Opinion: Smell the air! Maybe I didn’t stop smoking after all?


Daily Post Editor

These forest fires north of San Francisco have become an annual autumn nightmare. We’re fortunate here on the Peninsula that the only consequence we suffer is the bad air.

I quit smoking three weeks ago, but if you smelled me after I went outside last night, you would think I had started again.

Here’s another thought about these fires. There are investor-owned (for-profit) utilities in every one of the other 49 states. And all of those states have forests. How come California has wildfires sparked by utility lines every fall?

Is it because PG&E skimped on basic maintenance more than those other utility companies? Or did California regulate its utilities less than other states? Or are our legislators more corrupt than they are in other states, and they allowed PG&E to pay out maintenance money as profits?

What are we doing differently from the other 49 states?

Another thought: Are we prepared to evacuate the foothills if a fire breaks out here? How do we get the word out to people in the path of the fire to get moving? I guess firefighters and police would go door-to-door, but would that be enough in a fast-moving blaze?

In Palo Alto, we don’t have sirens to alert people. Do people know what route they should take to get out?
Remember that in Paradise, many people died because the city had narrowed the streets as part of a “traffic calming” plan. The traffic calmers have run amok here on the Peninsula. Take Farm Hill Boulevard in Redwood City, which would be a major route to safety except that the city took out extra lanes in 2015 in order to create a “road diet.” It would be a tragedy if a number of people died fleeing a fire because of tie ups on Farm Hill Boulevard.

• • •

Honesty builds trust

When Redwood City police arrested San Mateo County Sheriff’s Sgt. Luis Aquino for DUI on Sept. 14, his name didn’t go on the arrest log that the media get. Somebody in the police department decided to cover up his arrest from the press and public.

His arrest remained secret until his case landed in the District Attorney’s office.

DA Steve Wagstaffe put Aquino’s arraignment on his list of cases that go to the news media last week, and that’s how the Post got the story.

Cops have gotten into trouble before in San Mateo County, and this has been Wagstaffe’s MO in those situations — treat the cases involving a police officer the same way as you’d handle a case involving any other member of the public. No preferential treatment.

Wagstaffe’s actions reinforce trust in the law enforcement system.

Editor Dave Price’s column appears on Mondays. His email address is [email protected].


  1. California has these PG&E-caused wildfires because the state has allowed PG&E to misuse maintenance money by paying it out in bonuses and profit. Other states don’t have this problem because the voters elsewhere are more intelligent and they don’t elect the kind of idiots we have in Sacramento.

  2. The blame for PG&E’s excesses can be put at the CPUC, which Jerry Brown stacked with former utility company executives and his sister, who was on the board of a southern California utility while simultaneously sitting on the CPUC. The disasters PG&E has caused were predictable. Gavin Newsom, who has received $200,000 in donations from PG&E, isn’t going to reform the CPUC either.

  3. Forest maintenance. That’s the problem in two words. Not climate change, we’ve had droughts before. The problem is that we let our forests get full of fuel — downed trees, brush, leaves, etc., and then all it takes is a small thing to start a huge fire. Blame PGE if you want, but utility lines have been falling in forests since we first got electricity a century ago. Newsom and the other socialists attack PGE because they want the government to take over the company.

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