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PG&E workers aren’t the problem
Jason Campbell

There are millions of people in Northern California that are at this moment cursing PG&E. 

Some went nearly a week without power because for decades the utility chose to maximize returns to shareholders rather than upgrade aging infrastructure that is currently starting fires all over the North State. 

The company’s stock price tumbled this week when it was revealed that their lines may have sparked the Kincade Fire as well as a number of fires in the East Bay. And more than a few people have asked the following question: “Why, now, after decades, is the company finally doing something to prevent fires when they’ve known for some time that its infrastructure needed upgrades?”

That’s a great question indeed. 

While there is plenty of blame to go around – forest management is certainly an issue, and since the majority of California’s burnt forests are technically federal land and we have had three years of a Republican administration, this is something that crosses political boundaries – the lion’s share of that burden should fall on the company that put profits over properties year-after-year. 

But you know whose fault this is not? The PG&E workers that are out trying to repair the fallen lines and perform the inspections necessary to reenergize the lines once they’ve been cut off. 

There have been a number of reports of everything from people trying to run PG&E workers off the road to people placing spike strips at the entrance to maintenance yards to try and puncture the tires of workers – many of whom are without power like the rest of the people in their communities. 

And that needs to end immediately. Full stop. 

I’d like to think that people in this world are intelligent enough to realize that the workers in a given situation are rarely the ones who make the decisions that people have a problem with – but time and again I have been proven wrong here. Just as I asked for people to understand that it’s entirely possible to be against the idea of going to war with Iraq while at the same time supporting the troops who are there – those enlisted men and women didn’t make the political decisions that ended in their deployment – I’m asking for people to realize that emergency maintenance workers and linemen for PG&E aren’t the ones who decided to reroute the company’s income to a place a didn’t need to go rather than ensure the safety of the                           communities they’re tasked with serving. 

Don’t blame those that put on work boots and vests – actual work boots and vests and not just the ones that are put on for a photo op – for the decisions of the suits in a San Francisco high-rise. 

While I also respect people’s desire to place blame for this at the feet of Gavin Newsom – and surely, given his role as Lt. Governor under Jerry Brown and that administration’s selections to the California Public Utilities Commission, an agency that allows PG&E to get away with everything under the sun, there is some blame to be assigned there – I also think that such a position lets PG&E off the hook unnecessarily. I have lived in Northern California my entire life and have seen weather patterns similar to these throughout that time, and the fact that they’re just now deciding that it’s a good idea to cut power to sections of the grid that are fire prone makes me wonder a number of things – how many fires did the lines cause before we had the technology to determine such things? Does the age of the system have anything to do with what is happening? If those aging steel structures were replaced, would there still be a need to deenergize the lines. 

I know that on the Overseas Highway out in the Florida Keys, the power poles out there are concrete because they have to sustain hurricane winds and there isn’t any other way to deliver power to some of those remote islands if those lines go down. Food for thought. 

Regardless of how deplorable the company’s actions may be, it’s no reason to go after the employees who are just trying to feed their families. 

Give them a break. They’re more than likely overworked and underpaid, so they deserve one. 

Pigskin Pickin’

This week the Valley Oak League season comes to a close, and currently Eric Wohle has a three-game lead over the second-place position which, remarkably, happens to be Chris Teicheira. 

I’m a game behind Teicheira, and Mark Condit is a game behind me. 

It looks like we’ll get at least one round of playoff picks in this season, so there will be another week of these wacky predictions, but I have a feeling that people are going to start doing desperate things to avoid falling out of position in order to avoid the nine months of trash talk that will undoubtedly come with anything less than a championship. 

I could go on-and-on – as Teicheira likes to do when making excuses for not paying his linguica debts – but I’ll spare you all the drivel and just give you what we think:

Wohle (24-7) – Our fearless leader is taking Sierra, Central Catholic, Ripon, the 49ers and the Raiders. He’s also selling out his alma mater. “While I am reluctantly taking Manteca High, I’m taking comfort in knowing that this Lancer is beating Chris Teicheira for the fourth year in a row. I want my linguica!”

Teicheira (21-10) – The method to Teicheira’s madness here is simply madness – he’s taking every team that he thinks Wohle will pick. That means he’s taking Manteca, Sierra, Oakdale, the Cardinals, the Lions, and Ripon. 

Campbell (20-11) – This is a pretty straightforward chalk week for me since I don’t see a whole lot of chance any of the following picks fail me – Manteca will beat East Union, Sierra will beat Weston Ranch, Ripon will beat Modesto Christian, Central Catholic will beat Oakdale, San Francisco will destroy the Cardinals and the Raiders, who are finally favored, will beat the Lions. I’m hoping that I catch Teicheira next week – he’s used to being in the cellar but watching the fall from the top to the bottom will be majestic in its own right. 

Condit (19-12) – This season’s resident cellar-dweller is taking Manteca, Sierra, Central Catholic, Ripon, the 49ers, and the Detroit Lions. This means either I’m moving up another game or we’ll be tied after this week.  

Until next week! 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.