Carol Whiteside, the former Modesto mayor who has guided the Great Valley Center since its inception 10 years ago, will step down as president of the Modesto-based think tank, she said Tuesday. Under her leadership, the Great Valley Center became the only organization muscling to boost the historically underachieving valley along its entire length, from Redding to Bakersfield..."The valley has changed and we've had quite a role in that change. I just feel like we've set in motion many of the things we wanted to start. "There are people who want to die in their (office) chairs," (Whiteside) added. "I don't." -- Garth Stapeley, Modesto Bee, April 11, 2007
In this story, the McClatchy Chain's Modesto outlet nearly perfectly expresses the impenetrable pro-growth propaganda in the disguise of journalism that is its hallmark. The story brought tears to our eyes and made us feel warm all over as it reduced us to juvenile idiocy for a moment, just before we resumed thinking.
The Great Valley Center was never a "think tank." From its inception to its absorption into UC Merced, it has been nothing but a non-profit public relations firm for the local slurbocracy. The local slurbocracy is the finance, insurance and real estate industry that has precipitated a dizzying credit spriral based on predatory subprime home mortgages of national significance in this region. Speaking as veterans of numerous GVC conferences and workshops, we can testify that they were the most frustrating, anti-intellectual concentrations of pro-growth-by-every-other-name flak attacks on natural resources and public health and safety we have ever witnessed. By obliterating the possibility of public critical thinking about growth for the last decade, GVC did the valley immeasurable environmental and economic harm in the pay of a handful of plutocrats -- developers, lenders and large landowners and bought politicians -- who made fortunes on subdivisions for commuters that did not pay for their impacts to the environment or their communities.
"Historically underachieving valley"? What is the most productive agricultural state in the nation? Where is the center of that productivity? Where, in fact, is the most agriculturally productive land-mass in the world? In a world experiencing increasingly rapid climate change, what is more valuable, working agriculture or commuter slurbs? Yet, our leaders, Whiteside muscling her way to the front, believe that turning the valley into Southern California is the way.
"History," apparently according to McClatchy's Modesto outlet, Whiteside and UC, began at the time GVC began, Merced was proposed as the site for a campus in the valley, and developers made their moves. For the last decade, the region has been consumed in a vast speculative real estate boom. Before that time, California wasn't a state and the region was controlled by maurading gangs of rustlers on horseback. Don't believe me: check with Whiteside and McClatchy.
A little over a year ago, UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, announced her retirement. She's the UC administrator who built the first phase of a new UC campus without getting the federal environmental permits to build the rest of it. At the time, in close alliance with Whiteside and the local congressional Pomboza, the group-think was that representatives Richard Pombo and Dennis Cardoza could gut the Endangered Species Act to make way for the campus and all the other growth this "leadership" ardently desired. They didn't get the bill, the environmentalists got Pombo, and Cardoza is under the thumb of a Democratic Party speaker and off the House Resources Committee, which Pombo once chaired, but has now been renamed the House Natural Resources Committee.
Add to that the national stink arising from mortgage lending practices from Stockton to Merced, mounting controversy in Tracy over UC siting the most dangerous biowarfare laboratory in existence, over-promoted UC Merced is an over-priced, under-enrolled junior college for UC rejects, and the picture is as clear today as it was when former state Sen. John Burton, D-SF, said the word, "boondoggle," and when Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters called UC Merced and all the "muscling to boost" behind it -- "nothing but a land deal." But, it became the anchor tenant for a huge speculative housing boom, now crashing around our ears.
"There are people who want to die in their (office) chairs," (Whiteside) added. "I don't."
What is the public supposed to make of that? What a great inspiration to all the "leaders" GVC is supposed to have trained. The men and women who actually built the valley into what it was before Whiteside and the other slurbocrats took over regularly died in their chairs, on their tractors, in their trucks, dropping dead after working long productive lives building agricultural productivity here in the "underachieving valley" (that had pretty good air quality and abundant water of good quality).
According to this theory of leadership, the leader's first obligation is to evade responsibility for the consequences of her leadership. The example of leadership presented by both Whiteside and Tomlinson-Keasey, among the area's most dominant personalities in recent years, boils down to this: Get on board the Big Bucks Line, rip it off for all you can get, and when the drunken captain runs the ship aground, start swimming.
UC/GVC is a corporation that does not now nor ever has had the public's interest in mind. It was born of Whiteside's self-promotion, became a promotional vehicle for regional developers, the largest of which is UC, and it will continue to represent UC and other corporate interests, operating as it has all along as a non-profit public relations corporation developing information on local communities for the benefit of public and private corporations, whose anti-community agendas it will continue to promote.
Whiteside is one of the most brilliant propagandists the valley has ever seen. The combination of UC and GVC has created a non-profit corporation with a nose for pork worthy of a chairman of a congressional committee on national defense.
Badlands editorial staff
Realtors: Housing slump will worsen in 2007...Alan Zibel and Dan Caterinicchia, AP
Key Senate Democrats issued a report Wednesday detailing the housing market's decline amid calls for federal aid to homeowners at risk of foreclosure. The report from New York Democrat Charles Schumer, chair of the Joint Economic Committee, came on the same day that the nation's trade group for Realtors offered new projections that the housing slump is worsening. The National Association of Realtors said the national median price for existing homes would decline this year for the first time since 1968 on the same day an activist nonprofit called on Wall Street to help homeowners restructure their mortgage loans. Across town, senators called for the government to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars to help at-risk homeowners. NAR predicting the median price for existing homes nationwide will drop 0.7 percent...estimated existing home sales will fall 2.2 percent... As 1.8 million adjustable rate mortgages reset to higher rates this year and next, foreclosures are sure to continue rising, the 32-page report from the JEC said. The Federal Housing Administration could be revamped to refinance mortgages in danger of default, the JEC's report said... Lawmakers also are talking up proposals to strengthen federal regulation of mortgages, impose a national ban on predatory lending practices among all lenders and require those lenders to establish a borrower's ability to pay back a mortgage loan through the life of the loan, not just for two or three years. Rising delinquencies and defaults among borrowers have resulted in more than two dozen so-called subprime lenders going out of business, moving into bankruptcy protection or putting themselves up for sale.
One great founder, executive to retire...Garth Stapley
Carol Whiteside, the former Modesto mayor who has guided the Great Valley Center since its inception 10 years ago, will step down as president of the Modesto-based think tank, she said Tuesday. Under her leadership, the Great Valley Center became the only organization muscling to boost the historically underachieving valley along its entire length, from Redding to Bakersfield. The nonprofit, nonpartisan Great Valley Center has supported hundreds of organizations, drawn national recognition for leadership development programs and shined a light on significant social and economic challenges facing California's fastest-growing region. Recently, the Great Valley Center has spearheaded much of the valley's work on Schwarzenegger's California Partnership with the San Joaquin Valley and the recent San Joaquin Valley Blueprint outreach. Though Whiteside attracted nearly $35 million from private foundations to her brainchild, such grants have dwindled in the past couple of years, forcing slashed funding and the elimination of several programs. Whiteside helped shore up the center in fall 2005 by securing a strategic partnership with the University of California at Merced. "We're securely embedded in the university," she said Tuesday, "which means the GVC will go on forever." "Term limits are there for a reason," Whiteside said, reflecting on her 10 years at the helm. "The valley has changed and we've had quite a role in that change. I just feel like we've set in motion many of the things we wanted to start. "There are people who want to die in their (office) chairs," she added. "I don't."
California should provide stronger mortage protections. What seemed an impending home foreclosure crisis when the Legislature held hearings in January is now a full-blown meltdown.A big part of the problem is the widespread use of subprime loans -- high-cost loans to people with weak credit. The Valley is especially thick with such loans. Almost 22% of home loans in Merced were subprime, highest in the state. Bakersfield, Modesto, Visalia and Fresno were close behind, all with rates above the national average of 14.7%. The result is costly: Three of the five U.S. regions with the highest projected foreclosure rates for subprime loans made last year are in the Valley, including Fresno. California should lead in providing solutions. But it's not.
UC Merced Chancellor Resigns
By Kaitlin Pike, Staff Writer
Issue 90 / Volume 86
UC Merced’s first and current Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey announced her plans yesterday to step down from the campus’ top position this summer, saying she wished to return to teaching and scholarship.Tomlinson-Keasey has held her position at the University of California’s 10th and newest campus since Aug. 1, 1999. In addition to witnessing UC Merced’s opening to roughly 900 students this past fall, the chancellor said she would stay to see its first graduation this spring, in which one undergraduate and one graduate student will walk.During a press conference yesterday afternoon, 63-year-old Tomlinson-Keasey said she felt confident that UC Merced’s administrators and faculty - all of whom she helped hire - would continue forming a quality education at the campus without her... She said she hopes to work on a book while on sabbatical about the planning, funding and construction of UC Merced...