Column 1: Welcome aboard

Martinez News-Gazette Columnist

WELCOME ABOARD, Eric Figueroa, our new City Manager, arriving soon from San Ramon’s Assistant City Manager position. We all know he will be an asset to our community, and will be a ‘happy camper’ in Martinez. With a name Figueroa, he will feel right at home, right?

He also has a ‘stamp of approval’ from longtime city official, city manager and very popular guy, Jim Jakel. who was asked to be part of the selection process. Jim is a happy guy in retirement after tours as head of the Contra Costa Council, followed by city manager of Antioch.

RECENT RAINS have many of us a bit nervous, some more than others depending upon our proximity to Alhambra Creek, or its tributaries. As usual, there was mud from the west side hills coming down to Alhambra Avenue and downtown streets.Years of experience have taught ‘flat landers’ what to expect, and how to deal with it. However, mortal man cannot always be strong enough or clever enough for mother nature’s efforts. However, efforts in recent years to clean the creek, in addition to the City’s work at the lower end of the creek toward the bay, have made a big difference, for which we who live along the creek are mighty grateful. Houses full of mud and water debris are ugly. Also, expensive and terribly devastating.

When we see the devastation north of us along the Russian River and its communities, with homes and cars covered in mud, is there not one of us who is not grateful where we live? One hotel manager on the Russian River was shown on TV telling us that this last flooding a week or two ago was the fourth time he had been flooded out. Any way we can imagine such a personal and economic tragedy? Don’t think so!

At this point, do we say “thanks” to the weather guessers? At this point do we say “enough”? Of course, there are those naysayers who will deny any causation by climate change. Or, for those who, like the White House Oval Office occupant, who do not believe the concerns of untold thousands of scientists. In their ‘gut’ those naysayers continue to naysay. Have they been flooded out? Home blown away by a tornado? Any hit by one of those hurricanes in the Gulf?

Someone told us of a bulleting board outside a church: “Will the parish member who has been praying for rain, please stop?”

SHERIFF’s newsletter this month has an encouragement to our county folk to apply to be members of the Contra Costa Grand Jury, such as we did last week in this column. We second his plea. Give it a try.

This topic brings to mind an incident dating back to about 1970 when this humble scribe was nominated for the Grand Jury by the late, and highly respected, Judge Richard Arneson, a longtime friend, to be on that jury. Knowing the time involved, my Refinery Manager agreed it would be a good community volunteer effort for me. So, I was volunteered. (I was a very happy volunteer over some 30 years to be a part of Martinez’ activities.)

Couple nights later, my neighbor and friend, Judge Tom McBride, called to say, in his position as Presiding Judge over the upcoming Grand Jury, he would like for me to be the Jury Foreman. After my comments of being inadequate for such an assignment, the Judge convinced me I would do a great job, etc., etc., etc. Overwhelmed, and knowing a Judge was nearly always correct in his judgement, I agreed.

Jury selection day came at which 19 names would be drawn from a barrel containing 21 names of applicants and nominees.The drawing process began. The 19 names of selected nominees were drawn. Out of 21 names in the barrel, my name was not drawn.

From my seat back in the court room the Presiding Judge and I made eye contact. A sort of shoulder shrug and nod were exchanged.

The next move was Tom calling a brief recess. A few minutes later the Bailif called a gentleman into the Judge’s Chambers. A few minutes more and the judge returned to the bench and named a gentleman from Pinole as Foreman of the Grand Jury

My almost-a-Grand Jury participation came and went. So much for plans! However, had I not wanted to be on the Grand Jury, my name probably would have been the first drawn. Such is the luck of the draw? (And the Irish??) I do look back with some regrets, however, as it would have been a great experience, and a civic duty to enjoy. I have friends, relatives and associates who look back with appreciation and satisfaction for having had the opportunity. Again, give it a try!

TOP ADVERTISERS remain mattresses, cars and hearing aids. There must be a message there for some of us?? I’m sorry. What did you say? Say again, please.

OUR NATION would seem to be in such jeopardy with the leadership of someone who is looked at world-wide as a person for whom other nations can not trust? How disconcerting it must be for those nations who have trusted us for so many decades to suddenly be concerned that the rug is being pulled out from under them? You know, the NATO nations with whom we have had close relationships since WW Two? And, here comes this unfit for leadership telling the world that NATO is too costly for the U.S. Someone who has no understanding of the reason for NATO. Someone who might, in one mighty Tweet late one night, tell us he had made a deal with Vladimir to join in an alliance? Sound crazy? Sounds like something a mentally disturbed person might do without understanding the consequences? Anyone who can ‘speak’ to a very receptive political group for two hours and twenty minutes (like Fidel Castro did in Cuba), warming to the crowd with profanity several times, must be observed and not just accepted for his buffoonish actions. He needs a caregiver 24/7, folks, one with a muzzle and broken Tweeter.

CHEERS for the wonderful weather recently with sunshine, Daffodils, blossoms on our trees , smiles on passersby, and baseball season just around the corner. And, how about a boost for the Warriors as we head to playoffs?

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