Monday, March 25, 2024

Water Patrol on PWCs - AHAHAHAHAH

Representative Dr. Lisa Thomas (123rd District: which pretty much covers the lake area) introduced House Bill 2668 last month for the establishment of MO-POWR, a pretentious acronym for "Missouri Patrol on Wave Runners".  The purpose of which is for "establishing a law enforcement and first responder personal watercraft patrol..." to  "...promote water and boating safety on lakes having more than one thousand one hundred miles of shoreline." Hmm. Any other lakes in Missouri with over 1100 miles of shoreline? Unsurprisingly, the Lake of the Ozarks is the targeted body of water.

The bill goes on to define what a "personal watercraft" is, who the stakeholders of the task force are, training requirements, and funding.

The tasks of the patrol are spelled out as:

  1. Enforce state laws and regulations
  2. Deter unsafe and unlawful activities
  3. Provide first responder services
  4. Promote water and boating safety
  5. Provide public education directed toward recreational activities 

Okay, so that's the nuts and bolts of it.

Let's start with the obvious. The uniform of any law enforcement agency is intended to give a sense of professionalism and legitimacy. There is nothing dignified about riding a wet bike. Especially for a law enforcement officer that must wear a uniform. They'll simply look ridiculous. And what are you going to do with their necessary equipment, guns, radios, etc?

The practical limitations of using PWCs for law enforcement are pretty obvious, but let's break it down a bit more.

There is no room for support equipment for a first responder, let alone for tactical support of a serious law enforcement incident.

The idea of using a PWC assumes they are faster than a boat. Have you ever ridden a wetbike on the main channel during a busy holiday weekend? I have, and I can tell you that making any speed worthy of a first responder is nearly impossible, and by the time you've gone more than two miles, you're exhausted. Chasing down a go-fast boat? Puh-lease. About the only areas these things would be useful for is during events like the boat races or writing tickets in coves to other wetbikes for safety violations.

No, PWCs are completely impractical for law enforcement, and really only good for first responders such as beach lifeguards. But, they do present a show of force. A presence. Will boaters pay heed to restrictions on making wakes near docks if one of these little fellas is around? Probably, but beyond that and event patrols, they would be pretty useless. 

Most importantly though, I think the poor patrolman assigned to them will find that their days are very long, injuries frequent, and effectiveness dubious at best. I shudder to think of the number of workmen's compensation cases that will rise against the state.

A better idea would be to reform the State Police to once again have a separate Water Patrol division, with enough equipment, money, and training to properly patrol the Greatest Lake in the World.

Maybe throw a hydrofoil in for good measure if you really want to get down the lake in a hurry! Here's something (not a hydrofoil) that will get some respect on the water.

Friday, March 22, 2024

Hwy 70 Promises - Kingdom City Exit Isn't A Priority

Without going into details or timelines on how we got here, I'm going to start this post by saying I applaud the expansion of Hwy 70 in Missouri, it is way overdue. Every Missourian has wanted Hwy 70 expanded for a very long time but simply were not willing to pay for it by approving any new gas tax. We did that once, decades ago and the promise was not delivered. Fool me once... So every time a gas tax increase shows up on the ballot from time time, with and without the promise of enhancing Hwy 70, voters would always say no. The vote has never been close.

But our Republican lawmakers have long established that the voters wishes are not to be taken seriously. By effectively getting away with NOT expanding Medicaid, despite a majority vote by the population to do so, they quickly followed by passing an increase to the gas tax themselves.

Republicans, as their name implies, never tire of stating that the U.S. is a Republic, not a Democracy. While it is true we are a Republic (representative style governments) we are ALSO a Democracy. The two terms are NOT mutually exclusive. Whenever you show up at the polls and vote on whether or not to increase your local taxes, or some proposition for change, a simple majority is all that is needed to decide. The only representation required for a ballot initiatives such as this is the VOTER themselves and THAT is pure Democracy. Think of it this way, all Republics are Democracies, but not all Democracies are Republics (just ask a Canadian).

But no matter how we got here, the Highway 70 expansion to three lanes and more is happening so let's start taking a look at what is being done actually, and more importantly, what is NOT being done. MODOT has a new "flyover" video rendering of currently approved improvements to Hwy 70 and ....oh look, it's all in Columbia. Oh, and look, some of the work is not even on Hwy 70, but nearby interchanges.

I understand the 70 interchanges in Columbia very much needs to be a part of the overall improvements but what about Kingdom City, Exit 148? This exit is THE interchange for Hwy 54 getting to the Lake of the Ozarks from the east. On major holidays traffic is often bad enough that one of the two lanes of Hwy 70 is backed up for MILES. Are we saving this desperate problem area for last or something? The video shows MODOT is proposing to add a third lane starting at Kingdom City to Columbia.

It appears our collective woes of traveling to the Lake from St. Louis will continue for years to come. 

Friday, March 15, 2024

"Lakefront Empire" Review S1 E1

"The Midwest Coast"

 I just watched the first episode of HGTV's "Lakefront Empire". While I'm pleased the producers seem to be avoiding the same formula as shows that feature more interpersonal drama then home listings, I was quite disappointed in how The Lake area was being presented. Yes, I use capital letters when referring to The Lake, because it is THE BEST LAKE IN THE WORLD.

The show follows the somewhat tired formula of interviewing buyers and realtors as they search for the home of their dreams here at the Lake of the Ozarks, but the producers seem to lack any real sense of what makes The Lake so special. This is clear in their choice of realtors and the homes showcased, both realtors and homes lacked any charm whatsoever. I've have seen many, many homes over the decades and what was shown in the first episode, ranging from $500K to $2M were homes I would not have given a second glance. Not they they were bad homes! Far from it, but they were not especially appealing, charming, or unique. In my opinion The Lake has a plethora of more interesting and exciting homes to choose from at any given time. I actually felt sorry for the folks about to drop $2 million on a home that was simply...blah.

That's the good part of this review.

Here's the bad part.

What the hell? I saw a real estate agent telling potential buyers that mentioned having parties in their new home about "everybody using" in Party Cove, and practically in the same breath as telling them she spent 15 years in federal prison? I watched a second realtor revealing a drunken past and had to come "crawling" back to his family for a job? THESE are the realtors that the producers chose to showcase homes at The Lake? I'm sorry but if I was a potential Lake Ozark home buyer , I would have been turned off completely.

And did I hear anything more than the tired old "1100 miles of shoreline, more than the coast of California" to tell the world how special our lake really is? There was bragging about how nearly every home comes with a dock, but was anything said about the quality of that 1100 mile shoreline or how it affects their docks and the value of a home? How about the uniqueness of The Lake that allows us to have restaurants and bars accessible by water? From what I saw, you might as well have been looking at lakefront property on Lake Hamilton AR, or some Corps of Engineers lake.

Dis-Honorable mention for using segue shots of the lake that make it look like boaters will have it all to themselves on any given day. But now I'm just being mean.

Hopefully future episodes will do better.

2024 Drawdown Is Well Over

 As predicted, with the start of the rainy season, lake levels stayed at the low point for only the briefest of time. With Paddlefish season starting today, and mild temperatures, I don't see any return to lower levels happening. We are heading toward full pool now.

And with that, I'll call the 2024 lake drawdown watch ...done!