City of Merced

Dead lawns and itchy people

Submitted: Sep 26, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It is late September and we were talking over coffee this morning about the San Joaquin Valley water situation the way valley residents will do when fire fighters on the King Fire above Placerville are worried about flash floods and all we see is vague overcast composed of many substances as well as some water vapor. Mothers wearing winterish jackets are taking their children, also in jackets, to school.

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The march and the mainstream media

Submitted: Sep 22, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

  While even the Wall Street Journal quoted the figure of 400,000 that the climate-change march organizers announced, the babble-ocracy on almost all the rest of the mainstream media kept to the safe topic of More War.

The Pentagon is the largest consumer of petroleum in the world.

There is nothing more environmentally destructive than war.

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Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014: An inconsiderable lease

Submitted: Sep 02, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014

Item #10 on Consent Calendar would authorize staff to prepare a lease to UC Merced and others for 5,951 square feet of office space in the Parcade office/parking complex next to City Hall for a dollar a year for 10 years.

There were some deferential questions from council members which were met by a steady stream of impenetrable, uninformative "presentation," which we have nicknamed "boosterbabble," from city and UC Merced staff. Mainly they were talking about the deep social need for installing UC and small business sponsored business "incubator" and "accelerator" and "UC administration" space, in one of the deadest commercial spacess on the downtown landscape: the Parcade.       

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Merced City Council, Aug. 4, 2014: change orders and contingencies

Submitted: Aug 25, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The city council, like most legislative bodies, includes a number of items early in its agenda that are voted on together. It is called the "consent calendar" and items may be removed from it for individual attention. Councilman Mike Murphy asked that Item 8, a staff recommendation that the council accept a bid from a Fresno construction company to build a new laboratory building at  the city wastewater treatment facility, be removed for council discussion. After noting that "it is great that we have one of the bidders coming in 10 percent lower than the other two," Councilman Murphy objected specifically to the contract allowing a 25-percent increase for change orders on the authority of the city manager alone without council deliberation. Murphy thought 10 percent was good enough, noting that a $450,000 contingency fund was also included in the contract.

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Making a graph of stupidity and UC grant whoring

Submitted: Aug 22, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “We can’t manage what we don’t measure,” he said. “We’ve been putting a lot of efforts in developing intelligent infrastructure that will develop better information and lead to better decision-making.”

 

What is wrong with this statement?

1) It is historically absurd. Human beings have managed quite well without  "intelligent infrastructure."  But, of course, UC professors believe that real management of human affairs begins with measurements precise enough to build, launch and trigger the nuclear weapons for which UC is so famous.

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What's the price of city water for the Safeway water-bottling plant in a drought?

Submitted: Aug 17, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 The Badlands Journal editorial board were thinking about water on Saturday because of the big water-bond, unanimous-minus-one vote in the Legislature last week. And other things as well, like Steve Sloan and Steve Smith's sale of 26,000 acre feet of groundwater from under their adjoining properties on the west side of the county for at least $13 million to Del Puerto Water District in Stanislaus County. Pretty slick deal for the publicly spirited Sloan, who served as the chairman of the Merced County Planning Commission during the real estate boom. We laughed at  the outrage on display in the county Board of Supervisors' chambers by most of his former political cronies, except westside Supervisor Jerry O'Banion, 67, reelected without opposition in June to his seventh term, the present chairman of the board. It was O'Banion that appointed Sloan to the planning commission.

 

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Naomi Klein draws a bead on TNC

Submitted: Aug 05, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The Nature Conservancy “has just lost its moral compass,” said Kierán Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, a group that works extensively on endangered species. “The very idea of oil drilling inside a reserve is utterly wrong, and it’s especially disturbing in this case because the Attwater’s prairie chicken is one of the most endangered species in the entire country. It could very well be the next species to go extinct in the United States.” -- Justin Gillis, New York Times, Aug. 3, 2014

 

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How do you deal with the moral authority of ignorance? James Lee Burke, Pegasus Descending (2006), p. 473

Submitted: Jun 30, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Gov. Jerry Brown must be saved from himself, says the next state Senate leader. He needs to be talked out of starting the bullet train in the Central Valley boonies. "I don't think it makes sense to lay down track in the middle of nowhere," asserts Sen. Kevin De Leon (D-Los Angeles). It's illogical. No one lives there in the tumbleweeds." -- George Skelton, Los Angeles Times, June 22, 2914, "Next Senate leader Kevin de Leon wants Brown to rethink bullet train." 

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But lawns very much remain the norm in Southern California, and officials say it's tougher to change homeowners' outdoor watering habits than it is to get them to install low-flow toilets or water-efficient washing machines.

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Intro to human trafficking

Submitted: Jun 30, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

 

Human Trafficking in California

As a diverse cultural center and popular destination for immigrants with multiple international borders, California is one of the largest sites of human trafficking in the United States. In the two years between July 1, 2010 and June 30, 2012, California's task forces initiated 2,552 investigations, identified 1,277 victims of human trafficking, and arrested 1,798 individuals. -- State of Human Trafficking in California, 2012

 

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Systemic political lying

Submitted: Jun 26, 2014
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 The greatest threat to political democracy -- from Athens to the US "war on terrorism," -- has always been elites. Since the 18th century, democracy has arisen in step with its competition and nemesis, capitalism. Today's American elite has converted political bribery and lies into "campaign finance contributions" -- the "free speech" of money -- "spin," the political descendant of advertising. However, bribery and deceit remain what they are, fatal to democracy.

Today, we offer two comments on lying, spin and propaganda, the first from politician scientist Sheldon Wolin, the second from investigative reporter Robert Parry. Both are veterans and have personal as well as scholarly perspective on the changing forms of political lying in our culture. Wolin describes the structure of the culture that is producing systemic  political lying in America today. Parry paints a portrait of a practitioner of the form, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy. Perhaps viewers of "Morning Joe" will remember "Rick" when he was a top Time Magazine editor presenting the Time cover of the week. Butter doesn't melt in Stengel's mouth. -- blj

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