“It is not enough to get what you wish for, there has to be someone around who envies you for it.”
Trenz Pruca (adapted from a sentence in Reginald Hill’s novel, The Woodcutter).
TODAY FROM AMERICA:
A. POOKIE’S ADVENTURES IN MENDOCINO:
So, on Wednesday, I left The golden hills and took route 20 to Mendocino. I like that drive, not much traffic, then through the lake country and into the redwoods before hitting the coast just south of Fort Bragg. It took a little over five hours with a break for a hot fudge sundae on the shores of Clear Lake at Lucerne.
The sun was shining brightly on the coast, a good sign that the weather might be pleasant for the weekend. George got me settled in the Tower House and I went right to sleep. The drive had exhausted me. I love staying at the Tower House. Unfortunately, it is usually rented out on weekends so I stay in one of the bedrooms in the main house.
The Water Tower House
The next few day, I spend the mornings walking along the Mendocino Headlands and through the town. In the afternoons, I sleep and later I read or play with the computer until dinner and then off to bed. This continues until Saturday, the day of Brendan and Ashley’s engagement party. Brendan is Maryann and George’s son.
After breakfast and my morning walk, there was a lot of frenetic activity around the house to prepare for the arrival of the guests at 4 PM. The specially made Game of Thrones themed cookies arrived.
Game of Thrones Cookies
Then came Ashley’s mom and a few others who began cooking up various Philippine delicacies.
Finally, The Paella Lady arrived and the party began.
Ester one of my favorite people was there.
Ester, My Sister and I
It was all quite pleasant.
I retired early and slept well.
The next day, after breakfast, we attended Paul Bunyan Day in Fort Bragg a few miles up the road.
There were many activities all around the town. We, appropriately, attended the logging competition. There we saw sawing,
and we generally had a good time.
That evening about 18 of last night’s partiers who remained (a number of whom set up tents in the backyard) joined us for a pleasant dinner and BBQ. The next morning I left for SF. It took as long to travel the 150 miles to SF as it took to travel the 250 miles from EDH to Mendocino.
B. SAN FRANCISCO WITH PETER, DON, BARRIE, AND RAMSEY.
I spent the evening in an excess of talking with Barrie and Peter. Ramsey their new rambunctious half-grown puppy, enjoyed leaping on me until got him to understand that sitting quietly with his head on my lap and staring at me with those limpid eyes will get him petted longer and more vigorously than any exuberant physical demonstrations of how good it was for him to see me.
The next morning Peter and I met with Don on the old man’s bench in front of Bernie’s. Don, one of the most creative planner’s I have known, now, among other things, teaches eighth-grade students in Oakland’s flatlands two days a week. He has developed some interesting innovative teaching methods there.
Then it was the long ride back to the golden hills. When I arrived I was told by the powers that be that I will have to move out and leave. Although I had been contemplating this possibility for a month or so, it still came as a shock especially since the initial phase of my rehabilitation from my cancer treatment continues for another three months or so and more significantly it would remove me from daily contact with my beloved HRM.
But then again, nothing is ever quite what it seems.
C. SOME BAD NEWS:
The Old Sailor told me that some of his old friends in the Virgin Islands did not make it through Hurricane Irma.
Musings about the California Coastal Program after 40 or so years.
Those who know me know that many years ago I played a role in the fight to protect California’s coastal resources. As chief counsel to the initiative (Proposition 20) created California Coastal Commission, I managed the development permit process and wrote most of the Governmental Powers and Funding element of California Coastal Plan from which the legislation implementing California’s Coastal Program emerged from the legislature in 1976.
That program contained three parts. The first part proposed a reconstituted California Coastal Commission with significantly expanded jurisdiction and very specific rules and standards with which to regulate new development.
The second part recommended the creation of a new entity, the California Coastal Conservancy. There were several reasons for this proposal:
1. Some resources were too valuable to be left to the vagaries of a regulatory process.
2. Their purchase was often inconsistent with the mandates and programmatic requirements of the state’s park and wildlife acquisition agencies.
3. To restore those resources where pre-existing development had damaged or degraded them.
4. To construct public access-ways to the State’s beaches and to other waterways in the coastal zone.
5. To plan and assist the rehabilitation of environmental and public recreational resources in the coastal zone.
The third element urged the passage of a bond act to fund the Conservancy and the other land acquisition agencies in order to purchase critical coastal resources thereby removing them from potential destruction due to the unending political/economic battles to use them for purposes inconsistent with their environmental values.
These proposals were presented to the California State Legislature in three separate bills.
Following completion of the Plan, I joined the legislature as the staff consultant to the Special Senate Committee on Land Use. When the original bill we had drafted reconstituting the California Coastal Commission faltered, then-Senator Jerome (Jerry) Smith took up the fight and became the principal author of the legislation that became the Coastal Act of 1976. I served as staff for Senator Smith. I worked with him and others to successfully shepherd all three elements of the plan the program through the legislative process.
After the passage of all three bills, I left the legislature and was appointed, the first Executive Officer of the California Coastal Conservancy.
About eight years later when I felt that agency was running effectively and well funded, I left and went into private law practice where I sometimes represented those to whom the markedly increased value we had unintentionally created for those obtaining a coastal permit to develop land in the Coastal Zone was irresistible.
I write the foregoing as background and evidence that I have some experience in coastal matters that enables me to comment and evaluate the effect of the California Coastal Program now over 40 years old.
The California Coastal Commission, the agency charged with regulating development in California’s coastal zone has been remarkably effective in carrying out its mandate to assure that new development does not irreparably damage irreplaceable environmental and recreational resources along the coast. Of course, now and again, it has failed on specific development approvals or resource protection but in operating for over 40 years now, it has been astonishingly successful avoiding consistent agency capture by the industry it regulated, a common problem with governmental regulation.
One of the reasons it has been able to do so and often overlooked is that among governmental agencies its process up until now has been remarkably open to all and free of secret influence and collusion. Absent that, as with many regulatory entities, real decision making would be pulled back to Sacramento where accountability is often hidden; where money talks and not technical analysis; where laws can be ignored in return for favors.
Since its creation, the Commission has adopted ever increasingly strict regulations on disclosure and the behavior of all the participants in the process including the staff and the commission itself. Decision making has been brought out into the public arena.
True, I and others have at times criticized the Commission for notable failures to protect a specific resource or the staff for callous behavior and its tendency to avoid preserving or restoring resource where it could in favor of simply denying development, but on the whole the process seems to work and has grown over the years to be relatively free (not, of course, absolutely free) of corruption and political influence.
Those seeking permits have to rely on those knowledgeable about the Commissions procedures and provide generally technically competent information to the Commission. The Commission Staff has developed the ability to analyze the information and present their conclusions in public. Communications from those trying to influence Commissioners are required to be disclosed. The public, generally, has access to the information and reasonable confidence in the independence and competency of the process.
As for the Coastal Program and the State’s Coastal resources as a whole, they are in generally good shape. For the past 40 years, vast amounts of critical resource lands have been removed from the vagaries of development. Significantly more public recreational use of the coast has been provided for all. Local communities, land trusts and state agencies have begun the process of restoring those resources damaged by pre-existing development.
The great environmentalist David Brower once told me, “All our victories are temporary and all our defeats permanent.” That may be so. But here in on California’s coast, at least for the past 40 years, we have been pushing back.
During the battle for passage of the various pieces of Coastal Legislation a legislator asked me, “I fly all over California and when I look down, I see lots and lots of wild natural lands why do you want to stop development on this little bit?”
“That’s just the point,” I responded. “With all that land, much of it not particularly sensitive, why must you build on this irreplaceable resource?”
MOPEY JOE’S MEMORIES:
Note: As some of you may recall, about six years or so ago, I published six or eight tales by Giufra regarding the legendary Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table (https://papajoesfables.wordpress.com/category/geriatric-knights/). At that time, some criticized them as puerile and adolescent. I ignored the criticism. After all, what is wrong for the aged to try and re-live their adolescence and this time perhaps get it right?
Alas, as usual, I never completed publishing them all, leaving out the Tale of Sir Harvey and the Woman Who Screamed. Recently, (well if about three years ago can be considered recent) I learned of another gathering of some of the Knights of this distinguished order.
Here is that tale:
My name is Giufra. I am a member of that slightly less than noble order The Geriatric Knights of the Oval Table. Several years ago, the members of our company dispersed around the world. I believed I would never see their like again. But recently, Sir Spy, one of the original knights, told me about the planned initiation of new members into that obscure band and agreed to take me there to observe and perhaps participate.
On the boundary between Paradise by the Sea and The Outskirts of Hell, there is a tiny building called “Heaven.” The entry into Heaven, is dark, filled with large vases containing slightly wilted flowers, and its walls draped over with golden fabric. It looked very much like the entrance to a mortuary. And, that may be appropriate for an entryway to a place called Heaven.
Once inside, however, the place appeared more plush and opulent. Sort of like a piano bar in Las Vegas during the 1950s. A hostess led us to the back and into a small room at the center of which stood an oval table. Now while the original oval table was made of faux marble and gilt this one was jet black, as black as the nearby gates of hell.
At the table, we were joined by other Knights and initiates. There was Gold, so named because he was rumored to deal in precious metals. But even if that were not true, he was so kind and genial, sort of like those golden Buddhas, that the name was apt.
There was also someone named The Hungarian because he was from Hungary. Sitting nearby was an elderly man I came to call the Photographer because he insisted on showing me photographs on his iPhone of his naked girlfriend who happened to be sitting beside me, smiling demurely and definitely not naked.
Also attending was Tina who used to be Tai and was called Angelina at the previous oval table. Back then she miraculously cured me of arthritis in my hand and woke up one of Sir Harvey’s Chakras although Sir Harvey maintains his Chakra was just dozing and was never asleep. Tina had mysteriously disappeared for the previous two years but now had suddenly returned again as Angelina. She clearly had been ennobled and like Eleanor of Aquitaine presiding over the Courts of Love in the 12th Century, she dictated the fashions and deportment of those attending this evenings ceremony around the oval table. And, like Eleanor herself, she assumed a major role in the evening’s entertainments.
For some reason or other, I did not get the names of most of the others except for one woman who I called the Valkyrie or just as well Brunhilde because she had blond hair falling halfway down her back and the build of a rugby player or an NFL linebacker. She was dressed all in red and suddenly leaped on to the table and began what I could only describe as terminal Pilates. While doing this, she uttered sounds that resembled a cross between an orgasm gone wrong and the scream of a berserker smelling blood.
I admit, I was startled, concerned, and somewhat frightened so I hid away for a while in the toilet. When I emerged several of the attendees had gone swimming in the pool at the center of Heaven’s patio. Brunhilde no longer occupied the table, replaced by a lounging Angelina holding Court. In the corner, Spy was busy instructing whoever cared to participate in the principles of knight-errantry, or errant knights.
We drank a lot, laughed a lot, and everyone ate a lot. We also played amusing games that required intelligence, cunning, and physical dexterity.
After about five hours, Spy and I left, got into Gold’s tricked out four door short bed truck, and drove to my hotel where I immediately fell asleep.
So ends Giufra’s tale, such as it is.
The Nose Knows.
The ancient Mayans considered people with large noses to be much more beautiful that lesser nosed people. In fact, those with deficient proboscis took to wearing ceramic noses in an effort to make themselves more attractive.