Cheque it out

Wells Fargo sent me a check (the bank spelled it “cheque”) for $1,023.55 last week. I didn’t ask for it—it just showed up in my mailbox. I’ve never to my knowledge actually spoken to anyone who works at Wells Fargo. But somebody there, actually a fellow named Cain Medina of Branch #6540, asked the customer contact manager to send me the check. At least that is what the letter attached to the check said. The customer contact manager signed the letter, but I couldn’t read the name. It looked like it was Jr. Senton or maybe J. Breton. The letter said I have to act—sign the check and deposit it in my bank account—before May 22. My receiving the cheque was based, the letter said, on my “outstanding creditworthiness.” Fair enough. But what bothered me was the note at the end of the letter: “For security purposes, it’s critical to void and destroy your cheque if you are not going to cash it.” What? Why would Wells Fargo want to set me up in this age of identity theft? Why wouldn’t Mr. Medina simply tell Jr. Stanton or J. Breton to send me a letter telling me they would like to lend me $1,023.55? “Hey buddy,” the letter could begin. “Wanna little loan? It’s cool.” By the way, the loan comes with a 17.99 percent interest rate. Why are they being so good to me?

Last week I wrote in this column that increasing the minimum density for housing on the 260 acres of R-2-zoned property in this town from four units per acre to seven would yield an additional 1,000 houses. Vice Mayor Maureen Kirk, acting with the keen eye of an elementary-school teacher I once knew, was quick to point out the error of my mathematics. Raising the minimum to seven would give us only another 780 houses. Because such denseness was opposed by Councilmen Larry Wahl, Steve Bertagna and Dan Herbert—they wanted to keep it at four—Kirk offered the compromise of 5.5 (390 more houses). Wahl, Bertagna and Herbert stuck to their guns and said no, still too dense. But Anne Schwab, Andy Holcombe and Mayor Scott Gruendl (all of whom voted for the seven minimum) recognized this was the best they could do and said yes.

Sen. Sam Aanestad, R Grass Valley, recently sent us a press release announcing his luncheon date with a “leading forestry expert.” The expert’s name is Dr. Thomas Bonnicksen, and he is a strong supporter of President Bush’s forest management plan, sometimes called the “no tree left behind” plan. “Dr. Bonnicksen,” Aanestad said, “has a unique insight into the challenges facing California today.” Turns out Bonnickson sits on the science advisory board of the National Center for Public Policy Research, a conservative think tank that last year issued the statement: “There is no evidence that man-made global warming is taking place.” Do we want this guy’s advice on managing our forests? The center, by the way, is deeply involved in House Majority Leader Tom DeLay‘s political troubles.

Go to the Shawn Colvin concert in Cedar Grove May 15, and you might win a guitar autographed by the Grammy winner. Money from the guitar raffle will go toward the Community Collaborative for Youth, a commendable organization. For more info call Emily Alma (566-1806) or Tara Kennedy (570-3156). Show starts at 5 p.m.

I used to hate Mother’s Day, because it is one of those holidays invented by some cynical advertising genius looking to cash in on the family guilt in which most Americans wallow. But you know when Mother’s Day is most unbearable? It’s when that first one rolls around after your mom’s no longer around. As a kid, I thought my mom was the most beautiful woman in the world. Now, as an adult, I realize I wasn’t that far off. My dad was a pretty good photographer and movie maker, capturing my mom on both still and 16 millimeter film in the 1940s and ’50s. There she sits on the couch, reading the Sunday newspaper and drinking a cup of coffee from a porcelain cup as the early morning sun streams in through the living-room window. She looks like Rita Hayworth as she closes the paper, turns and smiles at the camera and says something in that Ohio sunlight so many years ago. She is all-knowing. She is compassionate. She is comfort and safety. She is beautiful beyond reason. And now she is only an image captured on film.