Columns
October 19, 2017
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Coffeegrounds

Jud Snyder
Scolding SMART again and a real life “terrorist threat” for RP’s police/fire
October 13, 2017

FOR A SLEEK, STREAMLINED commute train making its debut in its chosen territory, Sonoma-Marin-Area-Rail-Transit, better known as SMART, is making England’s very funny kiddie book we read as children called “The Toonerville Trolley” look very, well, smart.

We remember about a month ago we asked Rohnert Park Mayor Jake Mackenzie who at the same time headed up the board of directors of SMART and all he could say was, “it’s a mess.” He was referring to the so-called Quiet Zones for railroad crossings in cities. “Quiet Zones” are one of the most brazen of slimy euphemisms created since P.T. Barnum trod the circus boards collecting innocent suckers along the way.

ALL RAIL TRAVEL IS part of the Dept. of Commerce, a vast bureaucracy in Washington DC where euphemisms are a way of life. Lesser bureaucrats, committees, commissions, groups, panels, or consultants in tasseled loafers are likely to follow their lead for who knows when an opening for job advancement will pop up. 

Nothing wrong with that. It’s The American Way.

A sub-committee of this multi-armed bureaucracy decreed months ago that the train’s engineer, the man or woman at the controls, makes the decision whether to blow the horn when he or she sees people or animals on the tracks ahead.

FOR SEEMINGLY YEARS, (it’s only months) residents along the tracks have been assaulted by train whistles or horns and complained to their city councils for some relief. The RP City Council replied with declaring quiet zones. Second District Supervisor David Rabbit cried “no, no” because that’s illegal, SMART offered a free short ride to Petaluma that crowded the train with mostly kids who quickly sprawled across the seats and a lot of adults had to cling to whatever they could find including young shoulders.

SMART offered bargain tickets for a short period and scored with bicyclists because buses could only carry one or two.

But trains could carry many more than that and they became SMART’S biggest customers. But no matter how many bicycles on board, it doesn’t reduce freeway traffic at all. However, it sure promotes bicycle sales.

IT WAS QUITE A WEEKEND SEPT 29 – OCT 1-2-3- with so much going on all four days. It was capped on Founders Day Saturday in the Community Center when a car suddenly exploded and spread to adjacent cars noisily blowing tires and sending a huge black cloud skyward. With the recent tragedy in Las Vegas on everybody’s mind, the question of “Terrorist?” was often mentioned.

Happily, many police officers and firefighters were at the Community Center and I can picture them racing to their cars to get equipment out of their trucks to quickly beat down the blaze.

No injuries to anyone but I can imagine creative lawyers are already sketching out lawsuits.

Police Chief Brian Masterson and his force didn’t expect this real-life incident at a routine duty and they all deserve medals.

A TOWN HALL MEETING was held prior to Founders Day. I wasn’t able to attend for I had two teeth pulled the same day and not in tip-top shape. But my special agent said it was sparsely attended.

What they talked about was the $1.2 million surplus the city has from the Graton Casino. These are funds from the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the city signed with the Graton Tribe back at least a decade ago. All five councilmembers were present. Each attendee had forms to fill in asking what topic should be prioritized. We don’t have the results yet. This was the MOU that ignited a protest from angry residents and resulted with a recall effort against Armando Flores and councilwoman Amie Breeze which they both easily won.

RP CITY HALL WAS closed Monday Oct. 9th in honor of Columbus Day. So was the Post Office and I think the schools were. I’m not sure about banks (maybe half a day). 

Once again – a Coffee Grounds op ed column with more questions than answers and nobody I can think of to ask, “How come?” All this pales completely compared to the flames a few hours later in the North Bay.