State Government

The dam issue

Submitted: Jun 25, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “We completed a reconnaissance-level assessment of the spillway at Lopez Dam and have noted that structure may have potential geologic, structural, or performance issues that could jeopardize its ability to safely pass a flood event,” the letter stated.

"We did a superficial inspection and determined that the dam is unsafe in the event of a flood?" Is that what the flakperson was trying not quite to say?

What is a reconnaissance-level assessment? Were helicopters involved?

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Thinking about crime in Merced

Submitted: Jun 18, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Below is a series of articles about crime in Merced and Stanislaus counties in recent months. It is not an exhaustive list, not a police log, nor is it long enough to represent the variety of crime reported daily in this region. However, we do learn from the articles that Merced, Modesto, and two other Valley county seats rank among the top 10 cities in the nation for car theft. We learn that the recent "Operation Scrapbook," a multi-agency task force using advanced communications surveillance nabbed some top gang members accused of heavy charges including murder, meth dealing, and gun dealing.

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Neurotic aqua-utilitarian quantification

Submitted: Jun 13, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

If there is one thing that slip-slides away from easy quantification, it's water. None of its larger units of measurement, like the acre-foot, let alone a million gallons,  are easily imagined by the ordinary human being. Nor does it do much good to say that a family of four uses about an acre-foot of water a year, at least to people who remember when in the not too distant past the authorities said it took two acre-feet to achieve the same goal for the little family. And how big is a raindrop anyway?

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Seyed "The Mendacious" Sadredin goes national

Submitted: Jun 06, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 “[Sadredin] is a state officer,” said Jared Blumenfeld, the EPA’s regional administrator in California until last year. “He swears an oath to uphold the Clean Air Act, and yet he is actively working to undermine this important environmental law.”

 

 

4-22-17

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Climate in the Age of Resentment

Submitted: Jun 04, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It is not easy to put President Trump's exit from the Paris Climate Accord in perspective, perhaps because it is the new perspective, the world as it now is; and that is hard to accept. The general contour of this new perspective is that while large majorities of the public support environmental laws like the Endangered Species Act and the Clean Water and Air acts even though they do impose limits on the capitalist economic system, today special interests have such a strong grip on at least two of the three branches of government (the judicial branch is still in question) that the United States government will no longer lead or follow intelligent environmental policies unless the sane majority regains control of -- for a start -- both political parties.

Our bar for sanity is low: stay on your medication and avoid overindulging your resentments.

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Two ghosts in the room

Submitted: May 27, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Two major law-enforcement stories recently rocked Merced. Public security is universally the fundamental job of political authorities, and these two stories were certainly full of politics.

In the first, Operation Scrapbook, top law enforcement officials in the county, starting with DA Larry Morse II, performed a sweep of Mexican gang members, primarily Sureños. A state program called VIPER procured by local legislators provided surveillance information vital to the effort according to all involved, especially  Assemblyman Adam Gray, D-Merced. When the credit was passed out, state Sen. Anthony Cannella, R-Ceres, seemed to have been forgotten.

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A stronger California Public Records Act proposed

Submitted: May 25, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

More importantly, the bill would allow judges to fine public agencies $1,000 to $5,000 for blatantly violating the act, such as unreasonably withholding or delaying the release of records that clearly are public. Currently, there is no penalty. 


Like the California Brown Act, which governs public meetings, local governments like Merced County are constantly trying to encroach on the clear meaning of the public's right to know about the public's business, and so must be periodically strengthened. This can take the form of expensive losses in court like Merced County's absurd temper tantrum over violations of the Brown Act that resulted in two court decisions against it. Or, it can take the form proposed in AB 1479, adding  designated staff person to handle all PRA requests thoroughly and promtly or face a fine (if the public or newspaper is willing to take the government or agency to court).

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The rise of bee theft

Submitted: May 19, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Now bee colony collapse disorder is having an impact on the police logs of the region. How soon can it be until it becomes a TV series? What we will probably not do in time is address the combination of environmental factors agribusiness, particularly almond production in the San Joaquin Valley, has inflicted on bees to produce the crisis. 

-- blj

 

5-17-17

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Javier Valdez Cardenas, Presente!

Submitted: May 18, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

"The Sinaloa cartel has demonstrated in many instances that it can adapt. I think it's in a process of redefinition toward marijuana," says Javier Valdez, a respected journalist and author who writes books on the narcoculture in Sinaloa.

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