By Andrew Tonkovich


Polar opposition
Irony insists its way into all our lives, if unseen or ignored by some. The public information officer for our (well, their) local, if hegemonic utility service area, one David Song, lives with it. A cheerful fellow, his official insights and generally well-informed positions reflect the interests of, yes, Southern California Edison, but might nonetheless gently inform those objecting to modest inconvenience caused by planned, unplanned or arguably over-planned repair or replacement outages lately. 

My own power was promised to be out on, so far, the second hottest day of summer, also the day of my phone interview with him. More irony, as I anticipated per multiple phone and email alerts that service would go out, interrupting my note-taking and killing the A/C. Watts more (sorry), orange-vested tree-trimming contractors were bivouacked in front of my house doing what they’ve been doing lots lately, in both Silverado and Modjeska. While scenic old utility poles are excellent acorn caches for our beloved red-headed woodpeckers, replacing them with composite-material high temperature-resistant poles takes a day for a full crew, and represents one facet of proactive wildfire mitigation. Not sure if the work is what annoys some residents, but Song embraces the further irony of a utility provider having to shut off power as an opportunity to remind customers that, in addition to a two-day warning and updates the day before maintenance, this infrastructure-awareness teachable moment might remind customers to update contact info for when a real emergency means we welcome news via landline, cell, text and email. In addition to new poles and tree trimming, SCE is installing high-definition cameras in rural Tier III high-fire risk areas, adding proactive remote shut-off features, introducing weather stations, and embracing a stricter high-wind proactive shut-down practice, as needed. You don’t need a PIO to know that Northern Cal fires have inspired Edison’s best practices of safety and customer relations.  

Tiresome (mis)behavior
Another challenging feature of rural life is confronting the pathetic display of scofflaw-ism seen in dumping on Santiago Canyon Road. Eco-criminals recently made their bid for best (worst) dump of 2019, with fifty tires left just east of Irvine Lake. OC Public Works maintenance hero Corinne Ruiz, who grew up in Silverado, was soon on-site, reporting to sheriffs and observing wryly the tire tracks at the crime scene. All in a day’s work, sadly.   

Bitten by love, not snakes
Little makes Silverado-Modjeska Recreation & Parks District President Kevin Topp happier than reporting, as at a recent board meeting, wedding bells and resulting revenue earned for our district from Community Center nuptials. With rentals doubled from last year, marriage income and rattlesnake aversion classes have bolstered the budget, encouraged romance and saved dogs. Proceeds underwrite the work of the Silverado Children’s Center, though with 25 students enrolled, the facility continues to support itself. Perhaps items reflecting our diverse community passions --- love, care for kids and pets, fire prevention --- will find their places in a planned time capsule, a project also overseen by Topp. 

Any Portola in a storm
Despite spending only a week here 250 years ago, a proposal to “commemorate” and/or “celebrate” the 1769 Portola Expedition offers another teachable moment, or not. At the same SMPRD meeting, organizers of a late-July “Festival de Santiago” ignored skeptics. Their confused promotional syntax (“to educate, share and honor local history”) and wickedly ironic “mission statement” (see last month’s “Canyon Beat” on homicidal Spanish Mission slave-system) inspired activist and Inter-Canyon League Secretary Scott Breedon to raise sincere questions about the political meaning of planned events. He offered concerns to event organizer and SMRPD Director Isabell Kerins about co-opting agencies (SMRPD, OCPL, ICL) for what appears to many a privately sponsored wingding, suggesting too-easy business boosterism, nebulous chauvinistic hoo-rah absent critical thinking, with zero participation from educators, secular nonprofits, historians, or Acjachemen leadership; in other words (mine), yet another appropriation of “community” for money-making, directly or indirectly. Further potential talking points: conflict of interest, transparency, financial oversight and political cronyism.

In brief …
Delayed, but available now, the new edition of the “Canyons Directory” --- two per household --- says editor-in-chief Joanne Hubble. Paid for by OC Fire Authority and Friends of the Library, Hubble recommends keeping a copy in your car or at your workplace. Tucker Wildlife celebrates ninety years with special programming. 

Summer Concert Series continues, with the Saturday, July 20 show featuring Damyon & the Family Band and James Kelly Band. Library of the Canyons hosts Showtime! through July, with films, super-reading challenges and celebratory and (why not?) commemorative summer fun for readers of all ages.Type your paragraph here.

July 2019

Canyon Beat:

You don’t need a weatherman