University of California

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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"God didn't design those slabs ..."

Submitted: May 12, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

In an interview Wednesday, Bea criticized the state report for its failure to identify the human factors that were at the root of the design and maintenance errors.

 

“They didn’t mention people,” Bea said. “Root causes involve people. God didn’t design those slabs.

 

5-10-17

Los Angeles Times

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The political economy of Delta-fish extinction, Part II

Submitted: May 08, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 What is lacking and fatal to endangered species in this kind of academic scientific approach to the problem of extinction is the full articulation of the political problem that can be faced and fought. Instead of this terribly learned hand-wringing, they should be urging political action against the pumps, against the twin tunnel project, and against the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Campaign against members of Congress in the pockets of the hydraulic brotherhood. Make Jerry Brown pay dearly for his environmentally ruinous tunnels. At least make the Brown administration explain clearly what real public benefit they would be? The political messaging for the project has been so compelling that it has driven the learned men below into a dark bar for a long night. -- blj

 

 

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The political economy of Delta-fish extinctions

Submitted: May 01, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 For species like delta smelt and winter-run Chinook salmon, there will be considerable pressure to declare them extinct because maintaining even small populations requires releases of water from dams...But to avoid spending scarce conservation dollars on species that have already gone extinct, we need a policy in place that provides a pathway for declaring a species officially extinct. We address this in part II of our blog.

 So, we maintain both the state and federal endangered species acts while the species go extinct in publicly managed rivers, shaped by publicly funded levees and dams, and distributed by publicly funded canals, as a matter of "public policy"?

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Mistakes were made

Submitted: Apr 24, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It almost seems as if in the wake of 9/11 and the creation of the Homeland Security Administration, the fear of dam sabotage has been an excuse for not doing maintenance and repair of dams and the complete failure to plan for the effects of global warming on the Sierra Nevada snowpack. And it seems that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which commissions the hydro-electric plants on the Sierra-river dams,  in the midst of its exquisitely complex scientific and bureaucratic study schedule and meetings, all directed by impeccably value-free facilitators, the sort of catastrophe that happened at Oroville and threatens worse, was not contemplated, at least sufficiently. -- blj

 

 

 

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Eine kleine Caenmusik

Submitted: Apr 24, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 Willie Brown, former California state Assembly speaker (longest serving), former mayor of San Francisco and general bon vivant, used to have lunch on Fridays in the City at a restaurant called Le Central, with several friends, including Herb Caen, legendary Chronicle columnist.

It looks like Willie picked up a few literary pointers over the cassoulet. -- wmh

 

 

 

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Towards a quieter dine-and-dope experience in central Merced

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

 Merced City Council members Jill McLeod and Michael Belluomini advocated for quieter trains at last week's council meeting. They targeted the BNSF tracks in the northern part of central Merced because Amtrak adds more trains to the already busy tracks. But when Ms. McLeod, known in some central Merced circles as "Strawberry Jujube," repeatedly said that the area has an "industrial" feeling, we wondered how long before the council would mandate the Strawberry Jujube Aesthetic for our neighborhoods. Would we all be required by ordinance to die our hair orange and wear a pigtail to escape the onus of looking "industrial," the way many working people employed by various industries do look.

We don't think McLeod and Belluomini are going after the worst aspect of the trains. The dirt, the dust, and the grime that both BNSF and Union Pacific trains kick up pose worse problems for health and housecleaning than their noise. And the hazardous materials constantly traveling through town on frieght trains pose potentially catastrophic dangers to public health.

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"Do not take your CDBGs from our Valley..."

Submitted: Mar 17, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 We are grateful to Congressman Jim Costa, 16th Congressional District of California, for this excellent rundown on the consequences of the Plutocrat's First Budget on the Valley, its poor people, small businesses, and even its wealthy farmers. -- blj

 

March 17, 2017

US Congressman Jim Costa

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Safe drinking water for children in Planada and Le Grand!

Submitted: Mar 16, 2017
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 It's a sign of our fragmented times that children in these rural schools should need special clean water dispensers at the same time as the same communities plan for more growth. If you don't have enough clean water for the children of your community, how can you in good conscience plan for more growth? Planners, of course, will argue how much worse it would all be if the new growth weren't planned because planners are pawns in the real great game of Finance, Insurance and Real Estate.1. 2 .3.

Conscience doesn't have a thing to do with it. It is about bureaucratic and corporate schedules fermenting away in their own separate silos. The people involved are just doing their jobs to support their families.

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