Tag Archives: skiing

Hope There’s Fresh Powder, Governor

Sources say that Gov. Schwarzenegger is spending the day in Idaho.  Now, he normally visits Idaho to ski in Sun Valley, so I’d have to assume that’s the reason for this trip.  But we’re in the midst of secret budget negotiations, and right when a deal is nearing, the Governor leaves for the ski lifts and the hot cocoa?

Here are some images of Californians who won’t be making the trip out to Sun Valley now or probably any time in the future.  First, the jobless who will be lucky just to receive their benefits:

California not only has the nation’s third highest unemployment rate but its Unemployment Insurance Fund has taken a bigger beating than any other state, a new report from the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates.

California’s UIF dropped from $639.2 million to just $71.8 million during 2008 as unemployment soared to about 1.5 million workers, forcing it to join six other states in borrowing money from the federal government to keep the checks rolling out to the jobless.

Then there are the state employees, who got their own vacation last Friday, albeit one of the “forced and unpaid” variety, and the effect on the cities that serve them was immediate and negative:

An unpaid holiday for its largest employer was the last thing Sacramento needed Friday.

Already suffering under 8.7 percent unemployment, the region endured its first day of state-worker furloughs. Most state offices stayed closed, while an appeals court denied a last-ditch union petition to block the furloughs.

The effect was immediate. Traffic was light through much of downtown and midtown Sacramento, where tens of thousands of employees normally congregate, and business was down at numerous restaurants and stores.

“It’s tough to be a small business downtown, and for them to take out a Friday,” said Ryan Rose, manager at Zocalo restaurant east of the Capitol. Friday is usually his busiest day for lunch, and though business was better than he feared, it was lighter than usual.

And then there are those serviced by county governments, who are seeing those services vanish due to the delay in payments from the Controller because of the cash crisis.

What exactly is the controller withholding from counties?

The controller is getting ready to delay the state’s February payment to counties for social service programs. Meanwhile, the Schwarzenegger administration is proposing to defer payments for up to six more months as part of a new state budget agreement.

How much money are we talking about?

The state controller is looking to delay $172 million in payments to counties for February, according to the California State Association of Counties.

What is that money for?

That money is for social service programs like foster care, food stamps, child welfare, adoption programs, adult protective services and more.

What happens in March if counties don’t get their state payments this month?

It depends on the county, but many will not be able to cover the cost of state- mandated social service programs. Sacramento County spent most of its reserves in recent years and doesn’t have enough to pick up the tab.

With the state at rock bottom and some kind of deal urgently needed, it’s curious that the very man who railed against lawmakers for dawdling and dithering and leaving the state during budget negotiations for years is doing the EXACT SAME THING himself.

Happy New Year, But Take A Long Look And Savor Your Soon-To-Be-Altered Landscape

Not to be completely depressing on New Year’s Eve, but this article about the impact of climate change on the California landscape is a must-read.

Where celebrities, surfers and wannabes mingle on Malibu’s world-famous beaches, there may be only sea walls defending fading mansions from the encroaching Pacific. In Northern California, tourists could have to drive farther north or to the cool edge of the Pacific to find what is left of the region’s signature wine country.

Abandoned ski lifts might dangle above snowless trails more suitable for mountain biking even during much of the winter. In the deserts, Joshua trees that once extended their tangled, shaggy arms into the sky by the thousands may have all but disappeared.

“We need to be attentive to the fact that changes are going to occur, whether it’s sea level rising or increased temperatures, droughts and potentially increased fires,” said Lisa Sloan, a scientist who directs the Climate Change and Impacts Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. “These things are going to be happening.”

We could be talking about the end of ski season as we know it (at least with real snow), less rainfall in the south and the attendant issues with water supplies and wildfires, the potential for 10-year drought cycles, a wiping out of the Joshua trees that line the high desert, the death of both giant sequoias and untold amounts of marine life, and resource skirmishes, particularly between farmers in the Central Valley and the more populous cities.

Oh yeah, and rising sea levels of up to 20 feet.

Will the rising sea swamp the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, the nation’s busiest harbor complex, turning them into a series of saltwater lakes? Will funky Ocean Beach, an island of liberalism in conservative San Diego County, become, literally, its own island […]

The changing sea will present trouble for much of the state’s land-dwelling population, too. A sea level rise of 3 to 6 feet would inundate the airports in San Francisco and Oakland. Many of the state’s beaches would shrink.

“If you raise sea level by a foot, you push a cliff back 100 feet,” said Jeff Severinghaus, professor of geosciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in San Diego. “There will be a lot of houses that will fall into the ocean.”

We can pass laws and write regulations and pat ourselves on the back, and we can encourage new technologies that may reduce carbon output, but we’d better also prepare for the inevitability of the changes the world’s population has already put into motion.  They’re particularly acute in this state.

Now that you’re completely depressed, happy new year!