State of Emergency?

Anthony Pignataro:

First of I want to get on the record that I am totally opposed to the fire that gutted — or at least partially gutted — the Roseville Galleria. I have purchased small home appliances in this mall, eaten more fish tacos than I care to remember in this mall, and have, when needed, utilized the mall’s excellent second floor restroom facilities. I think setting fire to it was wrong in every sense of the word, and am very thankful that the resulting conflagration did not injure or kill anyone, which I’m sure everyone will agree was the most important outcome of yesterday’s events.

However, I find myself pausing while reading over Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Proclamation of a State of Emergency in Placer County. Particularly this part:

“WHEREAS the closure of the mall and the stores will likely cause the immediate loss of many jobs in the area and the need for the unemployed to quickly receive financial assistance,” it states fairly early on.

Recent news report indicate that about 25 percent of the mall is severely damaged and may not reopen for many months, though the remaining portions may be back open for business fairly soon. This is indeed bad, especially given the imminent Christmas shopping season, but does it constitute an “emergency”?

I ask because CalWatchdog’s office is located at Downtown Plaza in Sacramento, which like the Galleria, is owned by Westfield. Unlike the Galleria, Downtown Plaza has been suffering for years. In fact, I’d say about a quarter of the available storefronts in the mall have been vacant for at least the last year, though I also doubt a “State of Emergency” proclamation from the guv is in the works.

But I digress. Further down the Placer County proclamation is this line: “WHEREAS under the provisions of section 8558(b) of the California Government Code, I find that conditions of extreme peril to the safety of persons and property exist due to the fire in Placer County.”

Extreme peril? Isn’t that phrase just a tad loaded? This isn’t a wildfire that tore across the county, laying waste to people and property. Yes, police and firefighters evacuated hundreds of people from the Galleria yesterday, and that must have been scary. But no one — NO ONE — sustained any injuries (though I’m told an expensive police bomb-sniffing robot is missing in the wreckage, and I think I speak for everyone when I say my prayers are with its family).

So to sum up: Roseville Galleria fire = bad, State of Emergency Proclamation = iffy.

Carry on.

OCT. 22, 2010

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