Everything on today's menu is high fiber and low fat. Consume as much as you wish: During a Walnut Creek public forum last week, City Council candidates Justin Wedel and Barry Grove both came out against tax increases and in favor of more police, while carefully avoiding mention of any programs or services they might cut to pay for their conflicting ambitions.
Wedel lists his occupation as local business owner and Grove as deputy prosecuting attorney, but it sounds more like they both fancy themselves magicians. Before the item was abruptly pulled from the agenda at its last meeting, the Concord City Council was expected to consider merit raises for several managers on the city staff.
Perhaps memory fails us, but we could have sworn it was just 2½ months ago that the city's structural deficit was so burdensome it had to drain the water and turn off the fountains around the council chamber and at Todos Santos Plaza to make ends meet. When BART marked its 40th year of service recently, we wondered how the transit agency would celebrate. The answer came Friday, when the board of directors splurged on a $1 million self-makeover. Or, as the Times headline so artfully put it, "BART's $1 million war on pigeon poop."
Yep, the agency will install angled metal sheets at outdoor stations to deny roosting spots from which the birds can drop their bombs. We can hardly wait to see what kind of celebration officials come up with for their 50th anniversary. Still no word on what will become of a 25-acre vacant lot in Walnut Creek on the northwest corner of Ygnacio Valley and Oak Grove roads, where trees and weeds currently greet motorists traveling one of the region's busiest roadways.
Safeway, which owns the property, wants to build a 55,000-square-foot grocery store there, but residents are concerned it will negatively affect the neighborhood. You know, the way the existing Safeway on the other side of the street has negatively affected the neighborhood. The Bay Area Air Quality Management District unveiled a surprise last week with plans to expand its system of air monitors near oil refineries to detect smoke and fumes. What in the name of Chevron motivated such an inspired idea?
We had come to believe the only reason the agency existed was to keep us from using our fireplaces in the winter, get neighbors to rat on each other and drive firewood salesmen out of business. We didn't appreciate the breadth of responsibilities that can befall a local police department until we heard Chief Guy Swanger present his semiannual public safety report to the Concord City Council. After detailing statistics on crime, traffic, homelessness, entertainment permits and a new no-smoking ordinance, he explained how the department's Shopping Cart Recovery Program works.
No, the department doesn't have shopping cart detectives roaming the streets. It contracts for the service through the aptly named and remarkably specialized California Shopping Cart Retrieval Corporation of Burbank. It's been great fun watching the hissing match between Hercules Councilwoman Myrna de Vero and Mayor Dan Romero. Bad blood and snarky remarks are the things that make local government interesting.
Why should Richmond's council members have all the fun?
Contact Tom Barnidge at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at Twitter.com/tombarnidge.