January 2008

Dispatch from Foreclosure-stan

Come on down to Foreclosure-stan. We got brand-new houses for sale, real cheap, down at the county courthouse. On second thought, wait a few months and they’ll be even cheaper.

Yessiree, Folks, Come on down to Foreclosure-stan—San Joaquin, Stanislaus and Merced counties—highest mortgage foreclosure rates in the nation. If the motels are full, consider spending the night in the branches of the eucalyptus trees on M Street in Merced along with the wintering Turkey Vultures, not far from the auctions. Get a bird’s-eye view.

Ideas that won't be discussed at this weekend's California Women For Agriculture/UC Merced/Great Valley Center gala

Below are two lengthy reviews of William Enghahl's Seeds of Destruction, a critical look at the political, economic and scientific history behind the development of genetically modified organisms (GMOs). Once again they come to us through an indespensible website for people concerned with agribusiness science and the political economy behind it, ge_news@eco-farm.org.

What now?

The level of failure

There is a theory about the American economy that it advances and recedes via speculative bubble these days. This seems to be particularly true of our regional economy in the San Joaquin Valley, with its unaffordable housing and nationally top rate of mortgage foreclosure, following the big boom in residential real estate speculation.

Dumbest questions in town

Absolutely the dumbest question anyone around here can ask is: How come when housing prices were rising astronomically, everyone was buying; yet now that housing prices are falling, very few are buying?

There are smooth answers to this question floating around but none of them quite stick. However, a comment made by a local realtor the other day may provide a clue. She said that home prices are falling so low there is once again some interest from out-of-town investors.

A law that works a hardship on the public

Regular Badlands readers may have noticed that the 157-pp official transcript of the trial-court hearing on the CEQA case brought against Merced County and the Riverside Motorsports Park by San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and the Merced County Farm Bureau was removed last weekend from the site. This was done pursuant to the following notification from the president of the California Court Reporters Association and the advice of attorneys.

Mr. H....

Score one more for Valley clean air activists

Why should the legislature have to constantly prod, push, urge and sadly beg the board that Ms. Case is a leader on to act in the public's interest? – State Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter

California Progress Report
California Senate Votes for Clean Air in Rejecting Schwarzenegger Appointee…Senator Dean Florez


The idiocies of California water journalism

One of the ways we used to wile away our time in the newsroom during the first Gray Davis administration was to observe the subtleties of developer propaganda. Our favorite example was that shifting figure, the amount of water it took to supply a California household. At the beginning of the Davis administration it was two acre-feet per year for a household of four. Shortly before the Davis recall and the arrival of the Hun, our present governor, the figure had shrunk to one acre-foot per household.

A key to congressional decision-making

"If a player sliding into home plate reached into his pocket and handed the umpire $1,000 before he made the call, what would we call that? A bribe. And if a lawyer handed a judge $1,000 before he issued a ruling, what do we call that? A bribe. But when a lobbyist or CEO sidles up to a member of Congress at a fund-raiser or in a skybox and hands him a check for $1,000, what do we call that? A campaign contribution." -- Bill Moyers, "Restoring the Public Trust," TomPaine.com, Feb. 24, 2006