Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down

  • A heritage oak at Jack London State Park in Glen Ellen set for removal because of decay issues will be spared after a UC Berkeley expert determined the tree may last for another 10 years. (KENT PORTER / The Press Democrat)

Sonoma County lost some of its roots on Nov. 21 when wind and rain toppled a large Santa Rosa Junior College oak tree on Mendocino Avenue. That was a bitter pill as the oak was believed to be roughly 250 years old. But the region recently received some unexpected good news regarding another of its historic arbors. Lab tests show that a majestic oak that stands outside Jack London’s cottage in Glen Ellen is healthier than first believed. So it is not going to be cut down as officials had planned to do. Three arborists had determined that the tree, which is believed to be more than 300 years old, is dying from an infection of a pathogenic fungi. They wanted to cut it down before a branch fell and hurt someone or damaged the Jack London cottage. But the new tests showed that while the tree has significant decay, it can stay standing a while longer. Noted Jack London Park Partners Executive Director Tjiska Van Wyk, “In this season of joy, what a gift.” That’s worth a thumbs up.

Thumbs down: The idea that just won’t go away

Call it a state of perpetual denial. The idea of breaking California into two or more states just won’t go away. And now it may even make it onto the ballot. Wealthy technology investor Tim Draper has made a pitch to break California into not just two states but six. The northern regions would be called Jefferson, — something residents there have been craving — while Sonoma, Mendocino and Napa counties and points east would be known as North California. Other sections would include Central California, Silicon Valley (including most of the Bay Area), West California (Los Angeles and Santa Barbara) and South California (San Diego and environs.) “Californians are still the greatest, most innovative people on the planet, and I ask them to innovate their government back to health and prosperity,” said Draper, who will be seeking signatures to get his Six Californias initiative on the ballot. We agree that California needs repair work. But breaking it into six pieces doesn’t seem like much of a fix — even if it would allow, as Draper says, each state to pick its own “crowd-sourced state flower.” We suggest lilies for this idea.

Santa Rosa selfies — why not?

The fact that “selfie,” was Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year for 2013 provides a great snapshot — or Snapchat? — for where we are as a culture. For those unfamiliar with the term, selfie is defined by Oxford as “a photograph that one has taken of oneself, typically one taken with a smart phone or webcam and uploaded to a social media website.” Plenty of examples are to be found on social media sites, so we’re not inclined to encourage readers to create more. However, we can’t help but give Santa Rosa a plug for its idea of encouraging residents to send selfies of Santa Rosa — pictures of themselves holding signs proclaiming what they like most about their city. We admit we have our doubts about how many will take this seriously and will resist the temptation to submit something sarcastic or, possibly, inappropriate. At the same time, we don’t want to rain on this legitimate attempt at community-building, even if we could use the rain. People have no problem sharing their gripes. Why not encourage them to share their likes? Serious selfies can be sent to downtown@srcity.org. Sarcastic ones can be sent to us.

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