<b>Let that other kid be vaccinated</b>

Those unbridled and unrealistic fears of vaccinations continue to spread, and children are paying the price. According to a recent study, California saw a sharp increase in cases of whooping cough in 2013 due primarily to parents refusing to have their children get their pertussis shots, and other vaccinations. The second-highest rate of the highly contagious respiratory disease was here in the North Bay -#8212; in Marin County. More than 1,900 cases of pertussis were reported in California during the year, nearly double what was reported in 2012. In Marin, there were 173 cases reported, a rate of 68 cases per 100,000 people. Of those, 160 were for young adults and children under the age of 19. Sonoma County had the 13th highest rate in of the 58 counties in the state with 41 cases reported -#8212; up from 18 the previous year. Considering that whooping cough was once thought to be all but eradicated, the North Bay should take no pride in being well above the state-average in this category.


<b>Suspending suspensions</b>

Santa Rosa City Schools adopted a new approach to discipline this year, resulting in a steep decline in the number of suspensions and expulsions. To put that another way, the district has kept kids in their classrooms learning. In place of suspensions, the restorative justice program puts kids in a 12-week program that includes meeting with those who have been hurt. It also involves restitution, such as a vandal being required to help with cleanup work. Santa Rosa had one of the highest suspension rates in the state, Staff Writer Kerry Benefield reported last May, based on data for the 2011-12 school year. Figures compiled by the school district show that expulsions have dropped from 60 in the first half of 2011-12 to one so far this year, with suspensions down from 1,871 to 610.


<b>Headed for the state line</b>

Second Amendment activists like to portray themselves as allies of law enforcement. But two firearms manufacturers are withholding new models from California rather than comply with a new law passed with backing from law enforcement. The law, which took effect Jan. 1, requires traceable microstamps on all new semiautomatic handgun models to help police investigating crimes to link shell casings to specific firearms. Rather than comply, Ruger and Smith - Wesson say they won't sell new models in the Golden State. So much for siding with law and order.


<b>A ban finally in the bag?</b>

About two weeks ago, writing about a growing collection of local ordinances banning plastic bags, we said that "a patchwork of local rules ... is confusing for consumers and a nuisance for retailers. This is a statewide issue, and it ought to be addressed as such." It now looks as if that's finally going to happen. After rejecting numerous statewide bag laws, state legislators announced an agreement on a bill to establish a single set of rules and set aside some money to help bag manufacturers make the transition to recyclable products. It's not a done deal yet, but this debate may finally be in the bag.

Shelters for Pawnee fire evacuees

Lower Lake High School, 9430 Lake St., Lower Lake, is the official shelter established for people evacuating from the Pawnee fire. It is equipped to handle animals.

The Clearlake Oaks Moose Lodge, 15900 E. Highway 20, Clearlake Oaks, is not authorized by the Office of Emergency Services but is also sheltering fire evacuees, mostly people in campers and RVs who want their animals with them.

There is an authorized Lake County animal services station in an open field at Highway 53 and Anderson Ridge Road in Lower Lake.