Thumbs Up or a Thumbs Down this week:
THUMBS UP: Hollister City Councilwoman Monica Johnson has been appointed president of the Monterey division of the California League of Cities. It’s an honor for Johnson and a plum for Hollister to have one of its own heading up the regional chapter of this influential organization. The league looks out for the interests of local communities and lobbies effectively in Sacramento. Johnson will have an opportunity to focus state government’s attention on issues that matter to Hollister and to elevate our city’s profile in the capital. “The more we can let people know about our region or area, especially Hollister, the better,” Johnson said.
THUMBS DOWN: Just about everyone involved with the case against two Hollister teenagers accused of murder in the death last July of 18-year-old Daniel Gallegos expressed frustration this week with the Hollister Police Department over delays in processing reports on the killing. Defense attorney Greg LaForge said he needs access to information contained in the police reports in order to help his client. District Attorney-elect Candice Hooper said she needs the information in order to determine whether to pursue a capital murder case. Hooper said she believes police staffing shortages have delayed completion of the reports so they can be released to her office and to LaForge.
THUMBS UP: The federal Department of Justice has determined that San Benito County has cleaned up problems with its elections department. In 2004, the feds filed a lawsuit against the county, alleging that the county was in violation of the Voting Rights Act by failing to provide enough bilingual poll workers, Spanish-language election materials and necessary information about provisional ballots to Spanish-speaking voters. Department of Justice attorney Bert Russ commended county elections officials for “impressive and laudable progress” in correcting the problems over the past 30 months.
THUMBS DOWN: Prices at gas pumps here and elsewhere are continuing to rise, even though the price for crude oil settled this week at its lowest level since June of 2005. A survey of local prices for regular unleaded last weekend found prices in Hollister ranging from $2.46 to $2.62 per gallon. Since then, pump prices have inched up another nickel or so. In a community with so many commuters – many of whom are just now finding those Christmas bills in the mailbox – that’s not great New Year’s news.
THUMBS UP: Sure, San Benito High School fans know him as an old football rival, but you can’t help cheering for Gilroy native Jeff Garcia. The former Gilroy High and San Jose State star didn’t get a sniff from the NFL out of college, but after proving himself in the CFL, Gilroy went on to become the starting quarterback for the San Francisco 49ers. His fortunes later fell and it looked like Garcia might be washed up as a little-used 36-year-old backup for the Philadelphia Eagles. But now he’s back in a big way, moving into the starter’s job after an injury to Donovan McNabb and leading the Eagles into the NFL playoffs. This week, he’s on the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine. Go Jeff!