A lot of people think journalists ply their trade for the incredible fame and lavish salaries that come with the job. Well, sure, a lot of that is true.
Just the other day, I was recognized while buying some deodorant at the drugstore, and surely you don't think I'd be driving a 2002 Buick if I had settled for being a lawyer.
In truth, though, the greatest satisfaction comes from warm interactions with readers in online comments and emails. Just this week, for instance, several of them took time to share their heartfelt sentiments.
Their correspondence came after I wrote in support of Measure Q, a proposed parcel tax intended to keep the Contra Costa County Fire Protection District's 264 firefighters on the job and its 28 stations open. I explained that the $75 annual fee works out to $1.44 a week, or roughly the cost of a cup of coffee.
Some of them gently differed from my position.
"Barnridge your article is a joke just like you. The cup of coffee comparison is just ridiculous. The property tax has just went up with a bond for the school for 100 million that they put in solar roofing. The solar panels that were installed were made in China."
I'm always gratified when readers come so close to spelling my name correctly and nearly get their facts right. Not to quibble, but Mt. Diablo school district's Measure C bond issue in 2010 was for $348 million, about $80 million of which went for solar panels that
"I respectfully disagree. The problem is that instead of fixing the problem, which is ever growing entitlements, benefits and pensions, we keep being asked to toss more money down the drain to the feed the beast."
My favorite kind of disagreement is a respectful one. Maybe you can talk to the first guy.
"Your column misses the point. The district offers the public two choices: Pay more or receive reduced services. And yet there are an infinite number of alternative choices."
I may have missed your point, but I'm pretty sure I hit mine. When you go to the polling place on Nov. 6, I can just about guarantee that none of those infinite other choices -- which is a really big number, by the way -- will be among the options listed on your ballot.
"The question is not the extra buck forty-seven a week. If it were only that easy it would be a no-brainer. The real question is what are they going to do to correct the pension and salary problem so they won't be back next year for more money."
Actually, it's only $1.44. So you're already three cents better off than you thought. And the tax measure would extend for seven years, not one. So a better question is what are they going to do in eight years. If you really want to know, you can inspect the district's 10-year budget projections at www.cccfpd.org/ParcelTaxInitiative.php. Bring your visor and your calculator.
"The fire dept can cut staff, salaries and learn to do more with less just like everyone else. ... I have fire insurance and could care less if they close down all the firehouses."
I have auto insurance. Maybe we should do away with the traffic cops, too.
"Give us a break. ... fire fighters are overpaid and underutilized."
Yep, right up until the time smoke pours out your window and you pick up the phone to dial 911.