Merced County

Sauve qui peut

Submitted: Jun 15, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

*Sauve qui peut -- French: "Save who can," a disorderly retreat.

A very fancy corporate consulting firm announced recently that Merced would lead the way out of recession in the north San Joaquin Valley because of UC Merced. As intrepid Modesto Bee business reporter J.N. Sbranti noted, the fancy new economic model unveiled by the consultants from outer space failed to include the foreclosure rate. This blip failed to live up to the big shot firm’s slogan: “Bringing you the power of perspective.”

There is another problem hovering beyond the dreams of developers, for whom UC Merced is the anchor tenant. Merced is the second largest milk-producing county in the nation. Stanislaus is ranked third. Milk prices have been in drastic decline for six months. The anecdotal figures one hears range from losses of $30,000 to $100,000 per dairy per month, depending on size. There is a report that feed suppliers cut off feed for 60 dairies in recent weeks.

Unlike most of the nation, California -- ranked #1 in milk production, producing about a third of the total national supply -- has its own milk marketing order and sets its own prices. Three components of the California milk-price formula are related to the same indices used by the feds: the prices of block cheddar, bulk butter and non-fat dry milk on the Chicago Mercantile Exchange. The fourth and highest-value component to the price is the fluid milk pool.

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When East is East and West is West, who pays the bills?

Submitted: Jun 14, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

As the inveterate, hairy-chested managing editor of the Sun-Star heads off to embeddedment in Iraq again (because a female reporter went twice!), Tom Frazier asks real questions about a local issue: Who is paying for the Michelle Obama event? While the Imperial Tharp is Inshalla-ing to a fair-the-well about his upcoming war junket, Frazier is calling out the imaginary “feral dogs” of the press to find out what happened. Yo, Frazier, there are no feral dogs of the local press. They all been bought by UC Merced so long ago few still remember the UC inserts that once a month paid the bills back in the late 1990s. And the tame dogs of the local press are all bouncing their heads off the pavement and crying “Inshalla.” We would believe in Tharp’s conversion to Islam if he were going to what Genl. Petraeus even calls “the graveyard of empires,” Afghanistan.
But who cares where Tharp goes at all? Presumably McClatchy and the University of California – just as long as the Sun-Star doesn’t provide the answers to the embarrassing questions Frazier is asking.

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Baker's common sense economic journalism

Submitted: Jun 06, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Dean Baker has always been good at explaining in terms of common sense why the speculative housing boom was extremely dangerous and completely unsustainable. By "common sense," we mean that Baker has covered this story for years using his training as a professional economist, using facts instead of advertising or blind academic free-market dogma, and bringing to his stories a humane perspective grounded in what all this means to ordinary working people.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

 

June 3, 2009
CounterPunch.com

Cheerleading the Recovery
Reporters With Pom-Poms
By DEAN BAKER
http://www.counterpunch.com/baker06032009.html
Last week we got a whole series of bad reports on the state of the economy. New and existing home sales both remain near their lowest level for the downturn, as house prices continue to drop at the rate of 2.0 percent a month. New orders for capital goods, a key measure of investment demand, fell by 2.0 percent in April. Excluding the volatile transportation sector, new orders were still down by 1.5 percent.

On Friday, the Chicago Purchasing Managers Index fell by more than 5 percentage points from its April level, approaching its low for the downturn. The employment component of the index did hit a new low.

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Michelle in Merced

Submitted: May 28, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

Here in Merced CA, where some of us have been doing environmental work for 30 years, we supported Obama for historical reasons, held out vague hopes for national and international improvement, and stayed focused on our local issues.

 

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The dogs bark but the caravan moves on

Submitted: May 18, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

As Badlands pointed out recently, there is a new young couple among the Valley's witless Democratic congressmen, the Costoza, replacing the Pomboza, which met a timely demise with the dis-election of former Rep. Richard Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy, in 2006. The swing man in both duos is Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Annapolis MD, who still claims to represent the 18th Congressional District of California, which includes three cities with some of the worst foreclosure rates in America, Merced, Modesto and Stockton and one county, Merced, with the second highest unemployment rate in the nation this month.

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Golden Bobcatbucks

Submitted: May 13, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The Badlands Journal editorial board was concerned about how UC Merced would pay for Michelle Obama's visit this Saturday. We are great fans of Mrs. Obama and would not like to see the glory of her visit tarnished by any more unpaid debts owed by UC Merced.  

Asking around, we were told that the Oldest Living Valley Advanceman would know how such glorious events actually worked. We found him in a 6-bedroom McMansion recently repurchased on the courthouse steps and reopened as a Home for Old Hacks.  We asked Mr. Oldest how it was done Back in the Day When California was This Great Big Number One State of Ours and before it became the Basket State.

"First," he said, "realize that your national advance teams do not give a (bleep) about how you pay for anything. Second, on a deal like this from the White House, you exist to obey. Third, the people who will hound you to your grave are the patriotic bunting dealers. You can probably make a deal with most of the other vendors or providers, but do not cross the bunting people."

He shook a fist full of angry-looking letters in our face.

"And I been out of the game since early '75," he said.

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Your local "high-tech, bio-tech engine for growth" at work

Submitted: May 09, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Speak Memory: During the entire run-up to approval of UC Merced and construction of its first phase, including all the bogus environmental review documents and the illegal water and sewer hookups with the City of Merced, boosters from the Regents to UC presidents Roger Atkinson and Robert Dynes, UC Merced's first chancellor, Carol Tomlinson-Keasey ("the Cowgirl Chancellor"),  representatives Gary Condit and Dennis Cardoza and their talented staffs, former state Sen. Dick Monteith (who declared the campus a "done deal" before it was, actually, a done deal), every realtor, bank and local land owner and local elected official (if a distinction between these classes can be discerned), every planner, our own Sonny Star, the local gigolo press, and most of all, the Great Valley Center (now a UC Merced partner), declared that the campus would be a "high-tech, bio-tech engine for growth in the San Joaquin Valley." We were promised another Silicon Valley right on the banks of Bear Creek, bright young things full of bright young ideas would be starting companies right and left, so we had to build proper housing for them here, there, and everywhere.

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Education to Elegance with a Sprit of Tradition

Submitted: May 03, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The now famous UC Merced Valentine campaign to invite First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at the May 16 commencement exercises featured the following legend, found at this link:

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/v-story_images/story/684187.html

Education to Elegance with a Sprit of Tradition
UC Merced Commencment May 16, 2009

Since, as we say in the press, this message had pass through many sets of eyes, we wondered if "sprit" had an academic meaning that has escaped us all these years. However, the only definition we could find was:

sprit: a spar that crosses a fore-and-aft sail diagonally. (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

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Education to Elegance with a Sprit of Tradition

Submitted: May 03, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

 

The now famous UC Merced Valentine campaign to invite First Lady Michelle Obama to speak at the May 16 commencement exercises featured the following legend, found at this link:

http://www.mercedsunstar.com/167/v-story_images/story/684187.html

Education to Elegance with a Sprit of Tradition
UC Merced Commencment May 16, 2009

Since, as we say in the press, this message had pass through many sets of eyes, we wondered if "sprit" had an academic meaning that has escaped us all these years. However, the only definition we could find was:

sprit: a spar that crosses a fore-and-aft sail diagonally. (Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary)

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Something about 40 roosters

Submitted: Apr 25, 2009
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We were curious about an agenda item for the Merced County Planning Commission that appeared in late February: "To permit (legalize) the raising of up to 40 roosters as a hobby and occasional sales, on a 9.7 acre parcel."

When we read further, we realized we'd passed this rooster ranch in Stevinson not long before and had commented that someone must be raising fighting cocks on the site. There seemed no other explanation for a field full of little pens holding individual roosters that did not look like White Leghorns or Plymouth Barred Rocks, Rhode Island Reds, Araucanas, Banties or any other typical barnyard variety of chicken. They looked like gamecocks. It was our general impression that cockfighting is supposed to be illegal in California, although it is a law widely disobeyed since its passage. We were also aware of something of a campaign against raising gamefowl in the county in recent years and a number of cockfight busts. So, we, the perpetually ignorant public, wondered what this agenda item could be doing in front of the planning commission rather than on the Sheriff's blotter. We asked someone at a county office about it, but she just rolled her eyes and said she didn't always read the documents she distributed.

Members of the public called the editorial board and suggested they watch the video of the planning commission meeting. They said it was one of the most mysterious moments they had ever witnessed in local government.

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