Random notes after returning from vacation
My family and I have just returned from several days in the Rocky Mountain National Park area of Colorado. No newspapers, No Internet, no broadcast news (well, except some college baseball, pro basketball and news for details of a fire). Hiking, relaxation, a good time with the family. A nice break from the daily problems of the world. But there and when we returned home, there were reminders life is no utopia.
- The mountains there have been in ten-year drought. Less snow this summer on the highest peaks. This is one factor in the decimation of the forest that’s underway. The pine beetle and lack of natural burning to remove old and weakened growth add to the ugly scarring of this place of beauty.
- While in the area, a lightening-triggered wildfire erupted just west of Fort Collins in a developed area. From Estes Park and inside RMNP we watched the smoke from that wildfire, growing every day. Officials say it will burn out this fall.
- Back home we find the unemployment rate here in Austin is up to 5.8 percent. Certainly not as bad as most parts of the country, but the trend is bad.
- The city council has approved higher electric rates for Austinites. A necessary move but tough on the many folks who are struggling to make ends meet.
- The Austin city council apparently is considering adding an alternative single-member council proposal to the November ballot, giving voters of choice of plan A, plan B or no change. This lamebrain idea would kill single-member districts, which no-doubt would suit Central Austin activists just fine.
- The Koch brothers and other plutocrats appear to be spending lots of money to see that President Obama is defeated this fall. Governor Romney is raising more money than the president, despite Mr. Obama’s appearance at six fundraisers one day this past week. It’s a crying shame but no surprise that many potential voters hate the president, forgetting the recession we’re in was started by the policies of President George W. Bush, and the efforts needed to put people back to work were blocked by Republicans in the House and Senate. They forget Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said his job was not to cooperate, but to see President Obama was defeated for reelection.