🎰 Ain’t There No More, Vegas Style

We have a timeshare in Kaanapali Hawaii. I mention that because we rarely go there; normally we swap the time to stay someplace in driving distance of Los Angeles. I did that recently, spending a week at the Jockey Club in Las Vegas. The facility has an interesting history. Built in 1974 before the big building boom, it was built as a condominium (one of the first on the strip), and originally had a restaurant, high end shops, tennis courts, and plans for a casino. In 1977, they started selling timeshares. In 2004, they sold the undeveloped land and surface parking lot to a group that, after some ownership change, built the Cosmopolitan. But the Jockey Club remains, surrounded on three sides, because it will be impossible to get 14,000 owners (condos and timeshare) to ever agree on selling the buildings. It will ever be this outpost of 1980s Vegas surrounded by a town that has grown and changed around it.

I found the history of the Jockey Club interesting because one of my many hobbies is the history of Las Vegas. When we think of Las Vegas, what comes to mind is the Vegas of the late 1950s to perhaps 1980: the Vegas of neon signs on the strip. The Vegas of headliners and lounges. The Vegas with showgirls. The Vegas with name hotels like the Frontier, Sands, Flamingo, Sahara, Thunderbird, Dunes, Desert Inn. The Vegas of the Rat Pack. That Swingin’ town. The Vegas where the people had class, and dressed up. Oh, and the mob and Howard Hughes.

That Vegas is dead. That Vegas was built on hotels that had personality, that were built with an acceptable scale. They were different, each with their own character. They had unique signs, and unique people and stories behind them. But today that’s not the case. They are all massive boxes with no architectural character, and as you move from one to the next you often can’t tell you are in a different hotel. It doesn’t make that much of a difference, because they are owned by the same corporation. Rooms are the same. The pools and restaurants all feel the same. The signs are all large TV screens. “Residencies” are in massive arenas, and shows are pulsing rock music — often in rooms leased to the promoters and not programmed by the hotel. The Vegas is 2020 is nothing like the Vegas of 1960.

But as a student of history on vacation, I asked: What is left of the old Vegas. I knew the structures that were left. The answer was “not much”. There are some two story garden wings left at the Tropicana. There’s the casino at Circus Circus (circus building). There are the bones of the towers at the Sahara or Westgate (International). In terms of structure, that’s it. Although the names of the Flamingo and Caesars and Sahara live on, none of the original buildings, in their original form, are there. As for the signs? The oldest signs left (excluding Fremont Street) are the Flamingo sign (dating to 1970) and the Circus Circus clown (late 1960s). That’s it. Not much of the old town. Want the neon. Go to the museum.  The only part of old Vegas that remains is the racism under the surface.

ETA: Here are two good resources that sent me down a fun rabbit hole: (1) Mountain West Digital Library: Historical Maps of Las Vegas;  (2) Historical Maps at NDOT. UNLV also has some great digital collections.

Being a highway guy, I decided to see if I could drive and find the old Vegas. I went out W Bonanza looking for evidence of the famed Moulin Rogue. There’s nothing. An empty lot across from the LVRJ space. I could only figure it out from the mural. I went S and W out old 95: Fremont St, Charleston, Boulder Highway. The Showboat is gone, to be replaced by apartments. The big casinos near Henderson are new. You could only tell the old highway by the remaining motor courts and used car lots, many of which are derelict. The few of those that remained on old 91, by the way, are being killed by the highway work being done on LV Blvd by the City of Las Vegas. There are remnants of the neon, but not much.

I tried to imagine what my parents or grandparents saw driving into the town. I have only vague memories of that time, coming out for a Shriners Convention at the Aladdin in the mid 1970s. Vast expanses of desert. Billboards for Foxy’s Deli. SIgns with the headliners. All gone. Even the Stuckey’s by the side of the road are gone.

Do I enjoy Vegas today? To some extent, but more to explore the history and the art. The casinos are just a room; the gambling of no interest other than the math and people watching. The shows tend to be “meh”: certainly not the nice dinner shows of old.

What is it to gain a resort, and lose its soul?

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🎰 Vegas and Race

Recently, I was in Las Vegas. While there, I visited my favorite hangout, the Pinball Hall of Fame.  While there, I couldn’t help but notice the back glass on my favorite games from the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s. All featured scantily clad teen-aged and college women, designed to titillate  the young men playing pinball in the arcades at the time (I’m looking at you, Music Odyssey in West LA). All of whom… were white. This wasn’t a surprise: despite the societal upheavals, there was still a lot of segregation and these games had to sell in the south.

Las Vegas was similarly segregated in the 1950s and 1960s. Black performers of the time couldn’t stay in the strip hotels. They either had to stay in separate trailers, or stay downtown, on the west side, in the industrial part of downtown, not even in glitter gulch. The one resort that welcomed them closed after 6 months, due to pressure from the big casinos.

Ah, but you would say times have changed. Look at the strip today. It is bustling with people of all colors, shapes, and sizes. Black, white, and brown are welcomed into casinos — all that matters is that their (virtual) money is green and their credit is good. But look deeper. What is seen cannot be unseen. Look at the people on the slot machines. White. Asian, but only from the Crazy Rich Asian franchise. Black? The closest you come is the genie from Aladdin. Look at the ads on all the big screen hotels marquees. It is all well-dressed white people enjoying themselves. The people dining in the fancy restaurants on those screens and in the ads. All white. The people shopping in all the fabulous stores? All white. The dancers in all the dance revues? All white? Based on the screens, Vegas is appealing to the rich white fantasy, not the people on the street. Even the cards for the strippers that they hand out? You see them littering the streets. All white.

It made me think that the Vegas of today isn’t all that different from the Vegas of yore. Hotels are advertising for the cliental they want. They may love the money they are making, but what does this say about the big corporations behind the operations. They aren’t seeing most minorities as the “whales” with the money they want to take.

This made me not want to patronize the big casinos (and I wasn’t staying in one — I was in a timeshare surrounded by one that was independent). I don’t gamble, and generally gave my dining dollar to local owed joints when I could. But I just kept seeing it, and it kept bothering me.

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🍏🍯🍎🍯 L’Shanah Tovah – Happy New Year – 5782

Apple in Honeyuserpic=tallitRosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, starts at sundown tomorrow (Tuesday) night, September 7th. Thus, it’s time for my annual New Years message for my family, my real-life, Blog,  Dreamwidth, Google+, Tumblr, Twitter, and Facebook friends (including all the new ones I have made this year), and all other readers of my journal:

L’Shana Tovah. Happy New Year 5782. May you be written and inscribed for a very happy, sweet, and healthy new year.

For those curious about Jewish customs at this time: There are a number of things you will see. The first is an abundance of sweet foods. Apples dipped in honey. Honey cakes. The sweet foods remind us of the sweet year to come. Apples in honey, specifically, express our hopes for a sweet and fruitful year. Apples were selected because in ancient times they became a symbol of the Jewish people in relationship to God. In Song of Songs, we read, “As the apple is rare and unique among the trees of the forest, so is my beloved [Israel] amongst the maidens [nations] of the world.” In medieval times, writes Patti Shosteck in A Lexicon of Jewish Cooking, apples were considered so special that individuals would use a sharp utensil or their nails to hand-carve their personal hopes and prayers into the apple skins before they were eaten. And the Zohar, a 13th-century Jewish mystical text, states that beauty – represented by God – “diffuses itself in the world as an apple.” With respect to the honey: honey – whether from dates, figs, or apiaries – was the most prevalent sweetener in the Jewish world and was the most available “sweet” for dipping purposes. And as for the biblical description of Israel as a land flowing with “milk and honey,” the Torah is alluding to a paste made from overripe dates, not honey from beehives. Still, enjoying honey at Rosh HaShanah reminds us of our historic connection with the Holy Land. Although the tradition is not in the Torah or Talmud, even as early as the 7th century, it was customary to wish someone, “Shana Tova Umetukah” (A Good and Sweet Year).
(Source: Reform Judaism Website)

Rosh Hashanah ImagesAnother traditional food is a round challah. Some say they it represents a crown that reflects our coronating God as the Ruler of the world. Others suggest that the circular shape points to the cyclical nature of the year. The Hebrew word for year is “shana,” which comes from the Hebrew word “repeat.” Perhaps the circle illustrates how the years just go round and round. But Rosh Hashana challahs are not really circles; they are spirals… The word “shana” has a double meaning as well. In addition to “repeat,” it also means “change”. As the year goes go round and round, repeating the same seasons and holidays as the year before, we are presented with a choice: Do we want this shana (year) to be a repetition, or do we want to make a change (shinui)? Hopefully, each year we make choices for change that are positive, and each year we will climb higher and higher, creating a spiritual spiral. The shape of the Rosh Hashana challah reminds us that this is the time of year to make those decisions. This is the time to engage in the creative spiritual process that lifts us out of the repetitive cycle, and directs our energies toward a higher end.
(Source: Aish Ha’Torah)

There are also apologies, for during the ten days starting Tuesday evening, Jews examine their lives and see how they can do better. On Yom Kippur (starting the evening of September 15th), Jews apologize to G-d for their misdeeds during the past year. However, for an action against another person, one must apologize to that person.

So, in that spirit:

If I have offended any of you, in any way, shape, manner, or form, real or imagined, then I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done anything to hurt, demean, or otherwise injure you, I apologize and beg forgiveness. If I have done or said over the past year that has upset, or otherwise bothered you, I sincerely apologize, and will do my best to ensure it won’t happen again.

If you have done something in the above categories, don’t worry. I know it wasn’t intentional, and I would accept any apology you would make.

May all my blog readers and all my friends have a very happy, healthy, and meaningful new year. May you find in this year what you need to find in life.

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🛣 Changes to the California Highway Website covering June-August 2021

Blah blah blah introduction. Perhaps I should go with that.

Seriously, though. We’re at the end of Summer 2021, and the best thing I can say is that we’re not having to deal with a Presidential campaign again. COVID is still here, however, impacting travel. I did get some travel in over my summer, with drives to Los Osos, Scottsdale, and Las Vegas, and exploration of the Route 166 corridor and the Route 58 corridor between I-15 and Route 14. I got to see the construction they are doing S of Mojave on Route 14, and got to kill off a load of podcasts. Hopefully you’ve had a safe summer. As always: Please make sure you are vaccinated, and please continue to wear masks. Neither complete eliminates risk, but they are both key factors in reducing risk to an acceptable level. As someone who has been working in Cybersecurity for over 35 years, I understand how being risk adverse can blind you to the importance of doing the simple things to reduce risk. Just as with our highways, our goals should be to reduce the risks whereever we can.

On to the updates.

Updates were made to the following highways, based on my reading of the papers from the last week of May 2021 through xxxx 2021 (which are posted to the roadgeeking category at the “Observations Along The Road” and to the CaliforniaHighways Facebook group) as well as any backed up email changes. I also reviewed the the AAroads forum (Ꜳ). This resulted in changes on the following routes, with credit as indicated [my research(ℱ), contributions of information or leads (via direct mail or ꜲRoads) from Anthony R. Brooks(1), Tom Fearer(2), Brian Nordon(3),  Tony Ortega(4), Scott Parker(5), Joe Rouse(6), Chris Sampang(7), Carol Stephens(8): Route 1(ℱ,2), Route 4(ℱ), Marine Route 5 (M-5)(ℱ), I-5(ℱ,2), Route 11(ℱ), Route 16(2), Route 17(ℱ), Route 18(ℱ),  Route 25(ℱ), Route 29(ℱ), Route 33(2), Route 35(ℱ), Route 36(ℱ), Route 37(ℱ), Route 41(ℱ,2), Route 46(ℱ,2), US 50(ℱ,2), Route 58(6,5), Route 71(ℱ), Route 74(ℱ),  Route 77(ℱ,1), I-80(ℱ,2), Route 88(ℱ), Route 91(ℱ,1,4), Route 99(ℱ,2), US 101(ℱ,2), Route 110(ℱ), Route 113(2), Route 121(ℱ), Route 132(ℱ), Route 135(ℱ), Route 136(3),  Route 140(ℱ), LRN 148(ℱ), Route 152(ℱ), Route 156(ℱ), Route 166(ℱ), Route 174(ℱ), Route 176(ℱ), Route 187(ℱ), Route 207(ℱ), Route 247(ℱ), Route 249(8), Route 273(ℱ), Route 275(2), Former US 399(2),  US 395(ℱ), I-405(ℱ), I-580(ℱ),  Marine Route 580(ℱ), I-680(ℱ), I-710(ℱ), County Sign Route A13(ℱ), County Sign Route 66(7).
(Source: private email, Highway headline posts through August 2021 as indicated, AARoads through 09/05/2021)

Updated the links to the Cal-NexUS pages and the highway exits, because Caltrans went and moved things again(ℱ). Updated the El Camino Real Bells page to reflect the removal of the El Camino Real bell from downtown Santa Cruz, and the rationale therefore(ℱ). Updated the Statistics page to better reflect the shortness of Route 77(1).

Marine Highway SystemAdded information on the National Marine Highway System(ℱ):
(Source: CleanTechnica, 6/22/2021US DOT Maritime Administration: National Marine Highways, 6/2021)

In California waters, there are two routes: Route 5 (M-5) and Route 580 (M-580). The US Department of Transportation has a special webpage all about this system of marine highways, complete with a map of the system. The system’s highways are numbered the same as nearby Interstate Highways from which they could relieve congestion. The DOT Maritime Administration (MARAD)’s Marine Highway Program has one major goal: expand the use of America’s navigable waters. They closely with public and private organizations to:

  • Develop and expand marine highway service options and facilitate their further integration into the current U.S. surface transportation system, especially where water-based transport is the most efficient, effective and sustainable option
  • Highlight the benefits, increase public awareness and promote waterways as a viable (in some cases a superior) alternative to “landside” shipping and transportation options

The Marine Highway system currently includes 26 “Marine Highway Routes” that serve as extensions of the surface transportation system. Each all-water route is designated by the Secretary and offers relief to landside corridors suffering from traffic congestion, excessive air emissions or other environmental challenges. For the highways in California, a section was added to the appropriate route page providing information on the Marine highway route.

Reviewed the Pending Legislation page, based on the California Legislature site. As usual, I recommend to every Californian that they visit the legislative website regularly and see what their legis-critters are doing. As many people are unfamiliar with how the legislature operates (and why there are so many “non-substantive changes” and “gut and amend” bills), I’ve added the legislative calendar to the end of the Pending Legislation page. Noted the passage of the following:

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – August 2021

The end of August. Summer is coming to an end, although the hot days are still here (and the Santa Ana winds are still to come, which is scary given the fires we’ve had so far). I hope everyone is staying safe with all the dangers out there — COVID, brush fires, flash floods, monsoons. Please do what you can to stay safe. Get vaccinated. Vote “no” on the recall. Watch out for flash floods. Stay out of evacuation zones. Watch out for the draft. Stay away from Texas.

This post was delayed a bit because I was on vacation in Las Vegas. I plan to do some posts about that: one looking at the subtle racism that is still present in the town that once you see, you can’t unsee. The other looking at how the town — and the roads — have changed. We all wax rhapsodic about “Classic” Vegas, but classic vegas is no more. There are no headliners like the headliners of old, there are no lounges or showrooms like the ones of old, there are no hotels like the hotels of old, there are no signs like the signs of old. There are glimmers, fleeting, of the past. But was the past better? Is today’s Vegas better? You’ll have to read my upcoming posts to know.

One thing the trip to Vegas makes clear is that change is here to stay (unless you are exchanging it for a gambling voucher or playing Pinball at the Pinball Hall of Fame). The days of driving US 91 to Vegas, seeing the signs for the hotels and for Foxy’s Deli are gone. Stuckey’s is only a memory. The roads are crowded, and filled with people trying to get there an extra five minutes earlier. The headlines this month capture the change.

One other thing the end of summer will bring us is another round of highway page updates. They are almost done, and these headlines will be included in that update. So watch this space. After the headlines are posted, all that will remain is reviewing the AARoads Pacific Southwest forum for updates. As always, if you see a naming sign in the wild (i.e., a sign with the name of a highway) and I don’t have a picture of that sign in the NAMING section for the route, please send me the photo. Your name will be immortalized as a contributor.

And lastly, all together now: “Ready, set, discuss”.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, $$ really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions. I’m no longer going to list the paper names, as I’m including them in the headlines now. Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Full closure of northbound State Route 113 to Interstate 5 begins Monday (California News Times). According to the California Department of Transportation, the full closure of State Highway 113 to Interstate 5 will begin on Monday, according to Caltrans. Drivers are advised to plan ahead. The road will be officially closed at 9 pm on Monday and will reopen at 5 am on August 23. Caltrans recommends the following detours: NBSR-113 to NBI-5. Remove Main Street from the ramp (Exit 37) and turn right onto East Main Street. Use I-5 South On Lamp (Sacramento) from East Main. From SB I-5, take County Road 102 (Exit 536) and turn left. Proceed to the right and take the NB I-5 (Reading) from CR-102 back to I-5 bound for the north. Everyone living in this area expects loud construction noise, and drivers in this area need to anticipate lane restrictions and be aware of commercial vehicles.
  • Why improving the drive to Southern California is so complicated (Las Vegas Sun News). Jim Nares is all too familiar with the Sunday morning routine of waking up early in his Las Vegas hotel room to get a head start on the drive back to Southern California via Interstate 15. Sleeping in poses a seemingly unavoidable hurdle: Long hours stuck in traffic getting home to Winchester, Calif. Nares has been traveling by car with his wife to Las Vegas for 20 years for outdoor recreation, restaurants and light gambling. To keep the return drive at the minimum of four hours, Nares opts for either an early-morning departure or late-night arrival back home. Leaving in the afternoon when thousands of others hit the road is out of the question, he says. “I don’t like traveling back on Sunday,” he said. “Sometimes it just happens. … If we do, we definitely try to be past state line by 9 a.m., otherwise we just stick around (Las Vegas) until, like, 6, 7 p.m.” The parade of bumper-to-bumper traffic is a Sunday afternoon ritual heading back to California. Residents of California accounted for 21% of visitors to Las Vegas in 2019, according to the most recent Visitor Profile Study by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. During the pandemic when air travel was limited because of safety concerns, drive-in visitors from California helped keep the local economy moving. Having those visitors stalled in traffic is concerning, Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom said. After all, the last impression of someone’s visit shouldn’t be delays on the road.
  • How does the Caltrans project on Highway 41 compare to other similar endeavors? (KMPH). After decades of accidents along a two-lane stretch of Highway 41 in Fresno County, Caltrans is installing a center barrier that will keep people from crossing into oncoming traffic to pass slower drivers ahead of them. That came after a push by a group called Widen Highway 41 that a woman named Lorna Roush founded after her cousin’s husband Ken Atkins was killed in a head-on crash. “This is a temporary fix. It’s a Band Aid,” Roush said of the K-Rail. “We’re going to save lives from head-ons while we work on the logistics of getting that widened to four lanes.”
  • American Canyon plots the future look of Highway 29 (Napa Valley Register). American Canyon is trying to keep its Highway 29 of the future from becoming an irrevocably entrenched Anywhere, USA blur of strip malls, parking lots and clashing architecture. “That is the front door to our city,” city Community Development Director Brent Cooper said. It’s also a front door/first impression for Napa County. A sign in American Canyon along Highway 29 depicts vineyards and pristine hillsides and proclaims, “Where your Napa Valley experience begins.”
  • Newsom Signs S.B. 51, Durazo’s Legislation that Changes Law on Caltrans Tenant Property Sales (Streetsblog California). Last week, Governor Gavin Newsom signed S.B. 51, state legislation that changes a four-decades-old law that governs how Caltrans-owned residential properties along the 710 corridor will be sold. Critics contend that the changes will make it harder for tenants, some of whom have lived in the properties for forty years, to purchase the properties. The legislation’s author, Senator Maria Elena Durazo, contends the legislation will make it easier to preserve the existing stock as affordable housing for current and future generations.

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🗳 Decision 2021: California Gubernatorial Recall Election Analysis

It’s been a year, hasn’t it. In many parts of the country, we have a segment of the populace who refused to accept the results of the 2020 election. They are conducting post-certification audits and waving their hands in the direction of various made-up conspiracies to change the results of the 2020 election (won’t happen), and attempting to manipulate voting rules to ensure they win future elections (we need to fight that — everyone who is legally entitled to should be able to vote, and vote without impediments being put in their way).

Here in California, a certain segment of the state (what I would call the “State of Jefferson” — the rural and conservative portions of the state) is also fighting an election. They are trying to change the results of our last Gubernatorial election through use of the recall process. There is a low threshold of signatures required to initiate a recall, and they were able to reach it. As a result, we have this special election, taking place on September 14 and wasting $276 million of the state’s money (which could be used towards more important things, like emergency firefighting). But we have a ballot, and that ballot requires analysis. So let’s dig in, shall we?

Question 1: Shall GAVIN NEWSOM be recalled?

❌ No.

Look, Gavin Newsom isn’t perfect. He does boneheaded things, like the French Laundry incident. He screws up getting his affiliation right on the ballot, and fails to ensure there is a strong viable Democrat on the ballot as a potential replacement in case he is recalled. That’s overconfidence, and that’s a problem.

But he also led this state through the Pandemic, and left us with a surplus. He has picked good people to run the state agencies. He hasn’t done anything that is majorly problematic or created legal issues. He should be allowed to finish his term. We can look to replace him at the next General election in 2022, for a term starting in 2023.

Recalls should be reserved for major malfeasance. Ideally, recalls shouldn’t be required at all; the legislature should be responsive enough to impeach if there is major malfeasance. Recalls emphatically should not be used because a minority of voters don’t like the fact they are a minority of voters.

Question 2: Who should replace Gavin Newsom, if he is recalled?

This is a much harder question. We have a field of 46 candidates, mostly unknown. The ones that are well known have other major problems. Let’s see if we can winnow them down.

Republicans (Over Half the List – 24):

There are 23 Republicans on the ballot: Ose, Killens, Kiley, Trimino, Faulconer, Furin, Newman, Gallucci, Gaines, Jenner, Zacky, LeRoux, Lozano, Lodge, Martinez, Mercuri, Bramante, Hillberg, Elder, Cox, Wildstar, Stephens, Stoner, Symmon. Some are well known politically, such as Faulconer, Elder, and Cox. Some are kooks, but well known, such as Jenner. The rest are unknowns, driven more than anger than anything else.

If we had a real moderate, non-Trumpublican, on the ballot — like Schwartzenegger or former LA Mayor Dick Riorden, that might be one thing. But this bunch? They all subscribe to various Trumpublican theories:

  • Doug Ose: Although he has carefully scrubbed his website of Trump references and dog-whistles, Ose was a major supporter of Trump in 2016. Although he has accepted the 2020 results, he also refuses to blame Trump for his part in the violence on Jan 6.  He ran for Governor in 2018 and lost. Nope.
  • Chauncey Killens: Still supports Trump, and participated in the Jan 6 attack on the capitol. His personal website (he doesn’t have a campaign website) says that he wants “to change the cultural atmosphere to a Christian worldview”. Nope.
  • Kevin Kiley: Sued Newsom over COVID19 restrictions and led the recall effort against him. He has fought vaccine passports, which encourages falsified results and endangers public health. Kiley’s agenda includes a move away from mask and vaccine requirements, and education policies that favor charter schools and a school voucher program. Nope.
  • Anthony Trimino: Trimino’s Instragram unveils some interesting nuggets: He’s against mask mandates (tying them to freedom); thinks mask and vaccine mandates are Socialism (showing he doesn’t understand what he is saying). Nope.
  • Kevin L. Faulconer: One of the few R’s with name recognition, as the former mayor of San Diego. He’s been touted as one of the strongest Republicans in the field. He also voted for Trump in 2020, and has a horrible record as mayor of San Diego. He does support vaccines. Still, I’m not sure I could vote for someone that voted for Trump.
  • Rhonda Furin: She’s retweeting posts about how the Arizona election was stolen and other conspiracy theories. She echoes the “socialism” theory of folks like AOC. Her campaign focus is education, but her embrace of conspiracies makes her a “Nope”.
  • Robert C. Newman II:  Ran for Governor in 2010. He is anti-abortion, and very much a “get off my lawn” type. He’s also a kook: “Digest this, nothing is new to the Creator, God. And off road vehicles and their use were known to Him long before the wheel was invented. God even knows habit and niche of the species of concern.” Nope.
  • Sam L. Gallucci:  He’s a senior pastor and founder of a ministry.  I don’t think pastors should, in general, be state executives. Other than that, he hasn’t said much. But being a pastor is enough of a problem. Nope.
  • Ted Gaines: He supports Prop 13, and wants to change voting rules. He is against mask mandates.  He was a delegate for Trump. Nope.
  • Caitlyn Jenner: First and foremost: I could care less that she is trans. That’s the least problematic aspect of her candidacy. She supports vaccines, but is against mandates. She has pledged to support Trump if he makes another bid for the White House. Nope.
  • Leo S. Zacky: Central valley farmer, and heir to Zacky Farms, but has no positions on his website. Political neophyte. I can’t really find positions on his website or the web, or history. His use of the word “patriot”, however, makes me think of a dogwhistle. Nope.
  • Jenny Rae Le Roux: Wants optional vaccination and masks. No mandates to encourage vaccination. She has some interesting dog-whistles to the white supremacy crowd: “I will deprioritize courses that teach young children one-sided ideologies.” Viewing an honest view of history as a “one-sided ideology” makes her a “Nope”.
  • David Lozano:  Wants 100% full health care coverage (good). Badly designed website. Has run for the House twice and lost. Appears to have donated to Trump. Not impressed enough.
  • Steve Chavez Lodge: Fiance of ‘Real Housewives’ star Vicki Gunvalson. Focuses on corrections. Supports Prop 13. OC Weekly has a great line: “Steven Chavez Lodge, a former dirty Santa Ana cop, is the grandest farce of Anaheim’s first go at district elections. The Republican is carpetbagging his way to city council, asking residents to really believe he’s a full-timer at the Azul apartments in West Anaheim (Betcha he never had a potato taco from El Patio in his life!). But the true hilarity of Lodge’s council bid comes from his supporters, from an anti-immigrant campaign consultant to a Trump lover!” Nope.
  • Diego Martinez: His For/Against on his campaign home page have some interesting signaling: ✔ 2nd Amendment; ✔ Life; ✔ Freedom; ✔ Police [translation: pro-guns, anti-abortion; against masks and mandates; thin blue line]; ❌ Mandatory Vaccinations; ❌ Defunding Police; ❌ Voter Fraud; ❌ Socialism; ❌ Communism [the latter two are against democrats]. He has supported Trump at a Trump Rally in Turlock. Nope.
  • Daniel Mercuri: Santa Clarita based. From his website: “Socialism, Marxism, and Communistic ideologies are sweeping across the entire country.”. Nope. Republican talking points.  Appears to use black imagery to scare on his website. Supporter of Trump. Shares conspiracy theories on Rumble. Nope.
  • David Alexander Bramante: 100% against vaccine mandates. Opposes vaccine passports. Supports gun rights. Believes “our bodies, our choice” when it comes to masks, but not abortion. Nope.
  • David Hillberg: Actor, no campaign website. Feels put upon for being conservative. Part of Californians for Trump. Nope.
  • Larry Elder: Another well known candidate. Opposes COVID mandates. Does not believe in systematic racism or “defund the police”. Believed Trump deserved 4 more years. Nope.
  • John Cox: The third well known Republican. Ran for Gov in the past and lost. Exploits animals in advertising without consent. Didn’t vote for Trump, but was endorsed by Trump. His website is scant on details and positions.  Opposes vaccine mandates and testing. Nope.
  • Nickolas Wildstar: Ran for mayor of Fresno. His website is a mix of Democratic positions (such as municipal power) and Republican blather (lower taxes, lower regulation). He was a libertarian in the past. Against Trump, but appears to be a conspiracy theorist in the other direction. Can’t take him seriously. Nope.
  • Sarah Stephens: Boy, that family portrait on the cover of her website is scary. Talks about “unhealthy indoctrination in schools”.  Anti-abortion. 2nd amendment supporter. I think she’s anti-vaccine: “Vaccinations should not have to require a reason to skip a vaccine, including philosophical or religious reasons and should be a simple opt out, not required.” Nope.
  • Denver Stoner: No campaign website.  No information I could find.
  • Joe M. Symmon: Kenya-born clergyman. Very religious; his issues page says “The U.S. Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and Bill of Rights are documents inspired by God.” There’s no much more information

So, looking at the Republicans as a whole, there are some common mantras. Lower taxes. Cut regulation. Stop “indoctrination” in the schools (no one is pro-“indoctrination”, but presenting the truth is not indoctrination). Support guns. Eliminate the ability to get abortions. None of this I agree with. I can’t really support the Republican candidates at all.

The Minor Parties: Green (2) and Libertarian (1)

There are three candidates in this group, although arguably Wildstar should also be Libertarian:

  • Dan Kapelovitz (Green): Bernie Supporter. Strongly progressive. Supports ranked-choice voting. Strongly pro-vaccine and pro-public health. Opposes the recall. I like his platform a lot. A possibility.
  • Heather Collins (Green): No campaign website. Beauty salon owner. Seems to be upset at the regulations in her industry. One note. Nope.
  • Jeff Hewitt (Libertarian): Riverside County Supervisor. Moss-backed old fart, based on “One trick that really pokes me in the gizzard is…”.  Supported Joe Jurgenson (Libertarian).  Has some interesting policies, but I’m not sure whether I believe the smaller government mantra as much. Not my cup of tea at the present time.

Of these three, I like Kapelovitz the best.

No Party Preference (10)

I’m doing this group next because this is where the real kooks and nuts show up.

  • Major Singh: Sikh. Wants the recall. Has no positions on his website. Next.
  • Kevin K. KaulBusinessman. Indian. Bad website with no positions. Next.
  • Dennis Richter:  No candidate website. Socialist workers party. Next.
  • Michael LoebsCalifornia National Party. This party has standard progressive positions with one interesting plank: “Protect and expand California’s existing autonomy with increasing moves toward true sovereignty.” Sorry, at this time I can’t support that. Next.
  • Denis Lucey: No campaign website. Voters Edge notes his top three priorities are (1) 50% Child Custody Rights to all Competent Parents (2) Native Californian involvement in all Environmental Issues (3) Stop Parental Alienation and Childhood Divorce Trauma. Seems one note. Next.
  • Jeremiah Marciniak:  No campaign website, although he does use YouTube. Doesn’t strike me as a serious candidacy. Next.
  • David Moore: No campaign website. Socialist Equality Party. Next.
  • Angelyne: I’m sorry, but this seems like a PR stunt. From the site: “CA shall implement an annual masquerade ball for people to dress up like a governor!” Next.
  • James G. Hanink: American Solidarity Party. Strongly “pro-life” and against gay marriage. Some other pro-social justice positions, but on the whole… Next.
  • Adam Papagan: “Regular guy”. No real positions, other than attacking homelessness and taxing billionaires. Tour guide. Seems to be a PR stunt.

None of these candidates seem worthy of support.

Democrats (9):

Gavin Newsom convinced any Democrat with a name not to run, as he was so confident that the recall would win. That was a boneheaded move. He should have had his Lt. Gov. run as a backup. But we’ve got who we’ve got.

  • Patrick Kilpatrick: Former actor. His personal webpage is … strange. Wants to lower taxes. Pushes for bringing back the film/TV business. Secure borders. Highway expansion at grid checkpoints (how?). He doesn’t say how he will do any of this. He doesn’t mention COVID. I don’t think he understands the politics and complexity of the state. Next.
  • Joel Ventresca:  Berniecrat. Standard Bernie-crat positions (which aren’t bad). Administrator at SFO, and ran for mayor of SF. Pro-Recall. I’m lukewarm about this guy. Is there someone better?
  • Brandon M. Ross. MD and Attorney. Does not believe in a mask mandate (👎🏼). Would not mandate vaccines, allowing people to opt out for any reason (👎🏼). Wants to drastically cut taxes.  Political neophyte. Not congruent with his ideas.
  • Jacqueline McGowan: States her position as a cannabis policy advisor. Good positions on COVID (all have access to vaccine, mandatory for state employees once there is final FDA approval, mask mandates). Good homelessness and housing advocacy positions. A bit pro-cannabis.  Not sure she could win.
  • Holly L. Baade: Personal health and wellness guide. Reading her background: Far too much flakes and nuts.
  • John R. Drake:  Has good positions on the issues. Seems very young. No political background. Just graduated community college this year.
  • Kevin Paffrath: You-Tube Star. 29-year-old former real estate broker, who earned $10 million on You-Tube. Supports recall. Reading through his positions, they are interesting but unrealistic.
  • Armando Perez-Serrato: His positions sound more Republican. Nope.
  • Daniel Watts: Free speech lawyer. That’s about it.

Shit. I was hoping the Democrats would give me someone to work with. The best of the bunch is Joel Ventresca.

Conclusion

The recall better fail, or California is screwed until 2023. Luckily, the Governor can’t do much on his own if the legislature is against him, but the works are going to be gummed up. For those who are against the recall, the best choice in case the recall happens is… between Dan Kapelovitz (Green) and Joel Ventresca (Democratic). Both have good positions and training. Ventresca has slightly better experience, but Kapelovitz is more in tune with the bulk of California.

Reluctant conclusion: ✔ Dan Kapelovitz (Green). But vote NO on the recall.

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – July 2021

July. We’ve seen heat. We’ve seen fires. We’ve seen floods (especially if you were in Arizona).

For me, July brought a trip to Phoenix and Tucson (and some side exploration into the Arizona state highway system). It saw completion of the pool remodel, together with some unanticipated gas line work. It saw me spending more time in the pool than I’ve spent in the previous 15 years in this house, now that the pool is fixed. In terms of highway page updates: I’ve started on them. I’m currently working through the June headlines — my goal will be to finish them and upload around Labor Day, but we shall see.

In the larger world, it saw the Delta variant spread. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Get vaccinated. It is the best way to get us back to something approaching normal and back on the roads again. If you have any questions or hesitancy, drop me an email and I’ll try to work you through it. Of course, if you say it is spinach and to hell with it, you get to live with the consequences.

August will see one more driving trip: Back to Vegas, perhaps this time with a bit more road exploration. What are you doing out on the roads that is interesting? Share your stories, or discuss the headlines. In any case, “ready, set, discuss”.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls,  really obnoxious paywalls, and  other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; VN/Valley News; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; DS/Desert Sun; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; MH/Monterey Herald; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; SFG/SF Gate; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; SIT/Sonoma Index Tribune; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; DNT/Del Norte Triplicate; NW/Newsweek; UKT/The Telegraph (UK); ENR/Engineering News Record .  Note: For paywalls, sometimes the only way is incognito mode, grabbing the text before the paywall shows, and pasting into an editor. ]

Highway Headlines

  • Yolo Causeway Grant (Dept. of Transportation). The Yolo County Transportation District will be awarded $85.9 million in grant funding to improve traffic flow in the I-80 corridor on the west side of the Sacramento-Yolo metro area. Project elements include: implementing approximately 17 miles of managed lanes from the Yolo/Solano County line through Yolo County to West El Camino Avenue on I-80 and to I-5 on US-50 in Sacramento County; the construction of new lanes on some segments and restriping to add lanes or using existing lanes for approximately 2.7 miles of the project; adding ITS elements along I-80 and US-50, including fiber optics, detection, changeable message signs, and ramp meters; improvements to the Yolo Causeway cycling and pedestrian facility through reduced curve radii and additional crosswalk, sidewalk lighting, and safety elements. The project will also include two auxiliary lanes and will add ramp meters at seven locations.
  • $86 Million Approved to Upgrade the I-80 Corridor in Yolo County (Davis Vanguard). With the economy re-opening, the reprieve that Davis felt for the last 15 months or so with regard to traffic backing up from I-80 bottlenecks at the Causeway—and causing spillover impacts on local roads like Mace—could be letting up. While the city has pledged to restructure Mace to hopefully alleviate some jam, the longer term fix is likely to free up traffic on I-80, some of which backs up from the Causeway. The long-term fix is more vehicle travel lanes and that just got a big boost in the form of a grant to CalTrans.
  • UPCOMING STATE ROUTE 4 PROJECTS IN SAN JOAQUIN DELTA (Caltrans District 10 on FB). Please see info-graphic for details on upcoming, major projects on State Route 4 between Stockton and Discovery Bay, including start dates and detour information. Exact dates for lane closures and 55-hour weekend closures will be made available in future traffic advisories once the schedules are finalized.
  • /SACBEE Yolo Causeway on I-80 freeway in CA to get new toll lane (Sac Bee). Interstate 80 over the Yolo Causeway is the only direct entrance from the Bay Area to the capital region. For years, it’s become increasingly congested – a bottleneck that delays and aggravates commuters, commercial truckers and recreational travelers alike. “It paralyzes the region,” Yolo County Supervisor Don Saylor said. “Sacramento is the capital of the largest state in the country, and approaching it on I-80 is gridlocked.” That appears about to change. Sacramento officials say they have won a major federal grant to widen a 17-mile stretch of I-80 and Highway 50 through Yolo County by adding a “managed” lane in each direction. Some drivers may pay a toll to use the lane during certain hours. Sacramento-area U.S. Rep. John Garamendi announced Wednesday morning the federal Department of Transportation has agreed to grant the region $86 million toward planning, designing and building the lanes, which would start near the Yolo/Solano county line and run east to the Highway 50 bridge over the Sacramento River between West Sacramento and downtown Sacramento. “This project will greatly improve traffic flow across the Yolo Bypass,” Garamendi said, as well as “reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and improve agricultural and manufactured goods movement to the Port of Oakland, Port of West Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, and the greater Sacramento region.”
  • /SIT Road projects complicate travel through Sonoma (Sonoma News). Sonoma motorists are in the midst of a cross-town facelift for Highway 12, a Caltrans resurfacing project for the state route though the city. That project will follow Sonoma Highway through summer and fall, with the aim to be complete by October – or taken up again early in 2022. But work isn’t limited to the Caltrans effort. At present, motorists are directed through a busy construction zone on Sonoma Highway between Lichtenberg and Boyes Boulevard. It’s part of the on-going PG&E natural gas main replacement that’s been going on for well over a year, much of it accomplished already but much of it still ahead. Now that PG&E pipeline project has also just started on a common cross-town route, on West MacArthur Street, from Fifth Street West to Highway 12, Broadway. Work began on that section on June 28 and is not expected to be completed until October. PG&E and its contractor, ARB, will be replacing a portion of a natural gas transmission pipeline, work that includes trenching underneath West MacArthur to replace approximately 2,730 feet of 6-inch steel transmission main pipe with an 8-inch steel pipe.
  • I-80 project in Yolo County to get $86M from feds (Daily Republic). The Yolo County Transportation District is in line to receive $85.9 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to improve traffic flow on Interstate 80 on the west side of the Yolo-Sacramento metro area. Project elements include implementing approximately 17 miles of managed lanes from the Yolo-Solano counties line through Yolo County to West El Camino Avenue on I-80, and to I-5 on Highway 50 in Sacramento County.

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🛣 Headlines About California Highways – June 2021

We can now put June in the record books, and with that, half of 2021 is gone. What a June it has been, filled with high heat across much of the state and concerns about water and drought. Those have been concerns of mine as well, as June has been a construction month around Chez Cahighways. We replaced one of our HVAC units (excellent work by Camacho Air, who we’ve been using for over 20 years at this point). We are completing a pool remodel, which took the pool down to the concrete, repaired cracks, and then replastered and resurfaced the pool (again, excellent work from Premier Pool Plastering), and then refilled the pool. All of this was made possible with a ReFi working with Dave Cantrell at AFF and MCCU. The only bad contracting experience we had was with City Plumbing and Rooter, who we will not use again.

June also saw us on the wonderful highways of California. We drove to Las Vegas, taking Route 14, Route 138, Route 18, and I-15 out, and came back via I-15, Route 58, and Route 14. We also drove to Los Osos, using Route 118, US 101 and Route 154 out, and exploring a new way back: US 101, Route 166, and I-5. Next time: Route 33 and either Lockwood Valley or Hudson Valley to Mt. Pinos to Frazier Mtn Parkway to I-5.

June also saw the world increasingly getting vaccinated… but it also saw the Delta variant spreading. If you know me, you know I’m Jewish. While America celebrates freedom (and celebrate it we will this coming July 4th), Judaism teaches duty. One article I read expressed it well: “If everybody does their duty, that makes the world better. It’s a completely different paradigm than the American paradigm. Individual rights are not the building blocks of Judaism, duty to your fellow human being is the building block of Judaism. If you want to get Judaism right, there are certain times you have to suck it up and do things you don’t want to do.” Do your duty. Make the world a better place. Get vaccinated, and continue to wear a mask indoors in shared spaces (even if you are not required to do so). By doing your part now, we can make the world a better place for everyone.

With that said: What did you do in June, out on the roads and in the state? Hopefully one thing you’ll be doing right now is discussing these headlines. So, as I always say, “ready, set, discuss”.

Key

[Ħ Historical information |  Paywalls, really obnoxious paywalls, and other annoying restrictions: SDUT/San Diego Union Tribune; OCR/Orange County Register; VN/Valley News; PE/Press Enterprise; LBPT/Long Beach Press Telegram; DB/Daily Breeze; LADN/Los Angeles Daily News; LAT/LA Times; DS/Desert Sun; RDI/Ridgecrest Daily Independent; VSG/Visalia Sun Gazette; FB/Fresno Bee; MODBEE/Modesto Bee; MH/Monterey Herald; SONN/Sonoma News; SJMN/Mercury News; SFC/San Francisco Chronicle; SFG/SF Gate; EBT/East Bay Times; SACBEE/Sacramento Bee; SBJ/Sacramento Business Journal; TDT/Tahoe Daily Tribune; MIJ/Marin Independent-Journal; NVR/Napa Valley Register; PD/Press Democrat; AC/Argus Courier; SIT/Sonoma Index Tribune; RBDN/Red Bluff Daily News; AD/Yuba Sutter Colusa County Appeal Democrat; DNT/Del Norte Triplicate; NW/Newsweek; UKT/The Telegraph (UK); ENR/Engineering News Record ]

Highway Headlines

  • /LAT 6th Street Bridge: See photos of the viaduct construction. The project to replace Los Angeles’ historic 6th Street Bridge is well on its way to reality. The new span that crosses the 101 Freeway and Los Angeles River will feature 10 lighted sets of arches forming a “Ribbon of Light” along the viaduct. It stretches across 18 sets of railroad tracks as well as a new 12-acre park with access to the river, and will feature 10-foot-wide bicycle lanes in both directions. (Los Angeles Times)
  • Metro Board Suspended 710 Freeway Widening, Approved: Budget, Fareless, and Bus Rapid Transit. […] The board unanimously approved two motions reining in Metro’s 710 Freeway Corridor Project that would widen the lower 710, demolishing adjacent homes and businesses. One motion, spearheaded by Boardmember Hilda Solis, called for Metro to “Immediately cease further work” on the project. Boardmember Fernando Dutra sought a 30-day pause instead of ceasing work on the project. Ultimately Dutra supported the motion when “cease” was changed to “suspend.” Solis was adamant that Metro needed to stop widening freeways in areas already heavily burdened by freeway pollution. […] (Streetsblog)
  • Removing highways could revitalize cities without increasing traffic. So you might’ve noticed that infrastructure is very much in the news right now, as well as how, exactly, it should be addressed. The New York Times recently put together a look at a relatively new infrastructure strategy that’s starting to play out in cities around the country: removing highways. The report shows there could be some major benefits for local residents, and traffic might not be a problem. But there are ways the strategy could backfire. The report spends some time focusing on Rochester, N.Y., where the city has already removed a major section of freeway around the city’s downtown. After decades in the planning stages and a few more years for removal, the city now has more walkable areas and is working on developing newly available land. And there haven’t been any signs of traffic in and around the area getting worse. (Autoblog)
  • /MIJ Marin-Sonoma Narrows: $76M to complete Highway 101 project. A decade-old project to unclog one of the North Bay’s worst traffic bottlenecks on Highway 101 will be fully funded for construction after a $76 million agreement by Marin and Bay Area transit agencies this week. The funds will complete the final section of the $762 million Marin-Sonoma “narrows” project between Novato and Petaluma, where traffic congests as the highway narrows from four or three lanes to two depending on the direction. The project will add a carpool lane in each direction along this 17-mile stretch of the highway, which will result in commuters having continuous carpool lanes from north of the Golden Gate Bridge into Santa Rosa. (Marin IJ)
  • Caltrans to begin pre-construction for the Separation Bridge project in Vallejo. Caltrans is scheduled to begin pre-construction work for the Interstate-80 (I-80)/State Route 29 (SR-29) Separation Bridge project in Vallejo. For public and worker safety, the following I-80 onramps near Maritime Academy Drive in Vallejo are scheduled to be closed starting June 10 and will remain closed until approximately 2023: • Sequoia Ave. onramp to WB I-80-to be closed • SR-29/Sonoma Blvd. onramp to WB I-80-to be closed. During these I-80 ramp closures, motorists are advised to use Magazine Street onramp and offramp and other I-80 entrances to access I-80 in Vallejo. (Times Herald)
  • California Transportation Commission Allocates $920 Million To Improve Transportation. The California Transportation Commission (CTC) at its May meeting allocated more than $924 million for projects to improve critical transportation infrastructure throughout the state. Nearly half of this major investment – $458 million – comes from Senate Bill (SB) 1, the Road Repair and Accountability Act of 2017. […] Projects approved include: (EdHat Santa Barbara)
  • Traffic-Interfering Maintenance Work Ahead on Sierra Highways. PLACER/NEVADA COUNTIES – Caltrans is alerting motorists to scheduled traffic-interfering maintenance work on State Routes (SR) 89 and 267 this weekend and the week ahead. On Sunday, June 6, crews will be performing crack sealing work on SR-267 between Old Brockway Road/Soaring Way and Truckee Airport Road/Schaffer Mill Road. Work is scheduled from 5 a.m. to 4 p.m. with one-way traffic control anticipated during crack sealing work. (YubaNet)
  • Officials hope $4 million project eases congestion, safety concerns. The interchange between State Route 37 and Fairgrounds Drive can be very confusing for drivers who join lanes and get off offramps. Mostly Sonoma Raceway Lights. Adrenaline is a rush for adventurous people and those who want to die, but it’s a scary suggestion for heart feints and pedestrians who need cheetah-like speed to avoid cars. (California News Times)

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