Monday, December 21, 2009



The Oakland Museum of California was established in 1969 as a museum for
the people, to tells the stories of California. Back then the main focus
was on art, history and natural sciences. Oakland museum is undergoing
renovation and transformation, the grand opening will be in May 2010.
With the new transformation Oakland Museum of California will also focus
on visitor participation, interpretive tools, interactive features, new
gathering spaces and program areas that will engage and encourage
visitors to share their perspectives questions and stories of California.
Oakland Museum of California has always had strong ties to the community,
so schools, scholars, local audiences and visitors will be welcome to
participate in events and activities and be part of California’s past,
present, and future. A local artists has already gave the Oakland Museum
of California a face lift with a new mural at the Oak Street Entry, this
mural is beautiful. If this is any indication of what the museum to be
like, Oakland Museum of California this is going to be something to see.
I can’t wait until it reopens.


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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Holiday Checkpoint Season

It's holiday checkpoint season again, and time for local police and The California Highway Patrol to put up random sobriety roadblocks.  But, just how necessary are they, and what restrictions govern them regarding the rights of motorists?
The fourth amendment to the Constitution protects people from being stopped without a search warrant, or at least "probable cause" that they've committed a crime.  While the US Supreme Court did make an exemption regarding DUI checkpoints, eleven states have still outlawed them...following a landmark 1990 ruling in Michigan that granted  permission to uphold  outstanding state law. 
Here in California, the CHP maintains that checkpoints reduce the number of drunk drivers on the roads and highways, and diminishes  the amount of pain, suffering and death that result from drunk driving.  Still, 51-percent of all drivers in America fall victim to at least one alchohol-related accident, while one person dies every 22 minutes from a drunk driving accident.  The current annual death toll is at 11, 888.
No matter how grim the numbers, sobriety checkpoints must still follow strict protocol laid out by the California Supreme Court.  Checkpoint locations must be chosen by supervisory police officers, not field officers.  Advanced notice must also be given, while location of road blocks is not required.  Police must also us a a neutral mathematical formula when stopping drivers, such as....every car, or every 3rd car etc. 
Motorist safety must be a primary concern, with police providing proper lighting, warning signs and signals.  Checkpoints should be only open when traffic volume allows safe operation. In fact, checkpoints open during late evening hours on major holidays.  Here in San Jose, the next checkpoints are scheduled for December 31st between 8pm and 3am.
Officers are also not allowed to detain drivers longer than it takes to ask a few questions, while looking and smelling for obvious signs of intoxication.  If cleared,  the driver should be swiftly waived through, while those showing signs of  impairment are taken to a seperate area for a field sobriety test.  I recently discovered one other, unusual restriction during a personal road experience.
While driving north-bound on Bascom Avenue in San Jose this past Labor Day weekend,  I came upon a checkpoint  just past the stoplight at Stokes Avenue.  As I eased behind a slow line of cars heading for the blinking signs, I noticed a few cars making sudden U-turns in an obvious attempt to avoid the road block.  Even the driver in front of me darted left onto a double-yellow line and into a 7'11 parking lot.  Isn't that illegal, I thought?  Can't  the cops stop them for that?  None were around to see them!
According to the Supreme Court,  motorists may NOT be stopped while seeking to avoid a checkpoint.  However, if the ditching driver commits a vehicle code violation, or shows obvious signs of intoxication...police can pull them over.  Next evening the Bascom Avenue checkpoint was back up, but a half-mile closer to Valley Medical Center this time,and pointed North.
Curiously, I joined the checkpoint line again, but, this time a half-dozen  patrol cars were stationed BEHIND the line, partially hidden in dark parking lots. Up front and past the checkpoint to the right, was a very well lighted parking lot...filled with cars and their drivers performing drunk tests.
That scene reminds me of the age-old advice which always provides the best way around such a  scenerio. DON'T drink and drive!!
If you MUST drink....either stay home, take a cab or ride next to a designated driver.  That way you'll sail through all your checkpoints...without checking into jail or checking OUT for good! 

Stay safe and stay sober,