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<i> Snapshots of life in the Golden State.</i> : The ‘Do as I Say, Not as I Do’ Award Goes to . . .

What state government agency has been penalized by Southern California air quality officials for failing to take adequate steps to promote car-pooling by its employees?

Caltrans--whose role includes promoting car-pooling by the public.

The South Coast Air Quality Management District announced that Caltrans’ Los Angeles office is spending $31,500 on in-house ride-sharing programs as a settlement for having failed to properly submit an annual update of its trip-reduction plan to the AQMD.

Although a Caltrans spokesman said the agency’s violation was technical, Caltrans has agreed to make five additional minivans available to employees for van-pooling and is devoting staff time to promoting in-house ride-sharing efforts.

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El Gigante Verde not so jolly: When the Pillsbury Co. launched a new line of frozen vegetables called “American Mixtures,” prosecutors and union officials in Santa Cruz County viewed the move as rubbing salt in the wounds of unemployed workers in the erstwhile land of the Jolly Green Giant.

Since 1990, Pillsbury has laid off more than 300 employees in Watsonville, transferring much of its growing and packaging operations to Irapuato, Mexico. Yet despite the name “American Mixtures,” vegetables contained in the “San Francisco” and “Heartland” varieties of the Green Giant brand line are actually grown in Mexico.

This week, in the wake of legal actions filed by the Teamsters Union and the Santa Cruz County district attorney, Pillsbury has been ordered by the U.S. Customs Service to make major changes in its “American Mixtures” packaging.

For instance, if Pillsbury wants to continue marketing the “San Francisco” variety--containing broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, water chestnuts and red peppers--the words “Product of Mexico” must appear on the front side of the package in similar size type, according to the federal ruling.

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At present, the only reference to Mexico on any “American Mixtures” packages is on the back panel in type so small that, as Customs Service spokesman Dennis Shimkoski put it: “a consumer would need a magnifying glass to understand it.”

Pillsbury says it intends to fight the ruling. And the Santa Cruz County district attorney’s office, which is seeking substantial fines, says it intends to continue its unfair-competition lawsuit against Pillsbury.

California Mudslides

Here are some of the state’s most damaging mudslides : * January, 1934: A storm that drops 12 inches of rain in 24 hours destroys 240 homes in Glendale and Montrose and leaves almost 400 others uninhabitable. * January, 1969: More than 14 inches of rain over 10 days destroys and damages many homes, killing 13 people in mudslides in Topanga Canyon, Sherman Oaks, Highland Park, Glendale, Brentwood, Thousand Oaks and San Dimas. * January, 1970: Mudslides damage 14 homes in the Wilshire Heights area of Oakland during relentless rains and flooding. * October, 1978: Landslides after heavy rains destroy 24 homes and damage six others in Laguna Beach. * January, 1980: Rain-triggered mudslides in San Bernardino damage 35 homes. * February, 1980: Seven storms over nine days dump 13 inches of rain. Two women die in mudslides, one in Mandeville Canyon and one in Malibu Canyon. In Monterey Park, six homes are destroyed and six others are damaged. Ten more homes suffer damage in Bradbury, Sherman Oaks and Altadena. * January-February, 1993: Mudslides destroy three homes in Laguna Beach and five in San Clemente. Fourteen other San Clemente homes are made uninhabitable, and 46 homes in Anaheim Hills, two in Agoura Hills, two in Hacienda Heights and three in the Modjeska Canyon area of the Santa Ana Mountains are damaged.

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Source: California Department of Conservation; Los Angeles Times files

Compiled by Times researcher Tracy Thomas

The great California smoke-out: From state office buildings to Death Row, a smoking ban imposed by Gov. Pete Wilson is due to take effect at year’s end. In Davis, the City Council has just banned butts in all bars and restaurants and in outdoor areas within 20 feet of any building where smoking is prohibited.

Like a snowball turning into an avalanche, smoking restrictions imposed by California governments and corporations have become increasingly stringent. At least one proposal, however, has been deemed as going too far.

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In Temecula, the City Council rejected a ban on smoking in the city’s five outdoor parks.

During a lengthy council debate, Mayor J. Sal Munoz contended that such a ban would “take an awful lot of courage--that’s what separates the progressive cities from those that follow.”

Councilman Ron Parks countered: “Are we going to ask parents who come to the park to watch their children play to leave because they have a nicotine fit?”

“Some people are offended by perfume. (And) how about people with colds who spread germs?” Parks asked. “I just have a problem with legislating what people do outdoors.”

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EXIT LINE

“The state’s distrust of government appears to have led to a self-fulfilling prophecy: Californians think government is bad, and bad their government has become.”

--From a commentary in the British weekly the Economist concerning “institutional paralysis” afflicting the nation’s largest state.


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