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  Commentary April 8th, 2010

The Editor 

Mr. Pennywhistle

A few items of interest to get caught up on:

April Fools - to my rather great surprise we had relatively few phone calls or emails from either disgruntled (or gruntled) readers about our cover story of April 1st in which we portrayed the mythical island of San Serif (named after the sans serif type face, with the island’s president, President Pica, also named after a type face.) The piece was an out and out theft from the BBC who pulled a similar stunt back in the 1950’s; we also ‘borrowed,’ to use a more pleasant word, the BBC’s great send-up of the new agricultural asset of spaghetti bushes and trees. Tartan sheep, tartan paint, spaghetti bushes and trees, and make believe islands . . . what won’t those crazy editors think of next?

(Reminds me back when we had first purchased The Paper, some 10 years ago. Roy Haskins, who had been a tremendous help to us in launching the new paper, was sitting with friends having coffee one morning shortly after we had published a cover story that dealt with nudist resorts in Palm Springs. I asked him what reaction he’d had from readers and people on the street. “Well,” said Roy, “mostly what I’m getting is big grins and people saying, ‘that damned lyle, that damned lyle, you just never know what he’s gonna publish next.’”

I treasure that memory.

I have taken a perverse delight over the years of not having our readers ever know from week to week what we are likely to come up with next as a cover story.

Good pal, former active duty Marine, and longtime advertiser, Paul Van Middlesworth, he of the pretty red headed wife, Nome, and they of The Computer Factory, had also penned an April Fool’s spoof about his good friend, and mentor, “Cactus Jack.” He got some flak on his column, I got none on my cover story. Just goes to show what our readers read and what they pay no attention to.

Item Two: I read the story in the North County Times about those folks who duck out on jury duty.

Can’t say as I blame them for not wanting to sit on jury duty.

Let’s face it. Attorneys, usually at least two, sometimes more, are up before the judge and jury, arguing a case. They charge around $300-$400 per hour, and appear before Hizzoner (or Her Honeress) wearing $1200 suits, $600 shoes, and $150 haircuts (those attorneys who still have hair, that is).

And you and me? We sit there in the jury box, drawing a whole $15 per day in juror pay. We also get a whole 34 cents a mile, one way, and we have to wait two or three weeks to get paid.

I don’t know about you but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. Them ain’t exactly the prevailing wage rates, I don’t care what type of work you’re in. Or even retired.

Nope. There is something wrong with a system that expects you to contribute your time “as a sign of good citizenship,” for such little pay while the courageous defenders of life, liberty, and the pursuit of the next martini, draws down astronomical fees.

I, for one, cannot afford to take time off from running the paper for the measly sum of $15 per day. Why, I make almost that much by just staying put and writing as I would driving downtown, or to the North County branch.

Some states have examined the question of a professional jury system. Somethng needs to be done here because it’s just not a fair deal.

Item Three: I don’t know about you but I’ve about had it with governmental bond issues.

I don’t trust government any more.

They say one thing and then do another. They say a project will cost X and then the project, somehow, mysteriously, winds up cost X+Y. Unfortunately, where government is concerned those dollars are measured in millions, not hundreds, or thousands.

Case in point: Palomar Pomerado Hospital. We trusted that smooth talking pitchman, president and CEO, Mike Covert, when he persuaded the electorate to support PropositionBB which authorized sale of $496 million in bonds to be used in the financing of new facilities, total cost of which was estimated at $531 million and which has soared beyond $900 million.

The people believed Mr. Covert, much to their chagrin; to add insult to injury, this smooth talker has now persuaded the PPH Board of Directors to pay him the obscene amount of $736,000 per year, plus benefits, and even, get this, a possible bonus on top of that! (Note: I said he was being paid that much, not that he earned it.)

Second Case in point: Proposition P, which authorized $84,350,000 in bonds to build the new public safety quarters. Now, the police department headquarters building alone is running at $9 million over its projected original cost of $50.6 million.

These are just two cases that make me wary about listening to the assurances of governmental officals and quasi-governmental officials (such as smooth talking snake-oil salesmen) when it comes to passing bond issues.

My inclination is to oppose bond issues. Somehow, they just never pencil out to the amount requested and government never does what it promises. Name one case where the government came in on or under budget, following a bond issue.

Item Four: I don’t understand Citycouncilmember Olga Diaz and retired Assistant Sheriff William Flores and their constant attack on the city of Escondido’s Police Department and the enforcing of the law.

Memo to Diaz and Flores: It is against the law to drive without a driver’s license. It is against the law to drive without insurance; it is against the law to drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs or both. One would presume both parties are aware of this. Maybe not.





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