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Stories from Pete Golis

Eleven months later, the impacts of the October fires still hurt the heart.
People love the good life in Wine Country. They just don’t want to be bothered by housing for the people who make it all possible.
We would like to think this discarded cigarette represents only a single moment of thoughtlessness, but during a walk through a wooded neighborhood in Montecito Heights, we counted more than a dozen cigarette butts left along the side of the road.
We are a family like any other family, marked by its own idiosyncrasies and its own narratives. Some days bring great joy. Some days, not so much.
Having spent a career questioning people in government, I would be the last person to say we should blindly embrace the conduct of the public’s business. Elected officials mess up. Elected officials need to be held accountable. But this is not the same as beginning every day with the assumption that all elected officials are dumb and corrupt.
The political geniuses on the other side of the country tend to be besotted by a cartoon version of California. You know how it goes on “the left coast.” Californians spend their days getting stoned, snacking on tofu, nerding out on Instagram and plotting a socialist utopia.
It was always going to take time. After more than 5,200 homes were destroyed in the October fires, the recovery was always going to be measured in years, and it was always going to test our staying power.
What makes for a livable city? How does my hometown stack-up against the towns where good things are happening?
In Donald Trump’s America, people keep hoping for the day that California falls on its face. The state’s support of immigrants, its dedication to environmental protection, its embrace of free trade, its belief in its own importance on the world stage — folks in places such as Kansas and Alabama can cite chapter and verse about what they don’t like about those snotty Californians.
What we found was a diversity of landscape and people that will make you proud of your country — and then worry about its capacity to bridge its differences.