Loose Cheeks: Anna Caballero's staff

Several years ago, a young man new to Merced but active in local politics at the time, asked a Badlands Journal reporter, “What is Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo saying? I can’t understand a word she says.” Pedrozo was the executive director of the county Farm Bureau and president of the California Women for Agriculture at the time.
The reporter replied that the poor fellow had two obstacles to overcome: experience in the interpretation of Pedrozo and the mendacious rhetoric of agribusiness.  The reporter explained that the key to “understanding” Pedrozo was to realize that at any given moment on any given topic  she had imperfectly memorized talking points rarely arranged in any logical order.  The reporter recommended that for further clarification, the young activist should listen closely to county Planning Commissioner Cindy Lashbrook for an even more recklessly illogical rendition of public affairs. The reporter also recommended, for the full course, that the young activist study the words of Diana's brother-in-law, Supervisor John Pedrozo. And for post-graduate studies, he should consult the oratory of Supervisor Hub Walsh who, when in full cry, can become a one-man mind-altering substance.
The reporter brought up the Question of Pedrozo  to the board recently because she had accosted him on the sidewalk of Main Street for 20 minutes while he was attempting to depart from a cancelled event for state Senate candidate,  Assemblywoman Anna Caballero, D-Salinas. Apparently – the reporter said this with maximum skepticism considering the source – the event was supposed to be built around that Lion of Lies, Paul Rodriguez, who created something called the Latino Water Coalition to proclaim the terrible economic damage that never was in the recent “drought” that never was, at the behest of Southern California and westside San Joaquin Valley agribusiness in a brilliant propaganda campaign aimed at creating and passing the famous $1.14-billion water bond. We gathered later that while our reporter came and went by the Main Street entrance of Caballero’s Merced headquarters, a considerable number of people, including “bankers and well-dressed ladies” according to one eye-witness account, came and left by the back entrance.
With six days to go in a campaign for an open seat in the state Legislature,  local voters are interested in meeting the candidate, not the has-been clown of the hydraulic brotherhood.  It was further reported by a reliable source that the campaign had known the has-been would not make the event “because he couldn’t arrange transportation” (from his Dinuba orange plantation? From Hollywood?) since 4 p.m. the previous afternoon.  That raised a doubt about Caballero and not the only doubt.
The reporter is quite experienced in Pedrozo-speak, having had to endure regular deluges of disjointed agrarian propaganda from her for a dozen years during which she has represented four agricultural organizations. Ordinarily the reporter would have taken the good-natured advice he gave the young activist: “Relax. Roll with it. It doesn’t make sense but sometimes Pedrozo-speak is so weird it is almost poetic.” But the reporter was not feeling good-natured on the sidewalk while his ears were being drowned in unconnected lines out of the numerous hit pieces the Caballero campaign and its supporters have launched against her opponent, Republican Mayor of Ceres, Anthony Cannella.
The reporter had arrived at Caballero campaign headquarters with only one question: Why she was so gung-ho for the peripheral canal? The reporter asked Pedrozo a few questions about Caballero's history with the water bond and quit when her eyes glazed over. She didn't really know enough to represent Caballero. But, is Pedrozo Caballero's Merced County campaign coordinator to represent Caballero, or to represent herself? Or was she in fact doing a deft act of staff work by diverting the reporter from the other disappointed guests in the backroom? After two attempts to get to the backroom of this campaign headquarters, the editorial board has decided not to support Anna Caballero.
Another thing he found peculiar about the Caballero campaign was a flyer last week that presented “voices from the Valley” (for Anna Caballero). There were six “voices” and they had their pictures on the flyer. One of the six was Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo. Other sources report that Pedrozo is very proud of her place on that flyer. The editorial board talked that one over at length. They decided there were two ways of looking at this. You could look at it as an example of a campaign staffer who had wedged her way into the flyer as “a voice of the Valley,” indicating that the staffer had an agenda of her own and considered herself the equal or superior to her candidate or else just lacks the judgment or taste to have any role in a serious political campaign. Given Pedrozo’s reputation around the county – “Diana? She has no integrity at all!” – that flyer reflected badly on the candidate and whoever claims to be managing this "campaign." The other theory is that the campaign could only find five people willing to have their pictures on the flyer and needed a sixth, so got one from the campaign staff.
The Caballero campaign, at least in the Valley, seems to consist of nothing but very expensive, glossy hit pieces against her opponent. Every one of them the reporter has received, he says, has made him more inclined to vote for her opponent.
After burbling for a quarter hour, Pedrozo demanded that the reporter “look me in the eye and say I ever lied to you.” The reporter was instantly  swept back four or five years to a motel room Pedrozo had rented in Sacramento when, in front of the entire “brain” and financial trust behind Measure C (Peter and Rochelle Koch, Rose Burroughs, Pedrozo and Jean Okuye), Cindy Lashbrook, quite drunk, threw herself at the feet of Lydia Miller, president of the San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, and the reporter, and demanded that they trust her.
“She just wanted all of us to work together,” Pedrozo explained.
As long as everyone was on the same page with an elite consensus composed of lies and delusions, the reporter thought to himself. Aloud, he said, "As long as we all were under Cindy, that is." Pedrozo agreed.
Reporters are not in the habit of carrying around "certificates of trust." The reporter asks at such times, “What sandbox are we in now?” But he knew. Of course he knew. It was the sandbox of the last days of a losing campaign, the Sandbox of Desperation.
"Well, there was the RMP lawsuit financial rip off, for example," the reporter said.
"I didn't have anything to do with that," Pedrozo replied.
That's one, the reporter thought.
The reporter asked how Pedrozo's good friend, Cameron Doyel (Toronto-based Brookfields Development's honcho on the Castle Farms development) was. She said he had just called her last week on Measure C. Measure C is the "save farmland" initiative that is neither "simple" nor saves farmland and so vaguely worded that it has split the farming community down the middle, setting Pedrozo's former employers the county Farm Bureau (for the initative) against the California Women for Agriculture, of which she is the immediate past president. Brookfield contributed $10,000 to the campaign against Measure C.
"You endorsed Measure C," the reporter said.
She lapsed into stammering and hand fluttering. If the young activist had been a witness and asked what Pedrozo had said that time, the reporter would have said, "It's just poetry."