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No Mitigating Circumstances in This Birdbrained Suggestion

I like birds, I really do.

I rescued a bird from a neighbor’s cat. I feed the ducks at the Wild Animal Park. I brake for birds.

However, I prefer real birds to imaginary birds conjured up by enviro-lobbyists and enviro-bureaucrats. Let me explain.

The San Diego City Council is considering whether to build a 2.4-mile road through Mission Trails Regional Park.

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The road, an extension of Jackson Drive, would connect the very busy Mission Gorge Road and California 52. The goal is to ease traffic on residential streets in Allied Gardens.

An environmental impact report has been completed, processed by the Planning Department and sent to the council. It says the road will disturb about 2.6 acres of bird habitat.

As ecological penance, and to keep the bird-loving federal government at bay, the report suggests that the city buy and maintain 6.1 acres for birds somewhere else. You always have to replace more than you destroy.

Sounds fair. If we wreck the home of a woodpecker or a red-breasted thrush, we should provide him and his family with a suitable replacement, no?

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Not exactly.

There aren’t any birds on the 2.6 acres. The last bird was spotted in 1975, the report says.

And the habitat is hardly a work of nature. Actually, it’s a drainage ditch built by man and then left untended so that weeds grew up in the soggy dirt.

If the drainage ditch had been cleaned regularly, there would have been no weeds, no potential habitat and no need for “off-site mitigation.” But it wasn’t.

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I talked to some bureaucrats at City Hall.

They find this situation somewhere on the far side of ridiculous. They won’t be quoted; the last thing they want is to get into a dispute with environmental groups or the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

One estimate says it will cost the city $30,000 per acre for the 6.1 acres.

You can do the multiplication yourself on the full cost of protecting phantom birds. Feel free to shed some taxpayer tears.

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So’s Your Mufti

The media go to war.

* Navy Capt. Michael Sherman is in Saudi Arabia to take charge of media relations for the U.S. military.

He has already had experience working in a hostile part of the world rife with tribalism and ancient hatreds: Hollywood.

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He’s normally the Navy’s liaison with the movie industry, including advising on the San Diego filming of “The Hunt for Red October.”

Sherman has yet another qualification for Saudi duty. “He can swear in Arabic,” says a friend in San Diego.

* Timing is all.

Joseph Ghougassian, former ambassador to Qatar, had trouble getting noticed by the media when he was running for the Republican nomination in San Diego’s 44th Congressional District last spring (and losing).

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Things have changed.

He has done 14 interviews in two weeks on the U.S.-Iraq standoff, including with local reporters, the television networks and Voice of America.

* In reaction to a Times story about Camp Pendleton, a woman from Alhambra writes that the Marine Corps should take its own camp followers to Saudi Arabia to maintain morale.

But she’s not a candidate: “I am a skinny 80-year-old, married 57 years, so would be ineligible.”

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See, everybody wants somebody else to do the dirty work.

No Thanks, I’m Depressed

Things in general.

* The San Diego diet: consume lots of serious drama.

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Sales at the intermission snack bar at the La Jolla Playhouse boomed during the zany “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum.”

Now comes the somber “My Children! My Africa!”

Snack bar sales are way down.

* Poster on the fence of a downtown construction site: “King Stahlman Bail Bonds. Unofficial Bail Bondsman for the Over the Line Tournament.”

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* Bumper sticker spotted in parking lot of Coronado golf course: “Archaeologists Assume Superposition.”

You can look it up.


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