August 2016

Merced Development Rodeo: Merced taxpayers, beware of your city council

A cabal of Merced City Council members, city staff and developers ripped off the citizens of Merced for a bundle two weeks ago. Just in case we couldn't put a face on the usual suspects, developer and almond grower Greg Hostetler showed up at Monday's council meeting to berate retiring Mayor Stan Thurston for speaking truth to the city's development staff.

Merced Development Rodeo: Jobs, jobs, jobs?

 Since the Merced County public is again being assaulted by the claims that housing and commercial construction are the one and only way of reducing unemployment in our economy, dominated by government subsidized agribusiness, we thought we would compare some unemployment statistics from past years.
These numbers are for Merced County as a whole, but since construction is ramping up on both sides of the county, they seem indicative.
All figures are for June of the year.1.
6/2016: 10.6 percent
6/09: 16.5 percent
6/07: 9.5 percent

The Big Grift?

The pollsters and statisticians are predicting that Trump will lose the election to Hillary Clinton. But of course, this hinges on how one defines “lose.” Donald Trump will likely find a way to financially profit from his political adventure, his supporters are giving him millions of dollars, his narcissism has been further expanded and fueled, and if this was all just an elaborate hustle, Trump has, in many ways, lost nothing and gained much. -- Chauncey DeVega, AlterNet, Aug. 5, 2016

Jeeves willikers, the country shore has changed!

Bernardus Lodge debuts new lodgings
The Villas & Suites at Bernardus Lodge & Spa in Carmel Valley has opened with 14 new guest lodgings.
The new lodgings debuted on Aug. 2 and have rates from $950 to $2,500.
The new accommodations transport guests to a private sanctuary paired with butler services, free Mercedes-Benz convertibles, alfresco rain showers and a three-to-one staff ratio focused on exceeding guests' expectations.

Western and west side-water madhouse

 In the meantime, the Resnicks have been going hog wild with all that water. Based on current estimates, their Central Valley crops receive more yearly water than the amount used by every single home in Los Angeles combined. Their citrus crops alone use up more water than the city of San Francisco. -- Elijah Chiland,, Aug. 10, 2016

How quickly can you forget this story?

The problem with the "mistakes" developers make in the heat of a construction boom is the decision the homeowner has to make once the "mistake," life-threatening or not, is discovered.
 To disclose or not to disclose, that is the question.
If I don't disclose, no one can help me.
If I do disclose, there go my property value. After all, who -- regarding the Fresno case below -- would want to buy a house with plumbing that poisons the residents with lead?
But do I want to go on living in this house, continuing to expose my loved ones to lead poisoning?

Road taxes, fracking and the Adam-Condit-Gray mob

Prop. 13 is a gift that keeps on taking from the California public. The real estate special interests, including the financial and insurance industries, advertise throughout the world the advantages of California famous Proposition 13, which sharply limit the annual increase of property taxes and, as George Skelton reminds us, required a two-third vote of the state Legislature to raise any taxes.

UCM Chancellor reports to local leaders on $1.3-billion expansion

 "Proximity is destiny," Carol Tomlinson Keasey, first chancellor of UC Merced, often said. It was one of her slogans and like almost everything she said, it was nonsense. While we were still pondering Keasey's koan and looking for evidence that Merced was somehow becoming smarter because there was a UC campus on its outskirts, Keasey left, Chancellor Steve Yang came and went, and now we have Chancellor Dorothy Leland, voted one of four "power women" in the state of Georgia in 2009.

Oh, the Horror!

California agriculture is a stroke of Gov. Jerry Brown's pen away from having to pay farmworkers overtime after 40 hours a week! Ag bigshots throughout the state are claiming that farmworkers will be the actual victims of this law because farmers will cut back on labor and cycle people out after 40 hours.
From the other side of their mouths, however, they have set up a terrific perpetual whine that there is a labor shortage in the fields due to immigration policies.

Sunshine on Shadow

And he is too humble to take the responsibility for thinking. The whole structure of his world would be endangered if he permitted himself to think. The pieces must stick within their pattern or the whole thing collapses and the design is gone. We wonder whether in the present pattern the pieces are not straining to fall out of line; whether the paradoxes of our times are not finally mounting to a conclusion of ridiculousness that will make the whole structure collapse.

Where are they now?

Once they were dynamic young leaders of Merced County agriculture. Peter Koch was president of the county Farm Bureau, and he and his wife, Rochelle, founded and funded the Valley Land Alliance to "save farmland." VLA's main purpose these days is the constant promotion in its newsletter of a small number of farmer members. All references to the Koch family, however, have been expunged from its website since they sold their palatial residence, orchards and cow pens and left for the bucolic Willamette Valley in Oregon.