Column 1: Awesome

| February 10, 2019 | 0 Comments

By BILL SHARKEY III
Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

AWESOME is one term to express the efforts of the Martinez Education Foundation for the past three decades, since 1985, when it provided $1,000 for computer software/printer, the first grant by the MEF. This year’s grant program of $165,193 brings the total of aid to teachers and classrooms in Martinez schools to $3,120,235. Awesome, indeed!!

Special projects for science, arts, music, math, outdoor education, math labs, foreign language labs, all provided with funds which would not be available from usual taxpayer-provided funds. A real win-win ‘deal’.

Kudos and heaps of gratitude to the MEF leadership and volunteers who have dedicated so much time and effort to make this organization what it has become, and for the tremendous support it has provided.

A special note of thanks to Larry Lippow, longtime chairperson of the Busi-Kids organization. His leadership as a local businessman so vital.

PEDESTRIANS are becoming an endangered species everywhere. The number of pedestrian deaths across the nation is increasing, even in Martinez, where a man died on January 9 at Green and Berrellesa Streets a little before nine p.m. MPD reports described the incident as a ‘collision’ between a pedestrian and a vehicle. The man lost his life. A very sad incident, but one which is growing in numbers with Florida having the greatest number of such tragedies, according to a lengthy story recently. Some causes of collisions between vehicles and humans are seen every day.

One lovely Saturday downtown we saw a group of six folks walking on Main Street, crossing eastbound at Castro. They were strolling; maybe tourists? Five of the six were intently watching their ‘electronic devices’, none watching for traffic. Can you see the possibilities for a ‘collision’ between a vehicle and a pedestrian? You bet! And, the vehicle usually comes out in best shape. We’ve been the ‘almost collision vehicle’ more than a few times. Scary!

Young folks of all ages, including ‘adult’ young folks, are especially prone to using their electronic devices while walking about. Fascination with the devices is so overwhelming that all else in the world around them doesn’t seem to matter. How often have we seen them walk onto a street without looking both ways as we were always taught? Or, looking even one way? Jousting with a vehicle is a loser every time.

SPEAKING of streets, etc., a ‘ramp’ at the south side corner of Escobar and Las Juntas was poorly done, in our humble opinion. The contractor left a ‘lip’ of about an inch where the connection is joined with the sidewalk. A real potential tripping hazard for someone not watching closely, or a blind person with a white cane. Injury followed by litigation a possibility. How many more around by the same contractor?

WAGES are somewhere in the news every day. Recently the teachers in Los Angeles and Oakland are seeking salary increases. While teachers all can use more money, school districts can’t always provide more with the funds they receive from taxpayers. So, we see picket lines.

We hear discussions of minimum wage levels all across the country, and on-going comments about the wealthy 1 percent. How about this case of the all-star player for the New Orleans Pelicans of the National Basketball Association team, Anthony Davis? He wants to be traded to another team. Meanwhile, he is refusing to sign a contract extension with his current ‘employer’ for $247 MILLION!! Gee, what’s a guy to do next? Tough position to be in, especially if he is not happy with current job. Life does have its problems. But, $247 MILLION should take some stress away, right? How unhappy can one athlete be?

CAMPAIGN 2020 is already underway. Therefore, all those aspiring to be elected to a job for the first time, or those wanting to have another term where he/she feels comfortable, will become part-time ‘workers’ at their present job. Which means that our elected officials involved in the 2020 campaign will concentrate on campaigning, not doing the current job they were elected to do. Which also means that ‘work’ on the nation’s important issues will be set aside, or held over until the next session. After further reflection on this subject, it may not be totally bad. Less time thinking of new ways the government can help (?) might be a real plus. Less gain, less pain for the constituents??

Already we see the junior senator from California all over the map on the campaign trail. Face appears in every TV ‘clip’ where possible. Seems like we, her constituents, are getting short-changed? However, when one gets the ‘climbing bug’, all else seems not that important, apparently. Come on, Kamala, earn your pay as a senator!

STATE OF THE UNION speech talked about unity, seemingly a hard commodity to come by these days. People helping others is precious, and in short supply compared to the need for it. However, I was the grateful recipient of a helping hand from a total stranger as I was having a bit of a struggle getting the pump to work at a Shell station (plug intended!) this week. Gent from SF stepped forward to lend a hand. Very much appreciated. My recent using of a cane does, I have found, cause others to be aware of someone needing help, and is often offered at doorways, etc. We Americans are a good people even though, at the national level, it is not always evident.

CHEERS for the crew of the Coast Guard Cutter FORWARD which gathered up 34,780 pounds of cocaine recently on patrol in the waters off Mexico, Central and South America. A haul valued at $466,000,000 (that’s millions!) wholesale. Rounded up were 21 suspected drug smugglers. What a great job.

Oh, yes! These were Coast Guard personnel working without pay due to governmental politics, shutdowns, etc. Dedication is wonderful.

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