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September 17, 2021

Funny Papers Again Column | Broken Ground Does Not a Groundbreaking Make

While not referring to any particular county supervisor in last week’s Funny Papers, I did address the board in general with hopes some public remarks would be forthcoming regarding the continued closure of San Lorenzo Park. I now want to address some specific remarks about our third district supervisor.

I first met Chris Lopez in May 2018 as he campaigned at the Amgen Tour of California Day in King City, which if you recall was one exciting event. He had been asked for his autograph and didn’t have a pen and as I was standing close by, I handed him mine. I never got it back; I hope whoever got his autograph voted for him. After he became Monterey County Third District Supervisor Chris Lopez, we crossed paths on an issue at the Green Bridge area of the Arroyo Seco area and we almost crossed swords over the closure of a road of which I was particularly fond; but that turned out to be a non-issue and quickly passed.

One time Chris and I were part of a reading-to-students event down in San Lucas at the elementary school, and it is San Lucas that will get some attention from Chris again and once again it involves the students of that school. Now, I know two of the people at San Lucas Elementary School, one is the head of the whole shebang, Superintendent Jessica Riley by name and title, and the other, Tom Carvey, is a teacher.

Ms. Riley and her daughter Penelope and I have been involved in a couple arts endeavors and Penny is an intern at MCARLM, so we have some interaction there. It would take two or three columns to chronicle all the Riley family seem to accomplish and maybe some day we’ll visit them again.

Tom and I had a relationship in Salinas some 40-plus years ago that was such we greet each other when the opportunity arises; he is a recognized teacher in mathematics and has the accolades to prove it. Also, a pretty darn good guitar player with a fine voice. But I digress.

As I understand it, the students wrote to Supervisor Lopez with the desire to see their town improved, and sidewalks were the main request made. And, true to form, Chris responded, and that work is scheduled to begin in the near future. There will no doubt be a groundbreaking ceremony to mark the beginning of construction and surely our supervisor will be there with shovel in hand. Which has to be for him, in my opinion, somewhat bittersweet. Let me explain my reason for that statement.

Over the past few months, construction took place in Greenfield at the corner of Walnut Avenue and Third Street and recently that fieldworker-housing complex was opened; in the photo on the front page of the paper, Chris was one of the participants at that grand opening. On that day had Chris cast his gaze 400 yards to the south, all he would have seen was an empty space of ground behind a service station/car wash, where two years ago he, and a whole passel of other folks, took part in a groundbreaking for what was to be the Monterey County Third District Supervisor’s office complex; complete with flagpole.

It never happened and today that patch of earth is as empty as the day it was created. I don’t know the reason the whole deal fell through, but it is the second slight to South County, failure to be home to a permanent court the first. And the office only made sense given the territorial boundaries of the third district, which for the supervisor could conceivably mean a meeting in Hebbron Heights at 10 a.m. and another in Bryson Hesperia at 1 p.m.; that’s a lot of miles, with a variety of socioeconomics tossed in along the way. Plus, unless things have changed, the office now used by the third district supervisor, located way up in Salinas, is a rental, which made a county-owned building a big selling point for the office in Greenfield.

Whatever the problem is that prevents the realization of that much-needed building, I do hope it gets resolved so our supervisor can be closer to the center of his district and he can get the flagpole he wants so he may follow in a family tradition and see the colors waving over his head. And when that day arrives, I know I’ll be there for the grand opening … Chris owes me a pen.

BITS & PIECES

After walking acres in three businesses in Salinas recently and being completely ignored by the twentysomethings that were, presumably, clerks, I left in frustration at the mindset of today’s youthful employees. My next stop, rare for me, was a fast-food shack, I was in a bit of a foul mood so the conversation when something like this:

“Can I take your order?”

“Give me one minute to look over the menu.”

(Ten seconds later) “Are you ready?”

“Yes. I want this order to go. I’ll have a regular hamburger and a small drink and that’s all.”

“Do you want cheese on your burger?”

“Wouldn’t cheese on a hamburger make it a cheeseburger?”

“Yes.”

“Do you sell cheeseburgers?”

“Yes, they’re on the menu.”

“Then if I wanted a cheeseburger wouldn’t I have ordered a cheeseburger?”

(Ten seconds of silence) “So, you don’t want cheese on it?”

“No.”

“Do you want the meal?”

“Did I order a meal?”

(More silence) “No.”

“Just a regular burger and the soda and I want that to go.”

“Do you want a small, medium or large soda?”

“I said small not two minutes ago, remember?”

(Silence again, this time with a stare) “OK, that’s a regular hamburger and a small soda. Is that for here or to go?”

“How about we just forget about the food and I do the going instead?”

I know, it’s a needed paycheck for many, many young people, but it is such mind-numbing work the poor employees become zombie-like in their dealings with customers so that there is a real disconnect from real conscientious service. I have a granddaughter who works fast food and I hope she doesn’t become brain dead after a six-hour shift; heck, growing up is hard enough without that.

Stay safe. Peace.

Steve Wilson
King City and Greenfield Columnist
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