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ImageTen reasons you need to read, bookmark and share the new Monterey Bay Partisan blog and punch the FOLLOW button. Number 6 will curl your toes and Number 7, OMG!, you won’t believe your eyes!

1. No corporate money of any sort was used in the creation or production of the new Monterey Bay Partisan blog.

2. To at least some degree, the Monterey Bay Partisan blog will be expressing opinions that will match your own views, leaving you happy and smug, or that will clash with them so you will be energized by righteous indignation.

3. There are numerous elements to the blog that represent an only rudimentary understanding of blogging and links, etc., so if you know anything at all about this stuff, you’ll also go away feeling smarter.

4. If this blog becomes a really big deal, you can tell your friends you were among the very first to get hip to it. Or, if you prefer, hep to it.

5. Unlike those “newspapers” you used to read, we use type large enough to read.

Image6. Some of the people known to be hooked on the Monterey Bay Partisan already are quite attractive.

7. The 250th follower gets a Brand New Monterey Bay Partisan T-shirt!!!!

8. A rumor is about to start about Clint Eastwood planning a movie about the Partisan and the epic struggle that led to its launch. Image

photo copy 169. It is one of very few web sites that randomly tosses in something about water polo.

10. California American Water does not want you to become a follower of the Partisan.

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Open-water water polo

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Members of the Otter Bay Water Polo Club braved the open ocean at Del Monte Beach to demonstrate increasingly popular open-water polo. Monterey Herald photog David Royal went all out by donning his wetsuit so he could get some shots from within the action.

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When I was with the Monterey Herald, I ever-so-politely mentioned occasional lapses in judgment by those nice folks at the Carmel Pine Cone. That may or may not justify gentle suggestions to the Herald now that I am both the big and only cheese here at the Partisan. The uncertainly won’t stop me, however.

This suggestion involves letters to the editor in the Herald, two letters, to be precise. I’ll start with the second one, which was a reaction to the first. It was Zenon Obydzinski’s letter of Saturday June 28 in response to Judy Karas’ letter of June 17. Both were about  what is published on the Herald’s opinion page.

Obydzinski wrote, “In her ever-strong drive to impose censorship on views contrary to hers, Karas calls for banning columns of (conservatives) Charles Krauthammer and Robert Samuelson and demands more holy words from (liberal) Paul Krugman.” Emphasis added.

Obydzinski goes on to opine that for the likes of Karas “Freedom of speech should be reserved only to progressives and liberals, whatever that means.” He then compares her to Stalin and Lenin before recommending that she read the book The Totalitarian Temptation.

I only vaguely remembered the Karas letter but I was intrigued enough by Obydzinski;’s letter to go back and find it. Here’s what she wrote, the whole thing:

“I think readers would like more from Paul Krugman, less from Robert Samuelson and Charles Krauthammer. We are more liberal than conservative in this county, even if The Herald owners are of a conservative bent.”

I’ve read it a couple of times now and don’t see anything I would construe as demanding anything or proposing the banning of anything. I’d suggest that the Herald and Mr. Obydzinski apologize to Ms. Karas for playing twister with her letter, but I will refrain for fear that I, too, would be misinterpreted.

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I Pledge Allegiance to Desalination

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47985_10151612107346163_841450537_n 2When a water district or local government in California looks at water supply projects and determines that desalination is the way to go, the first question local taxpayers might want to ask is whether the agency is a member of CalDesal.

If it is, there’s a good chance the decision was made before the studies, before anyone looked at any other methodologies.

You probably haven’t heard of CalDesal. I’m a fairly serious student of California water issues and I hadn’t until Gary Patton mentioned it in his Land Use Report this week.

I’ll tell you more about the organization in a sec. First, though, I’d like to share its Desalination Pledge. Presumably the pledge has been taken by the entire membership, including 31 water private and public water purveyors, including our very own California American Water Co. and the city of Santa Cruz.

 “I believe that in order to continue to have sufficient safe and reliable water supplies to provide for public benefit throughout the state, California must consider and develop all viable water supply sources. Therefore desalination and salinity management technology should continue to be developed with the encouragement of the state, its agencies and its municipalities.”

I’m glad to see the pledge didn’t end with the words “at all costs.”

Desalination is and probably should be considered a proper component of the measures being taken to ease the water shortage in many parts of California. For better or worse, it is part of the path the Monterey Peninsula is on as we try to ward off a state-ordered cutback in water use. But, for me at least, the existence of CalDesal and its oath have a backfire effect.

  • Why does this expensive technology, which comes with some heavy environmental baggage, need a lobby?
  • Why don’t directors of the various member agencies, such as the giant Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, recognize that it looks funny for them to be paying into a group that also includes some 40 engineering firms, construction companies and others that would benefit handsomely from a boom in desalination projects?
  • Why do they need an oath?
  • Should someone write oaths to groundwater storage and recovery, conservation and wastewater treatment.

It’s no surprise that Cal Am is a CalDesal member. Several of the consulting and engineering firms it has worked with on the Monterey County desalination project are members. So is the Nossaman law firm in Sacramento, a key player in the continuing controversies over desalination’s past and future in Monterey County. As a private company, Cal Am isn’t constrained by the conflict-of-interest rules that govern public agencies, even if it is incorrectly listed in CalDesal paperwork as a public agency. Even so, here’s hoping the dues come out of profits instead of my water bill.

A quick effort to find out more about CalDesal turned up little. Its board chairman comes from a Southern California water district and its executive director, Ron Davis, formerly held the same position with the Association of California Water Agencies. That’s the group that worked closely with Cal Am to successfully fight the recent Measure O, which could have led to a public takeover of Cal Am.

I looked into the CalDesal address, looking for more clues. I expected to see that the group shared office space with the Association of California Water Agencies or the Nossaman firm. Instead, Suites 950 at 770 L St. in Sacramento is a glorified mail drop or, as they call them these days, a “virtual office.” As the sales literature says, “Impress your clients with a virtual address.”

I am impressed, though probably not the way they were hoping.

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Back in the pulpit

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For months now, I have been promising (threatening) to create a full-service news and opinion website, with lots of bells and whistles and community input. This is not it. Too complicated for a word guy. This will have to do for now.

Until February, I was editor of the Monterey Herald. I departed when the ownership, Digital First Media, decided that one editor could oversee news and opinion for both  the Herald and the Santa Cruz Sentinel. A tall order. Some days the drawbacks are not instantly apparent. Downsizing eventually may make it possible for the papers to have no editors at all. But despite the valiant effort of hardworking and exceptionally conscientious journalists at the Herald, the current formula there takes little account of  the community’s need for news, information, commentary  and scrutiny. All by myself, I can do painfully little to address that, but I’m hopeful that contributions from many others in the community can help fill some of the  gap.

On this blog, I plan to weigh in on local topics, primarily in the areas of politics and public policy. I’ll also throw some news on here now and again when I stumble onto something in the unemployment line. News items I have picked up recently, for instance, include Clyde Roberson’s candidacy for mayor of Monterey (corrects previous misstatement that he was running for a seat on the council) and the current filming of the final episode of Mad Men at a home in Big Sur.  (I had that item before the Weekly but had no place to put it.) For now, this blog is simply that. Just a blog. No sponsors, no advertisers, no hint of commerce. I have added a link to Gary Patton’s fine Land Use Report, what I hope to be the first of several links to locally relevant sites.

If the Monterey Bay Partisan becomes wildly successful, things likely will change, possibly to the point of including a hint of commerce. .Success usually leads to change, but so does failure. For now, just look here now and then for my efforts to fill in some of the blanks in local journalism. Don’t be surprised if some media criticism comes along, sooner rather than later, or if I weigh in on the upcoming campaigns. I suspect I’ll weigh in often on the sheriff’s race, pitting incumbent Scott Miller against Steve Bernal, who appears to be in the contest only because he’s a Republican and the local GOP bigwigs are hellbent in getting Republicans elected to local office no matter how unqualified they may be.

Oh, by the way, about the name. I picked it partly to ward off those who will read something here and accuse me of exhibiting bias. Maybe the name will alert them to the facts that, A., they  are correct and, B., that it is not a secret. I had thought about something even more descriptive, like Monterey Bay Online Pinko Rag, but it seemed too long. Or the Monterey Bay Impaler, but that seemed too aggressive. Briefly I thought about Mr. SmartyPants.com. Too flip. Out of the entire realm of possibilities, only the Monterey Bay Partisan remained.

And so we start. For my Facebook friends, look for updates there whenever something new is posted. I’ll also be tweeting and touting and whatevering Wish me luck. Wish us all luck.

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