While other folks are focusing on the President’s State of the Union address, that new Supreme Court justice and the situation over there in Iraq, we are concentrating on the real story of the week — Groundhog Day.

This story has real impact, especially to those of us who have already had enough winter, thank you.

We look for help wherever we can find it.

Even from our local Los Angeles Councilman Bill Rosen-dahl.

Rosendahl gets involved in such things.

You’ll recall that just weeks ago he was ranting and raving about all the wind we were having and how it was knocking out the power allegedly supplied by the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (DWP).

Bill was blaming those guys and gals over at the DWP for the fact that our power went out three times within 45 minutes — raising real havoc with our digital clocks.

Councilman Bill wanted some official response from the DWP, assuring that we wouldn’t have any more big wind storms so we can keep our power on — if only to ensure that we don’t miss a one of Councilman Bill’s daily e-mails that are mostly about, well, Councilman Bill.

We don’t have much time. Groundhog Day is Thursday, February 2nd, and if we don’t get a Los Angeles City Council motion from Councilman Bill ensuring that we don’t have any sun on Thursday — or six more weeks of winter — we don’t know how we’ll be able to keep our membership going in the local chamber of commerce.

Along with Councilman Bill, it is the chamber of commerce, of course, that we rely on for perfect weather.

You do know about Groundhog Day and the groundhog seeing his shadow and the possibility of six more weeks of winter, don’t you?

Gosh, we should have mentioned that earlier. So many of our young people are deprived these days of such knowledge.

You really wonder sometimes what they are teaching them — or more accurately, not teaching them — in our local schools.

That is why so many concerned parents are yanking their little ones out of the public schools and putting them into private schools, where they still teach valuable information, such as the importance of Groundhog Day.

Here at The Argonaut we are obligated to spend some space, time and interest in reminding our readers who may be deficient in their knowledge of Groundhog Day.

Over at Venice High School they are planning a workshop on the mandated California High School Exit Exam, now a requirement for all graduating high school seniors. The seniors must pass the exam if they are to receive a high school diploma.

Surely, at least part of the California High School Exit Exam is devoted to such important cultural issues as Groundhog Day.

Anyway, we digress.

One of our staffers accurately pointed out that the nation’s leading groundhog is Punxsutawney Phil and that maybe it would benefit us here locally if we had our own February 2nd winter prognostic.

Councilman Bill is, of course, everyone’s favorite choice.

We thought it might be a grand idea, too, until we started reading about the groundhog on

groundhog.org — the official Web site of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club of — where else? — Punxsutawney, PA.

We are indebted to the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club for giving us — and, no doubt, our readers — more information about the groundhog than we are sure any of us — or you — would want to know.

Of course, Councilman Bill can use this stuff to fill out the “whereases” in his motion before the full Los Angeles City Council regarding the above-mentioned need to have no sun on February 2nd.

Well, hang on, folks, here it comes.

Did you know:

— The average groundhog is 20 inches long and normally weighs from 12 to 15 pounds.

— Punxsutawney Phil weighs about 20 pounds and is 22 inches long;

— Groundhogs are covered with coarse grayish hairs, tipped with brown or sometimes dull red. They have short ears, a short tail, short legs, and are surprisingly quick.

Their jaws are execeptionally strong.

Hmm. Forget about the ears, tail and legs, but doesn’t that comment about “coarse grayish” hair (on top) and “jaws that are exceptionally strong” have a familiar ring?

Well, you get the idea. The groundhog information on groundhog.org goes on forever.

As we used to say during our college days at the University of Washington when those dreaded teams from Southern California came north: “Pray for rain.”

At least on February 2nd.

NEW DIALOGUE — Government folks keep coming up with new bureaucratic dialogue that most of us have never heard before.

For us, this trend started with then-Los Angeles Councilwoman Pat Russell, who trotted out the phrase “multi-modal”

Now, every planner and transportation expert uses “multi-modal.” It’s almost a clichÈ.

Then we heard about “traffic calming.” What a gem that phrase was.

Seems by putting obstacles in the roadway, such as concrete berms or even flower pots, driv-ers are supposed to slow down.

Ditto for all those “bumps” that kept showing up in the middle of our streets.

We don’t know about slowing down, but these obstructions certainly made drivers madder and added to the tension of local driving.

Comes now the term “traffic table” — buried in the plans from the county and its consultants regarding the redo of Mothers Beach in Marina del Rey.

What in the heck is a “traffic table,” we asked our reporter Helga Gendell, who still has the interest and energy to attend local meetings concerning upcoming projects.

Seems a “traffic table” is “an elevated crosswalk — a traffic calming (there’s that term again) device, but not as high as a speed bump.”

We suspect there is supposed to be a hint of safety somewhere in this. If pedestrians are higher than the street level, maybe drivers will slow down before they hit the folks trying to cross the street.

We rather like the plan in Santa Monica, which has lights embedded in the crosswalk that start flashing — upon command of the pedestrian — when the pedestrian wants to cross the street.

Sort of like those strips of lights on an airplane that are supposed to come on when the plane fills with smoke.


— While we are on the subject of bureaucratic dialogue, may we bring up the absurd practice by the county and developers in the Marina to refer to their projects as “improvements.”

“Improvements” for whom?

The lengthy consultant’s report on the redo at Mothers Beach in the Marina keeps referring to the various projects as “improvements.”

Even the commercial ventures, such as a new Marriott Residence Inn and that very controversial proposed project on the Harbor House and Edie’s Diner site are called “improvements.”

We can’t imagine that most of those folks who attended the night meeting of the County Marina del Rey Design Control Board to protest plans for Mothers Beach would consider another hotel and a rather large new commercial development at Palawan and Admiralty Ways “improvements.”

Let’s just call them what they are, “projects.”


— Go, Seahawks.