.comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Guy's Blog

Just one Guy's personal blog of thoughts & sense--common, non, and otherwise--of the world in which we live.

My Photo
Name:
Location: Nipomo, Central Coast, California, United States

I also blog over at Nipomo News, Messenger and Advocate and Bloggernacle Times

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Ides of March

BEWARE . . . it's the Ides today!!!

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Nipomo Incorporation--Where Do We Go From Here?

On 2/15/05, the Davis Company submitted its final report on its preliminary feasibility analysis of Nipomo's incorporation. You may read that report on line here.

The most critical finding of the Davis Company is summarized on page one of Mr. Davis' cover letter:

"In general, however, most of the $720,000 amount that was originally projected from Vehicle License Fees has now been eliminated from the revenue estimates for the new city. Only a residual estimate of $61,000 remains. The change means that the fiscal viability of incorporation is well beyond the three – five year period originally estimated. For example, current estimates indicate that, in the year 2008, a new city would still be almost $600,000 short of breaking even."

Mr. Davis goes into greater detail in his report about the VLF issues, and why we are now in a situation, that did not exist in November 2004, when the first version of Mr. Davis' report was released. Assuming Mr. Davis' research to be reliable and his prognostications to be accurate, based on his own conclusions:

These recent policy changes, if unchanged, are likely to put off Nipomo incorporation for a period of seven to ten more years.

Mr. Davis' initial projections, in November, 2004 was that Nipomo's incorporation was at least three to five years in the future. Now, he believes incorporation is between seven to 10 years away. Since the incorporation process, even if started today, would take two to three years, no matter what the immediate fiscal feasibility, Cityhood is still several years in the future.

The question is where do we go from here? The answer, I believe lies northward, and inward. The Cambria CSD is also contemplating incorporation. I recently spoke with Tammy Rudock, General Manager for the Cambria CSD about their incorporation process.

In order to gauge and garner public support for Cambria's incorporation, the Cambria CSD board of directors has appointed a public panel (of 10) consisting of volunteers from Cambria's citizenry to oversee their incorporation process, in conjunction with their incorporation consultant, Andy Belnap associated with Management Partners. Mr. Belnap guides the citizens' group in this process. This panel, under Belnaps' guidance reports directly to Ms. Rudock and the CSD board. Interestingly, the Cambria CSD anticipates paying (up to $150,000) for the comprehensive fiscal feasibility study required by LAFCO, assuming there is enough community support to petition LAFCO to begin the formal process. This will be a hugh advantage for the Cambria community in its incorporation drive, assuming they decide to move forward. According to Ms. Ruduck, the primary rationale in Cambria for incorporation is to assume all land use and planning decisions from the county, in order to better control their destiny. This is the same rationale here in Nipomo.

Of course Cambria's initial feasibility study was much different from Nipomo's. Cambria has the opposite problem than Nipomo--they are too feasible, while we are not yet feasible. As a result, Cambria, according to Ms. Rudock, and initial discussions with the county is looking at $2.2 million dollars in revenue neutrality payments for as yet an undetermined number of years.

While Nipomo is not yet fiscally feasible for incorporation, we are in a better position than Cambria, because we are on the correct side of the revenue neutrality equation, and probably will be for the next few years; however, if Nipomo's incorporation is to succeed, we need to follow Cambria's example, and look inward as well to see whether enough community support exists for success.

The NCSD cannot sustain the incorporation burden alone. They do not have the manpower, either in board members or staff. And, as the current board points out, there needs to be much greater community support. I believe Nipomo's current incorporation movement is at a cross roads. We can build on the work our CSD board has accomplished, or we can let the incorporation dialogue dissolve into the background, and perhaps reinvent the wheel again several years or decades down the road. Years and decades that San Luis Obispo County will continue to make, implement and enforce planning and land use decisions by people who do not live here, work here, have any roots here in Nipomo, or are accountable in anyway to Nipomo's citizens.

If we are to keep Nipomo's incorporation movement moving forward, I believe we need a similar citizen's panel to Cambria's. The community needs to demonstrate its support, or we need to remain under county control for land use and planning decisions for the indefinite future.

I have spoken with or exchanged emails with several individuals in the community about Nipomo's incorporation. Many have expressed interest in keeping the issue alive. With the current explosion in commercial development in Nipomo, such a citizen's panel could and should continue to update the Davis report, and keep the CSD board current. The revenues not yet accounted for in the current Davis report may make incorporation feasible more quickly than the 7 to 10 year projections; however, we will need some mechanism to do this. We need to stay on this side of the revenue neutrality equation, while monitoring our fiscal feasibility. There is also legislative action in the works in an effort to correct the inequalities of the current legislation that leaves new cities out of the VLF mix.

If any individuals are interested in becoming more involved at this time, perhaps volunteering for a citizen's panel or committee, please call or email me nipomolaw@aol.com. If there is enough community support for this proposition, then I think we should call on the NCSD to appoint a committee similar to Cambria's, to assist them further in Nipomo's incorporation drive. If there is not enough or any support, then I think the NCSD and community needs to know that as well.

One final thought: Cambria has set another example we should heed here in Nipomo. Sometime in the mid 80's Cambria paid for its first preliminary feasibility study. That study showed Cambria was fiscally feasible to incorporate at that time; however, the CSD never followed up on that analysis. Years went by, then decades. Now, Cambria finds itself on the wrong side of the revenue neutrality equation and is looking at an approximate $2 million dollar ransom each year, for who knows how long. Goleta, our neighbor to the South, similarly ended up on the wrong end of revenue neutrality for their delay in getting serious about incorporation. Let's not repeat that same mistake in Nipomo.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Eastwood's Million Dollar Passion--At the movies

My friend Richard, from Nipomo has an interesting article on his website, Truth Radio. He has a very interesting site, and I would encourage you to go visit and listen to one of his programs, and read some of his articles. They have internet broadcasts. It is really quite fascinating.

In any event, the article to which I refer, is “Eastwood’s Million Dollar Passion.” In short, Richard questions whether there might be some feud between Clint Eastwood and Mel Gibson based on the different messages in their ground breaking films this past year. The more pointed question Richard asks is why does Clint Eastwood’s work present a polemic supporting euthanasia, while Mel Gibson’s work resounds with “Good News bursting out of the bad news of the Cross?”

I agree with most of Richard’s conclusions; however, I disagree with a fundamental one: that Million Dollar Baby is somehow less Christian in that it “echoes with Bad News falling with dull pessimism from an all-too-common misunderstanding of the Gospel of Christ.”

The basic moral proscription against the taking of human life dates back thousands of years to the delivery of the Ten Commandments by Jehovah to Moses, specifically found in Exodus 20:13. The actual proscription dates back further, i.e., see Cain’s slaying of Abel; however, it is canonized very well in Exodus.

Of course, there are, in the Christian interpretation of this particular commandment, exceptions. For example, self-defense has long been considered an exception to the proscription against killing. War, has also long been exempted from this proscription; however, in my view this exception has long been abused by political leaders (one of whom currently sits in the Oval Office) for less than noble purposes.

I think one can make a credible argument that euthanasia, in the right circumstance could or should also be exempted from the Fifth Commandment. In the particular case in the movie, the character Maggie sustained, as I recall, a complete severance of the spinal cord, around the C-3, C-4 level (or thereabouts). She was confined to bed or a wheel chair as a quadriplegic, who required 24 hour breathing assistance in order to survive. Her body began to deteriorate to the point where she began losing limbs to amputation because of her inability to move in bed.

Her remaining life was relegated to a bed or wheel chair, with absolutely no hope of recovery. In fact, had the same injury been sustained some 100 or more years earlier, the medical technology would not have existed to allow Maggie, or those like her to continue a physical existence. Is not the Christ of the Cross compassionate enough in His saving Grace to welcome into His loving arms those who so similarly find themselves?

I admit I am troubled by the vehicle Eastwood chose to end Maggie’s life. I believe that the process should follow a legalized, controlled and physician supervised set of guidelines. Eastwood’s character could and probably should have chosen a better alternative to help Maggie return home to her Creator. For example in Oregon, physician assisted suicide is an option available to some; however, that is subject to change since the United States Supreme Court has heard arguments on this issue (more on that in a later post, probably on my legal blog, NipomoBlawg.

In California today, patients have an absolute right to refuse lifesaving medical treatment (also the topic of another post–probably legal in nature). One case even dealt with the a patient’s right to turn off his respirator, which eventually led to his death. So, while I would have been more comfortable with a different vehicle for Maggie’s death in Million Dollar Baby, it probably wouldn’t have made as interesting a script as the one that won best picture for Clint Eastwood. Let me also digress for a bit here about the Oscars. I had hoped that The Passion of the Christ would have been nominated for more awards. I had also hoped that it would have won at least some awards. It was an extremely powerful film, with an even more powerful message. One more powerful than the one in Million Dollar Baby. Unfortunately Hollywood didn't see it that way.

While I agree with Richard that the central message of Passion of The Christ is one of hope, resurrection and a better life by and though Christ, I don’t see the message of Million Dollar Baby is one of pessimism or bad news. It is a movie that exemplifies compassion, which I think was and continues to be the hall mark of Christ’s life and example. There is room for both in the household of faith.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Trials of February 05

Like December or 04, much of February of this year I spent in another trial, in Ventura, this time. The verdict was just published on VerdictSearch.com, and is reproduced below:

Motor VehicleVan & motorcycle collision left one dead, one severely injured

Case Type: Motorcycle, Motor Vehicle - Road Defect, Government -
Municipalities, Motor Vehicle - Passenger, Motor Vehicle - Left Turn,
Motor Vehicle - Intersection, Wrongful Death, Motor Vehicle -
Weather Conditions, Torts - Immunity

Case: Carlos Alamillo, Corina Cedillos, Jesse Cedillos
and Sergio Cedillos v. Santiago Garcia Duarte and the City of Oxnard, No. CIV 199433
Venue: Superior Court of Ventura County, Ventura, CA
Judge: Charles R. McGrath

Date: 02-18-2005

PLAINTIFF(S)
Attorney:

Richard R. Bredlau; Richard R. Bredlau & Associates;
Ventura, CA, for Carlos Alamillo
Richard Loy; Law Offices of Richard Loy; Ventura, CA
for Sergio Cedillos, Corina Cedillos, Jesse Cedillos Jr.

Expert:

Harry Krueper Jr.; Traffic; San Bernardino, CA
called by: Richard Bredlau, Richard Loy
Dr. Cheryll Smith; Neuropsychology; Santa Barbara, CA
called by: Richard Bredlau, Richard Loy

DEFENDANT(S)
Attorney:

Bruce A. Finck; Benton, Orr, Duval & Buckingham;
Ventura, CA, for City of Oxnard
Guy W. Murray; Murray & Whitehead;
Nipomo, CA, for Santiago Garcia Duarte

Expert:

Harry Hurt; Motorcycle Helmets; Los Angeles, CA
called by: Bruce Finck, Guy Murray
Joseph Genovese; Traffic; Oxnard, CA called by:
Bruce Finck, Guy Murray
William Otto; Accident Investigation & Reconstruction/
Failure Analysis/Product Liability; Yorba Linda, CA
called by: Bruce Finck, Guy Murray

Insurer: Viking Insurance Co. for Duarte


On Oct. 22, 1999, at approximately 6:17 a.m., plaintiff's decedent
Jesse Cedillos, a 26-year-old assistant manager at Vegetable
Grower Supply, was riding a motorcycle with plaintiff Carlos Alamillo,
a 23-year-old co-worker, sitting behind him as a passenger. The pair
headed southbound on Rose Avenue in Oxnard.

Santiago Garcia Duarte was heading northbound in a van on Rose,
and stopped as he approached the intersection of Wooley Road.
He attempted to make a left onto Wooley, but did not see Cedillos'
motorcycle approach. The bike collided into the side of his van,
killing Cedillos and throwing Alamillo, who sustained injury.

Cedillos' widow, Corina, and Cedillos' two young sons,
Sergio and Jesse, Jr., sued Duarte for negligence and
the city of Oxnard for dangerous condition. Alamillo sued Duarte
and the city as well, and he settled the claim against Duarte for
policy limits before trial. The Cedillos family claimed that Duarte was
negligent for failing to yield to oncoming traffic. The Cedillos family
and Alamillo contended that Oxnard was liable for maintaining a
dangerous intersection at Rose and Wooley.

Both defendants contended that Cedillos was speeding at
45 mph, based on a mark on the motorcycle speedometer of
45 mph they called speedometer "slap", and/or that Cedillos
was driving too fast for conditions at the time, and that the plaintiffs
failed to wear appropriate helmet protection.

Duarte claimed that hedid yield to all oncoming visible traffic, but a
combination of fog and darkness made the motorcycle impossible to see.
Oxnard maintained that the intersection was not dangerous and that it
was protected by government code immunities for fog, no left-turn arrows
and discretion on intersection design.

Injury:

Cedillos died at the scene of the accident. Alamillo was thrown from the
motorcycle, and he sustained a fracture of his left arm and a closed
head injury. His attorneys claimed that he suffered brain injury which
made him underemployable.

Alamillo claimed $600,000 to $700,000 for medical expenses, past and
future lost wages, and non-economic damages. Cedillos' heirs sought
more than $1 million in damages for a loss of future income and loss of
companionship.

Oxnard's attorney contested the amount of brain injury Alamillo suffered,
as well as his prospects for future employment. Duarte's attorney made
no argument as to damages.

Verdict Information: The jury returned verdicts for both defendants.

Defense attorneys contended that the jury felt Duarte
exercised reasonable care in making his left turn, and felt
that the intersection was not dangerous.

Plaintiff attorneys contended the jury thought the intersection was
dangerous without left-turn arrows but felt Oxnard was protected
under government immunity for signals, fog and discretion on intersection
design. They contended that most jurors believed Oxnard will put in left-turn
arrows now that the case is over, and believed Alamillo sustained significant
brain injury and post-traumatic stress from seeing his friend die.

The most gruling part of the entire trial, which lasted from 1/26/05 through 2/18/05, was the daily drive from Nipomo to Ventura, and back again. I was ready for this trial to end by the time the jury was. I was very pleased Mr. Duarte was absolved of any liability for the accident. He was very concerned throughout the trial, and for the several years from the time of the accident until the verdict. He will forever be changed by the fact an individual died and another was injured in an accident in which he was a player.

Two trials in essentially two months. It's time for a respite!

It's a Good Thing


Finally, America and all of Wall Street are safe now that Martha has paid her debt to society. Welcome back Martha--it is a "good thing" to see you on the outside, almost, once again. I'm looking foward to her next Today Show appearance; however, from current news reports, it appears that will still be sometime away. In any event, we're glad you're back!