What a way to put an exclamation mark on the year’s end!
I’m talking about the winter deluge, of course, that left 5.15 inches in its stormy wake following Monday and Tuesday’s almost non-stop rain in Laytonville’s Long Valley. Couple that total with the quarter-inch of rain that fell a few days earlier and the total precipitation for the week was 5.38 inches. That raised our season-accumulated rain to 16.95 inches, which is a comparatively healthy two-thirds of our historical annual rainfall of 25.91 by this date.
With rain currently soaking much of Northern California, more atmospheric rivers are expected to spread across the county and state throughout the next week with a hope that much-needed snow will stick around in mountains, especially the Sierra Nevadas.
One of the meteorologists that I probably pay the most attention to is Dr. Daniel Swain. He’s a young guy who holds a PhD in Earth System Science from Stanford University and a B.S. in Atmospheric Science from the University of California, and is a climate scientist in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability. He said on Twitter (Tuesday, Dec. 27) that a “classic mid-latitude cyclone” is making its way toward the Pacific coast, and dragging a strong atmospheric river into Northern California. He said that we can expect at least 10 days of active winter storms, so it might be time to batten down the hatches.
Can’t believe that 2022 is almost finis. Where the hell did it go?
As far as years go, 2022 is best forgotten, a true bummer: Run-away inflation, historic gas gouging, a do-nothing Congress, a do-nothing state Legislature, a broke Mendocino County that didn’t know it was broke, a once thriving local weed industry undone by unworkable legalization, and the calamities appear inexhaustible.
Anyway, we’ll be flipping the calendar shortly, so start practicing writing 2023 on a scratch pad so you’re prepared to write that first check of the New Year.
Here are a couple of year-end updates for you.
I’ve always said that Consumer Watchdog (CW) is the unparalleled organization in the state looking out for citizens.
Jamie Court is CW’s executive director and he just sent me his wrap-up of accomplishments for the year:
In my three decades as a consumer activist in California, I have never seen a year like this.
• Our decades-long patient safety campaign finally leveraged the medical insurance complex to agree to raise California’s cap on medical malpractice damages by as much as 12 times. This will give injured patients access to attorneys and justice again.
• Our campaign to hold oil companies accountable for overcharging drivers finally hit pay dirt. We passed Senate Bill 1322 (Allen), which requires oil refiners to post monthly their profits made from California gasoline. Convinced by our research about price gouging, Governor Newsom answered our call for a special session of the legislature, which convened two weeks ago, to enact a price gouging penalty and windfall profits cap on oil refiners.
• Since 2019, Consumer Watchdog has been railing against the broken recycling and bottle deposit system in California. This year the legislature and Governor finally enacted an overhaul that could right the ship.
• Thanks to our watchdogging in 2022 landmark privacy rights enacted under Prop 24, to allow consumers to say no to the sharing of their personal information and stop the use of sensitive personal information such as precise geolocation, will go into effect in 2023. This is the strongest privacy rights law in America.
• Landmark insurance reform Prop 103 survived more challenges to its strict regulatory regime and our interventions alone against proposed rate hikes stopped $70 million in unnecessary premium increases in recent years.
• Our litigation team scored key victories against Zoom over its deception about its security protocols during the pandemic, in defense of the rights of HIV patients to be seen by doctors, and a critical victory in the US Supreme Court to protect the rights of the disabled to have equal access to federal health care benefits.
• We won passage of legislation amending the Political Reform Act to require consultants paid to influence an insurance company merger to register as lobbyists. The loophole was exposed when consultants sought a $2 million success fee from the insurer at the heart of Commissioner Lara’s pay-to-play scandal.
Thanks for all you do, Jim, and happy new year!
Bad Idea: Decriminalizing Hallucinogens
Prosecutors in California are strongly objecting to a proposed law — SB 58 authored by state Senator Scott Wiener — which seeks the wholesale decriminalization of many dangerous hallucinogenic drugs.
I can’t say I disagree with their position, although I’m not sure about their concern with acid freaks committing violent crimes. I just don’t think it’s a great idea to either legalize or decriminalize drugs in general, given all the problems we have with so many dually diagnosed folks already (those with mental health problems coupled with addiction issues).
According to Greg Totten, head of the California District Attorneys Association (CDAA), “This proposal recklessly puts policy before science for numerous psychedelic drugs that have proven to be highly unpredictable and have even been connected to violent crimes.”
I think CDAA is on the mark when they point out, “The authors of this bill are charting a path that would allow these dangerous hallucinogenic drugs to be legalized before they have been fully understood by the scientific and medical communities.”
Totten also adds, “If the proponents want more research, that’s one thing. And if they are advocating for therapeutic use under medical supervision, that is also worth considering. But science does not fully understand these drugs and that’s why this bill is so reckless, because it advocates for skipping that scientific scrutiny altogether.”
Totten makes a good argument about real life on the streets and in the courts, explaining, “As for dealing with drug cases involving users of hallucinogens, as prosecutors our focus has long been to seek treatment, not jail. We know that we can help people get on the right track by compelling them into treatment for drug addiction, and that is only possible if there are laws that govern these controlled substances.”
Hopefully this proposed law will be deep-sixed early in the legislative process.
If not, Gov-Gav should declare it DOA as soon as he pulls it from his in-basket.
(Jim Shields is the Mendocino County Observer’s editor and publisher, email@example.com, the long-time district manager of the Laytonville County Water District, and is also chairman of the Laytonville Area Municipal Advisory Council. Listen to his radio program “This and That” every Saturday at 12 noon on KPFN 105.1 FM, also streamed live: http://www.kpfn.org)