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PD Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down

  • Capt. John Cota, center, leaves a federal courthouse in San Francisco, Friday, March 6, 2009, with his wife Teresa Barrett, right, after he plea guilty to misdemeanor charges. Cota was the pilot at the helm of the cargo ship Cosco Busan that caused a massive oil spill in the San Francisco in Nov. 2007. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)

Thumbs down: An all-expense-paid holiday

State legislators usually spend Fridays in their district. Not this week. Both the Senate and the Assembly met briefly — emphasis on briefly — Friday.

Was there an emergency? Well, it depends on how you define emergency. In addition to their salaries, legislators receive $141.86 in tax-free expense money every day, seven days a week so long as they're in session. The money is supposed to cover living expenses in Sacramento. The expense payments are suspended if more than three days pass between floor sessions.

Typically, floor sessions are held Mondays and Thursdays, ensuring there isn't a three-day break. When there's a Monday holiday, as there is this weekend, a quickie session on Friday — in by 9, out by 10 — ensures that the expense payments keep coming.

Thumbs up: Time to annex Roseland

Last week, we encouraged the Santa Rosa City Council to make the annexation of Roseland one of its top priorities. We weren't alone. David Rabbitt, chairman of the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors, Supervisor Efren Carrillo, who represents Roseland, and Supervisor Shirlee Zane all sent letters last week encouraging the City Council to make this a top priority. "The Joint Roseland Subcommittee was a good effort but no meaningful action or progress took place .<TH>.<TH>. over the course of nearly a decade," wrote Carrillo, who also testified at the council's goal-setting session Friday. Roseland is the largest of about 50 unincorporated "islands" in and around Santa Rosa. Perhaps this will be the year the residents are finally brought ashore.

Thumbs down: No fog about it this time

The bay pilot who was guiding the Cosco Busan when the container ship hit a Bay Bridge tower in 2007, causing the worst bay spill in two decades, has run aground again. He's now suing the U.S. Coast Guard in hopes of having his mariner's license reinstated. John Cota, 65, of Petaluma wants to sail again, even though investigators concluded he was impaired by prescription drugs and did not follow safety precautions or communicate well in helping guide the ship through dense fog. As a result, Cota was found at fault, pleaded guilty to water-pollution violations and served 10 months in federal prison.

At one time, the state Board of Pilot Commissioners started the process of revoking his pilot's license. Instead, he voluntarily retired. He now draws a pension of $228,864. Our advice: stay ahore.

Thumbs up: Making the case for pension reform


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