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On the road

Letters from the River, 1

by Gary McMillen

Last night we had our LSU Human Resources Christmas party in the lounge of the hotel.

Pure coincidence but the owner (and his wife) of the Best Western Richmond Suites chose last night to drop by and inspect the property. They opened the door to the lounge and stood in amazement.

Tamara walked up, introduced herself and gave them a plate of fried chicken, a bowl of gumbo and bought them a drink.

Unanswered questions on Merced growth

The Merced County League of Women Voters held a workshop at Merced City Hall last week on several general plan updates going on around the county.

The first speaker, Dr. Michael Teitz, is an emeritus professor at UC Berkeley who said he had consulted with UC Merced recently. He was introduced as a scholar who had studied the Valley for years.

Cheese baskets

It must have been a rough day of lobbying for the old man, because when I ran into him in the basement bar of the old Senator Hotel, across from the Capitol, he looked beat as he nursed a drink, thinking about driving back to Modesto in the tule fog and milking the cows the next morning.

If you stick around in one place long enough, what goes around comes around.

The Board

A limited partnership of politicians, developers, agribusiness corporations and the University of California, Merced, appear to have established a unified board of directors composed of three divisions: founding members of the UC Merced Foundation board of trustees, the Great Valley Center board of directors and staff, and the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, recently appointed by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Novel legal theory

Nakayama also forgot to mention that the Bush administration has rewritten the very rules used to prosecute those companies. The Bush version of the rules, which would let power companies off the hook, is being challenged in court by numerous state attorneys general, as well as environmental groups.

Where is it written?

Metropolitan Water District of Southern California's lawyers filed a legal brief last week that argues that the drastically crashing population of Delta Smelt cannot be used as an argument for curtailing water shipments from the Delta to LA. The Delta Smelt, they say, is not under the protection of the federal Endangered Species Act because it only lives in one state. (1)

Perhaps California's Endangered Species Act will protect the smelt. However, Metropolitan's brief brings up a far more important issue.

Moutha Gold in Hilmar

There is no doubt a lot of money and influence is on the line in the Hilmar Cheese situation, although the Modesto Bee keeps shrinking the amount. The original fine levied by the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board was $4 million. Yesterday it shrunk to $3 million after the Moutha Gold got into it.

To recapitulate briefly, Hilmar came up with a proposal in September to inject its offensive wastewater so deep in the ground it would presumably disappear from human consciousness.

Upcoming Hilmar Cheese decision stinks

The Central Valley regional Water Quality Control Board is set to approve a deal between regulators and Hilmar Cheese Co. on Nov. 29 that would “grant the world’s largest cheesemaker sweeping immunity for hundreds of water pollution violations – and for future offenses.” (1)

How did this happen? We can only guess.

Movie lines

These are troubled times. Lobbyists plead guilty and sing like canaries, investigations "widen," new Grand Juries are convened, there is talk about "high crimes and misdemeanors" at the top, the war has gone horribly wrong and keeps getting worse. Something has begun the end of which is not known. Neither blood nor money seem able to hide the lies anymore. The Badlands staff, stunned, confused, in the words of our local congressman, the Shrimp Slayer, "troubled," looked deep into our hearts ... and probably like many Americans, came up with some lines from a couple of movies.

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