October 2008


 10-1-08Merced Sun-StarMerced irrigation season ends early again'Everyone needs to pray for rain,' says district official...CAROL REITERhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/477892.htmlAfter a season that saw growers get less irrigation water than normal, the Merced Irrigation District wrapped up regular water deliveries Tuesday.Because of the drought that has gripped the state, MID started the irrigation season on March 24, a bit later than growers were hopi

Letter to Rep. John P. Sarbanes, D-Maryland

Dear Congressman Sarbanes,We are writing from Merced, CA, one of three top foreclosure-rate counties in the nation. Our congressman, Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer, now resides in the 3rd Congressional District of Maryland, which you represent. Therefore, since you represent our congressman, we are petitioning you to help with our foreclosure-rate problem. The Ol' Shrimp Slayer does not seem up to the task, although he boasts to us of being a very Important Man in Washington, on the Rules Committee and chair of a subcommittee of the Agriculture Committee dealing with fruits and nuts.

US Fish and Wildlife extends range of Red-legged frog critical habitat

U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Sacramento Fish & Wildlife Office
Fish and Wildlife Service Proposes 300% Increase in California Red-legged Frog Critical Habitat
Comment period opens for proposal based on entirely new analysis
Contacts:  Al Donner, (916) 414-6566...al_donner@fws.gov... News Release

Dorthy Fadiman's film, "Stealing America: vote by vote"

Check it out! - editors
The film STEALING AMERICA: Vote by Vote
by OSCAR-nominated, EMMY-winning
filmmaker Dorothy Fadiman,
($5 a copy/$50 a dozen)

Narrated by Peter Coyote, STEALING AMERICA presents a gripping narrative about our current electoral crisis in America.  The facts are compelling and meticulously accurate. (See quotes from the media below.) The film, which reveals the vulnerability of our democracy, ends with a call to action.

Hurricane Gustav: collateral damage

 NEW ORLEANS -- Returning to the apartment after Hurricane Gustav feels like watching a clip of an Alfred Hitchcock movie. The air, the stillness and the stark definitions of form make everything almost appear to be black and white. Eerie. There are no people in sight. A car passes every 15-20 minutes. While the city has been abandoned, nature has been quick to re-gain a foothold. I have been gone seven days and the once familiar surroundings resonate with something akin to treachery. Do I need a passport in this alien landscape?


 10-2-08Merced Sun-StarPublic NoticeNotice of Hearing by LAFCo...Planada Community Service District Sphere of Influence Amendment LAFCO SOI File No. 1055C - and Planada Community Service District Annexation No. 2008-1 LAFCO File No. 0645http://www.legalnotice.org/pl/mercedsun-star/ShowNotice.aspxNOTICE OF HEARING by Local Agency Formation Commission of Merced A public hearing will be held for consideration of the Planada Community Service District Sphere of Influence Amendment LAFCO SOI File No.

American manufacturing view of bailout

I have been reading Richard McCormack and his Manufacturing and Technology New for several years to continue my education in what has happened in manufacturing cities like the steel town I lived in for a few years once. McCormack has always been the soul of solid journalism, passionate about manufacturing but factual to a fault. In this article, he puts the case bluntly for manufacturers -- managers and workers -- against these finance, insurance and real estate whining crybabies, in terms of character and in terms of the creation of wealth.


 10-3-08 Merced Sun-StarForeclosure Crisis: Lawmakers say Merced was shortchanged...MICHAEL DOYLE, Sun-Star Washington Bureauhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/481440.htmlWASHINGTON -- California lawmakers say the Bush administration shortchanged Merced in a new foreclosed-housing grant program.But Department of Housing and Urban Development officials say they are simply being efficient and playing by the rules Congress set.Now, the two sides are figuring out who gets the


 10-4-08Merced Sun-StarHow valley home data compares nationallyNearly 1 in 5 Merced County homes were built after 2000...J.N. SBRANTI, The Modesto Beehttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/482023.htmlForget falling home values for a moment and let's look instead at housing from a different perspective.That's what the U.S.


 10-5-08Modesto BeeDan Walters: Will state now shift to vertical growth?http://www.modbee.com/opinion/state/dan_walters/story/452521.htmlAs California's population and economy expanded dramatically during the mid- and late 20th century, it did so with a unique development pattern.California grew out, not up, and its expansive model – seemingly endless suburbs of single-family homes connected by freeways, another California innovation – was later adopted by other

Long live the Prince!

When you can't trust your own political parties but can trust your governor, congressman and both US senators to do the wrong thing most of the time, it is time to seek an older, more reliable political affiliation, like the HOUSE OF WINDSOR/SAXE-COBURG-GOTHA! Prince Charles' opposition to genetic engineering continues despite great criticism.

Shrimp Slayer leadership on bailout

They look upon Fraud as a greater Crime than Theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with Death: For they alledge, that Care and Vigilance, with a very common Understanding, may preserve a Man's Goods from Thives; but Honesty hath no Fence against superior Cunning: And since it is necessary that there should be a perpetual Intercourse of buying and selling, and dealing upon Credit; where Fraud is permitted or connived at, or hath no Law to punish it, the honest Dealer is always undone, and the Knave gets the Advantage...Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift (1735), Chapter Six, "


 10-6-08Badlands JournalShrimp Slayer leadership on bailout…Badlands Journal editorial board…8-5-08http://www.badlandsjournal.com/2008-10-05/005607 They look upon Fraud as a greater Crime than Theft, and therefore seldom fail to punish it with Death: For they alledge, that Care and Vigilance, with a very common Understanding, may preserve a Man's Goods from Thives; but Honesty hath no Fence against superior Cunning: And since it is necessary that there should be a perpet


 10-7-08Merced Sun-StarMerced City Council confirms next city manager...SCOTT JASONhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/486536.htmlA split City Council hired John Bramble on Monday night as the next city manager, ending the seven-month search for who will oversee the budget and staffing through one of Merced's worst economic downturns. Bramble, city manager for Brighton, Colo., will begin Dec.


 10-8-08Merced Sun-StarCourt to make public-land decisionEnvironmental groups want more freedom to challenge management...MICHAEL DOYLE, Sun-Star Washington Bureauhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/488254.htmlWASHINGTON -- A well-seasoned Sequoia National Forest logging dispute comes to a boil Wednesday, as the Supreme Court considers when activists can challenge the management of federal lands.In one of the year's most anticipated environmental cases, the


 10-10-08 Fresno Bee$18 million awarded for low-income housingState funds for central San Joaquin Valley spread from cities to small towns...Sanford Naxhttp://www.fresnobee.com/business/story/927218.htmlAlmost $18 million in state money awarded Thursday to developers of low-income housing could lead to dozens of new houses in the central San Joaquin Valley.


 10-11-08Merced Sun-StarLocal work force may be forced to sidelines on rail project...JONAH OWEN LAMBhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/493380.htmlMerced exists because of the railroad built to take products out of the Valley. But the proposed 220-mph high-speed rail system from San Francisco to Los Angeles, which will come through Merced County if Proposition 1A is passed, will do the opposite — bring things here.

Hail Mary

On a weekend when the whole world is holding its breath to see how investors will respond tomorrow to numerous bailout plans here, there and everywhere, a story about a Bush administration plan to gut more crucial provisions within the Endangered Species Act might seem unimportant.It is not. If the Pomboza, that awesome duo of former Rep. Richard Pombo and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Maryland's newest congressman, had had their way in Congress, the act would have been gutted long before now.


 10-13-08Merced Sun-StarValley cities move to make lenders tidy up foreclosed homesMany are tired of abandoned eyesores dragging down home prices...Eddie Jimenez, The Fresno Beehttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/v-print/story/495735.htmlThe scene is familiar in neighborhoods throughout the Valley: a dead lawn, debris in front and a murky swimming pool in back, sure signs of a foreclosed home.To prevent eyesores, Valley cities are taking steps to hold len


 10-14-08Modesto BeeValley home foreclosures dip in SeptemberBut law may only delay the inevitable...J.N. Sbrantihttp://www.modbee.com/local/story/462375.htmlForeclosures dropped dramatically during September throughout the Northern San Joaquin Valley, but don't start celebrating yet.


 10-15-08Badlands JournalWhat if?...Badlands Journal editorial boardhttp://www.badlandsjournal.com/2008-10-14/005618The local McClatchy Chain outlets blared the good news this morning that the stock market rebounded yesterday. Hot damn! Today the Dow lost 110 points, the S&P 500 lost 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite lost 3.5 percent.We didn't notice the list of foreclosure announcements was any shorter in the Merced Sun-Star.

A different approach to political journalism

My style of journalism derives from Dikaeopolis, an ordinary Athenian countryman and my political hero. In the interests of full disclosure, I offer an example of his philosophy: But never since my first bath have my brows been as soap stung as they are now, when the Assembly’s scheduled for a regular dawn meeting, and here’s an empty Pnyx: everybody’s gossiping in the market as up and down they dodge the ruddled rope. The presidents aren’t even here. No, they’ll come late, and when they do you can’t imagine how they’’ll shove each other for the front row, streaming down en masse.


Q. What does HMO stand for?A. This is actually a variation of the phrase, 'HEY MOE.' Its roots go back to a concept pioneered by Moe of the Three Stooges, who discovered that a patient could be made to forget about the pain in his foot if he was poked hard enough in the eyes.Q. I just joined an HMO. How difficult will it be to choose the doctor I want?A. Just slightly more difficult than choosing your parents. Your insurer will provide you with a book listing all the doctors in the plan.

We must not go back here again

March 16, 1968 came three years after the biggest American buildup of troops in Vietnam. Vietnamese began fighting for freedom from French colonialism more than 30 years earlier. It was 15 years after the Battle of Dien Bien Phu (when the French left Vietnam). By March, 1968, nearly 40,000 American troops and an unestimated, but far, far greater number of Vietnamese had already died.On that date, Charlie Company of the US Army entered a Vietnam village called My Lai 4 and killed several hundred civilians, including many women and children.

Water follies

WEST SIDE -- When you talk water on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley no one is impolite enough to say exactly where the latest madness occurred or who told you. The west side is populated entirely by unattributed sources and water deals that passeth all understanding. Consider the latest totally unattributed rumor that a developer bought a large acreage, planned to build a new town on it for the west side’s burgeoning bedroom community so well employed in Silicon Valley.

Three demographers shed new light on California population growth

The following is an accurate summary with comments by a Texas-based psychologist with an interest in the effects of crowding on human behavior of two other articles, one by a nationally known demographer, the other by a California environmentalist with a strong interest in growth in the state. They correct my population data (gathered mainly from newspapers) in several regards, mainly the inflow and outflow of US-born immigrants to California and recent Mexican immigration.

Madera makes water sense

Badlands Journal Bill Hatch Wednesday, Sept. 3, 2003 Wisdom out of Madera County.Caught between exploding Fresno and Merced (where the University of California would induce enormous growth), Madera County frequently has been forgotten. But it has done some intelligent things. Its commitment to agriculture has led to a greenbelt around the City of Madera that resembles the forward-looking policies of communities on the Central Coast more than the growthomaniac municipalities in the Central Valley.

Southland Scenario

Guest article by that superb prose stylist and truth speaker, Hakim of the Westside, who offers a more complete version of a recent subdivision deal in the region.Southland scenarioAnaheim Bob, as he is affectionately know to the southland’s developer community, was nearly in tears as he made his report about his visit with the Merced County planning department to the board of directors of the I-5 City project.“I’m tellin’ you they didn’t want to hear about this project.

GMO corn dump

Badlands Journals  Bill Hatch  June 23, 2003    GMO Corn Dumped In Front of Steffens’ Home    A group of around 50 people, several of them farmers, gathered Monday afternoon in Sacramento across from the home of Lincoln Steffens (now the Governor’s Mansion Museum) and performed a ritual painstakingly negotiated with police, and, after a speech, dumped several bags of genetically engineered corn on a tarp spread out on a strip of lawn between the sidewalk and the curb of I Street several yards from the 16th Street intersection.  The ritual dumping was the protest of the National Family Farm

Colorado River deal closer

The latest news from the state Department of Water Resources water news service on the Colorado River deal. What is unclear from the story is what changed the position of Metropolitan Water District of Southern California to allow the parties to believe they have a deal. But, I doubt it is the fault of the AP reporter. Much of this story is probably still below the surface.

Two on the budget crisis

This Reuters article remains one of the best overviews of the California budget crisis in the press at the time. California partisan politics deepen budget crisis Tue July 01, 2003 08:51 PM ET By Michael KahnSAN FRANCISCO, July 1 (Reuters) - California staggered into the new fiscal year on Tuesday with no plan to plug a $38 billion shortfall, forcing a freeze on hiring and payments to state contractors and leading officials to draw up plans to cut the salaries of many state workers to minimum wage.The fiscal crisis, which threatens California's already shaky credit rating, came amid warning

Anti GMO demonstrators

Sacramento Demonstration Against World Trade Organization MeetingIt was a cool day for summer and at first I thought there was an unseasonable fog bank over Sacramento as I drove down from the foothills. But, when I reached the county line, I saw it was brown.

Cannibalism in public funding

"All economic systems are subsystems within the big biophysical system of ecological interdependence. The ecosystem provides a set of physical constraints to which all economic systems must conform. The facility with which an economic system can adapt to these constraints is a major, if neglected, criterion for comparing economic systems." Herman Daly Economics is nice but getting to the core of things, give me a lawsuit between two public agencies over money.

Three on water

Sometimes the morning clips from the state Department of Water Resources are really something. The following articles add to our understanding of the Colorado River dispute. What reporters were too polite to mention is the Secretary of Interior Gail Norton is a former Colorado state official.

Rove heads for the Dairy Lagoon

Evidence of growing panic in the White House, Oregon’s largest paper reports below how President Bush’s top political advisor, Karl Rove, has entered into the Klamath Basin water dispute, to support the Republican "rural base."The history: during a recent drought the federal Bureau of Reclamation cut irrigation water off to the basin to protect an endangered species of fish, known locally with extreme contempt as “suckers,” to distinguish them from commercial salmon species. But when Bushovites gained control of the Department of Interior, Sectretary Gail Norton opened up the gates again.


 10-16-08Merced Sun-StarLively gatherings held on UC Merced campus to rally vote...DANIELLE GAINEShttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/500796.htmlIt was a busy political day at the UC Merced campus Wednesday. At least for Democrats.At a noon-time presidential rally, about 50 Obama supporters chanted near the quad...

Kleptocrats' boy in Sacramento speaks

 Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force (and Peripheral Canal Campaign Committee) Chair, Phil Isenberg, former mayor of Sacramento, former state Assemblyman and presently a registered lobbyist representing at the state Capitol among others Sacramento developer Angelo Tsakopoulis, AIG (the insurance company too big to fail), Irvine Ranch Water District, a San Diego Indian casino and a group of Orange County health insurance companies, has apparently become so besotted with his power and wealth that he makes no more sense at all. In his recent letter to


 10-18-08Merced Sun-StarGovernor's panel says California must fix water system...SAMANTHA YOUNG, The Associated Presshttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/504150.htmlWEST SACRAMENTO -- California must retool how it uses, moves and stores water to meet the state's growing population and protect public health and the environment, a panel appointed by the governor said Friday.In its final report, the seven-member Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force said Californians should consi


 10-19-08Fresno BeeAir board approves strict burning rulesFireplace regulations for the Valley are toughest in nation...By Pablo Lopezhttp://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/946491.htmlThe San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District has adopted tighter restriction on fireplace burning starting Nov. 1.Under a rule adopted Thursday, wood burning is prohibited when pollution in the area reaches 30 micrograms per cubic meter.


 10-21-08Merced Sun-StarLivingston considers annexing farmland for housesThe city's planning process splits residents between those pushing growth and those supporting ag land preservation...JONAH OWEN LAMBhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/507933.htmlFrom an empty dusty field just outside of Livingston, the Diablo range and orchards take up most of the view. The only signs of the nearby town are the tan buildings of one of Livingston's new developments.


 10-22-08Merced Sun-StarLivingston City Council approves master plan for aggressive growth...JONAH OWEN LAMBhttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/story/509705.htmlLivingston's City Council unanimously voted to approve a controversial draft master plan and environmental impact report that projects exponential growth for the North Merced County area, despite public outcry against the plan.On Tuesday night, the five-member council voted on a resolution that in effect approved the 2025


 10-26-08Badlands JournalThe state Fifth Appellate District Court publishes decision upholding CEQA in Madera aggregate case...Badlands Journal editorial boardhttp://www.badlandsjournal.com/print/6930We wish to congratulate the law firm of Donald B. Mooney and Associates, Donald B. Mooney and Marsha A. Burch, representing Sheryl Gray et al., for successfully arguing against the Madera Ranch Quarry, Inc.

The state Fifth Appellate District Court publishes decision upholding CEQA in Madera aggregate case

We wish to congratulate the law firm of Donald B. Mooney and Associates, Donald B. Mooney and Marsha A. Burch, representing Sheryl Gray et al., for successfully arguing against the Madera Ranch Quarry, Inc. (Jaxon Baker) environmental impact report for an aggregate mine in Madera County. The state Fifth Appellate District Court decided for the neighbors of the proposed project, against Baker and published the decision, which can be used as case law in CEQA cases, particularly those involving aggregate mines.


 10-27-08Merced Sun-StarDan Walters: State's roads need some TLChttp://www.mercedsunstar.com/177/v-print/story/517464.htmlWhy do we Californians put up with lousy highways not only the nation's most congested, but with perhaps its worst bone-jarring, suspension-damaging pavement conditions?Three recent personal road trips covering nearly 5,000 miles of interstate freeways, state highways, county roads and city streets in 17 states proved again to this driver that our r


 10-28-08Badlands JournalAnatomy of a foreclosure...Badlands Journal editorial boardhttp://www.badlandsjournal.com/2008-10-27/006933In the late 1990s, an entrepreneurial mechanic with a wife and one child bought a house for $65,000 with a down payment of $1,500 he took a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. His wife, a beautician, got a job as a clerk at a discount store.


 10-30-08DWR Press Release:DWR Releases Climate Change White Paperhttp://www.water.ca.gov/news/Sacramento – The Department of Water Resources (DWR) today released a report urging California’s water managers to develop climate adaptation strategies.

Wild steelhead win in Fresno Federal District Court

10-28-08Fresno BeeFish policies upheld in court rulingJudge says feds have steelhead discretion...John Ellis http://www.fresnobee.com/local/v-printerfriendly/story/967296.htmlA federal judge in Fresno ruled Monday that the U.S. government has discretion to recognize differences in steelhead fish populations when determining whether they are eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge Oliver W.

Anatomy of a foreclosure

In the late 1990s, an entrepreneurial mechanic with a wife and one child bought a house for $65,000 with a down payment of $1,500 and took a fixed-rate FHA mortgage. His wife, a beautician, got a job as a clerk at a discount store. In the midst of the speculative real estate boom in Merced six years later, with three children now and a warehouse job, he took out an equity loan for $126,000, did some remodeling on the exterior (new stucco, paint, new lawn turf, foam sculpture), bought furniture, a big-screen TV and a nearly new Cadillac Escalade.