Saturday, October 25, 2014
The Forum was a Success
Last Monday, October 20, the Neighborhood Councils of Canoga Park and Woodland Hills sponsored a forum about the Santa Susana Field Laboratory. What led to the forum was the concern by members of both neighborhood councils about the plan to carry out a thorough clean-up of the site by hauling away at least a million cubic yards of dirt that is allegedly polluted and replace it with an equivalent volume of "clean" dirt from another location. This plan would require about ten years and fifty or more truck loads of dirt, each way, along roads in the neighborhoods. There were other concerns besides the truck traffic. By the way, I am a member of the Woodland Hills Neighborhood Council and also a former employee of Rockwell International who spent at least two years working in the SSFL area between 1966 and 1968.
Several of us decided that the plan to haul all the dirt away was just too much. It was unnecessary and impractical. Unnecessary because the site is not badly polluted. Impractical because there is no source of that much dirt that is both "clean" and suited to the terrain of the Field Laboratory.
I realized that the reason for considering such a draconian "clean-up" was public opinion and not objective fact. Public opinion is influenced by articles in local newspapers about a "melt-own" of a prototype sodium-cooled power reactor in 1959. The article compared the incident to the melt-own of large power reactors at Three-Mile Island in Pennsylvania and at Chernobyl in the Ukraine. According to the newspaper account, this accident at SSFL was one of the worst reactor accidents ever. Belief in the truth of the article, people believed that the whole site was highly radioactive and dangerous to be in or near and was the cause of a cluster of cancer cases in the area. Some cancer victims have sued the Boeing Company, who took over the site from Rockwell when that firm got out of the aerospace business. Boeing seems to be willing to admit liability and pay the victim's medical bills, if only to avoid the greater expense of fighting the case in court.
Boeing does, however, offer free tours of the site, if only to show that it isn't dangerous to be there.
The federal department of Energy has published the following statement:
Monday, October 06, 2014
Advice to a New Citizen
I have a new friend. At least, I think she is my friend. She is involved in local politics although, as a recent immigrant, she is not yet a citizen and entitled to vote in State and National elections. Her involvement is that she is a member of a "Neighborhood Council" here in Los Angeles. Members of the governing boards of Neighborhood Councils don't receive any stipend for their services. They do get to vote on how to spend the money the city gives each neighborhood council each year.
Anyway, my friend talked to me one day about her political future, or, more specifically, which political party should she join? What could I say? I am a liberal Democrat and I think that Republicans have some beliefs that I can not abide. She asked, what would I think of her if she decided to join the Republican Party? I told her that I considered her to be a friend and that friends are not perfect, but they are still friends. Her party affiliation would not affect our friendship. Of course, I probably wouldn't vote for her if she ran as a Republican.
She presented the argument that one should vote for the person and not for the party. I agreed, but then pointed out that the party often provides money to candidates running for office and the party expects a return for that support after the candidate has won election. Thus, Republicans are obliged to vote for certain "Republican" things, such as "Repeal Obamacare" or "Impeach the President." Democrats are also under an obligation to their party to vote for certain "Democratic" things.
I then tried to adopt the pose of a civics teacher and summarized what I think are the differences between Republican ideals and Democratic ideals. Here is what I said:
- Republicans desire a society in which everyone takes care of himself. The government shouldn't take care of people. Government should only maintain order, defend the nation against invasion, and maintain a stable currency. Republicans also favor low taxes and reduced services from government.
- Democrats also desire a free society in which everyone is free to make his own mistakes. However, government should do those things for the people which the people can not do for themselves. (This saying is attributed to Abraham Lincoln, the first Republican President.) Democrats also favor increasing services from government and levying the taxes needed to pay for them.