The following people, events and organizations deserve either a Thumbs Up or Thumbs Down this week.
THUMBS DOWN: For the increase in drinking and driving at the Hollister Independence Rally. Police arrested 44 people for driving under the influence during the Rally weekend, up from 30 last year, and one man was killed by someone police believe was driving drunk. It’s hard to tell if drinking and driving is on the rise during the Rally or if police are catching more violators. But California Highway Patrol Capt. Bob Davies said that he has seen an increase in drinking and driving and aggressive riding each year of the event. Whatever the case, it’s a serious problem and we’d like to see the Hollister Independence Rally Committee tackle the issue and try to stop this trend next year.
THUMBS UP: For the Hollister City Council banning billboards in the city of Hollister. While it doesn’t seem to be a huge issue here – billboards hardly plague the town – there is no doubt that they are unsightly and there are many other ways to effectively advertise one’s products.
THUMBS DOWN: For the news that it’s a real possibility that the state may takeover the Hollister School District because of its budget problems. A recent analysis of the budget by the county office of education shows that the district may only have $300,000 left in reserves at the end of 2006-2007 school year, below state requirements for reserves. That’s scary and does not bode well for the 5,900 students who the district serves. We appreciate County Superintendent of Schools Tim Foley’s candor on the matter. He will be the person who decides whether to put the wheels in motion for state intervention, and he seems to be taking a no-nonsense approach. Candor, hard work and painful cuts are what it will take to salvage the district budget.
THUMBS UP: For San Benito County’s own Charles Maggini, a local cowboy who will be inducted into the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association Hall of Fame on July 16. Maggini passed away in 1982 – he was born in San Benito in 1894 – but now his memory and his legendary skill as a roper and rider will live on forever. What set Maggini apart from many other rodeo stars, his family says, is that he loved actually working on the ranch rather than just riding in the arena. And, you’ve got to love his philosophy on life: “Live it up for 99 years, then take it slow.”
THUMBS UP: For the Hollister Independence Rally. It was three days of fun, leather and chrome. Though there was a brief incident – handled well by police – we’re glad to see that the predictions of a fight between the Mongols and Hells Angels did not materialize. The Rally is about having a good time and enjoying motorcycles. This year, an estimated 120,000 people did just that.