Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday Must Read: Brown Rediscovers His Inner Frugal; The Rain Is Back

By Robert Gammon
Mon, Feb 14, 2011 at 6:59 AM

Stories you shouldn’t miss:

1. Jerry Brown apparently has rediscovered his once frugal self, as reporters and pundits are going gaga over his decision to fly coach by himself late last week on Southwest. The governor also has received oodles of praise for curtailing state-employee cell phones and automobiles. It’s all reminiscent of Brown’s first two terms as governor when he shacked up in an unfurnished apartment and drove around Sacramento in a Plymouth. But for Oaklanders, it raises the obvious question: where was Mr. Cheap when he was mayor? Sure, he refused to accept pay raises while in Oakland, but for much of his time here, he also wouldn’t go anywhere without his highly paid, taxpayer-supported, bodyguard/confidante/womanizer, Jacques Barzaghi.

2. After six weeks of summer, winter seems to have returned, as weather forecasters are calling for at least a week of precipitation, the Chron reports. And the rain couldn’t come back sooner, as the recent warm, dry spell has left Northern California with below normal precipitation levels for the year. It’s quite a turnaround from late December when some observers were declaring that the drought was over.

3. Despite efforts by environmentalists to drive a stake through its heart, the dreaded peripheral canal remains alive and could make a comeback. The Chron reports that a plan to build an expensive “conveyance” around or under the delta and send more freshwater to Southern California and the southern Central Valley could resurface soon. That’s especially true because Jerry Brown has long been a peripheral canal supporter.

4. Are many of us sitting atop ticking time bombs? Possibly, considering the sorry state of PG&E’s underground gas lines. One thing is for sure: The utility’s computer record system is so riddled with errors that it has no idea how bad its gas lines really are, the Chron reports, in another of its hard-hitting — and disturbing — exposes.

5. Costly efforts by transit officials nationwide to get more people to carpool have largely been a failure, the New York Times reports, citing new Census data. The percentage of commuters who carpool has plummeted by nearly half in the past 30 years despite the expansion of carpool lanes around the country and the recent proliferation of toll lanes. Transit experts continue to argue that carpooling will resurge if more carpool lanes are built, but the evidence of the past three decades strongly suggests otherwise.

6. And finally, this bulletin: Caffeinated energy drinks are bad for you. It’s not really news, we know, but an increasing number of young people nationwide are downing these beverages apparently without realizing the many health problems they pose, AP reports.

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