Environment

"Narratives" Week #2: HSD

Submitted: Aug 22, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

"We were giving people false hope," Cardoza said. -- Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Pimlico Kid-Merced/Annapolis

Nobody was a more vocal booster for those false hopes out front and more engaged in backroom deals to benefit the real estate boom in the north San Joaquin Valley than Dennis Cardoza. He was of the little yapping Senorcito UC Merceds in the state Legislature and in Congress the author of three unsuccessful bills to gut the Endangered Species Act for the benefit of a handful of finance, insurance and real estate special interests in his district during the speculative real estate boom that has busted, catching tens of thousands of people in his district, who are now upside-down on their mortgages. Cardoza, his family and his social circle all benefitted from the speculation.

Since the real estate boom collapsed, Cardoza's public utterances have grown increasingly absurd. His attack on Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan is just one more example of his continual attempts to avoid the consequences of using his office to line his and his cronies' pockets.

Cardoza seems to think that HUD should be renamed HSD, Housing and Slurb Development.

Badlands Journal editorial board

 

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Environmentalism as "luxury good"

Submitted: Aug 08, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

The relationship between unemployment and environmental concern is treated in a paper by professors Matthew E. Kahn and Matthew J. Kotchen.

We suggest that "environmentalism" isn't a "good" of any sort. It is not a commodity any more than the people who have environmental concern, none at all, or some, are commodities. Nor is the environmental a "good," a commodity, except in the self-regulated, free market ideology of the two economists. They seem to have gotten so carried away with themselves that they fail to note what's most obvious: that high employment is linked to environmental destruction; high unemployment usually means that less environmental destruction is going on.

We are enjoying unusually good air quality this summer in the north San Joaquin Valley. However, we are anticipating the construction and operation of the WalMart distribution center within the next year or two. It will mean many, many trucks in town, which will permanently worsen our air quality, but a lot of jobs for construction and operation of the facility. With unemployment in Merced at Great Depression levels and with foreclosure rates still rising and home prices still falling, it's not much of a choice. But the people making the choice aren't thinking about "environmentalism" as a "good." In fact, people in this Valley generally know that asthma and respiratory disease are equal opportunity illnesses that attack rich and poor, employed and unemployed, and their young children and elderly parents alike.

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More bad news from MID

Submitted: Aug 01, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

This would have been a far more useful story if the reporter had bothered to ask and record the answers to these simple questions: did the California Environmental Protection Agency investigate the allegations against Merced Irrigation District? What did it find? What enforcement action was or might be taken? A quote "cannot comment because of an ongoing investigation" from CEPA would have added a nice symetry to the story.

As it is, what we have is a brief report of a legal brief filed on behalf of an aggrieved employee of MID and a whole lot of reporter dodging by an agency that finds it extremely difficult to comply with a California Public Records Act request.

MID's latest managing director is a member of the family of an MID board member who doesn't pay her bills. Director Suzy Hulgren parlayed a few public rants against Riverside Motorsports Park promoter, John Condren, lies and financial double-dealing into a seat on the board, with the help of the Merced County Farm Bureau and California Women for Agriculture. She was, however, unsuccessful as the frontwoman for the farm bureau and CWA in the attempt to bankrupt her partners in the RMP lawsuit, San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and Protect Our Water, or to financially damage two law firms, Don E. Mooney and Associates and Sproul and Troost, who represented the petitioners against the race track project.

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Comment on "And where is American democracy?"

Submitted: Jul 17, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

We received the following comment the other day about our posting on Sheldon Wolin's Democracy Inc.:

It's never been nor will it ever be a democracy.
"If voting made a difference it would be illegal." --Emma Goldman

Considering the source, we found the comment curious. The writer is listed as a supporter of the Merced County Citizen's right to vote on expansion of residential areas initiative, which, on its face and in its propaganda, appears to express the deepest faith in democracy.

The initiative was peddled in a petition drive in front of Merced County supermarkets as "The Initiative to Amend the General Plan of Merced County to Save Farmland and Open Spaces." Petition gatherers were provided a slick "summary" of the initiative that said it would save Merced County farmland and open space. In other written propaganda and public appearances, the paid and unpaid flacks for the initiative have stressed how "simple" the initiative is and how it will save farmland.

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And where is American democracy?

Submitted: Jul 15, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Reading Sheldon S. Wolin's Democracy Incorporated: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism, is an eery experience and so we are grateful for this lengthy review of the book, written by Chalmers Johnson, author of the Blowback Trilogy. It is an eery book in part because it was published in the last year of the reign of George II, and it conjures up that period in every paragraph. Wolin's knowledge of the history of American politics is so thorough that, in the course of holding up the Bush regime to the light of deep trends and themes in our political history, he redeems American political science in one book. Democracy Inc. justifies our curiosity, craving and desperation of knowledge of our own political system in a period in which it is even hard to see the mirrors for all the smoke. He reminds us of the courageous intellectual history and democratic tradition of American society until 30 years ago, and the inseparable bond of intellectual and political life as vital to democracy as democracy is to it.

We got interested in Wolin's book as a result of reading about it in columns by Chris Hedges, who interviewed Wolin for his latest book, Empire of Illusion.

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The problem of common sense

Submitted: Jul 01, 2010
By: 
Bill Hatch

At the end of June and an 18-month campaign, the Hun, our governor, and other legislative lackies of the finance, insurance and real estate interests, announced they will now try to rally enough votes to remove the $11-billion water bond from the November ballot. This after heroic efforts of bribery and corruption to get the proposition on the ballot last year. But that was then – “the third year of the drought” – and this is now, with 150 percent of normal snowpack melting in the Sierra.

 

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Not a boondoggle!

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Boondoggle -- a trivial, useless or wasteful expenditure, usually of public funds.

In the current economic climate, critics have suggested that high-speed rail is a boondoggle. They couldn't be more wrong. The lack of funding may slow down the project, but it will eventually become a reality.
Projects of this magnitude must not be stopped by economic cycles. Our economy will rebound and one day high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix.

At first we were reassured by these wise, confident words from the McClatchy Co.'s Fresno outlet. We also dismissed the cynical comment that Fresno won't call this project a boondoggle right up to the time some other Valley city is chosen for the site of the heavy maintenance yard. Virtually every city along the proposed routes are bidding for that yard because it would appear to be the most tangible benefit in the whole project.

Why, in fact, "high-speed rail will be an important part of California's transportation mix." Who or what power would ordain it to come into existence? Who is it that even wants it? Isn't it the same small group of leaders that believed to fervently against reality that the speculative housing boom would never bust? Isn't it the same group of brainwashed leaders who always say the same thing at the same time and hope to hoodwink the citizens into believing unison means truth?

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The Hun's electric train

Submitted: Jun 13, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Our Hun, a man of action tragically restrained by mere government throughout his political career, has decided to build a "demonstration"

high speed rail link between LA and San Diego.

"...Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger doesn't want to wait that long to give the state a taste of the European-style system..."

Baloney. Our Hun just wants to put his hand on the transformer and run a great big electric train somewhere in California before he retires.

Boosters for a high speed railroad from Los Angeles to San Francisco have been hustling federal funds for this train, claiming that it will be the longest, fastest high speed railroad in the nation and will produce hundreds of thousands of new jobs all along its route. We aren't quite clear on how permanent these jobs will be, but if this boon to employment were to arrive, it would no doubt draw even more people into the state and probably go some way to reinflating the speculative real estate bubble. In part the high speed rail would be a great benefit for commuters to the Bay Area from the Valley, which is why it has such ardent supporters among Valley cities with abundant empty homes for sale, cheap, and official unemployment rates around 20 percent.

There is contention over parts of the route and as usual with recent schemes like new University of California campuses and railroad boondoggles, Merced, which already has two major track systems running through it, is at the center of it.

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CEQA suit against backroom water deal

Submitted: Jun 04, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Ratepayers, Farmers, & Conservationists File Suit to

Block Southern Ag Water Grab

SANTA BARBARA,

 

Calif.Today groups are seeking to block a secret backroom deal signed by five water contractors along with the Department of Water Resources [DWR] toundo water contracts underlying voter approved bonds four decades earlier. Absent courtaction, contract changes that largely benefit southern central valley corporate irrigators atthe expense of urban ratepayers will trade away ratepayer funded projects and allowmassive diversions of water from the Delta charging only pumping costs. [C-WIN], one of the groups seeking decades of urban ratepayer protections for the benefit of a few agribusiness corporations and real estate developments at the expense of ratepayers

The back room deal, known as the ―M

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"Man-made" droughts and other absurdities

Submitted: May 05, 2010
By: 
Badlands Journal editorial board

Investor's Business Daily's recent portrait of the "man-made drought" in California is written in the idiotic tradition of that rag, which claimed last summer that the great British physicist who suffers from muscular distrophy, would be dead if he had been taken care of by the British National Health Service. Of course, he had been and credited the Service with keeping him alive.

IBD's Monica Showalter, who sees things that aren't there, writes: "On a springtime drive through the Central Valley, it's hard not to notice how federal and state governments are hell-bent on destroying the state's top export — almonds — and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland."

Assuming intent, what exactly would "federal and state governments ... hell-bent on destroying the state's top export -- almonds -- and everything else in the nation's most productive farmland" look like? We who live up here a hundred or so miles and a world away from Showalter's flakroom, do not see this. What we see is a 130-percent snow pack after three years of light rain and state and federal government water resource agencies raising weekly the estimate of how much water they can deliver for agricultural and metropolitan use.

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