Opinion » Shredder

High tide


I’m looking for a good home for three mostly house-broken editors. Must be willing to feed them twice daily, fill their bowls with craft beer, and give them a good scrubbing at least once a week. I feel bad that I can’t keep them. I’m not moving or dying or anything. It’s just that when I got them I was picturing all the good times we would have. They would slave away over my column, making it better and dealing with all that pesky grammar nonsense for me. In turn, I would take them to the park and rub their bellies. I wasn’t prepared for the fact that they would question and challenge me, and frankly, I’ve decided it’s more important to have overseers who fetch your slippers than check your work. 

Which is why I’ve petitioned the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take me on as one of their public utilities. It all started when I read the email from NRC Public Affairs Officer David McIntyre criticizing an employee who was asked whether the Diablo Canyon Power Plant could withstand a 9.0 magnitude earthquake. To which McIntyre replied:

“He should just say ‘Yes, it can.’ Worry about being wrong when it doesn’t. Sorry if I sound cynical.”


Of course, there’s another word for a person who counsels lying to the public as part of their job working for a commission that’s supposed to ensure the country’s nuclear power plants don’t melt down. And that word is my new editor. I’m sorry, was that three words? Well, now that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission is responsible for my column oversight, I can use three words when I say I’m only going to use one. Hell, I can build a nuclear power plant that might be vulnerable if a tsunami hits, and I know the good ol’ NRC will have my back. 

I know this because when the NRC commissioned Dr. Robert Sewell to compile a report evaluating Diablo’s new site for spent fuel, Sewell wound up concluding that the site was fine but that the main reactor, along with certain other parts of the plant, might be highly susceptible in certain tsunami scenarios. 

I can’t tell you which scenarios because the NRC responded to this report by declaring that it was scientifically faulty and burying it in a file no one is allowed to access. And I mean no one. PG&E employees haven’t been allowed to look at the report, Sewell was never given the opportunity to defend his work, members of Congress have demanded to see the report a decade after it was written. Basically, the report could contain anything: My hope is it holds the recipes for Coke and the Colonel’s secret spices. But we’re just supposed to believe the NRC PR machine when it tells us that we’re safe and there’s nothing to worry about. And yes, I hear they employ nuclear physicist types over there, so they probably have a good idea what they’re talking about. 

But why should we take their word for it? Especially in light of the earlier quote about telling people everything’s fine and then recanting when we all find ourselves crammed onto the 101 trying to get as far from the meltdown site as possible. 

At the end of the day, the NRC is not taxpayer-funded. They’re funded by fees from the utilities companies they regulate, so it’s in their best interests to keep these utilities open as long as possible—earthquakes and new fault lines and tsunamis be damned. Of course, if there’s a disaster and we all die, they’ll probably all lose their jobs anyway, but they’re rolling the dice on our behalf and that outcome is coming up unlikely, so it’s a risk they’re willing to take. 

I know I’m probably coming across as staunchly pro-regulation, but the reality is, I’m generally a live-and-let-live-unless-the-person-in-question-really-annoys-you kind of person. Which is why I find Paso Robles’ desperate and repeated attempts to ban mobile medical marijuana dispensaries both embarrassing and out of touch.

It’s more than a little hypocritical that a city that has branded itself by growing and selling booze juice with an alcohol content that makes beer look like Sunny D by comparison is now sticking its nose in the air and doing everything in its power to ban a plant that many of its citizens rely on for pain relief. And honestly, even if they didn’t, no one on the City Council seems to have anything to say about the yuppies getting recreationally drunk at wineries, so the dated war-on-drugs attitude and rhetoric isn’t doing anyone any favors. 

And yes, the council ultimately voted 3-2 to issue business licenses to mobile dispensaries, but that was only after one previous barely-failed attempt to outright ban dispensaries. The really sad thing is, a number of citizens in attendance at the City Council meeting addressing the attempted ban spoke out on behalf of medical marijuana. They credited it with helping them battle epilepsy and chronic pain and bemoaned the fact that every city in the county has short-sightedly banned brick-and-mortar dispensaries. And yet, at the end of the day, Mayor Duane Picanco voted in favor of the ban arguing that the people at the meeting clearly found a way to obtain access to medical marijuana so there was no point in making it easier on them. Because nothing says compassion and leadership like a mayor voting to turn his sick constituents into criminals.


Shredder is both pro and not pro regulation. Send pro tips to shredder@newtimesslo.com. 


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