Columns
May 24, 2017
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Jud Snyder
Too many people aching for invisible pot of gold
May 4, 2017

It was an interesting piece of do-it-yourself business the City of Petaluma went through when they tacked NO TRAIN HORN signs under city railroad crossings. It’s obvious they wanted to establish their own Quiet Zones as a balm to their residents and wanted to show visitors they’re ahead of the curve when it comes to SMART commute trains. The only problem, the signs are illegal and serve no purpose.

It seems a document named Federal Railway Authority has a ‘probably’ lengthy volume (or two or more volumes) of rules concerning safety on the nation’s railroads. The FRA tells train engineers when to blow their whistles for public safety and not individual cities; feds tell the states, states tell their counties and counties tell their smaller entities.

SMART’S Board of Directors were somewhat disconcerted by Petaluma’s action. “We are not happy,” said General Director Farhad Mansourian. A comment by David Rabbitt, Second District Supervisor for the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, succinctly summed it up: “It was premature and really based on politics and not working cooperatively on the safety issues here.”

WE HAVE ANOTHER example of people aching for an invisible pot of gold and that’s the marijuana growers. When innocent California voters approved Prop 64 thinking there will be loads of money available all they did was put the cart before the horse, as RP Councilwoman Gina Belforte said at a council meeting last month.

People were left with two carts before two horses and still wondering how soon the wheelbarrows with loads of $20 bills would be rolled into their dining room to be counted. They’re still waiting.

IT’S TIME FOR A closer look at this mini-phenomenon. We can assume there’s no one on this planet who wouldn’t enjoy having some extra money in his or her wallet, as long as it was free of onerous complications. They know about the cart before the horse but this warning was not in their personal vision held in a dream-like grip. 

There’s nothing abnormal or evil about this vision. We all have them. Ask me about mine but I won’t tell you and neither will you for its nobody’s business no matter how many $20 bills you toss in their direction.

If pressed, I’ll make up a glorious fairy tale and then who’s the winner?

The thing that’s puzzling is the timing. In all my 75 years of writing news stories and sports sagas I’ve never seen such a mad scrambling by so many people for an unseen pot of gold. Maybe I missed seeing a less then frantic chase by quieter people or maybe I was too busy pursuing my own goals. I don’t remember.

The main thing is this phenomenon has the appearance of a tablecloth loaded with precious silver, crystal glasses and gleaming cutlery suddenly pulled from the table and dumped unceremoniously all over the floor. The spectators are not upset for they know another tablecloth will appear with its glorious contents.

But why now? What’s causing this twinned pursuit of SMART quiet zones and marijuana plants to erupt? Of course we can always blame the Trump administration in the White House, who seem to be governing the country with the same method SMART quiet zones and marijuana plants are using That’s not very healthy.

TURNING TO ANOTHER subject, there’s little to report on Tim Nonn’s lawsuit against the Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District. Nonn, top vote-getter in the November election is legally blind. But he has his own assistant who knows the problems that could arise.

But Robert Haley, superintendent of the CRPUSD contends the Bureau of Education in Sacramento has ruled only district employees can sit in at school board meetings. Haley has two aides from the district ready to go. He also has three school board members on his side. Nonn has the backing of board member Leff Brown on his side.

Both sides are bravely saying, “Progress is being made.”