Bright bulbs, icky food and "blanket coverage"

John Taylor: January 31, 20070 Comments

Add Maryland to the ever-growing list of states proposing a universal health coverage initiative ... Speaking of seeing the light, the Sacramento Bee reports that two California lawmakers want to do away with common light bulbs by 2012 or 2018, replacing traditional incandescent globes with more energy-efficient illumination around the same time that hordes of Baby Boomers (present company included) will be kicking around darkened, chilly houses trying to save retirement dollars for health premiums. ...

Thanks to Nathan and Cathy for their comments on my recent posting about trans fat (or PHVO -- partially hydrogenated vegetable oil), the stuff that preserves and makes some foods tasty while making your arteries resemble hardened lava.  Society has a long ways to go to where Philly cheese steak sandwiches are healthy and to where hospital cafeterias aren't places where you see customers walking out with 36-ounce sodas laden with high-fructose corn syrup and a family-size bag of Cheetos. ...

Two quick followups on the food front.

First, Los Angeles County tried to join New York City in banning trans fat in restaurants. But California state law apparently prohibits that action, the LA Times reported. However, a chapter of the California Restaurant Association, which represents a few thousand of the 34,000 county eateries, will apparently voluntarily phase out trans fat over 18 months. Stay tuned.

Second, an analysis of inspection records of high school cafeterias at 20 locations around the nation shows significant potential for mass outbreaks of food poisoning, according to a report by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.  The organization said there have been more than 11,000 documented cases of foodborne illnesses associated with schools between 1990 and 2004, and the new report details some horrific conditions -- as well as some model practices -- at schools from San Francisco to Denver, Houston and (at the bottom) Hartford, Conn. The report, cockroaches, grime and all, is on the Web at www.cspinet.org/new/pdf/makingthegrade.pdf ...

California Senate and Assembly leaders have announced key committee assignments. Overseeing the Senate Health Committee will be Sen. Sheila Kuehl, a champion of single-payer health initiatives; and the Assembly Health Committee chair is Assembly Member Mervyn Dymally of Compton. ... Among Valley lawmaker assignments: Assembly Member Juan Arambula will chair the Jobs, Economic Development and the Economy Committee and also serve on the Budget and Higher Education committees; Assembly Member Nicole Parra will chair the Agriculture Committee and serve on the Insurance Committee; and Assembly Member Bill Maze will serve on a budget subcommittee and on the Business and Professions Committee. Mike Villines of Clovis is the Assembly Republican leader, representing 32 GOP lawmakers. ... Sen. Dean Florez is chair of the Select Committee on Air Quality and serves on the Appropriations Committee; and Sen. Dave Cogdill is Republican Caucus whip and serves on the Budget and Fiscal Review, and Human Services committees. ...

During the recent freeze, Community purchased, in partnership with Gottschalks, blankets that were distributed to the Red Cross and at the Frank H. Ball Community Center, which served as a "warming area" for Fresno's homeless. Special thanks to Community's Steve Walter, Nancy Yung and Matthew Moralez, among others, and to Richele Kleiser and other staff at Gottschalks.