concern. But the best data right now is saying choloramine is safe. If new studies say otherwise, we will change our mind.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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