George Boardman: Another example of why the privileged are different from you and me | TheUnion.com
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George Boardman: Another example of why the privileged are different from you and me

George Boardman
John Hart/jhart@theunion.com | The Union

Observations from the center stripe: How tacky edition

SUPER BOWL 50 will be preceded by the “Taste of the NFL,” featuring food prepared by chefs from the 32 NFL cities, at the Cow Palace in Daly City. When you consider the number of livestock shows that have been held there over the years … THE BIG game, which will be played in Santa Clara in February, won’t feature a Roman numeral this year. Apparently Super Bowl L doesn’t have enough cache for the image-conscious NFL … NEVADA CITY’S Halloween parade was canceled because some residents object to so many strangers visiting the town. And I thought tourism is a big part of the economy … NO SURPRISE: The biggest water wasters in Contra Costa County are one percenters who live in the exclusive Blackhawk community in Danville. Leading the pack is a retired vice chairman of Chevron who uses more than 12,000 gallons of water a day … NOBODY — MEDIA, team general managers, Vegas odds makers — believes the Golden State Warriors will repeat as NBA champions this season. That’s OK: Nobody picked them to win last year either … HOW DANGEROUS is football? Listen to astrophysicist Neal deGrasse Tyson: “A 250-pound football player, running 15 mph, has more kinetic energy than a bullet fired from an AK-47 rifle”…

People who are always complaining about pay inequality and the privileged one percent might want to direct some of their bile toward the latest effort to get all of us to support yet another perk of the rich and famous.

That would be charging stations for luxury plug-in cars and other electric vehicles, the ultimate in green chic whose owners are more than twice as wealthy as most Americans. But keeping those cars charged and on the go isn’t cheap, so all of us are being asked to foot the bill.

Historically, public utility commissions have allowed utilities to recover only the costs of “fair, just and reasonable” capital investments that benefit everyone — the principle of “user pays.” But in the name of fighting climate change, regulators are now inserting the tab for charging stations into higher electric rates.



This movement started in Oregon and Washington, and has now come to California.

PG&E has filed for permission to build 25,000 charging stations between the Oregon border and Bakersfield to service the estimated 60,000 electric vehicles in its service area. (There are 13 million cars in California.)




California’s three major utilities have asked the state PUC to pass on more that $1.25 billion in costs for charging stations to all households. The Utility Reform Network, no friend of big power, points out the ratepayer dollars would flow to cars that utility customers often can’t afford to drive.

But when you’re a politically favored industry with well-to-do customers, you can get away with that kind of public welfare.

This is an example of what free market types mean when they complain about government picking winners and losers.

Blaming California

That state north of Eureka is trying to kick California in the shins again, this time over the rising cost of housing in the Portland area.

Portland, where it is said that 20-somethings go to retire and that they have so many coffee shops because they’re trying to stay awake, has experienced a 10 percent increase in the median cost of a house over the last year to $320,000.

Some people think Californians may be responsible for this unconscionable price increase. Some houses are actually selling for more than the asking price, and it is rumored that Golden Staters are buying these houses in all-cash deals.

In protest, “No Californians” stickers are popping up on some “For Sale” signs in the area.

The stickers show a silhouette of the Golden State slashed out in red.

This is the latest chapter in Oregon’s one-sided rivalry with California that started in 1971 when Gov. Tom McCall famously said “come visit, don’t stay” in a speech about the tourist industry.

Various residents of the state have discouraged Californians from moving there, and they’ve even circulated “Don’t Californicate Oregon” bumper stickers.

But the Beaver State tends to be selective when it comes to its southern neighbor.

The state is well known for three things: the University of Oregon football team, its legalization of recreational pot, and the fact that Nike is headquartered there.

Well, rest assured, nobody would think twice about their football team if they didn’t recruit heavily in California — 36 percent of this year’s roster is from the Golden State — and I doubt they object to the fact that Californians purchase more of Nike’s overpriced shoes and sports apparel than residents of any other state. And who do they think is going to supply all of those retail pot outlets?

I view this hostility with mixed emotions because while I’m a proud native of the Golden State, I have deep roots in Oregon.

A town and state park in Oregon are named for my grandfather, Samuel Herbert Boardman, who many consider the father of the state’s park system.

My father was the only one of his four children to leave the state, and I once asked him why he decided to make his life in California. “I got tired of scraping the moss out from between my toes,” he said.

That’s good enough for me.

George Boardman lives at Lake of the Pines. His column is published Mondays by The Union.


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