Entertainment

The casino option

Submitted: May 02, 2011
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Finance, insurance, real estate special interests in the north San Joaquin Valley, home of the worst foreclosure rate in the nation, are suffering high anxiety that the University of California might convert UC Merced, anchor tenant for the real estate boom and bust, into a liberal arts college.
Furthermore, this idea is being advanced on the floor of the state Senate by none other than that notorious liberal, former mayor of Berkeley and wife of the present mayor of Berkeley, state Sen. Loni Hancock.
Readers of the Sonny Star's latest brothel ballad are asked to get into the injustice of the story by recalling a quote by Ronald Reagan, while campaigning for president against President Jimmy Carter: "There you go again." That famous half whisper, that complex mixture of contempt and exaspiration, that famous Reagan attitude, the same that tear gassed UC Berkeley students from helicopters when he was governor, that same attitude, contempt and exaspiration for law that urged Reagan to enable the shipment, production, sales and distribution of crack cocaine in Hancock's district.
But Hancock's district contains even more. For example, it contains the first UC campaign, Berkeley, and the UC Office of the President, the headquarters for the entire UC system. Hancock is not acting as an adversary of the UC president or Board of Regents here. She is representing them, raising the trial balloon that must be sending all the local Mr. and Ms. UC Merceds straight to their cardiologists.

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Spriggsy and the out-of-town demons

Submitted: Mar 27, 2011
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Below lies an annotated version of our Mayor Spriggsy's attempt to boost Merced to the bunch of frat boys in the editorial offices at Forbes Magazine. It is pathetic because Spriggsy is caught in the very painful position of having to argue with his rightwing ideological betters, who have nominated Merced for the title of third most miserable city in America. It is an example of flak v. flak. Badlands comments are in italics.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

3-22-11
Merced Sun-Star
William Spriggs: Opportunity, not misery
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/2011/03/21/v-print/1819809/william-spriggs-opportunity-not.html

I sent the following letter to Forbes magazine taking issue with its listing our city as the third-most miserable community in the nation.

only a knuckleheaded wingnut like spriggsy would argue with a knucklehead wingnut magazine like forbes, last refuge of the flat taxers.

Editor: Thank you very much for including Merced in your recent list placing us No. 3 in the nation. However, we feel obligated to point out a slight error in your list: It should have been titled the Opportunity Index, not the list of Most Miserable Cities.

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Loose Cheeks: Anna Caballero's staff

Submitted: Oct 29, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Several years ago, a young man new to Merced but active in local politics at the time, asked a Badlands Journal reporter, “What is Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo saying? I can’t understand a word she says.” Pedrozo was the executive director of the county Farm Bureau and president of the California Women for Agriculture at the time.

The reporter replied that the poor fellow had two obstacles to overcome: experience in the interpretation of Pedrozo and the mendacious rhetoric of agribusiness.  The reporter explained that the key to “understanding” Pedrozo was to realize that at any given moment on any given topic  she had imperfectly memorized talking points rarely arranged in any logical order.  The reporter recommended that for further clarification, the young activist should listen closely to county Planning Commissioner Cindy Lashbrook for an even more recklessly illogical rendition of public affairs. The reporter also recommended, for the full course, that the young activist study the words of Diana's brother-in-law, Supervisor John Pedrozo. And for post-graduate studies, he should consult the oratory of Supervisor Hub Walsh who, when in full cry, can become a one-man mind-altering substance.

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Future, coalition, development, growth, land-use planning, transportion -- but some of the words rendered meaningless

Submitted: Oct 10, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

As foreclosure and unemployment gnaw away at the social fabric in the crumbling tract housing of the Valley, like highly trained, professional rats babbling our language, the usual suspects of Valley leadership met and scampered through their consensual maze inside a mausoleum of commercial real estate hubris in Modesto, a city that has been ruining its promised land for 40 years with no end in sight for its wanderings in darkness. -- Badlands

10-10-10
Modesto Bee

Building a Future: Planning experts share wisdom at summit
By Garth Stapley - gstapley@modbee.com  Buzz up!
 
Standing alone may have served a romantic image of the great American West in years past. But for today's San Joaquin Valley, isolationism is death.

That's what planning experts said over and over when asked how the historically undervalued valley can expect to climb out of California's center rut and into a bright, vibrant future.

"The most important thing is coalition building," lobbyist Mark MacDonald said last week at a summit in Modesto, where planning specialists from near and far gathered to ponder valley strategy for hitting up money powerbrokers. "All your battles (must be) internal, before you get up to Sacramento."

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On the announcement of departure of UC Merced's second chancellor

Submitted: Sep 05, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

A member of the Badlands Journal editorial board was asked by a UC Merced student for a meeting so that he could learn more about the campus where he is going to college. The request was received the day Chancellor Steve Kang announced he would depart the campus at the end of the next academic year.

 

We thought, rather than having coffee with the student and attempting to tell that story in an hour or so, we would do two things: first, refer him to an audio tape made in the classroom of UC Merced historian Gregg Herken, a member of the founding faculty of social sciences, humanities and art at the campus, and who directed the production of a laughable bit of bobcatflak called The Fairy Shrimp Chronicles: An informal history of the founding of UC Merced. The students of that class learned how to write history as propaganda and suppress vital information, useful skills if they seek careers in the University of California system.

 

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"Narratives" Week #4: Politics among the local cannibals

Submitted: Aug 27, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Berryhill throws out a real bum

The congressional campaign of Ceres Republican Mike Berryhill, running against Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Pimlico Kid-Annapolis, is not a thing of beauty. In a year when voters are so frustrated -- especially in Cardoza's congressional district, wracked with some of the worst foreclosure and unemployment rates in the nation and housing prices that still cannot find a bottom -- all they want to do is throw the bums out, at least Berryhill threw one bum out, John D. Villarreal, his campaign manager for a couple of weeks.

McClatchy reporter was able to summarize Villarreal's argument in a couple of sentences. But Villarreal took about 40 minutes on YouTube to rave, simply rave -- there is no other word to describe it -- about his relationship to the Berryhill campaign.

Two possibilities for the performance on YouTube (searching under "Villarreal Berryhill" will get you to the four-part series) are: 1. Villarreal was putting something other than sugar in his Starbucks; or 2. conservative political operatives have gone completely insane.

Badlands editors, some of whom are veterans of Valley political campaigns, are no strangers to abusive campaign managers. But with jaws dropped watching Villarreal's mad ravings on YouTube, they quickly agreed that if that guy had come into any campaign they were working in, it would have taken them less time than the 40-minutes on YouTube to pack their briefcases, clear their desks and draw their pay. This guy appears to be a campaign manager from Hell's Cellar.

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Selma blowhard; Selma poet

Submitted: Jun 28, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

June 8, 2010
Reflections on Small Town America
by Victor Davis Hanson
Pajamas Media
http://www.victorhanson.com/articles/hanson060810B.html

Kingsburg, California, is a sort of small town that modernism forgot, at least by the measure of the usual landscapes of the Central Valley. Its broad streets, Swedish building façades, good schools, neat homes, and downtown preservation don’t quite reflect the surrounding region’s 18% unemployment, brain drain to the coastal universities, ground-zero illegal immigration, tree-fruit and raisin depression, water cut-offs, general bankruptcy of California, and endemic gangs and their sometimes vicious crimes. I was the town’s grand marshal a few Saturdays ago at the annual Swedish festival and had time to reflect on Kingsburg’s near century-and-a-half of existence — and its present status as a sort of oasis on the 99 freeway.

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Three bars across for Denham?

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

This article, written two days before the Primary Elections, suggests something that only campaign finance reports not yet published can verify. It might explain how two candidates went into the last weekend of the campaign for the 19th Congressional District essentially even, and one of them won by 10 points the following Tuesday. The thesis is that the candidate to whom one Indian casino donated heavily defeated two candidates who expressed the view that another tribe in the vicinity ought to have a "fair hearing" on its application to build an "off-reservation" casino on Highway 99, a site more advantageous than the casino that funded the winner. This logic in turn rests on at least two other assumptions. First, it assumes the sprawling district, which includes the central Sierra and parts of three Valley counties, is in any sense politically coherent other than its dominant Republican registration. It assumes the Republican electorate of the district can be swayed by the largest quantity of political propaganda. And it assumes that slot-machine players from metropolitan areas in Central California have become major players an election regardless of how far out of their thoughts that campaign was at the time they dropped the money in the casino.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

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The Hun's electric train

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Our Hun, a man of action tragically restrained by mere government throughout his political career, has decided to build a "demonstration"

high speed rail link between LA and San Diego.

"...Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to wait that long to give the state a taste of the European-style system..."

Baloney. Our Hun just wants to put his hand on the transformer and run a great big electric train somewhere in California before he retires.

Boosters for a high speed railroad from Los Angeles to San Francisco have been hustling federal funds for this train, claiming that it will be the longest, fastest high speed railroad in the nation and will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs all along its route. We aren't quite clear on how permanent these jobs will be, but if this boon to employment were to arrive, it would no doubt draw even more people into the state and probably go some way to reinflating the speculative real estate bubble. In part the high speed rail would be a great benefit for commuters to the Bay Area from the Valley, which is why it has such ardent supporters among Valley cities with abundant empty homes for sale, cheap, and official unemployment rates around 20 percent.

There is contention over parts of the route and as usual with recent schemes like new University of California campuses and railroad boondoggles, Merced, which already has two major track systems running through it, is at the center of it.

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Buffett Boy

Submitted: Apr 30, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

A retired fellow they call "Badger," after killing a little more city grass with tobbaco juice, recently commented to us that he was "wrapped up in Warren Buffett from head to toe." He lives near the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe tracks. Last year Buffett bought the company. He wears Justin boots. Buffett owns the company. He buys his jeans, shorts and socks at Costco. Buffett owns $300 million in Costco stock. He buys his underwear, sweatshirts and fishing gear from WalMart. Buffett owns $2 billion in WalMart stock.

"Warren even makes my Fruit of the Looms," he said, "and I ain't too sure he don't make the straw hat I just bought for the summer.

"I don't mind the sound of train whistles," Badger said, "and out-of-town people I call love the sound of a train and think it's real authentic or something. The roper boots fit fine and don't cost too much. Costco jeans are a gift to mankind for a penny under $13, and the WalMart stuff is cheap and works pretty well -- which are the criteria for anything I put on my body. And that's not even counting the landlord's mortgage," Badger added.

"But, being such a poster child for ol' Buffett, I expect at least he'd send me a 'Warren' ballcap. Or maybe a belt buckle. I'm a Buffett Boy from head to toe," the old man said, killing a little bit more of that city grass next to the sidewalk. 

 

 

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