Spills, ills, chilis and poisoned quills

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    The big buzz this weekend was the collapse of our water supply. Maybe it was simply a warning. Malibu was beginning to get cocky and had started believing catastrophes were ancient history. This was supposed to be the quiet time. The city had even canceled council meetings until September, and several council members and staff members were out of town on vacation .

    This time, the coordination among the city, Caltrans, the sheriff, the CHP, the county and a bunch of other agencies seemed a lot better, but there still were the usual glitches. Whether you, your employees or your wedding guests were going to get through the roadblock seemed to depend on which agency and which officer was doing the screening, but on the whole it seemed to me to work reasonably well.

    The big losers seemed to be the merchants and restaurant owners, who lost a gorgeous weekend on which they depend, and the kids who were getting married and had their wedding reception scheduled here. You’re scared enough on your wedding day without the extra worry of not knowing if your guests are going to make it, but the sheriff’s department played cupid in this case and worked hard to see that everyone got to the weddings.

    The residual problem, for you newcomers, is that we now have to refill our storage tanks, which means go easy on the water for this week. Hold off on that extra load of wash, or washing the car, or watering the backyard, or those long showers. This crisis is not over until we refill all our storage tanks, and as I write this column Tuesday, we are only halfway there. So count on another four or five days before everything is topped off, and go easy on the water. If you haven’t done so already, you should have a stock of bottled water on hand at home for emergencies. It also helps if you know how to turn off your sprinkler, and make sure to tell your gardener, if you have one, to go easy on the water this week.

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    There was another bunch of activity about a bogus letter sent out on apparently fake letterhead of “Gil and Joanne Segel.” Since the letter was obviously anti-Segel and the “Civic Center Land Trust,” it was a safe bet it didn’t come from them, despite what some of our more conspiracy-minded citizens might believe. Whoever wrote it seems to know a lot about what’s going on and is obviously no fan of the Segels. Whoever did it can expect some government investigators snooping around because, I’m reasonably certain, it’s a crime to falsely mail a letter under someone else’s name.

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    There is a blood crisis going on right now. On Sept. 7, between 10 and 4 p.m., the American Red Cross will be in the City Hall parking lot for a blood drive. It’s a good idea to make an appointment, or you may be waiting for a while. To make that appointment, call Nancy Steiner at the city of Malibu, 310.456.2489, ext. 230. Giving blood is safe, the conditions sterile and there is nothing to fear. The Red Cross has always been there for us — in fact, they were among the first on the scene when our water line went down, and we need to repay them by giving blood. The situation is in crisis mode because they can no longer meet the needs with paid blood donors, and they must have volunteers like us.

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    The Kiwanis Club Chili Cook-off is coming up Labor Day Weekend, Sept. 3, 4 and 5, in the Civic Center. We want everyone to attend. But be real careful. We don’t want any of you to drown in the dust-covered flood plain we keep hearing so much about.

    This year, Friday night and Saturday are family days for the rides and entertainment, and Sunday, in addition, is the big day for the chili judging and the raffle of the 1999 Porsche Boxster complete with longboard, mountain bike and other prizes. The cook-off is a bargain at $5, which is why you need to dig deep into your pockets and come up with an extra hundred or two for a couple of chances on the raffle for the Porsche Boxster. The cook-off itself just about breaks even, and it’s the raffle that puts the money into the kitty, which the Kiwanis Club then distributes to organizations all over Malibu. Over the past 18 years, the Kiwanis has put tens of thousands plus back into our community, primarily for the kids.

    I suspect some of you may be put off by rumors this is my year to win the Porsche. Much as I would like to believe it, I must confess I’ve gotten that same spiel from the Kiwanis crowd every year. But they’ve been assuring me that this year they really mean it. You can take that disclaimer for what it’s worth.