YOU'RE JUST AWESOME ... Gunn High School graduate Zack Burt last week earned a mention in Time's online NewsFeed for his new website, AwesomenessReminders.com. For a $10-a-month subscription, Burt — or one of his hired callers — will telephone you every day and tell you "how much you rock." If you're not around, they'll leave a voicemail. The 2005 Gunn grad, who was a psych major at the University of Chicago, swears he's serious. As of Tuesday, he had 524 "awesome" paying customers. "We are fans of personal happiness and making people happier," he said.
A RUSH JOB? ... Is the California High-Speed Rail Authority rushing through the environmental-clearance process to meet deadlines for federal funds? Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt said so at a recent meeting and apparently he's not the only one who feels this way. The firm TY Lin International wrote in a recent report that the rail authority's proposed work schedules are "very compressed" and that "regional consultants are struggling to keep pace." The company is uniquely positioned to make this observation. TY Lin oversees the rail authority's project manager, Parsons Brinckerhoff, which in turn oversees the regional contractors, who in turn oversee the smaller teams of subcontractors and consultants between San Francisco and Los Angeles. TY Lin's report, released Thursday, states that while the environmental documents "may be submitted on schedule, it will be a significant challenge in the allotted time to advance them to the level of completeness, consistency and quality necessary for the Draft documents to be circulated and released for public review." California's budget impasse probably won't help. Though Parsons Brinckerhoff reported that "all of the Authority's prime consultants have agreed to work at risk without payment," TY Lin pointed out that two subconsultant firms have "confirmed that they are stopping work until the state budget is passed."
JUST SAY NO TO SPIKING ... State Senator Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, earned a legislative victory this week in his battle against "pension spiking," a practice in which a public employee, through various gimmicks, pads his final-year salary to ensure greater pension payments. His proposal, Senate Bill 1425, cleared the state Legislature on unanimous votes and now awaits Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature. The bill establishes criteria for pension payments, and prohibits public workers from using one-time bonuses, end-of-career promotions and accrued vacation time to boost their pension payments. "Pension spiking does a disservice to the public, who ultimately foots the bill; and it does a disservice to other public employees who rely on the resources and solvency of the system for a secure retirement," Simitian said in a statement.