The Weekly Tally 12.26.19

WHO’S IN TOWN?

This week is a good time to visit the shoreline and scan the horizon for the spouts of gray whales migrating southward from their feeding grounds in Alaska to the calving lagoons of Baja California. A few single sightings have been logged this month and more are expected through January. Last year the number of gray whale sightings among local whale watching boats jumped during Christmas week. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, pregnant females typically come through first. Adults can reach 46 feet in length and weigh up to 35 tons. Calves are about 17 feet long at birth, and by the time they reach Monterey Bay headed north in spring, they’re about 20 feet, according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s gray whales webpage. In total, gray whales travel approximately 10,000 miles each year.

Ongoing. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Free. sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/calendar.

FREE SPEECH

Remember the days in which you had to be a registered Democratic to vote in a Democratic primary election or a Republican to vote in a Republican primary? Those days are over. In 1996, California voters opted to switch to a system of open primaries, but in 2000, Prop. 198 was overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, which found the voting system violated the First Amendment right of freedom of association. The State Legislature came back with a modified system that took effect in 2001: A political party may choose to let no-party-preference voters (also known as “independents”) vote in their presidential primaries. For the March 3, 2020 election, NPP voters may request primary ballots from the Democratic PartyLibertarian Party andAmerican Independent Party. (Not on that list is the Republican Party, in which President Donald Trump is seeking re-election.) In Monterey County, NPP voters outnumber Republicans, but not Democrats. The Monterey County Elections Department has sent out 36,442 cards to unaffiliated voters asking them if they want a party’s primary ballot, and as of press time has received requests from only 2,217 voters.

GOOD WEEK / BAD WEEK

GOOD:

Golf can be intimidating for a first-timer. If a novice player would step onto the famed Pebble Beach Golf Links for a round, he or she might give up the game for good – or so says Bryon Bell, the president of TGR Design. The golf course design firm headed by Tiger Woods is in the process of laying out a new par-3 short course on the site of the former Peter Hay Golf Course at Pebble Beach. Bell and his team plan a course that will be family-friendly, playable for young golfers – the longest holes measuring just over 100 yards – yet still offering a chance for veteran golfers to work on their short game. “It’s about bringing people together,” Bell says. “That’s our goal.” TGR Design is early in the process (“we have some hurdles,” Bell adds) but looks to be on track for a fall 2020 grand opening, at which point even hackers can have a go at Pebble Beach.

BAD:

Pacific Grove Unified School District Superintendent Ralph Porras began noticing a disturbing trend among suspensions coming across his desk this fall, he told P.G. City Council on Dec. 18. Over a 60-day period most were connected to tobacco vaping-related products. “I’ve been in education for 30 years and I’ve seen a lot of trends,” Porras says. “This one is insidious and it worries me a lot.” Despite widespread news stories about vaping-related illnesses and deaths, vaping is on the rise among students – Porras says it’s true among all schools in Monterey County. (The U.S. Centers for Disease Controlreports more than 2,500 hospitalizations and 54 deaths due to the illness.) Porras sent a letter to parents describing what vaping devices look like. “We don’t know where they are getting them and that’s half the concern,” he says.

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