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Tuesday, Feb 12 2013 03:45 PM

HITS & MISSES: Fire funds ought to go to intended goal

By The Bakersfield Californian

MISS: Nobody disputes that chasing down people who cause costly and devastating wildfires, and holding them accountable, is a prudent and necessary policy.

But citizens have a right to know where certain monies come from and how they are appropriated, and it seems Gov. Jerry Brown's office has been engaging in a little creative fund distribution that the state's Office of Legislative Counsel believes is unconstitutional.

At issue is the state's annual "fire fee," which affects about 27,000 folks in Kern County. The fee is supposed to be used to fund preventative measures, such as inspecting forest homes and creating new fire maps. But Brown's administration has been using a share of the fees the past two years to fund a unit that chases fire starters and recover fire costs. Republicans are not happy, nor is the Legislative Analyst's Office.

The public antenna is especially high when it comes to how their money is being spent. Voters have very little patience for games, and the diversion of funds from their intended purpose, however helpful, qualifies as such.

HIT: Credit where it's due

Taft Union High School employees received recognition from the United States Senate for their heroic actions during last month's on-campus shooting.

Sen. Barbara Boxer credited teacher Ryan Heber and campus supervisors Kim Fields and Mary Miller for risking their lives to help avert what could have been a greater tragedy. Heber and Fields talked the gunman into turning over his weapon, and Miller helped evacuate students from the classroom. Student Bryan Oliver is charged in the shooting, which critically injured fellow student Bowe Cleveland.

MISS: Beyonce, NFL in the clear

We have some bad news for speculators and conspiracy theorists. It seems that one of the great mysteries of all time has been solved. OK, maybe not of all time, but certainly of last week. The company that provided power to the Feb. 3 Super Bowl in New Orleans revealed that the cause of that odd blackout was a malfunctioning relay switch that, ironically, was designed to prevent a blackout.

Sorry, but Beyonce did not blow the lights. And the claim by Baltimore Ravens radio commentator and former player Qadry "The Missile" Ismail on a national radio show that the National Football League may have intentionally pulled the plug to halt the Ravens' momentum and keep the game from becoming a blowout (seriously, we don't make this stuff up) seems to have gone lights out. We think the missile misfired on that one.

HIT: But we're hoping for a 'miss'

"Anyone happening to glance towards the heavens (who) glimpses a 50-metre-long lump of rock hurtling ominously through the skies need not panic," The US edition of The Guardian writes.

Although it will pass closer to Earth than any asteroid has for the past 15 years, NASA says it will miss us by about 17,000 miles. "No Earth impact is possible," said NASA astronomer Donald Yeomans. He added that asteroids as large as this one, about 50 yards wide, are estimated to strike the planet about every 1,200 years. We think we're safe on this one.

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