July 4, 2014

Our Views: Modesto’s Olsen likely to lead Assembly’s Republican caucus

Congratulations have poured in for Kristin Olsen, who this week was named to lead the Assembly’s Republican caucus starting in November. We add ours to the list.

Congratulations have poured in for Kristin Olsen, who this week was named to lead the Assembly’s Republican caucus starting in November. We add ours to the list.

Olsen will take over for termed-out Connie Conway of Tulare. Making the announcement now is, perhaps, a bit premature. It’s not a foregone conclusion Olsen will still be in the Assembly (it’s not a foregone conclusion any Assembly member will return). Harinder Grewal of Keyes is also running for her 12th District seat. Still, Olsen is a popular politician and will be very difficult to dislodge.

We’re reminded of Dave Cogdill Sr., who led the Senate Republicans for 10 months in 2008-09. Cogdill was tough but pragmatic when he decided to work with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and Senate Democrats to end a budget logjam in 2009. His decision made sense for California. Unfortunately, it didn’t make sense to many members of his party, who voted him out of his position. That was a mistake. Senate Republicans became even more stubborn, helping make government even more dysfunctional. Voters got fed up and changed the rules so that a simple majority can pass a budget; whatever clout the minority party had disappeared.

Olsen has always been more coalition builder than firebrand. She, too, is a pragmatist and also quite personable. If necessary, we hope she, too, would take a principled stand. Our greater hope, assuming she is re-elected in November, is that Olsen’s political skill will keep it from coming to that.

Making most of sun power

Though it was costly, Modesto Irrigation District did the right thing by extending its sign-up window for solar-energy rebates by a week. That allowed several customers to complete paperwork they had already started. Now we’d like to see the district find more ways to encourage development of solar power whenever possible. It was interesting to note that only 930 of MID’s 113,000 electricity customers have solar panels. That’s less than 1 percent. If this program is too costly (MID went through the budgeted $4.2 million pretty fast), hopefully the board will find other ways to encourage solar generation.

Great catch!

There were two acts of faith that took place last Monday while the Vineyard Apartments burned in Ceres. One was Mark Selditch’s complete faith that he would not drop baby Roxanne as she fell 10 feet into his arms. Such faith enabled Selditch, who works at the Modesto Gospel Mission and said he knew God would protect her, to make that all-important catch without flinching. But the first act of faith belonged to Roxanne’s dad, Jason Avila, who had to let go of his baby girl. That story made us proud to live in an area where neighbors can count on each other in a time of crisis.

Sad coincidence

Two heroes passed this week. One became a national hero – twice. The other was a hero to thousands of people who lived in and around Sonora. Louie Zamperini was the “Torrance Tornado,” at 18 the youngest American Olympian in the 1936 Berlin Games. Eight years later, his bomber crashed into the Pacific. He survived 47 days adrift on the ocean; then he survived the horrors of the inhumane Japanese POW camps. The second hero was Loyal “Bud” Castle, who also flew bombers in World War II, then came home to Sonora to teach and coach thousands of students. He proved that sports and culture and compassion could coexist in even the most fierce competitors. There was much to learn from both men.

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