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It’s our day for handing out roses and/or raspberries, and we have some of both.

First, roses to everyone who pitched in to help flood victims in Texas and Louisiana, especially those who came to help save stranded Houston residents.

It’s difficult to imagine the nation’s fourth largest metropolitan area under water, and long stretches of Interstate 10 looking more like an ocean with wind-driven waves than being one of the country’s major east/west highways.

A special batch of roses to the “Cajun Navy,” a volunteer group of about 300 Louisiana men and women who towed their fishing boats through the storm so they could venture into swamped Houston neighborhoods and bring families to higher ground and safety.

It takes a special kind of person to drive hundreds of miles and then risk their own lives to help total strangers.

But that’s the thing about America and Americans — we are not really strangers. We are brothers and sisters, moms and dads, sons and daughters. And friends.

Hurricane Harvey brought devastation to south Texas and western Louisiana the likes of which this nation has never seen. But the storm also brought out a special kind of spirit, of people coming together and working for the common good.

We hope the decision makers in Washington are paying attention to how being united in a common purpose really gets things done.


We have mixed feelings about the Santa Maria City Council meeting starting time being moved to 5:30 p.m. from 6:30.

The later start time gave more working folks an opportunity to take part in the city’s policy-making process. On the other hand, starting an hour earlier may achieve the stated objective of allowing more time for public comment.

Public meetings running into the late-night hours are counter-productive. Bad decisions tend to be made when people are tired — or when fatigue empties the meeting hall of stakeholders, which in this case means Santa Maria’s taxpayers.

So, on balance, we offer a rose to city officials for the time change, because our leaders should never stop trying to stimulate more public interest in decisions that affect us all. And if it doesn’t work as planned, they can always go back to the later start time.


We have a couple of richly-deserved raspberries to hand out.

First, a bowl of sour fruit to local drivers who can’t seem to grasp the importance of stopping when school buses are loading and unloading kids.

Here’s some good advice — when you see a school bus stopped, with red lights flashing and that “Stop” sign extended on the driver’s side of the bus, stop your vehicle, even if you don’t see kids.

Think about this — if you violate those warnings and are cited, the fine could run up to $1,000 and you could lose driving privileges for a year.

While drivers who ignore these warnings deserve raspberries, the California Highway Patrol deserves roses for stepping up enforcement of school bus stop violators.


There aren’t enough raspberries on the planet for those who take advantage of major disasters to scam good-hearted Americans out of their hard-earned cash.

The Texas/Louisiana flooding certainly qualifies as a major disaster, and as expected, the human vultures are at work with their bogus charity scams asking for money to help the victims, when in fact those making the donations are the victims.

In times like these we need to trust each other — but we also need to verify that our donations are going to those who are really in need.