Thumbs up: From mission to mission with bells on
Back in 1974, California's highway system was in bad shape — and so were its bells. Of those familiar bells that marked the historic El Camino Real from San Diego to Sonoma, there were fewer than 100 left. So California launched an initiative to restore the historic signs. Now, 600 new bells have been installed connecting 21 missions along a 700-mile stretch of the state. The final 30 were installed recently in Sonoma County along Highways 37, 121 and along Highway 12. The actual route of the original "Highway of the King" remains a topic of disagreement among historians. But there's no debating that it's nice to see California with its historic bells back in place.
Thumbs down: Police take a mulligan on DUI check
Petaluma police whiffed when it came to checking out a man who crashed a scooter at Rooster Run Golf Club on Oct. 5. This despite the fact that, according to witnesses, the man had been drinking and was being "boisterous." It wasn't for a lack of officers on the scene. The man was playing in an annual law enforcement golf tournament. That's because, he, too, is a police officer. Ryan McGreevy, a Petaluma police officer for eight years is now fighting a charge, triggered by a CHP investigation, that he was intoxicated at the time he raced across a fairway and crashed the motorized scooter. He was later taken to the hospital with undisclosed injuries.
It's hard to imagine that anybody else in that situation would have been — or should have been — allowed to go untested. Our records show that last summer, in fact, we reported on a young man who crashed his scooter on Maria Drive near Joan Drive in Petaluma. What happened? He was immediately given a blood test to determine if he was legally intoxicated while operating a motorized vehicle. We believe that law was still in effect in October.
Thumbs down: State of delay for new business
A Cotati cabinet shop manager shared her experience trying to file business papers with the secretary of state. It wasn't pretty. The price is high — $100 — and the wait is lengthy — 45 days to process papers required to do business. Drive the forms to Sacramento, and they'll be processed in 38 days. For a $350 fee, the process can be expedited.
Maybe we were too quick to disparage Texas Gov. Rick Perry's recruiting trip to the Golden State.
Thumbs up: Disarming criminals, mentally ill
The state Senate overcame fierce opposition from the National Rifle Association and budgeted $24 million for efforts to disarm convicted felons and others who aren't legally entitled to possess firearms.
California has the nation's only formal program designed to identify, locate and disarm people who legally acquired firearms but no longer are entitled to have them because of a criminal conviction, a domestic-violence related restraining order or a legal finding that they are mentally unstable.
Justice Department agents have confiscated 10,000 weapons under the program since 2006, but there's a backlog of 20,000 people and more than 39,000 weapons. Funding for the program comes from fees paid for background checks by people buying firearms.