June 10, 2011

First Hurricane of the Year

Adrian is the first Mexican hurricane of the season, and according to NOAA, it will likely be followed by at least a half dozen more.


While hurricane season opened June 1, the first whopper didn’t hit till Wednesday, eight days into the season. Hurricane Adrian is a Category 4 storm packing sustained winds of 135 mph but she’s luckily located about 300 miles off Manzanillo and traveling in a WNW direction. Adrian may not hit land, but her effects will be felt throughout the Pacific, especially in Mexico where killer surf and riptides could pose safety risks. The National Hurricane Center says she’ll start weakening today.

With sustained winds of 135 mph, Adrian is packing a wallop, but her WNW trajectory is keeping her far from shore.


Here on the Bay, it almost looks as if summer has finally hit. Temps this weekend will be in the low 70s and summer-like westerlies of 10- to 20-knots will liven up Bay sailing. If your boat’s been moldering in the slip over this interminable spring, there’s no better place to shake out the mold spores than on the water!

You might need to layer up this weekend, but at least it isn’t raining!

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Alameda Fire Department Pulls Their ‘Weiner’

If you’re caught on the wrong side of a wind shift — no matter if you’re a New York Congressman who has been caught sexting an R-rated photo of his ‘junk’ to anonymous women on the internet or the Alameda Fire Department trying to explain why their alpha males refused to get their feet wet to prevent a despondent man from committing a slo-mo suicide off Crown Beach on Memorial Day — the best advice is always the same: If you have to eat shit, take big bites.

As Weiner, a candidate for the worst liar in the world, has so painfully learned, the most foolish thing you can do is let the truth dribble out ever so slowly. Had he manned up and told the truth from the beginning, Weinergate would have blown over a week ago.

And now the Alameda Fire Department apparently gets to learn the same lesson. Matthias Gagni of the Bay Area News Group has now reported in the Contra Costa Times that the Alameda Fire Department’s claim that they didn’t have any rescue swimmers because they hadn’t received funding for certification is just as big a lie as one of Weiner’s. According to Gagni, the fire department had the money allotted for rescue swimmer certification, they just didn’t spend it.

Gagni obtained a Fire Department memo written by Division Chief Dale Vogelsang on March 19 that read, "We [the Alameda Fire Department] have been approved funding to recertify instructors and train new swimmers. However, until this training is completed, per OSHA requirements, no members may be used as rescue swimmers." Vogelsang also wrote that he anticipated that training would commence in 30 to 45 days.

But the funded training never took place. Gagni reports that fire officials have declined to answer questions about why the funded training never took place. And he got no response from the president of the Alameda Firefighters Union either. This is now known as ‘Weinering-up’. Gagni also reports that a member of the Alameda City Council said nobody in the fire department told her the rescue swimmer certification had been terminated.

According to Gagni, "Capt. Richard Waggener, identified as the water operations manager in charge of restarting the program two years ago, was on the beach May 30 when Raymond Zack waded into the shallow waters off Crown Memorial State Beach. Eight other firefighters, a handful of police, and onlookers also watched the mentally ill man stand in the chilly water a few hundred feet offshore and slowly lose his life.

"Almost an hour after Zack waded into the water, glancing periodically back to shore, a young woman went in after him and pulled his body to shore, where firefighters attempted to resuscitate him, to no avail."

According to audio recordings obtained after a Bay Area News Group public records request, it was Capt. Waggener — "the water operations manager in charge of restarting the program two years ago" — who informed the police commander on the scene that fire crews "were not able to enter the water" to try to save Zack. "Not able" because they hadn’t been certified.

So if the money had been allotted for swimmer certification, why weren’t any fire fighters certified? And what happened to the $10,000 that was to pay for certification? Those are two good questions that deserve a swift and truthful answer from the Alameda Fire Department.

On the surface, this looks like just another example of why so many people — and we put ourselves at the top of the list — have become so cynical about government, from local fire departments to Congress. In our book, any government employee or official who straight face lies to the public ought to spend the next five years behind bars. And in a cell having to listen to the arrogantly loquacious Weiner explain why he shouldn’t have to resign.

Our feelings aren’t partisan. We don’t care if it’s a deputy sheriff in Lake County, a Democratic congressman from New York, a Republician senator from Nevada, an independent governor from Iowa, or a fireman from Alameda — if they knowingly lie to the public, their sorry asses belong behind bars, no pension, no nothing. Yeah, even if it’s an amiable crook such as Charlie Rangel of New York, who we think belongs in prison, not in Congress, for repeatedly lying and not paying taxes. Until the government starts making public servants and employees accountable for wrongdoing through genuine punishment — are you listening Senators Boxer and Feinstein, are you listening Alameda City Council? — it’s just going to become ever more corrupt. And without true accountability, our government is no more legitimate than that of Libya, Egypt or Afghanistan.

When she was Speaker of the House just a short time ago, San Francisco’s Nancy Pelosi famously proclaimed that she was going to "drain the swamp" of corrupt politicians. Yeah, right. She didn’t call for the resignation of Rangel, nor has she called for the resignation of Weiner. The swamp of corrupt government is so deep the Alameda Fire Department could train for the next 20 years and they’d still be afraid to put a toe in — but in that case, we wouldn’t blame them.

Please join us in demanding honest, transparent, squeaky clean government at all levels!

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The San Francisco Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a massive redevelopment project for Treasure Island yesterday.