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By Tim Hunt

Remember your bags

Uploaded: Jan 3, 2013

As you head out for market today, be sure to bring your reusable bag so you won't get dinged for a dime for the bag to tote your groceries home.
That's the privilege that we pay for living in Alameda County where the cities, at the behest of the StopWaste organization, have decided that stores should not provide free bags. Given that the county includes Berkeley and Oakland, it's not a surprise, but it's typical of the politics of Alameda County.
A Dublin resident could wander over the border to San Ramon shopping centers and find their groceries bagged with a smile and no additional charge. Contra Costa County has no such requirement.
This is typical of the coercive approach to striving for utopian goals that seem to routine form in the Peoples Republic. Sure, we should be wise stewards of our personal and well as public resources. If people want to bring their own bags to the market—wonderful. If they choose not, why charge them.
Alameda County has a waste organization that is governed by a board of elected officials appointed from the various city councils. It's the same type of structure used by the county transportation board and the regional transportation and air boards. What this structure does is effectively insulate the officials from the folks who elect them.
When was the last time you heard votes on the Metropolitan Transportation Commission or the regional air board being criticized as part of a local election campaign. The isolation leads to absurd decisions such as the MTC buying an office building in San Francisco—way more space than the agency needs—and then planning to renovate it and rent it out to other users. In other words, the agency is speculating in commercial real estate and using funds from bridge tolls to do so—a questionable expenditure at best.
The air board, of course, brings us "Spare the Air" days that now are accompanied by a significant fine if somebody dares to burn wood in their fire place. What's remarkable in this case is how few monitoring stations there are (about half a dozen) scattered in nine Bay Area counties. As anyone who watches local news knows all too well—there are vast differences in microclimates, but, to the air regulators, one size fits all.
So, as you head to the store today or out to walk the dog, beware that the pick-up plastic of choice for doggie doo-doo will become in short supply over the next year.