FRACKING: I received this note from a reader who wanted to weigh in on the debate over hydraulic fracturing. Listen to Michael Jacobsen's words: "Greetings from Bismarck, N.D.! As an online subscriber to The Californian, I found it amusing to read your column about the environmental group that claims that fracking causes earthquakes. If that's the case, North Dakota should be like Jerry Lee Lewis' song, 'Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On.' Maybe someone should ask them to come to the 'Oil Patch' in Northwestern North Dakota.
"The unemployment rate in the Williston area is .7 percent (no joke). Statewide, the unemployment rate is 2.4 percent. The state is prospering and people in Bismarck can make $10.50 an hour at fast food places. The wages are even higher in Dickinson and Williston. One lady from Dickinson said most of the young people will accept no less than $18.50 an hour for a part-time summer job. True, there are accidents that occasionally happen, but these are usually taken care of quickly. There have been earthquakes in N.D. but not related to fracking. On an unrelated note, I will be moving to Bakersfield in a month or so. My beautiful bride, Sharon, is there right now looking for a place to live. We hope to meet you sometime." Welcome back home, Michael!
KARMA: How appropriate is it that state Sen. Leland Yee, who prides himself as a gun control advocate and has spent years writing anti-gun legislation, is arrested and charged with conspiracy to traffic in firearms? What is it they say about karma?
BAD FORM: Darlyn Baker was in the drive-thru lane at the downtown Starbucks when this happened: "As I turned the curve getting closer to paying, to my surprise and dismay was an empty Starbucks cup someone had tossed in the flower bed. Unbelievable! Surely the car in front or behind them had to see them tossing it out, assuming they were not the only one in line. I guess some feel entitled and don't give a flying flip about littering."
JURY DUTY: Superior Court Judge David R. Lampe responded to the reader who complained about jury duty. "I sympathize with those who are called to jury duty who experience delays and excessive waiting," he said. "I ask all of the jurors who come to my court to please be patient with the process. While we respect efficiency, it cannot be our highest value. Our most compelling ethic is fairness. We judges have to 'get it right,' and that takes thoughtful deliberation and time. What we ask of jurors is their time, even if that includes sitting and waiting while matters are being conducted outside of their presence. We cannot instruct all prospective jurors 'en masse' because the parties have the right to be present, and every case is unique, even if there are common legal principles.
"We judges hear the case at the same time as the jurors, and so there is a lot that goes on in the courtroom that jurors do not hear. We cannot try the cases twice, once to the judge and then to the jury, which would make things less efficient, rather than more. Our jury system is unique and precious. Laws are merely abstract notions, until they are applied by the courts. Everyone should keep in mind, when those laws get applied, they might be applied to you. With that perspective, I am sure most would desire a calm, careful, fair and deliberative process where the common will of the citizens of the community decide the question. To paraphrase, 'The American jury system is a terrible form of justice. It is just that all of the others are so much worse.'"
Email Richard Beene, Californian president and CEO, at firstname.lastname@example.org. His column appears on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; the views expressed are his own. Read more on his blog at BakersfieldObserved.com.