Last week the eastern Merced County Integrated Regional Water Management Plan meeting (pronounced "Ear-Wimp") was edified by an hour-long report scheduled for 15 minutes by Merced Irrigation District. It was presented by the speaker as a word-by-word repeat of MID's recitation before the state Water Quality Control Board in protest against the state's proposal to increase the flow of the Merced River to 35 percent of natural flow between the months of February and June for the benefit of certain species of salmon. The water board is proposing the same increase in flow for the Tuolumne and Stanislaus rivers, causing howls of protest in concert with Merced from the Turlock and Modesto irrigation districts.
This proposal was presented to the state and the assembled earwimpers as the worst thing since the boll weevil, brown rot and foot-and-mouth disease. The foundation of the district's argument was that it was going to destroy "thousands of small farmers in Merced County." The average size of a Merced County farm was declared by MID to be 49 acres.Read More »
In its annual article of self-congratulation called "Sunshine Week," the McClatchy Co. local outlet, the Merced Sun-Star finished with the following errant graphs:
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Acknowledging local efforts
In Merced County, government agencies generally do a good job of getting out the word about public meetings and posting agendas on websites, even making printed copies available in a timely way.
Law enforcement agencies also make a solid effort to get out information about crime and other incidents in the various communities, especially if they deem such information important for public safety. The district attorney's office goes the extra mile to honor requests for public records about court cases.
When it comes to public records requests, government agencies generally respond within the allotted time -- often, but not always, providing the desired documents or records.
Merced County voting rights ruling to affect Valley agencies…Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau…2-24-13
WASHINGTON -- A Merced County legal victory has unexpectedly pulled it into one of the biggest U.S. Supreme Court cases in years.
The county's 2012 triumph was to successfully bail out from federal control under the Voting Rights Act. But now some conservative skeptics charge that legal victory was tainted by Justice Department politics.
The claims, in turn, compelled the county to invest in a Supreme Court brief to defend itself in advance of a key court argument on Wednesday.
"The county was surprised to become a subject of discussion in the (voting rights) case," Merced County Counsel James N. Fincher said Friday. "One of the reasons the county chose to pursue the bailout was to avoid being a political football in unrelated legal battles."
The bailout, or escape, from certain Voting Rights Act obligations means Merced County and some 84 political entities included within it, from school districts to city councils, no longer need Justice Department permission before making voting-related changes. A three-judge panel approved the bailout in August after the Justice Department assented following a two-year study.
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College students, starting in small colleges in New England but in a movement quickly growing, are pressuring high education administrators and boards of trustees to divest investment in fossil fuel corporations.
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Prickly pear cactus, a salt-tolerant crop, naturally produces antioxidant rich fruit and adding selenium makes it even healthier. (Selenium is essential to good health in small amounts.) But even with mineral absorption from cacti and other salt-loving plants, eventually, it all gets super concentrated, and Diener ends up with a big pile of salt on his ranch, which is the case for many farms on the west side. Water supplied by the federal and state projects brings the equivalent of 40 railroad cars of salt into the area every day, about 4,000 tons of salt daily.
But there's a practical lesson in those stats on why it's smart to hit the books: The estimated median annual earnings for someone with a bachelor's degree is around $50,846, almost double the $26,834 of someone with a high school diploma. -- Merced Sun-Star editorial board, 1-12-13.
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