The Angora Fire. Who can ever forget watching your community burning? My first view of the flames were from Meyers. My daughter and I were down in San Francisco watching the Giants and on the way home we were diverted to Highway 88. We stopped in Meyers and just watched in disbelief. I will never forget watching the flames jumping high and destroying more and more as we both stood there and watched. One positive change is that, as a result of the fire, the environmental agencies no longer have sole say on policies that also impact the fire protection; the fire chiefs now have a voice. Left to their own devices, the environmental industrial complex failed miserably at a task they were ill-equipped to handle. There is still much to be done, especially in reducing the time for permits.
Tourism levels are picking up in California. According to Smith Travel Research, the source for lodging industry data, the average occupancy rate for through May is 66 percent, up from 63 percent from the same period last year. Average daily room rate is also up to $118 from $112.
Locally, the South Shore will benefit from its continuing shift to a more special events, entertainment and recreation. Visitors will have even more entertainment choices beyond the Harveys summer concert series and all the great local options with the addition of outdoor entertainment now at MontBleu.
The grand jury report is coming in an election year. Last time the grand jury issued a scathing report during an election year for the City Council, it influenced the race. Some who were planning on running again chose not to.
Policies I'd like to see addressed in a clear an unambiguous way by both presidential candidates:
Policies to grow the economy I'd like to hear more than just tax cuts from the Republicans and raise taxes on the rich from the Democrats. I'd like a coherent long-term strategy to reduce the deficit and, while we are at it, I'd like to see wholesale tax reform. I'd like to see immigration reform addressed in a coherent and realistic way. What about a new foreign policy for a new time? I'd like to see costs cut; I am of the belief that every budget can be cut, including defense, it just makes and organization better more effective to learn how to do more with less.
For the state of California, I like many would like to see a transparent, gimmick-free approach to address the budget deficit. Sadly, all we have the chance to do is vote on a tax increase in November. I'd like the state of California to be more friendly to business; it is not now. It should recognize that you need more than Silicon Valley to have a strong economy. It ought to attempt to deal with education both K-12 and college level. It's sad watching one of the world's greatest higher education systems being slowly dismantled. For too many years we have watched this once great state on the long decline.
If you get a chance, you might want to read a recent article by Joel Kotkin titled "The Great California Exodus." Kotkin is a leading U.S. demographer and he writes about what is driving the middle class out of the Golden State. It's an insightful and yet troubling article, a must-read.
Don't miss Neil Young and Crazy Horse this summer. Like many of my contemporaries, I have been listening to Neil since high school and have seen him in many variations as a solo performer, with Crosby, Stills and Nash, and with Crazy Horse - and he never disappoints. What I really admire is his ability to continue to change, explore new musical and film directions, influence young bands and still be relevant into his sixties.
I am not a huge professional basketball fan, but for some reason this season's finals kept me watching. I will tell you I was glad to see LeBron James and the Miami Heat win the championship. What impressed me the most was listening to LeBron talk about how after last season's crushing loss he re-evaluated himself, did not like what he had become, humbled himself and worked hard to improve himself and his game. There is a lesson for us all in what he did.
Former Penn State coach Jerry Sandusky has been found guilty of 45 counts related to child pedophilia. To my way of thinking, the NCAA should issue the death penalty and shut the program down for two years; similar to what it did to SMU in 1987.
- Carl Ribaudo is a contributing columnist to the Tahoe Daily Tribune. He is also a consultant, speaker and writer who lives in South Shore. He can be reached at email@example.com