June 30, 2010
Jerry Hanson Has Been Outdone!
Roy McCampbell, municipal executive of the village of Bellwood, Illinois, population 20,000, was paid $472,255 last year. A read of the article will give Desert Hot Springs residents a feeling of deja vu all over again.
McCampbell's contract granted him generous vacation, personal and sick days. He accumulated nearly five months' worth of such days a year starting in May 2008, on top of the 435 days he already had on the books by 2008.
McCampbell said all of his pay was approved by the mayor and board of trustees, and even reviewed by the village's outside legal counsel at his urging before his Jan. 31 retirement, which also came with a $59,336 payout this year for unused vacation time under a separation agreement.
McCampbell also was given a car and gas paid for by taxpayers. And they covered his premiums for health and life insurance, as well as his pension contributions, according to his contract.
Taxpayers are not done paying for McCampbell's services.
They are now helping to cover pension checks for the rest of his life — checks that are significantly higher thanks to those final years of pay bumps and vacation time cashouts.
McCampbell's exact pension payments could not be obtained from the Illinois Municipal Retirement Fund as of Tuesday. But general IMRF guidelines indicate his monthly pension checks could be about $22,000, or $264,000 year. Had McCampbell's salary stayed level at $236,555 from 2006 to 2009, his yearly pension would have been about $180,000.
More Photos Of The Demolition On Palm Drive
Flowering Smoke Tree
DHS Police Search For Another "POI"
The facts from the Desert Hot Springs Police:
This afternoon in the area of 2nd and Cactus, one of our officers spotted a person of interest in our homicide investigation (from June 13). We had been looking for this person to interview him as to what he may have seen or done relating to this case. When the officer walked up to him he ran. We used RSO and CHP units to assist us in locating him. We used CHP's K-9 unit. We checked the area between 2nd and Desert View and between Palm and West Dr. We were unable to locate him. The incident started at 1430 hours and at approximately 1610 hours we discontinued our search. We are withholding his description and possible identity at this time. We have no specific information that he is armed. If and when we find him and if the information we obtain from him has a significant nexus to this case I will send out another press release.
The [Burning] Man Under Construction
Photo by sfslim.
iPhone 4 HD Video
Best to watch in full screen 720p, of course.
Story here. Stabilization was applied in post-production, and you'll see other special effects, like slo-mo, but the source image itself is iPhone.
Dunkin' Donuts Documentation
West coaster "xtine" recently visited Boston and was "impressed" (sounds more like "horrified" to me) at the density of Dunkin' Donuts stores there. "There were more Dunkin Donuts than Starbucks!" Well, duh! Xtine proceeded to photograph every Dunkin's Donuts "within a five block radius of Copley Plaza." Bostonians will probably want to quibble and say he missed a couple, but Bostonians should also realize the impossibility of measuring "a five block radius" in Boston.
June 29, 2010
A little catch up on the Mission Springs Water District
At the June 17 meeting of the Mission Springs Water District Board, Virginia Leos spoke about the value of our water and encouraged the board to choose Dick Cromwell to fill the empty seat on the board. She cited his steady attendance at water district meetings and his long history of achievements, such as converting SunLine buses to natural gas. She described him as committed, enthusiastic, knowledgeable and one who produces results.
Camille Linde spoke against Dick Cromwell. She said he left SunLine in disgrace "for many reasons we all know and have read about." She said a director needs to work well with others and learn to understand the limits of power.
That comment provides me the opportunity to say that I've heard that sort of talk over and over without any specifics. Longtime residents will refer to something at SunLine, but will provide no information. It's as though something happened that was so utterly evil that words to describe it must not be uttered. As we saw at the earlier board meeting, even Director Wright would not speak of any concrete objections to Dick Cromwell. A Google search turns up nothing more than an old Desert Sun article saying there was an allegation of mis-accounting at SunLine. If there was anything else, if there was any objective resolution of the issues, none of that can be found. In November 2011 there will be an election for this spot on the board and Dick Cromwell might run. It would be very good to clear the air on this issue, if it's a real issue at all. I would appreciate it if those who know that scandal so well that it cannot be spoken of, would speak up a little with some specifics and documents.
President Furbee brought agenda item 12, filling the vacant seat, to the top of the agenda so it could be discussed immediately. Director Bowman said he was troubled by the split vote at the earlier board meeting. In the interests of the district, he proposed another look at Russ Martin, in order to keep the decision from going to either the county supervisors or the voters. He moved Mr. Martin for the vacant seat. Director Wright seconded the motion. President Furbee agreed with what Director Bowman had said.
The vote was 4-0 in favor of Mr. Martin.
Russ Martin was immediately sworn in and took his seat.
Director Wright, on the occasion of the 25h anniversary of The Groundwater Foundation, explained its history.
There was a presentation on how the district encourages homeowners to hook up to sewer lines. The district can force someone to hook up only if the health department declares the property a health risk. The district has done this only twice. Otherwise, it's all carrots and encouragement. In AD 12, 96 properties have not hooked up. The district used to get reports from the county that told them how often people were getting their septic tanks pumped. "Failure" was defined as being pumped "more than twice in a year" (any 365-day period). Vice President Brown said that should be included in the policy now.
Last Wednesday the board discussed the budget. That discussion will continue tomorrow morning, Wednesday, June 30, 9 AM.
Yesterday's Christian Legal Society Decision May Help Overturn Prop 8
Ted Olson, lead counsel for the plaintiffs in Perry v. Schwarzenegger, has noted that in yesterday's decision in Christian Legal Society v. Martinez the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed its view of gay people as a class rather than a bunch of individuals who happen to be engaged in homosexual sex. Being recognized as a class is a key part of the argument necessary to overturn Prop 8. Ted Olson's letter to Judge Vaughan Walker is available here.
Marijuana Legalization Will Be "Prop 19"
The 1972 proposition to legalize marijuana was also called "Prop 19." If you saved your campaign buttons from that vote, they just became more valuable.
Lightning Strikes in Chicago
Dell Computer Scandal
A N.Y. Times article summarizing lawsuits brought against Dell for selling computers with faulty hardware, repairing the broken computers with more faulty hardware, actively covering up the problem, and refusing to proactively deal with the failures. Ironically, the law firm defending Dell in the lawsuit had 1,000 Dell computers with the very hardware problems at issue, and Dell balked at fixing them.
New Possible Benefits
From resveratrol, which is found in grapes. Resveratrol may reduce insulin resistance in elderly and overweight people.
And from green tea, which "may have bacteriocidal effects," killing bacteria in your mouth and reducing the chance of periodontal disease. Adding sugar to your tea probably wipes out any benefit.
Ziggy Marley at DHS Wellness Fest
So much for finding out via Facebook, yesterday's Desert Sun had the announcement that Ziggy Marley will be the headline musical artist for the Wellness & World Music Festival in Desert Hot Springs, October 9 and 10. No other artists are mentioned in the announcement.
Cactus Flowers (in May)
OTOH, The Montana Republican Party Platform
In marked contrast with the Texas Republican Party platform, here's the platform of the Montana Republican Party. It's shorter, much better organized, written very well, never mentions god, and is packed with lots of very good ideas. One might almost be inclined to vote Republican. But down a ways they slip in this one-liner: "We support the clear will of the people of Montana expressed by legislation to keep homosexual acts illegal."
Besides being wrong and unconstitutional, there seems to be a misunderstanding. "Homosexual acts" are not illegal anywhere in the U.S., unless in Montana they have something in mind that most of us don't think of as "homosexual acts."
June 28, 2010
Midwest Trip Wrap-up
Arthur Bryant's is still the best barbecue in Kansas City. It's mostly about the sauce in Kansas City, and Arthur Bryant's is markedly different and better than anyone else's. I went to the original Brooklyn Avenue location with my brother and had chicken. And I visited their new location near Cabela's in Kansas City, Kansas, where I had a 2-meat combo: sausage and brisket. Bryant's has three sauces now, and the original is still the best.
As I was driving into Kansas City I had my GPS locate the barbecue restaurants for me as I drove along. It was like the Kepler spacecraft discovering planetary systems! "Houston! We are surrounded!" According to my GPS I was never more than a mile away from three barbecue restaurants, and there were always more than a dozen within two miles.
I also ate at Fiorella's Jack Stack Barbecue which is an old restaurant and is often rated as the best in the city, but it was my first time there. Their sauce was like Gates's, but without the spices, making it better than ketchup, but nothing to talk about. The meat, OTOH, was fabulous! I ordered a three-rib combo: beef, pork and lamb. They were out of lamb, though, and substituted a "crown prime beef rib," which was like brisket with a bone attached.
On my last night in Kansas City I went to Oklahoma Joe's, a new place for me. It's in a real gas station that sells gas. On one side of the aisle you can buy motor oil and on the other, barbecue sauce by the gallon. On the tables they've got two kinds of sauce: big and little. The little one is spicier. Both are good. I had brisket and ribs. The brisket was not impressive by Kansas City standards (5-star anywhere else on Earth). Ribs were great. They also are well-stocked with disk golf supplies, whatever that is.
Bryant's is, of course, black-owned and almost entirely black-staffed. The Brooklyn Avenue location used to have grease on the tile floor so thick you could hardly stand up, both before and after their big fire. Nowadays, the floors are perfectly clean. I was disappointed by that. Jack Stack was originally white-owned and the staff is primarily white. In fact, when you are greeted at the door you might think it was Aryan night at the barbecue. My brother said that Jack Stack is for those people in Johnson County (Kansas) who are afraid to go to barbecues. I said I thought that was what Hayward's was for. Hayward's is a black-owned barbecue that is located IN Johnson County. Food there is good. Decor is bland. Oklahoma Joe's, in contrast, looks like the United Nations. "Look," I told my brother, "they've got one from every continent back there." I made him nervous. I don't know anything about the backgrounds of the owners of Oklahoma Joe's, but their names all start with "J": Joe, Jeff, Jim and Joy. Make of that what you will.
At Bryant's and Oklahoma Joe's you order in the usual K.C. barbecue way: stand in line and yell your order to somebody in the kitchen. Move down the line and pick up the results. Jack Stack is strictly a sit-down restaurant.
The Western Auto building in Kansas City, near Union Station. The landmark neon sign on top is Kansas City's equivalent of Kenmore Square's Citgo sign. There was talk of tearing it down at one time, but it has been saved. The building is condos now. Western Auto was a hardware store chain that was acquired in 1987 by Sears. Other photos of the Western Auto building here.
Thank goodness the corporate image consultants have not gotten this company to change its name yet. This one is in Colorado.
Photos from MMNG
I've finished uploading all the photos that I took at the Midwest Men's Naturist Gathering in Kansas. Here are some examples.
|The tragic aftermath of the afternoon pudding toss.|
The new stairway, paid for and built by MMNG. Easily worthy of San Francisco. I can see Humphrey Bogart climbing these stairs.
New Hoover Bridge to open in November
The N.Y. Times reports on the new bridge at Hoover Dam in terms of both traffic and safety improvements, but also aesthetics. The bridge includes a six foot walkway, allowing ordinary tourists to get a view of Hoover Dam previously seen only by brave Depression-era laborers.