Category Archives: West Coast USA News

How Does Washington State Senators Use Surplus Campaign Money?

Senators find leftover money after the campaign in their hand many times, and they use it mostly for official purposes to meet various expenses. A recent report on Washington State senators confirms that they use the surplus amount on clothes, food, travel, hotel rooms, furnishings, and more.

 

The state senator Doug Ericksen spent the surplus amount in airfare, food, and lodging in his journeys to the country capital. In detail, more than $2,000 spent on stay and $162 for meals. Apart from working in Trump administration, Ericksen is also appointed as the interim director of communications at the United States Environmental Protection Agency in January. There are some more lawmakers like Doug and are found to be using in meeting personal expenses in official duties. The Public Disclosure Commission (PDC) executive director Evelyn Lopez said the spending by Doug could be justifiable considering his duties and responsibilities.

 

The report also confirms that two other GOP senators used the extra funds to furnish their state capital offices. Another state Senator Kirk Pearson spent at least $1,300 on clothing and stated that the leftover donated to charity. It includes $500 each to the Rock Church and Monroe Food Bank along with a spent of $200 for Wounded Warrior Project. Even Marcus Riccelli, a member of House of Representatives and Democratic Party member, spent more than $1,250 to meet his air travels expenses shuttling between his constituency and the state capital.

 

The rules of the campaign finance direct the lawmakers to use the unspent money to either hold for future campaigns or donate to charities, political parties. It can also be used to meet any expenses for their official purpose which did not reimburse. Interestingly, PDC looks for any unauthorized spending but usually doesn’t act upon unless there is a complaint filed. Lopez said as long as the spending is on for public office related jobs, it is fine. However, if the legislator spends it on other jobs, it is illegitimate.

 

It is found that many lawmakers use the surplus amount for furnishing their offices and some of them justify that it avoids any use of taxpayer money. Lopez pointed out that though the spending on furniture is fine, the lawmakers should have a track on what happens with furniture as it is actually owned by the campaign.

 

California And The Threat Of Being Overrun

California is located on the west coast of the United States, alongside Oregon and Washington. Being located on the borders of the country and the ocean, there is always the danger of buildings being overrun by the water.

 

Researchers have found out that the levels of the sea that wash the shores of California could be raising its height tremendously, enough to scare scholars and students of the effects of global warming. The maximum height that it can achieve turned out to be much more than expected, to about 10 feet until the end of the century.

 

If that happened, many buildings would get overrun by the water, including two important airports in Oakland and San Francisco. It is certainly enough to pose a significant threat to Californian citizens that live close to the shore.

 

Louisiana is another loser in the matter of rising sea waters. Researchers stated that it’s possible that almost 2,250 square miles of their coast get completely overrun by water in a couple of decades. Miami is also another big loser.

 

The biggest danger remains to the Californian state since it has a very low altitude and will get completely overrun if the water levels reach a point that they can rise above the sand of the beach. It shouldn’t take too long, as the sea level seems to be increasing exponentially faster than the levels of the other American cities and states close to the borders of the country.

 

For more information about the potential disaster for California, read this article from Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/california-sea-level-rise_us_59027f0fe4b0bb2d086c5f31

 

All the data that is being developed by the global climate researchers is being targeted towards 2100 and how the current activities of the human being can affect the sea levels that the Americans will have to deal with for the rest of the century.

 

For example, specialists concluded that at least 50% of the beaches of California would get overrun by the sea level if the polar ice caps continue to melt and increase the global levels of the ocean.

 

Up to thirty million people across the United States could lose their homes and commerce during the rest of the century. Florida is in extreme danger, and America will indeed experience a massive exodus from the coastline of the country for the next couple of years as the word of this catastrophic event gets more prevalent among citizens.

 

Oregon State Board Fines Man For Speaking Out Against Outdated Traffic Lights

Do you think that state and federal government agencies overreach into our daily lives and cause more harm than good at times? If so, then you share the same opinion as I do. While some regulation is necessary and protects the public, workers and our environment, there are cases where state licensing and regulatory agencies actually cause harm and infringe upon our rights. An excellent example of this is a case involving Mats Järlström, who is an Oregon resident.

 

Mats Jarlstrom criticized the formula used for traffic lights after his wife got one after she turned through a red light. Mr. Jarlstrom studied the traffic light formulas and found out that the city of Beaverton has traffic light formulas for changing yellow lights that date all the way back to 1959. Furthermore, the city’s traffic lights formula is designed for driving straight through and not turning.

 

Mats Jarlstrom did some research and concluded that the current traffic light formula does not accurately represent real life vehicle behavior. When people turn on a yellow light, they slow down in order to make the turn. The outdated system does not take this into account. By not taking this into account, the traffic formula is not appropriate argued Mats Jarlstrom. Cities like Beaverton meanwhile have started levying tickets for drivers who drive through red lights as well as ones who turn through red lights.

 

Jarlstrom, who is a native of Sweden and has an engineering background, then famously complained to the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying to look into the issue of stoplights and to apply new research and information to the formulas used in the lights. Instead of a thank you or taking a look, he got a fine of $500 and what can be described as a censorship threat. The Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying said that Mats Jarlstrom was practicing unlicensed engineering and that he is prohibited by referring to himself as an engineer or he could face legal consequences.

 

This is of course absurd. Citizens like Mats have the right to criticize and give feedback of the government and its services. Cases such as these are actually much more common than you think. Mats Jarlstrom is currently suing the board of examiners for infringing on his first amendment and I believe rightly so. We need to cut red tape and regulations and protect free speech from the overreach of state and federal bureaucracies.

 

Craft Beer Hits New High

Beer drinkers all over the country rejoice. There is a new beer in your town. It is the new craft beer that is slowly making its way across the country and converting millions of beer lovers to their brand. Craft beers are manufactured by small, independent brewers. The rise of the craft beer industry was inevitable, as a new generation searches for alternative beer sources. Craft beers are also referred to as micro brews. The fact is that West Coast City Santa Rosa, California is considered the micro-brew capital of the United States.

 

Santa Rosa, California Craft Beer Capital

There are hundreds of cities across the United States that brag about their craft beer industry. The small and independent brewers are very popular and attracting a lot of new customers. However, a research study demonstrated why Santa Rosa wins out over the other cities. Santa Rosa comes out on top because they are winners in the quality and quantity of beers available. It is thought that a lot of cities across the country have great craft beers, but are low in quantity. Other cities have free flowing craft beer. However, it is low in quality. It appears that all the best craft beers are brewed on the West Coast. The leading cities on the West Coast include San Diego, California and Santa Rosa, California with Portland, Oregon on their heels.

 

Selecting Best Beer Cities

Everyone has their own personal taste. Certainly, people differ in the flavor and type of beer that they favor. Still, the statistics tell the real truth. The best craft beer is brewed on the West Coast. It seems like the trend for craft beer is still high. Statistics show that the popularity of the brew is still rising. This trend is expected to continue well into the future. In fact, there were nearly 900 new craft brewers established in the previous year.

 

It appears that the craft beers that are brewed by small independent companies are in a head to head race with the more traditional and larger beer manufacturers. Craft beers just might win this race in some parts of the United States.

 

Oregon Sees A Surge Of French Investors In Its Wine Industry

The Williamete Valley region of Oregon which is close to the Pacific Ocean, has now established itself as a major wine producing area. Not only is it a major wine producing and grape growing region, it is now also renowned for its burgundy like wines. Burgundy wines include the famous pinot noir and chardonnay type wines. They are made from special varieties of grapes, that just happen to thrive in the Williamete Valley of Oregon.

 

The climate of this area which is very similar, although a tad bit warmer than Burgundy in France, has attracted lots of French investors. Both individual French entrepreneurs, French wineries, French investment groups and large corporations have jumped aboard the Williamete Valley’s rise to fame in the wine world.

 

So how are local wine growers in Oregon reacting to this influx of French investors and new owners in some cases? Many are welcoming the French with open minds and open arms. Many growers welcome the expertise of the French wine experts and winery owners and view it as a positive influence. The Burgundy region of France has some of the oldest and most established vineyard anywhere in the world. The quality of their wines is also second to none.

 

Growers in Oregon are viewing this as an opportunity to benefit from the French knowledge, techniques and of course investment. One grower said that it does not really matter if it is the French or Californians that are now flocking to the Williamete Valley. Both want to create a profitable venture and improve the quality of the grapes and wines. If the growers realize this, this growers says, then they can create a relationship that could benefit both parties and the customer.

 

Of course, the new French investors and owners have some adapting to do of their own. Oregon’s soil and climate is different than that back home. Not only is the climate different, but so is the market. Oregon wines are now increasingly becoming popular and heralded as top class. New French investors will have to market wines well and that means growing the right grapes and managing the vineyard successfully.

 

Perhaps one of major reasons why Oregon’s Williamete Valley is booming now is because many investors including the French view Oregon’s cheap lands and ideal climate as a way to expand operations. With steady growth and a growing name, the investors also see a big profitable opportunity. For now, Oregon’s west coast wine industry shows no signs of stopping its tremendous growth, investment and production of delicious world class wines.

 

Pilot Lands in Wrong Spot Near LA

Driving a car while intoxicated is clearly a dangerous activity, but most people would agree that flying a plane while drunk would be even more dangerous. While it is clearly a dangerous act, a recent news story has pointed out that it appears that one man in California did make the choice to fly a plane while intoxicated and potentially put a lot of different people at risk (http://www.sfgate.com/news/crime/article/DUI-suspected-after-pilot-lands-in-California-11048786.php).

 

Earlier this week in Los Angeles, deputies of the city’s police department responded to a report that a small aircraft had landed on a public street near a warehouse. The airplane was reportedly flown by a man, who was the only passenger on board. While they started to talk to the man, it immediately became clear that the man could have been drunk while he was flying the plane.

 

Per the report, the man that was flying the plane has a lot of experience but made several mistakes while he was flying. He was reportedly trying to get from Temecula to a small airport in San Diego, which is a 60 mile flight. However, due to some issues with the plane’s GPS system, he got confused and lost along the way. While he was supposed to be heading toward San Diego, he ended up going way too far north, ended up in Los Angeles and was more than 70 miles away from where he was supposed to be.

 

At this point, it does not appear that the man will be punished too severely. He has received a misdemeanor violation and will likely not receive more of a punishment than a fine and possibly a suspension of his pilot’s license. Since he was the only passenger in the plane and he landed in a relatively empty area, there were no significant injuries reported. Furthermore, the plane that he flew suffered only minor damage when it scraped up against a stop sign near the warehouse. The airplane will likely be recovered by an insurance company that will further assess the damage to the plane before returning it to the owner.

 

 

New Apple Park to Introduce 12,000 Employees to the Cupertino Area

Apple’s headquarters in Cupertino, California has colloquially been referred to as “Apple Campus” because of its resemblance to a state university. The Apple Campus features several separate buildings with large areas of grassy parks and walkways in between. A few years ago, Apple announced to the City Council of Cupertino that they would begin breaking ground on a second campus. After years of planning and construction, Apple’s newest building is set to open in a few weeks.

 

The newest building by the name of “Apple Park” boasts an impressive 2.8 million square feet of space. Because of its circular design, the media has dubbed it the “Apple Spaceship”. Over the years, Apple had purchased swaths of land in order to realize this new park. Despite experiencing minor delays at the beginning of production, Apple’s newest building will be completed in April of 2017. As construction is approaching completion, Apple employees will begin moving into the highly anticipated new building. Apple has announced that the move will happen in increments in order to allow for a more smooth transition. In fact, some employees have already started moving into new buildings surrounding the park. The massive building will hold 12,000 employees. It is expected to take around six months to complete the move.

 

Like many cities in California, Cupertino experiences heavy traffic throughout the work day. Many residents in the area are concerned that an additional 12,000 workers will make their commutes much more congested. Apple has responded to this concern by setting a goal to have 34% of all employees commute to work in something other than a single-occupancy vehicle. This effort will include the creation of a shuttle exclusively for connecting the new Apple Park. With all employees expected to be moved in by the end of this summer, the citizens of Cupertino will see how the large influx of employees will impact local traffic. On the other hand, local businesses are ecstatic about the new Apple Park. With the introduction of 12,000 new workers to the Cupertino area, local business owners are hoping this will result in greater sales.

 

West Coast Shrimp Shortage Causes Fishermen to Look Inward for Sales

The shrimp industry is depending on the United States market to pull them through the current slump of price and supply decline. A recent report by expert seafood analyst John Sackton shows trouble on the horizon due to fewer catches and slower sales.

 

“2017 will be a difficult year for West Coast shrimp,” says Executive Director of West Coast Seafood Processors Association Lori Steele. “There are a number of significant challenges affecting the market and pricing.”

 

One of the challenges is the amount of shrimp captured in 2016. While fishers caught some of the sea creatures, there were not able to meet their quota for shrimp this year. Such deficit means that inventory from last year will need to be combined so that the impact in the grocery market can be significant.

 

For the most part, reliance is on the United States’ love of shrimp. About one-third of shrimp caught on the West Coast is exported to other countries. The rest of the supply, around 40 to 60 percent, is purchased by way of retail in the United States.

 

Fishermen on the West Coast get most of their inventory from the height of Alaska to the depths of California. Such is the reason why the State of Oregon has committed to finding a solution to the shortage of shrimp supply this year. Discussions between fisherman and processors began last month, and it appears that the industry is in en route to survive and possibly thrive this shrimp season.

 

“We very much appreciate Oregon’s leadership in bringing everyone together to discuss the market challenges we all face,” Steele says. “We’re confident the talks will be productive so consumers can soon have fresh West Coast shrimp on their plates.”

 

Earnings should be stable if the domestic demand for shrimp remains at about 330 million pounds at around $7 per pound. Industry participants are hopeful that the retail market will make this shrimp season great.

 

Actor Harrison Ford Not Blamed for February Plane Controversy

Following an investigation by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), actor Harrison Ford will not be fined, reprimanded or be in danger of losing his pilot’s license for an incident this past February 13 at John Wayne Airport in Orange County. In that circumstance, Ford landed his single-engine plane on the wrong runway.

 

Ford’s lawyer, Steven Hofer, announced the findings on April 3 since the FAA itself doesn’t offer any additional comment on any individual cases.

 

The FAA found that no one was ever placed at risk during the time he was landing and that had he chosen to land on his original runway, he was actually in danger of encountering wake turbulence. In addition, Ford’s Aviat Husky plane was dwarfed in size by an airbus that was in the process of taking off on a parallel runway.

 

Ford made the decision to use the taxiway after receiving warnings from the airport, with that adjustment creating the controversy. The most controversial aspect of the landing was when the Aviat Husky was directly above American Airlines Flight 1546 that was bound for Dallas with 116 people on board, including the six crew members.

 

The incident was so out of the ordinary that Ford was heard on recordings of the incident as asking the air traffic controller if Flight 1546 was supposed to be directly beneath his plane.

 

Other factors in the decision were the fact that Ford had never before been involved in an FAA inquiry and because of his more than 5,000 hours of flight time for more than two decades. He was the only person inside his plane at the time of the incident and he made no attempt at leaving the scene before airport officials arrived.

 

The incident was the second-plane related controversy to engulf the actor in the past two years. In March 2015, Ford sustained broken bones after being forced to crash land a PT-22 trainer plane that had just taken off from Santa Monica Airport. In that instance, Ford landed on the Penmar Golf Course, though no one else was injured.

 

 

“Super Bloom” of Wildflowers Light Up Small California Town

Hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to a small Californian town 85 miles northwest of San Diego to witness a brilliant display of wildflowers blooming across a desert locale. The tiny town of Borrego Springs has become overrun with tourists thanks to the proximity of the Anza-Borrego State Park, which has bloomed with hundreds of plant species across its 640 thousand acres.

 

Anza-Borrego doesn’t have the only recent or current occurrence of the so-called “super bloom” that occurs periodically in the desert. The right weather conditions occurred last year in Death Valley to cause a similar bloom and currently, the Antelope Valley north of Los Angeles has its own boldly colored growth spurt.

 

But Anza-Borrego does have more species of plants and the different bloom times means the flower show could go on into May. Species include the Dune Evening Primrose, Dune Lilies, Dune Sunflowers, and multicolored types of Lupine. The park became ripe for a super bloom after the area received several inches of winter rain, welcomed after years of drought conditions, and then experienced a two-week warm-up period. Human volunteers and prison workers have also worked to strip the park of an invasive plant species that could have thwarted the super bloom before it could begin.

 

The super bloom has created an animal surge in the park ecosystem as Spinx moth caterpillars chew on the organic material and migrating hawks swoop down to munch on the caterpillars. The influx of humans has caused its own problems for Borrego Springs, which has a population under 4,000.

Tourists, drawn from all over the world thanks to media coverage and super bloom tracking websites, have created five-hour traffic jams and bought local businesses clean of food. Deputies have started to help out with crowd control and the town has restocked to better prepare for the population growth.

 

Want to see the super bloom in action? The Anza-Borrego State Park website has visiting tips, a driving route to see the best blooms, and even a wildflower hotline number to call to ensure nature will still be blooming when you arrive.