Below, you'll find a few articles on the Westlands/Bureau of Reclamation deal. As is often the case with California water stories in recent years, the best reporting is done by Dan Bacher, who grew out of reporting on good fishing spots in the Delta to become one of the few fact-based voices in the bug swarm of flak hovering above the surface of water issues in this state.Read More »
It's not really a divorce...
The Westlands Water District, which provides water to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. This region is an area of polluted quick sand which devours other peoples' water, law and political representatives from the local to the federal levels, in fact devours everything but the fortunes of a plutocracy of several hundred growers.
Ordinarily we would have prefaced the newspaper account of this latest secret deal-made public between Westlands and the federal government, but there appeared such an eloquent letter in opposition from retired US Fish & Wildlife biologist, Felix Smith, that it outranked the Fresno Bee piece. The latter was a boiled over wire-service story no one was willing to sign. To give an idea of who Smith is, we prefaced his letter with a moment in his biography.Read More »
The arrival of the date 9/11 again was the occasion for a number of reflective essays in the press and on the Net. Few of them outlasted their current news cycle.
9-8-15Read More »
After a few months of relative order, the Merced City Council went off the rails again Tuesday night. The rhetoric of desperate sleaze prevailed as councilmen tried to explain to us that now that a closed door, ad hoc committee not subject to the state rules of public meetings had chosen a consultant to plan the new high speed railroad station downtown, to the tune of $664,150 in public funds, now great plans will be made for public outreach and education.
The $664,150 comes from a $600,000 planning grant from the High Speed Rail Authority and $200,000 in matching funds from the City of Merced's general fund.Read More »
"You know once it starts to settle, you can't get that space back," Valles said. -- KERO, Sept. 8,2015
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When drought, overdraft and the demographic and economic decline of the state's population are added up, it wouldn't seem like the ideal time to jump start the California economy with another building boom.
But "economic growth" in California has meant, for as long as people have been obsessed with the term, construction of more housing and commercial space. Although construction has still not regained its golden moment of totally reckless frenzy, we can be certain that the allure of rock-bottom lumber prices will raise the animal spirits of our speculative Interests -- finance, insurance and real estate. Note how the good economics professor and the real estate industry are at one in their moral enthusiasm for growth, that "virtuous cycle" that may only be interrupted by the death of the planet.Read More »
We've assembled over the years enough articles on drought, California water and global warming to fill several books. Our aim was to inform and raise questions. As the drought grows worse -- news of larger forest fires and more dry wells -- lately the media seems to be trying to project a sense of perspective at this point. But they, and the politicians they quote and the scientists they paraphrase do not appear to be doing a very good job.
We wondered, for example, if it would destroy public confidence in the wisdom of The Interests (finance, insurance and real estate) in California, if we dared to say global warming and the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta in the same sentence.Read More »
It is too easy to imagine that section of the Eighth Ring of Hell reserved for the lawyers representing California irrigation districts. The lawyers wander across the arid dunes constantly treading on their long tongues, cracked and bleeding. Yet agribusiness mouthpieces still mutter their favorite phrase: "achieving a reasonable balance."
Vultures from a large flock eternally wheeling overhead swoop down and rip the tongues from the lawyers' mouths. The rhetoric is cut short for awhile but only as long as it takes new tongues, like lizards' tails, to regrow.
Round and round it goes, coming around and going around.
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There are a couple of simple quetions omitted from this story that might have made the resident of Merced interested or even concerned about the future of the proposed high speed railroad station that will gut the downtown area a little better informed.
1. Doesn't the reason for the ad hoc committee have less to do with "expertise," which was alleged subject of the discussion at the last Merced City Council meeting,. than with its lack of transparency? So they spend several hundred thousand of some other governmental agency's money on consultants. So what? For years CH2MHill made more than a million dollars recycling essentially the same report of the state of our sewer system, mired in water-quality board cease and desist orders, for years. Did it stop the city from approving construction projects, even if they never got built?Read More »
The press is beginning to toss around figures of the billions lost by California agribusiness due to the drought. The current figure is $1.84 billion to agriculture alone, total costs around $2.74 billion.
Estimated losses to migrant labor are harder to find because los trabajadores internacionales migrate elsewhere in times of drought. Their "anecdotal information" is almost always more accurate than the professors, but they don't care about gross figures. If at all possible they will avoid becoming part of " the ripple effects to the entire economy." They aren't as tied to California real estate as a UC professor is, probably because they can't access UC's great low interest loan programs for professors and administrators.Read More »