Sunday, July 13, 2008

Drilling, Sacramento Ranking, & Corruption

1) This article notes how environmental groups in Santa Barbara have come out in support of offshore oil drilling in their neighborhood and that is very good news for the energy production in this country. An excerpt.

“On the morning of Jan. 28, 1969, a Union Oil drilling site six miles off the coast of Santa Barbara, Calif., sprang a leak. The ensuing spill stretched for miles, killed thousands of birds, and gave America the image of wildlife and shorelines covered in black crude. That spill is widely considered to have conceived the modern environmental movement. A year later, the first Earth Day was held, followed by passage of the Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act.

“After the spill, Santa Barbara residents formed an environmental group called GOO! (Get Oil Out!), one of the first community groups to oppose offshore oil drilling. Thirty-nine years later, GOO! is still around. But this April the group did something astonishing. It publicly supported an oil company's proposal to drill off the coast of Santa Barbara…

“When an environmental group formed for the sole purpose of opposing offshore oil drilling warmly embraces a plan to drill off its own coast, you know something important has changed in our culture: Americans have recognized that offshore oil drilling is largely safe.”

2) Sacramento comes out fair-to-middling in a recent ranking of the best cities to do business in, #186 of 335 in the All Cities rankingand #34 of 66 in the category of Large Cities—which isn’t bad—but sure leaves room for improvement and that is one of the determining campaign themes of the mayor’s race, along with public safety and good management.

3) Corruption in government is as old as government but it still raises the inevitable question, How could this have gone on so long?, as this great reporting from the Sacramento Bee reveals it did. An excerpt.

“The black market probe included FBI surveillance, search warrants and a city employee who volunteered to wear a wire to tape conversations as part of a sting.

“The FBI court documents describe how city employees for decades illegally let Bay Area salvage dealer Sheldon A. Morris remove city water meters from the storage yard. Morris sold the equipment locally and took a cut, then funneled cash into a slush fund he controlled.

“Instead of the salvage proceeds going to the city's general fund as required, FBI interviews and other documents reveal money from the kitty went to cater the Utilities Department's Christmas party and provide gifts for a golf tournament. Some of the cash wound up in employees' bank accounts.”