Merced County

Low hanging fruit, Part II

Submitted: Sep 23, 2008
Badlands Journal Editorial Board

The articles below from the Merced Sun-Star tell a story about felony indictments brought against five people associated with Firm Build, a program started in 1998 to train "troubled teens" in construction trades. Merced County Planning Commissioner Rudy Buendia was or is still executive director of Firm Build, which went bankrupt months ago.

Buendia, charged originally with 15 felonies (later 17), according to the newspaper fled arrest and was a "fugitive" for two days before turning himself in with Kirk McAllister, Modesto criminal defense attorney, at his side.

Two of the five charged were arrested. It is unclear from reports if two others were arrested or turned themselves in. Two have posted bail and been released.

Buendia, the only reported fugitive, was released without paying bail on September 18 by Superior Court Judge McCabe. The judge's reasons included Buendia's clean record and that he personally knew seven of the 20 prominent people who wrote letters on Buendia's behalf. The board of supervisors is reported to have no plans of removing either Planning Commissioner Buendia or Patrick Bowman, on the board of the "troubled" Merced County Housing Authority and an official of the Merced County Office of Education, from the positions the board appointed them to.

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Raptor and POW file two suits to protect Merced River

Submitted: Aug 11, 2008

Press release: For Immediate Use !! ******* Press release: For Immediate Use !!

Raptor and POW file two suits to protect Merced River

MERCED (Aug. 11, 2008) — San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water (POW) filed two California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) lawsuits in Merced County Superior Court this week.

Petitioners sued Merced County, the Merced County Board of Supervisors and Christopher Robinson, alleging four arbitrary and capricious actions of abuse of discretion in approving a series of parcel splits.

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Cardboard babble on the outskirts

Submitted: Aug 11, 2008

(who moved his family to Washington DC, taking a physician from the famously medically underserved Valley with him, leaving a whole rooftop of solar panels behind)

Loose Lips: …Friday, Mar. 14, 2008
Is Cardoza abandoning the Valley?
Loose Lips readers, your congressman has left the zip code.
Lips has learned that the long-rumored move of Rep. Dennis Cardoza (D-Packing Up) is now a reality. Cardoza announced earlier this week that his family is moving from Atwater to Maryland.
“This was not an easy decision, but many members of Congress with young families move them to Washington,” said Cardoza’s wife, Kathy McLoughlin, in a written statement released Monday. “With Joey and Brittany entering high school in the fall, we believe this is the right time to have the family join Dennis in the Washington area. Even though he travels home each weekend, we miss him during the week and look forward to being together more.”

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Sunshine on defamation

Submitted: Aug 05, 2008

Badlands Journal continues its Sunshine period on local government with this series of correspondence regarding contributors to various lawsuits brought by the San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center through the years, particularly contributions made by the Kelsey Family.

From: SJRRC []
Sent: Friday, May 23, 2008 5:39 PM
Cc: San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center;; SJRRC
Subject: confidential memo from SJRRC

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax

Confidential Memo

May 23, 08

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Submitted: Aug 02, 2008

K. L. Whipp & Co. Inc.

731 E. Yosemite Ave., Site B
Merced, CA 95340

Phone: 209.723.6755
Fax: 209.723.0880

Professional Services:

Grant Writing & Management
Strategic and Business Planning
Economic Impact Studies & Marketing

Executive Services For:

Event Planning
Board Meetings
Focus Workshops
Event Fundraisers

July 31, 2008

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced CA 95341

RE: Request to remove our e-mail address(s) from you (sic) distribution lists

Dear Ms. Miller,

Over the past few months we have requested via email, that the SJRRC remove our email address(s) from your distribution list(s) that you use to inform your clients, associates, friend etc. (s) of various events. These events as general rule do not involve our company.

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Sunshine on MAGPI

Submitted: Jul 29, 2008

Although Badlands began its Sunshine Week (now stretching into Sunshine Month) with Merced County government issues, members of the editorial board have been attending Merced Area Groundwater Pool Interests (MAGPI) meetings since the inception of MAGPI several years ago. We have found these meetings extremely valuable for the amount of information about the Merced area water resources, but have continually been mystified by what, if any, public-process rules, regulations or laws MAGPI follows at any given point. Below, readers will find several months of correspondence concerning MAGPI’s latest product, a groundwater management plan update. In addition to letter subjects, we have bolded certain passages we found particularly interesting.

Nevertheless, although the topic doesn’t directly involve county government, to set the stage, we thought to provide readers with the county’s perspective on MAGPI.

Badlands Journal editorial board

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Sunshine on Shadow

Submitted: Jul 24, 2008

And he is too humble to take the responsibility for thinking. The whole structure of his world would be endangered if he permitted himself to think. The pieces must stick within their pattern or the whole thing collapses and the design is gone. We wonder whether in the present pattern the pieces are not straining to fall out of line; whether the paradoxes of our times are not finally mounting to a conclusion of ridiculousness that will make the whole structure collapse. For the paradoxes are becoming so great that leaders of people must be less and less intelligent to stand their own leadership. John Steinbeck, The Log from the Sea of Cortez (1941), p. 46.

The following essay developed in three parts: first, some general considerations about leadership; second, a short portrait of a phony leader; and finally a letter from a true Valley leader. The third part arrived only after the first two parts had been posted, as if to make our work more complicated but more complete. It is a letter from Lloyd Carter, Fresno-based director of the California Water Impact Network, to Rep. Grace Napolitano, chair of the House Subcommittee on Water and Power, regarding last Monday's subcommittee hearing in Fresno. It came to remind us not to forget contemporary people of principle in the Valley, although sometimes it seems that all we hear is unprincipled flak. With this third update of "Sunshine on Shadow," we think our work might be done. -ed.

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Sunshine on Housing Authority of Merced County

Submitted: Jul 21, 2008

Continued from: node/474

Sent: 3/31/2008 10:55:31 A.M. Pacific Daylight Time
Subj: Request to view active files pertaining to Felix Torres

Mr. Khiek and Mr. Gabriele,

On March 28, 2008, we received an email from Mr. Gabriele. In the body of the email was a reference to our potential request to view all files associated with the Felix Torres Child Development Center. We are confirming in this email our right to view these files.

In a previously scheduled meeting, we had incorrectly anticipated the timing of a Hearing Officer hearing. Typically, they have lasted between 30 minutes to one hour — this particular hearing ran nearly 2 hours - in which we were actively participating (February 25, 2008). As a result, Mr. Khiek, seems to have interpreted our actions as disrespectful to staff as we were late for our appointment (we met him after the meeting was over). Unfortunately, despite our good faith attempts, we have been unable to accurately predict the duration of County hearings — no disrespect to staff time, it is/was beyond our control.

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Sunshine on RMP

Submitted: Jul 18, 2008

Badlands is declaring the coming days a Sunshine Week to post a number of documents submitted to Merced County government in the last few months. Some of these documents have been included in the official packets of information for Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission meetings. Others have been suppressed.
This material is best understood by reference to the audio or video archives of supervisors’ and planning commission meetings and we encourage readers seriously interested in understanding their local government to go to the Merced County webpage,, to seek out these hearings, particularly the two board of supervisors meetings on July 1 and July 8.

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