Caltrans abandons weather, embraces "climate change" as the reason for washed out roads

I just finished reading: Turning a More Vivid Shade of Green: Caltrans Takes a Stand on Climate Change, Global Warming from the Caltrans website. The road sign below (from this online sign generator) rather sums up what the essay says and the scale on which it says it.

Only one small problem here, climate doesn’t wash out roads and bridges, weather does. This statement from Caltrans (below), with references to grandchildren, reads like a page from Jim Hansen’s book, Storms of my Grandchildren. I challenge Ms. Biggar to point to any event where Caltrans had to replace infrastructure and to prove that it was caused by climate change, and not weather. She writes:

They understand the impacts of climate change may include flooded tunnels, coastal highways, runways and railways, buckled highways and railroad tracks, and submerged dock facilities.

Well, sorry, I call BS on that. It’s weather by any sane definition that causes those things, and Caltrans has documented and dealt with such effects of weather in the past. For example, heavy rainfall related to El Niño driven storm systems is one of the biggest infrastructure threats Caltrans has had to deal with. Before everyone got all wonky on “climate change”, there was general agreement that El Niño drove California’s stormiest weather and rainfall, as illustrated by these 3 graphs showing El Niño/La Niño rainfall correlation from this older page at San Francisco State University:

The pattern in these graphs is clear. What isn’t clear is why Caltrans suddenly thinks “climate” washes out roads. On Nov. 14, 1997, this page (now existing only in Google cache here) from Caltrans said:

Caltrans prepares for El Niño storm threat

And gave a list of severe weather preparations.  Just three years ago, Caltrans district 7 wrote:


In the linked article, you’ll see plenty of washed out road photos and references to weather events, but not one mention of “climate change” or “global warming” as a cause, or something that needs to be prepared for.

Pounded by rain, snow, landslides, fires and everything else Mother Nature can throw at it, the highway has been one of District 7’s biggest challenges for decades…

With the exception of fire, that’s all weather. Now, with this new Caltrans edict, it’s “climate change” the agency prepares for, and it’s ridiculous. Their move to efficiency might be helpful in reducing costs, but planning for the arrival of climate effects, when weather is the deliveryman, is pure folly. Here’s the full Caltrans article below.



Turning a More Vivid Shade of Green: Caltrans

Takes a Stand on Climate Change, Global Warming

By Julia Biggar – Caltrans Associate Transportation Planner

In 1971, barely two years before a global oil shortage shook the world’s economy, a whimsical commercial for a well-known automobile oil filter, posed an eerily prescient question, disguised as a statement: “You can pay me now, or you can pay me later.”

Today, four decades later, the ambivalent statement/question remains. The world may be exhausting its supply of petroleum, but the larger question now has to do with an abundance of fossil fuel-generated greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) that threaten the planet we call home. And for many Americans, the ambivalence is still unresolved. Do we address global warming and climate change today, or do we leave it to our children and grandchildren? Pay me now, or pay me later?

The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has chosen to follow the lead  of the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006, considered to be the most dramatic climate change policy of any state in America. Known as Assembly Bill 32, the act created a comprehensive, multiyear program of regulations, incentives, and market mechanisms (such as a cap and trade system) to effect a serious reduction of GHG emissions in the Golden State.

For example, AB 32 calls for reductions in GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2020 — some 15 percent less than today. This requires reducing annual emissions for every person in the state from 14 tons today to 10 tons by 2020. It further makes cuts equivalent to 1990 emission levels by 2050, a drop of 80 percent.

broken roadThe issue is real for California, whose residents and economy rely on one of the most extensive transportation infrastructure systems in the world; thousands of miles of roads, highways and railroads, hundreds of airports, thousands of bridges and ports that help drive and support the world’s eighth-largest economy. Caltrans, in particular, is responsible for maintaining and managing vast portions of the state’s transportation infrastructure. As such, Caltrans is embracing a unique opportunity to become a leader in climate change adaptation and mitigation.

The relationship between transportation and climate change resulting from GHG emissions is fairly well understood. However, our knowledge is still developing about how our transportation infrastructure is affected and our ability to adapt to the effects of global warming. Emissions of GHG and the related subject of global climate change are emerging as critical issues for the entire transportation community.

State departments of transportation throughout the nation are establishing best practices to deal with the situation. They understand the impacts of climate change may include flooded tunnels, coastal highways, runways and railways, buckled highways and railroad tracks, and submerged dock facilities. The long-term costs of inaction in the face of climate change will likely be much higher than the price of attempting to mitigate today’s GHG emissions.

Without doubt, transportation plays a big role, generating approximately 38 percent of the total GHG emissions in California — the largest single source of emissions in the district 7 buildingstate. Therefore, cuts in transportation emissions are critical and must be an integral part of the climate change solution. Fortunately, California is leading the national climate change battle. The state has a long-standing reputation as a leader in environmental protection, and AB 32’s landmark GHG reduction targets are much more rigorous than anything at the federal level.

To meet AB 32’s goals, the California Air Resources Board drafted a plan to identify the main strategies California will need to reduce GHG emissions. To reduce the majority of transportation’s GHG emissions, the plan calls for an increase in the fuel efficiency of motor vehicles (known as Pavley standards) by 2016. It also calls for a decrease in carbon intensity (low-carbon fuel standard) of vehicle fuels by 2020. In other words, automobiles would need to get better gas mileage and emit less carbon within the next decade.

In 2008 Senate Bill 375 was signed. Its aim is to link land use planning, transportation investments, and GHG reductions. It will change the transportation and land use planning process in California, with the goal of producing more efficient communities. SB 375 attempts to accommodate the state’s growing population with new housing closer to employment and shopping centers to reduce reliance on the automobile. It will require the 18 Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) in California to meet a GHG reduction target for cars and light duty trucks.

Advancing the Science of Climate Change

“Climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities,  and poses significant risks for — and in many cases is already  affecting — a broad range of human and natural systems.”  – the National Academy of Sciences

Each MPO must prepare a “sustainable communities strategy,” identifying how they will achieve the reduction target. These strategies will promote smart growth strategies such as development near public transit, a mix of residential and commercial uses, and affordable urban housing to help reduce suburban and ex-urban sprawl. SB 375 also allowed for a more streamlined California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) process for certain residential developments.

With these two climate change bills in mind, Caltrans is working to reduce emissions from its operations and to ensure the transportation system is capable of withstanding climate change in the future. The Department is responsible for developing an efficient transportation system for all users and for reducing emissions from the buildings and equipment it owns and operates. The state’s roadways consume energy in many ways, including lights, water pumps, traffic signals, controllers, and signage.

In addition, the Department relies on a fleet of more than 13,000 vehicles, ranging from mobile equipment, light-duty vehicles, construction and heavy-duty vehicles, to special-purpose vehicles that perform functions such as snow removal, roadway cleaning, painting, emergency response, and other roadway maintenance assignments. A number of energy conservation and GHG reduction measures have been implemented within the Department, and research continues to identify new ways to reduce our carbon footprint.

Caltrans is playing a significant role in supporting California’s climate action legislation. The Climate Change Branch and the Energy Conservation Program within the Caltrans Division of Transportation Planning have been involved in creating a number of solutions to reduce emissions from the Department’s operations and from the statewide transportation system. The Department’s Climate Action Program promotes clean and energy efficient transportation and provides guidance for mainstreaming energy and climate change issues into business operations.

The Department’s approach to reducing GHG’s is threefold: vehicle and fuel technology; transportation system efficiency; and greening and resource conservation, a framework provided by the Director’s Policy, “Energy Efficiency, Conservation, and Climate Change.”

E85In addition to creating a more efficient transportation system, the Caltrans Division of Equipment works to reduce its energy use and GHG emissions. Its “greening the fleet” program began in 2000 to lower emissions by ensuring that its vehicles and equipment were more energy efficient. The program also promotes alternative fuels and low-emission vehicles. Examples include using hybrid vehicles, the E85 blend of gasoline and ethanol, and propane-fueled vehicles. The Department has also installed diesel particulate filters on heavy duty equipment, and employs solar-powered equipment, low-dust street sweepers, and hydrogen demonstration vehicles.

The energy conservation program within the Caltrans Division of Transportation Planning has developed and implemented numerous energy reduction measures. The program benchmarks energy consumption at numerous facilities to identify ways to reduce the Department’s impact on the state power grid. This initiative also upgrades traffic signals from high watt incandescent lamps to low energy light-emitting diode fixtures, and assists in photovoltaic (solar) power generation projects.

solarThe program is also helping to implement the Governor’s Executive Order S-20-04, which calls for reducing electricity consumption in state buildings 20 percent by 2050. Also, all new facilities and major facility rehabilitation projects are being designed to Leadership and Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Silver or better certification rating standards. (LEED is an international certification and verification program that strives to conserve resources through wiser “green” building design.)

Through engineering and materials science, Caltrans is also progressing toward more environmentally friendly paving products that are as long lasting as conventional methods. For example, producing a ton of cement produces about a ton of carbon dioxide. However, GHG emissions are drastically lowered by using new materials such as fly ash in concrete production. The conventional hot mix asphalt paving process is being replaced when possible with warm mix asphalt, which uses less energy to heat with reductions of 50 to 100˚ F. In short, it emits less heat when being placed on the road. When possible, the Department also recycles and reclaims paving materials. Studies are underway to determine the potential use of permeable and cool pavements.

Many other efforts are being undertaken to reduce the Caltrans carbon footprint while maintaining a safe, efficient transportation system. In fact, Caltrans believes that creating a sustainable transportation system will yield other benefits, including more efficient use of transportation resources, reduced dependency on fossil fuels, greater energy security, improved mobility and travel options, and more livable communities.

Caltrans is proud to be at the forefront of taking on the climate change challenge, and the Department sees this moment as an opportunity to transform the way we do business, moving toward clean and sustainable technologies to ensure that all Californians can enjoy clean air, unpolluted water, and a healthy environment.


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Can’t we just get rid of Caltrans and replace them with a private engineering firm?

David Clark

My favorite is the picture caption;
“Climate change could lead to more, or less, precipitation.”
Duh…. Ya think!! Thanks for illuminating that little patch of darkness.

Ken Hall

What annoys me is that when alarmists claim “climate change” will cause more extreme weather events, they explain it with the standard bell-curve of temperature, with the extreme at the right hand side. Moving the bell-curve to the right, representing an increase in average temperatures, creates more instances of extremes on the right… And then they stop in the belief that they have correctly understood the theory. Even accepting the gross generalisation of the assumptions of that argument, it utterly fails to show what happens at the left hand side of the bell curve. Where presumably, fewer extreme weather events occur and more normal weather events then replace those extremes. Overall the extreme weather events even out.

Andy G

DOH ! Its pretty darn obvious that they will be angling for more funds from the “climate change treasure trove”.
Execs will get big pay rises, but the roads will not improve.

Mike Bromley

Rain…more or less. Might be drizzle….or fog. But it may get worse. Is it my imagination, or are the purveyors of doom just ramping up their unimaginitive aping of the same old saws? The same elitist claptrap (solar cells, E85)…and the same abuse of stochasitic language. I guess they think that ordinary people believe all of this, and sit eagerly awaiting the great world-saving heros to come and reassure them, and magically reduce Cauliflowernia’s weather extremes to the occasional benign freshet.
Methinks the hounds are at the door.


Considering that “climate change” amounts to about one single degree over a century and that the temperatures have been falling like a rock since 1998, I have no idea what CalTrans is talking about short of:
“all these roads falling apart isn’t our fault, it’s … uhm … CLIMATE CHANGE … yeah, that’s the ticket!”

Joe Lalonde

Interesting precipitation pattern is developing with the weather systems. They are following the glacial run ways.

George Lawson

A diatribe of utter stupidity.


A couple of points:

“Do we address global warming and climate change today, or do…..”

In my opinion this is a sly tactic to blame almost any weather event on man. Indeed this is why I think they dropped global warming (when warming became somewhat derailed) and adopted climate change.
According to the following papers here and here the weather is not getting weirder.

Guardian 6 January, 2010
George Monbiot and Leo Hickman
Britain’s cold snap does not prove climate science wrong
Climate sceptics are failing to understand the most basic meteorology – that weather is not the same as climate, and single events are not the same as trends”


“Climate change could lead to more, or less, precipitation.”

Indeed! Climate scientists also show similar global warming projections:
San Francisco less foggy
San Francisco more foggy
Sahel to get less rain
Sahel to get more rain
Sahel may get more or less rain

John Marshall

‘The relationship between transportation and GHG emissions and climate change are well understood’—
No They Are Not!!
Come on Caltrans get a grip, or is this a plea for more tax dollars?

Rick Bradford

As such, Caltrans is embracing a unique opportunity to become a leader in climate change adaptation and mitigation.
Translated: Caltrans is rushing ahead with absurd plans to disadvantage California travellers and drive business out of the state.

Chris Edwards

Given the rate companies are fleeing California this will wappen without ne restrictive laws, they will go to pre 1990 levels of employment and job done, no job means no trevel to work or shopping so all will be OK!


Remember the good ol days. Free sex, VW micro buses, long hair and FU American Imperialism. Those ratbags now run the Western world and their institutionalised progeny are no better.
Check out the signs and symptoms and it all falls into place.
regards from a very cold and wet southern OZ.

Might be worth bearing in mind the connection to insurance companies:
If Caltrans can officially attribute these events to Gaia, the insurance companies who pay for swamped cars, houses covered by mudslides from roads, etc, may be able to sue the nearest deep-pocketed “polluter” instead of paying the claim honestly. This seems to be one of the major financial drivers of the Carbon Cult.


Facebook under attack from Greenpiss.
Greenpeace protests outside Dublin Facebook office
Greenpeace volunteers have called on Facebook to phase out its use of coal power during a protest outside the company’s Dublin office today.
The group unveiled a banner calling on Facebook to change the type of energy the company uses.
Facebook’s electricity providers generate most of their energy from burning coal to power their data centres in the US states of Oregon and North Carolina.
Facebook needs to realise there is a far bigger movement on the otherside of climate witchcraft that are totally opposed to Grennpi$$.


I don’t understand how California got to this point, where it’s intent on committing economic suicide. It used to be the state with the brightest future, and that’s even within my lifetime. Now it’s got … well, what exactly? Bankrupt local governments, bankrupt music industry, a film industry heading nowhere, aerospace hollowed out, tired old theme parks. I’m just crossing my fingers that the deep democratic impulse (which I think is strong in California) will at some point re-assert itself.

I didn’t realize that the ‘L’ in LEED stood for Leadership. Oh brother.
That’s another one of those terms I have come to associate with Global Warming and its variants. Many warmist blogs and politicians, universities and other higher level educational institutes use the leadership jargon.
Take a look at the recent BCIT alumni issue talking of wanting to “lead sustainability education and practice”.
The mayor of Vancouver wants to lead the world in being Green.
Real leadership would be shown by standing down from the Climate Change hysteria.
There is a good chance that Canadians might vote in a majority Conservative government on May 2 that has shown real leadership on the Global Warming file by ignoring it.

David Clark says:
April 13, 2011 at 12:14 am
My favorite is the picture caption;
“Climate change could lead to more, or less, precipitation.”

There’s nothing new about it. Just a rather lame version of the old popular observation:
When the duck’s afloat then dives,
the storm leaves or arrives.
if the duck floats and stays,
the weather brights or grays.

It works anytime, unmistakably.

April fools?


With its current governing culture Cali will soon not be able to fix its roads, like Venezuela.

Richard M

Looks like someone is looking for a big promotion . Money, money and more money. It always gets down to money.

Beth Cooper

How well Caltran’s actions exemplify Thomas Jefferson’s statement, posted by Anthony on April 12 as Quote of the Week, that ‘Man, once surrendering his reason has no remaining guard against absurdities the most monstrous …’

This kind of thing has several unintended consequences.
The first is, once government agencies get involved, people generally think, “the government is doing something about it, so I don’t have to.” And the issue gets put into the “solved” category in people’s minds, and they quit worrying about it. We’ve got real-life stuff to worry about.
The second is, most people want a better world and are generally sympathetic toward better-world causes, but when that “cause” threatens to take resources away from MY kids, now our own evolutionary instincts kick in and we will fight it.
Especially if the solution is forced upon us via taxation or artificially increased expenses.
ESPECIALLY if we have doubts about the validity of that cause in the first place.
Hey, you know, sorry about the declining Yeti population, and I’m real sad about poor lonely Nessie, but if you take one penny out of my family budget over it, I’m voting you out at my earliest opportunity. You’re supposed to be MY representative, not Bigfoot’s.

Theo Goodwin

It is really wonderful that California and Britain have volunteered to be experimental subjects for climate change therapies. Now, we need to stand back, bide our time, and see what the results are. Of course, one result will be more medical marijuana store fronts in California.


This is bad…so California’s ROAD commission is looking at changing things because of GW. The next thing you’ll hear is that they won’t be repairing washed out roads because doing so would encourage driving AKA GW.
The way things are going, if you wait too long to flee moonbat land, you WON”T BE ABLE TO GET OUT because all of the roads are undrivable.


Do you get more money for tackling weather or climate change?
Although I’m sure you need true believers to produce such a load of apocalyptic drivel.


The really sad thing is Caltrans may find itself in the same situation as the Wivenhoe dam folks that lead to flooding in Brisbane earlier this year. Climate change in both these areas is a very weak trend in an extraordinarily noisy set of weather data. The dam operators tried to hold too much water in storage for long term drought conditions even though meteorologists had warned of flooding due to the SOI set up and PDO state. That’s what happens when you plan for climate rather than weather.


I begin to understand why “Climate Change” is so popular in California – with so many real and intractable problems – unchecked immigration, businesses fleeing, the public pension time bomb, the state deficit, etc – it must be extremely comforting to focus on a fake problem which you can mandate a fake solution to. They then tell themselves “at least we’re doing something good.”
They’re not, of course, but it gives them all some comfort as they slide into the abyss.


Could it not be considered dereliction of duty or negligence to not use the light board to describe the REAL danger or what to do about the Danger!
I would take umbrage to the board being used for a political statement.
A restatement of the Jefferson quote about reason:
“Do not have such an open mind that your brain falls out.”


To those of us in the wider world (UK here) California is just seen as collection of miserabalist nutters – (what is the collective noun for this, I wonder?)
There are some notable exceptions, though…….Anthony……Anthony?……, look, I didn’t mean you……….Anthony???
All the best all,


I don’t know if you home grown Cali’s ever saw it but here in the UK we got this great advert from Arnie about Cali – which showed us how great it was with him at the end giving a cheesey smile to the camera and saying “When can you start?”
Always made me laugh like a drain, that advert.

Martin Brumby

Other commenters have pointed out a bundle of absurdities here.
What about that whopping great building in LA which “has photovoltaic cells on its South side”?
Now, I’ve only been to LA once and it never stopped raining (Yeah. Just my luck.) But I thought that normally LA was a pretty sunshiny sort of place? That’s why the early film industry settled in Hollywood?
So we have all those photovoltaic cells which “generate about 5 percent of the building’s total need for energy”??
Are they saying that’s good – something to be proud of? Is it cost effective?
What the hell are they doing in there if they need 20 times as much juice as these suckers produce?
Medical pot farming again?


Fly ash is not a new product. I have been specifying that fly ash be used in concrete for at least 20 years now.
I do wounder if the greens will try to outlaw the use of fly ash in Cali since you have to burn evil coal to produce it.
I do like the liberal use of facts, namely… climate change could cause more or less rain.
Well thanks Mr. Obvious, and what was it that we as tax payers are paying you for,,oh that’s right… YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO FIX THE POTHOLES IN ROADS.

It seems to me that global warming, climate change, climate disruption or whatever they’re currently calling it, is rapidly becoming an evergreen excuse for anything. Incompetant organisations can simply raise their hands and mutter climate change and they’re off the hook. You’ll not see that excuse in private industry where it’d receive a prompt response; the boot.


The complete inadequacy of the thought processes of these people leaves me utterly bewildered. Has there been some educational malfunction in the last decades ?

Mac the Knife

“Danger! Climate Change Ahead!” says the flashing CalTran billboard.
You will not see a clearer example of straight forward propaganda than that!


“They understand the impacts of climate change may include flooded tunnels, coastal highways, runways and railways, buckled highways and railroad tracks, and submerged dock facilities.”
I do not see extra snow removal, frozen pipes leading to flooded streets, impassable do to ice, etc,. The assumption is only one way climate change. Dumb.


Before “climate change” there was no natural erosion? There were no natural floods that washed paths and trails away??
This effort by Caltrans just provides more proof of why California is broke. How much is spent by how many agencies on factors unrelated to their core missions?
There should be a single California office, the Division of Sky Is Falling, employing 1 person at $30,000/yr, that performs all AGW alarmist press releases for all California agencies. At the same time any time spent by any other agency on climate change is prohibited, thereby saving millions and millions of dollars for the state.
Those millions of dollars could then be spent to mitigate the actual impact of what Mother Nature dealt, whether weather or climate, instead of expensive propaganda that tells everyone that we don’t have the money to mitigate the actual impact, because it was all spent on advertising.


We need more articles just like this. It’s so idiotic, even staunch believers will take pause, and think “Grrr, I wish s/he hadn’t said that.”

Alexander K

This woman has taken an advanced course on how to write extremely creative and wordy econonsense and it has got her a good job. Why aren’t the sensible citizens of California falling about laughing at her?

Retired Engineer

It’s called “Bandwagon” as in jump on it. They want more money and this is one way to get it. Facts and logic be {snipped}, politics rules. And can justify all kinds of tax and rate hikes. After all, we’re “saving the planet” to quote a famous congresscritter from the Left Coast. Who could be against that?
(Is my Maalox bill tax deductible ?)

Gary Swift

I’m so glad I live in South Carolina. The part that pisses me off the most is that CA already can’t afford to pay for all of this crazy nonsense. They are headed down the road to a Federal bailout, at the expense of the rest of us. So, we end up paying for this madness. I say that if they want to be crazy enviro-whackos then they should promise then they should foot the bill themselves.
Don’t waste tons of money today and then expect the rest of us to bail you out tomorrow.


With apologies to our wondrous leader, Anthony .. ☺
I used think “Californication”meant, “Californians screwing up other cultures and landscapes with their ideology and blood money.”
With “miserabalist nutters” (thanks RB) like this, it would seem they are just screwing themselves, wot?
Run Anthony run! ☺ ☺

Steve Oregon

“Do we address global warming and climate change today”
How perfect. What an empty word.
Anything done, no matter the cost or impacts can be said to be “addressing” climate change.
Well there’s a whole lot of addressing going on right here.
Doesn’t this count?

Richard Sharpe

As the gravy train is starting to derail we can expect to see more extreme language used to try to keep the same level of funds. I imagine those will be the only increases in extremes we will see, however.

richcar that 1225

Caltrans is just another mouth piece for the Ministry of Truth. If they can discourage oil consumption then less fuel taxes will be collected and the infrastructure will continue to deteriorate. Since economic growth is tied to increased energy use they can promote the further economic decline of California.
From 2006 to 2008 California’s electricity output declined from 217,000 KKW to 208,000 KKW. This likely mirrors the economic downturn. Interestingly, while fossil fuel sourced electricity generation increased from 112,000 to 121,000, renewables declined from 72,000 KKW to 49,000 KKW.


I thought I was reading from the book 1984 detailing the highly government organized society. Joseph Stalin would be proud and so would Adolph Hitler who was very pleased at how the German people got along in their apartments. He knew because there were few complaints.
The arrogance of these people is astounding. What is a more efficient community where housing is built near employment and public transit? Is that not unlike the company store where the company owns and controls everything and do they not consider people have a right to live and work where they please without politicians and regulators sticking their noses into private life? They practically abolish the free enterprise system. And I did not mention ignorance of the concept of freedom.
Where will this bankrupt state get the money? Possibly from states that don’t follow their global warming lead into the failure known as socialism.
How long before these wing nuts give global warming and CO2 the names of Greek Gods and begin to build statues and set up worship times in a more efficient, mandatory manner of course?


Guardian 6 January, 2010
George Monbiot and Leo Hickman
“Britain’s cold snap does not prove climate science wrong
Climate sceptics are failing to understand the most basic meteorology – that weather is not the same as climate, and single events are not the same as trends”

True, but get enough single events of a certain kind and it begins to establish “climate”–like the trend of greater precipitation over most of the western US even though we’re supposed to be seeing desertification and drought according to the AGW folks. Oops. Much of what the AGW cult predicts for the future is at odds with empirical data.


Looks like it’s time to change the classic end line from the movie Chinatown: “Forget it, Jake. It’s Chinatown.” to “Forget it, Anthony. It’s California.”