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PD Editorial: Thumbs up, thumbs down

Thumbs up: A 7-figure gift that speaks for itself

We’re not sure how it feels to turn down a $1 million gift. We’re just certain that Windsor Unified School District officials shouldn’t put themselves in a position to find out. That’s how much the Lytton Rancheria is planning to donate to the local school district as part of its plans to build a large housing complex just west of town.

Of course, the project is not without its impacts. The Lytton Rancheria complex calls for 147 homes and a cultural center, which means dozens of children will be heading for Windsor schools. Because the tribe is a sovereign nation, it is under no obligation to pay impact fees and other assessments to local agencies, including schools.

The tribe has used funds generated from its casino in San Pablo to buy 124 acres outside of Windsor to build the housing project. Although the tribe hopes to have the land taken into trust by the federal government, they say the donation is not contingent on that happening. The school board is expected to take up the issue on Aug. 5. The right answer to this million-dollar question is yes.

Thumbs down: Lax security in the lab

Is there any public agency that should better understand the dangers posed by dangerous bacteria and viruses than the Centers for Disease Control? Yet sloppy habits at the CDC resulted in potential exposure to smallpox, anthrax and avian flu — a murderer’s row of pathogens.

Audits obtained by USA Today found lax security and inventory methods at laboratories around the country that handle pathogens that could be used in bioterrorism. Some of the labs were private, some were run by universities or public agencies, but all of them were subject to CDC oversight. CDC overlooked problems at some labs and reacted slowly at others, according to the news accounts. In one widely publicized example, CDC and the National Institutes of Health overlooked a failure to safely store vials of smallpox. In its own labs, CDC contaminated a relatively harmless strain of avian flu with a more deadly variety and failed to inactivate anthrax bacteria before shipping it to other labs.

One of the most frightening post-9/11 scenarios is a bioterrorism attack. We shouldn’t have to worry about our government unleashing deadly pathogens through unsafe lab practices.

Thumbs up: Pérez adds it up, ends the count

By halting a recount of votes in the June 3 primary for state controller, Assemblyman John Pérez accomplished two things. He allowed Betty Yee and Ashley Swearengin to get on with their general election campaigns while shifting the focus to California’s flawed system for handling close elections. Pérez trailed Yee by 481 votes out of 4 million cast. That’s a difference of less than 0.01 percent, which should be close enough to warrant an automatic review. Not under California law, which includes no provision for automatic recounts but allows anyone willing to pay the cost to demand a full or partial recount of any election. Pérez gained 10 votes at a cost of about $30,000 before ending his recount. Assemblyman Kevin Mullin, D-South San Francisco, announced that he would look into an overhaul of the state’s recount rules, which could turn Pérez’s narrow loss into a win for California voters.


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