Merced County

The corruption complex in Merced

Submitted: Dec 08, 2008
Badlands Journal editorial board

“In a government of law, the existence of the government will be imperiled if it fails to observe the law scrupulously. Our government is the potent, the omnipresent teacher. For good or for ill, it teaches the whole people by example. Crime is contagious. If the government becomes a lawbreaker, it breeds contempt for the law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy.” -- US Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, 1856-1941

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We were deeply struck by this ancient theme -- that the polis is the teacher of its citizens -- because it is as true now as it has always been.

But, what of that other institution so terribly important to the education of our citizens and others, our universities, specifically "the greatest public higher education research institution in the world" ... (listen to those trumpets blare) ... the University of California?

Is UC a good teacher?

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Things that are upside down

Submitted: Dec 01, 2008
Badlands Journal editorial board

Where are all the doomsayers of 2006? Those people, who said the speculative real estate boom could not last, were a kind of answer.

Their argument necessarily called for a governmental solution, a need for immediate, perhaps even drastic regulation of a bubble gone wild and spreading, via securitized debt, throughout the world. By 2007, the doomsayers were even saying that this could result in a global credit freeze. These days, they content themselves with documenting the damage.

Government didn't listen; it continued to enable the bubble. Today, the lame duck Bush administration is desperately trying to restore credibility to securitized credit debt at unbelievable, unimaginable but inadequate public expense, as wave upon wave of defaults, we are told, are yet to come -- more residential mortgage defaults, commercial mortgage defaults, credit card defaults. The ever-cheery mainstream press is beginning to scrape the bottom of the barrel to find credentialled prophets willing to predict even a mid-term reversal of economic bad news.

Obama promised Change! but we doubt he'd like to take any credit for the real changes happening.

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What if?

Submitted: Oct 14, 2008
Badlands Journal editorial board

The local McClatchy Chain outlets blared the good news this morning that the stock market rebounded yesterday. Hot damn! Today the Dow lost 110 points, the S&P 500 lost 1.2 percent and the Nasdaq composite lost 3.5 percent.

We didn't notice the list of foreclosure announcements was any shorter in the Merced Sun-Star. Yesterday, in fact, we noticed that the Sun-Star's publisher had received a notice on his $507,000 home in McSwain. Evidently, we’ve had a real estate speculator running the paper during most of the boom. Mr. Vander Veen must have believed the propaganda he has been publishing.

The only politician calling for a moratorium on foreclosures is Barak Obama, also the best funded presidential candidate. However, here in Merced, an Obama lawn sign from the campaign office is reported to cost $10, and a tee shirt, $25. Blue Dog idiocy at the wheel as usual.

Maryland's newest Blue Dog congressman, Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-formerly Merced, ought to stop down at the old U of M and have a chat with Herman Daly, a distinguished economist recently retired from the World Bank to the university department that once fostered the work of Mancur Olson. Olson is important to the Valley because without his theoretical guidance, Brooks Jackson would not have been able to write so clearly his illuminating study, Honest Graft (1990), a seminal, prophetic work on political corruption in Congress that focused on the career of former Rep. Tony Coelho, Michael Milken's Friend-Merced.

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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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