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KPBS Commentaries

The Frost Belt vs. The Cost Belt

This is the time of year when San Diegans like to watch TV weather reports. We're not concerned about local weather forecasts, of course. We want to see what's going on in other parts of the country.

We're like passing motorists, gawking at a car wreck, as we watch video footage of a blizzard in North Dakota. We gasp as we see pictures of gloved and bundled pedestrians suffering below-zero temperatures in Chicago. It's wonderful entertainment because we can watch the experience but we don't have to share it.

Yes, some of us get sentimental about white Christmases, like the ones we used to know, but we get over it pretty quickly.

Yet living in a place like San Diego requires its own brand of tolerance. We don't shudder with cold when we step outside in winter. But the blood does drain from our faces when we consider the cost of rent and real estate in our region. If northern states represent the frost belt, we live in the cost belt.

Just go on-line and start looking at the cost of houses in places like Cleveland and Rochester, New York and you start to imagine being relieved of the burden of your monthly mortgage payment.

This year I interviewed the co-author of a popular book called Freakonomics which uses economic analysis to judge the value of all sorts of things. I wonder what kind of a dollar value the authors of that book would place on San Diego weather. We'd better hope the figure reaches the thousands of dollars every year, because that's how much more we pay to be in a place with year-round outdoor comfort.

So take heart, people of the frost belt! Some of us who live in the cost belt are beginning to wonder whether you've got the better deal after all.

Pam Hardy leaves These Days

The end of this month is the end of an era for These Days. Pam Hardy, the senior producer of the show, is leaving KPBS to work in the world of San Diego municipal politics. Yes, I know. We also questioned her sanity, but it did no good.

You may know Pam from the fill-in hosting she does on These Days. But her real work has been behind the scenes, guiding the show and making decisions about what goes on the air.

Pam has been working on These Days for nine years. She's been senior producer of the show since the year 2000. She's smart, cool under pressure, she has impeccable news judgement and journalistic values. She's a lot of fun to work with and she's been the person, more than anyone else, who's made me proud and pleased to host the show.

These Days will continue in her absence but it will never be quite the same. I wish her good luck. And if something bad happens in City Hall next year... it's probably someone else's fault.