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Clean Drinking Water The water supply drama continues. Key urban and agriculture representatives continue to hammer away at a mutually beneficial agreement for using industrial wastewater. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District continues slowly to fortify a backup plan for a desal source if Cal Am falters. It is working with Deep Water Desal on a plan for desalted ocean water at Moss Landing.

Then there is Cal Am’s desal proposal, using slant wells north of Marina. This project is supported by the Mayors Water Authority, most elected officials, and about 16 other interested parties in a settlement agreement that was filed about 18 months ago with the California Public Utilities Commission. I am one of those parties, but I have always been baffled by Cal Am’s insistence on proceeding with slant wells, inland wells drilled on an angle to take in seawater for desalting. Though the technology is intended to minimize the intake of sea life, it is a novel and risky approach with high costs. Why is Cal Am taking this approach? What strengthens Cal Am’s resolve? There are several angles to the issue:

  • Slant wells for potable desal are not operational anywhere in the United States.  Cal Am claimed in a recent report that they are in use in Europe, but it has failed identify any. There is one extensive test site in Orange County with 14 years of effort and test data, but it is not operational.
  • Cal Am has no new water rights anywhere along our coast, and has not applied for any. However it continues to collect data in the Marina area to bolster its plan for slant wells.
  • It appears that Cal Am will use the data and the local water-supply crisis to justify an argument for a “physical solution” (the idea that practical considerations might bypass existing law). However the state Supreme Court disavowed the physical solution argument in a 2000 decision. Will Cal Am challenge that decision and add litigation costs and delay, thus avoiding the need for obtaining water rights?
  • The environmental impact report for the failed regional desal project praised slant wells as the “environmentally superior alternative.” Thus slant wells give Cal Am the imprimatur of protecting the environment.
  • However there are no state requirements for subsurface intakes (slant wells). Granted two very important state agencies – the State Water Resources Control Board and the Coastal Commission – have expressed preference for slant wells as an environmentally superior option, if feasible. There are not extensive criteria for determining “feasibility,” however. There needs to be some practical limit on the cost and amount of time spent on evaluating feasibility. This is a discretionary and subjective determination. So far, we have left it in the hands of Cal Am.
  • Cal Am has built momentum for slant wells to the point that continued investment will be proposed so as to not waste the prior investment. This is a slippery slope.
  • The city of Santa Cruz studied and rejected slant wells as too complicated and too costly.
  • Cal Am ratepayers have paid the full bill for stranded costs from prior Cal Am failures—totaling about $32 million so far, and with another $20 million on the line in legal proceedings ($15 million to $18 million is at stake in litigation with Marina Coast Water District and $3.4 million is at stake in litigation with Monterey County. Ratepayers will be outraged if another failure leads to more stranded costs on our bills. So far the bill for slant wells is probably under $10 million.
  • The mayors have stated that “failure is not an option” on the desalination front. Is this failure of Cal Am, or failure to obtain a new water supply? These two are not linked, or are they?

So why is Cal Am so determined to go the extra mile for slant wells? The answer is “tuck ins.”

Call Public Water Now paranoid, but we see a connection between this project and the defeat of Measure O, which was meant to lead to public ownership of Cal Am’s local operations. Cal Am spent an enormous amount of money to campaign against the measure — about $2.3 million — to protect its local interest. It proved the point that Public Water Now has been making, that the Monterey Peninsula is a cash cow for Cal Am and its parent company, American Water Works.

Public Water Now recently connected the dots with language from Cal Am’s corporate holding company, American Water Works. Its 10-K filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission for 2013 describes the corporate growth strategy to be “tuck ins.”

“Growth of service providers in the investor-owned regulated utility sector is achieved through organic growth within a franchise area, the provision of bulk water services to other community water systems and/or acquisitions, including small water and wastewater systems, typically serving fewer than 10,000 customers that are in close geographic proximity to already established regulated operations, which we herein refer to as “tuck ins.”

—American Water Works 10-K filing with SEC for 2013, page 4.

This national corporate growth policy called “tuck ins,” further documented in other SEC filings, is intended to establish water supply ownership/control/dominance in smaller communities as a prelude to serving the growth potential of that community. PWN contends that Cal Am is overly exuberant for slant wells for one dominant reason: it gives Cal Am a permanent foothold next door to Fort Ord, the Peninsula’s only site of predictable growth in the future.

Now it seems clear why Cal Am is so determined to capture the CEMEX site for slant wells. It is using the fragile justification for slant wells to establish itself in the Fort Ord service area. And do not think its legal battle over the $15 million to $18 million debt of Marina Coast Water District is not playing into this calculus.

This national corporate policy to use “tuck ins” for growth should be a concern to Marina, other Fort Ord interests, and the wider community. It sure will be to ratepayers.

Riley is the managing director of Public Water Now and a longtime advocate for public ownership of water utilities.

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Read This Unless You Like High Water Bills

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????Should large commercial and industrial concerns on the Monterey Peninsula receive preferential water rates, lower than the rates paid by California American Water Co.’s residential customers?

It is a fairly simple question but there’s nothing simple about getting it before the public for meaningful discussion. The public was shielded from the process before the special commercial rates were enacted a year ago. Now, a public forum on the issue may or may not take place Oct. 13 in Monterey. Cal Am seems to have agreed to take part but hotel industry representatives aren’t so sure they want to see that happen.

Some background, and then you decide for yourself what to make of it.

Since last October, the hotel industry and other large water users have enjoyed a price break that was negotiated in private by Cal Am, industry representatives and the California Public Utilities Commission. The Monterey Peninsula Water Management District was also involved in the discussions though its role isn’t entirely clear.

The business interests wisely recognized that Cal Am rates were headed up and nothing but up over the next several years. They feared, among other things, that the cost of the proposed desalination plant plus other efforts would double or triple their water rates, potentially devastating the hospitality industry and others with heavy water needs. So they banded together as a coalition of big water users, hired accountants, lawyers and other representatives, and created a price structure based on flat rates, as opposed to the tiered rates that are intended to promote conservation among residential water customers. They also managed to get for themselves relatively low rates for any businesses claiming to have taken significant conservation measures. No proof required.

It is entirely possible, of course, that special water rates for private industry is in everyone’s best interest. The “What’s Good for GM” argument. If higher water costs resulted in hotel closures, higher hospital bills and lower taxable income for some enterprises, the impact on the entire Peninsula could be more harmful than relatively high water bills for residents. Presumably that was a big part of the pitch the business community made to the Public Utilities Commission, but there’s no real way to tell. There’s also no way to tell whether anyone responded on behalf of the residents’ interests or was allowed to join into the cost-benefit analysis.

As of last October, the steeply tiered rate structure for residential customers on the Peninsula started at 56 cents for the first 100 gallons supplied to a household with minimal water usage.

For a household on the other end of the conservation spectrum, a household irrigating significant landscaping and doing little to keep use down, the rate potentially topped out 10 times higher, $5.65 per 100 gallons, not counting various surcharges. The rates at the high end help explain the well-publicized cases of monster water bills for households experiencing water leaks or phantom usage. (These figures come from Cal Am’s public rate schedules from a year ago so they could be both out of date and overly simplified, but they remain useful for comparison purposes.)

Until last October, commercial users were charged one price if they kept their water use below a monthly allotment based on type of business, past usage and size. They were charged a higher price if they exceeded their allotment.

Since last October, the rates for commercial users have started at 89 cents per 100 gallons, higher than the bottom-tier residential rate. That is for commercial users who do relatively little irrigation and who submit paperwork claiming they have adopted solid conservation techniques.

Enterprises with irrigation requirements closer to average pay a rate about 12 percent more. Those that irrigate more than 10 percent of their property, and who claim to be fully compliant with best conservation practices, pay about 12 percent on top of that, or about $1.11 per 100 gallon.

For practical purposes, that makes $1.10 per 100 gallons the highest effective commercial water rate, as compared to $5.65 for residential users. Technically there is a higher commercial rate, more than $2 per 100 gallons, but that is only for businesses that don’t even claim to be following good conservation practices. It seems unlikely that any business would remain at that level for more than one month. Even those businesses would be paying less than half as much per unit as residences at the highest tier.

(For commercial users, the new rate structure actually uses 75 gallons as the standard unit of measurement rather than the 100 gallons in place for residential users. It has been suggested by cynics that it is meant to make comparisons more difficult.)

When the Public Utilities Commission approved the special commercial rates, there was little publicity beyond a news article and an editorial in the Monterey Herald. I wrote the editorial, raising questions about the different rate structure and the process used to create it. Personally, I received only one call of complaint. It was from  Mike Zimmerman, who is now the chief operating officer for the Cannery Row Co. He said he would set up a meeting to discuss the issue and would call back. He didn’t.

I speculated at the time that the hotel industry decided to go low-profile, hoping the rate structure not receive much attention. I suspect that may still be the case.

The issue finally began generating some interest earlier this year during the campaign over Measure O, which would have started a formal effort toward a public takeover of Cal Am. Now, Public Water Now is pushing for some public discussion of the rates and the ramifications. Public Water Now, by the way, was not daunted by Measure O’s failure and is continuing its public-ownership effort.

Plans for the Oct. 13 session apparently grew out of an Aug. 19 Monterey City Council session in which Cal Am representatives made some sort of a presentation about rates. The minutes don’t reflect exactly what was said, but some went away believing that Cal Am was on board for a wider ranging discussion of rates of all types. Out of that session, Public Water Now’s George Riley proposed an October workshop on the topic of commercial vs. residential rates. An exchange of emails since then seems to put the idea in question, however.

In one, John Narigi of the Monterey Plaza Hotel told Riley that Cal Am had not agreed to a discussion involving the commercial rates.

“It was an agreement to discuss and provide additional information/education regarding the current rates for residents and answer additional questions regarding this specific topic,” Narigi wrote.“You are now asking for a panel discussion on ‘whatever topics the parties want and would assume the public as well’??? Please provide an honest and accurate agenda so we the coalition can decide if there is even a need or desire to participate.”

The coalition Narigi mentioned is the Coalition of Peninsula Businesses, headed by the Monterey County Hospitality Association.

In an email to Narigi, Ron Weitzman of the WaterPlus group said his understanding was that the discussion would involve both commercial and residential rates.

“There are obviously two sides to the issue. To hear only one side would be propaganda, not education,” wrote Weitzman. “…We do not question your need to be rid of the tiered rate structure. Residential ratepayers would also like to be rid of it … .”

So there you are. See you at Monterey City Hall on Oct. 13. Or not. The hotel industry will let us know.

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医療スタッフTensions will remain high at Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital until the directors understand the role of the unions and recognize that hospital employees are already contributing as much as the board and the CEO.

As expressed in a recent column by board Chairman Harry Wardwell, the leadership seems surprised that the union isn’t simply acquiescing to a plan to lay off as many as 120 people, including 54 registered nurses. They seem surprised even though the CEO, Pete Delgado, received a $177,000 raise just two months ago.

“Unfortunately, the unions representing some of the employees at SVMHS are using this time of difficult decisions to criticize the administration rather than helping to be a part of the solution,” Wardwell wrote in the Salinas Californian.

“It is my hope that everyone will work together to determine the best way forward. It is in the best interest of Salinas Valley Memorial, and it is in the best interest of our community.”

Wardwell can hope all he wants but it won’t lead anywhere until he understands the situation from the perspective of the employees and the unions. Of course the employees want what is best for the hospital, the community and the patients. That’s because it’s the right thing and because that’s in their best interest. Every day, most of the employees go above and beyond on behalf of the patients. But they cannot be expected to meekly let the administration put all the budget-cutting burden on their backs, something that has happened year after year.

Of course the employees and the unions resent Delgado’s raise, especially coming right before another round of painful belt tightening. Of course the unions are complaining. Their job is to protect the employees, not to help undo years of bad management and reckless spending. To suggest that the employees are letting down the hospital and the community is another example of tone deafness at the top.

The story of the previous CEO, Sam Downing, is well known. He left the hospital in shaky financial shape but retired with a $150,000 annual pension and a special supplemental pension fund of $3.9 million. The hospital board repeatedly denied the existence of that fund, which only came to light because of a Los Angeles Times investigation. Were Downing’s pension and other perks in the best interest of the hospital and the community?

Now, the hospital is following the lead of thousands of short-sighted corporations that manage to meet annual profit goals principally by cutting employees and expenses. The top executives receive raises or generous bonuses merely by eliminating people, which is considerably easier than finding ways to increase revenues by improving or expanding services. The hospital, like so many comatose corporations, could be setting itself on a course of declining expectations and results.

At the same time, the hospital also plans to convert most of its patient rooms from doubles to singles, which would reduce patient load and allow staff cuts while enabling the facility to charge higher room rates.

One special problem for Salinas Valley is that many of its part time nurses receive full-time benefits, a function of the time not long ago when hospitals were having a hard time finding nurses. The administration proposes to end that by converting most of the part-time jobs to full time. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as their union has a real say in how it works.

The economy, the advent of the Affordable Care Act and numerous other factors make these tough times for the hospital industry. Wardwell, Delgado and everyone else at Salinas Valley face large challenges. It very likely is true that downsizing is necessary because of the economic realities. If so, the administration should focus on making the process as painless as possible, starting with the recognition that the employees and the union should be partners in the process. To marginalize them or cast them as villains is not in the best interests of the hospital or the community.

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How Facebook Made Me Promiscuous

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Puppy of an English bulldogBack in the good old days of newspapering, editors could measure a writer’s productivity by counting bylines, but it was considered bad form. It unfairly equated routine accounts with ambitious explorations of corruption or villainy.

In the more recent days of computerized journalism, it became easier for editors to track volume. Because there are fewer ambitious explorations of anything, the fairness factor has become less of an issue. Productivity is easily measured and so is most everything else involved in the production of news. Even keystrokes can be counted and, more ominously, editors are presented with a daily accounting of how many readers have chosen to read each article. Giving readers only what they think they want is not a cure to journalism’s decline.

Reporters quickly learned that ambitious explorations attract a good number of “hits,” signaling that readers had clicked on the online version of an account. They just as quickly learned, however, that stories about lost puppies or anything involving sex attract more hits. Journalists adapted and began referring to themselves as “click whores.” Having been escorted out of print and into the zippy new world of cyberjournalism, I find myself  paying less attention to the quality of my output because I get wrapped up in the numbers even though I know it could lead to the sexualization of puppies. The website program in which the Partisan resides can count and even graph the number of hits each article receives. It instantly compares today’s offering to yesterday’s and makes suggestions on how to write headlines that would attract more clicks. According to it, I probably should start following this format: “Desalination Plan Stalls Again. Puppies. Sex.”

As I have warned before, I am embarking on a plan to solicit sponsors to help cover the Partisan’s expenses. (By sponsors, I’m talking about NPR-style, nice-people-with-money type sponsors and not Big O Tires). While gearing up for that, I have been attempting to get the Partisan’s numbers up to a respectable level, which has meant putting figurative puppies into the headlines and trying to pick worthwhile topics not entirely boring. But with an advertising budget of zero and a promotions staff half that size, my marketing effort for now consists of Twitter and Facebook. Which is why I have become a truly promiscuous Facebook friender. Most likely, you are reading this because you received a link to the Partisan on your Facebook page. You have fallen into my trap, and so have I.

In the early days of Facebook, I wrote a Monterey Herald column about the Facebook phenomenon. I mentioned at that time that I had something like 60 friends and I noted that it was not true. I can count my true friends on two hands. Now I claim well over 1,700, and I expect to reach 1,800 by the end of the month. Apparently becoming proprietor of the Partisan has made me much more likeable. If I didn’t know otherwise, the numbers might even suggest I had developed some charm.

Early on in my new incarnation as a click whore, I tried to be selective about sending friend requests. The first rule was that I had to really know the person. That was the first rule to be broken. The next  broken rule was that I had to at least know who the person was. For a time, it had to be that the target, I mean potential friend, and I had to have at least 50 mutual friends. That became an interesting examination about patterns of friendships. As a lifelong journalist, I shared many friends with other journalists and with numerous politicians. You may have noticed that Sen. Bill Monning has reached the maximum allowable number of Facebook friends, 5,000, and so has Jaz the TV anchor.The person with whom I share the most Facebook friends is Monterey County Supervisor Jane Parker, with 581. In second place, Sen. Monning, at 541.

In legal depositions, lawyers wanting to determine levels of friendship will ask whether so and so has ever been to dinner at so and so’s house. I have been to dinner at Morley Brown’s house, which makes sense since we share 256 friends. One of my biggest Facebook friends is chef John Pisto, with 507 shares even though he and I have spoken only once, at Home Depot. He says he will invite me to his home for dinner sometime. I very much hope he does.

Very high on my list is your friend and mine, Dewey L. Zeigler.  I’m hoping that at least one of the 499 friends we share knows who he really is and will clue me in. On the down low, of course.

I am not Facebook friends with many people, though the number declines every day. Not Dave Potter or Lou Calcagno. Not Tony Lombardo or Howard Gustafson or anyone on the Sand City City Council. Some of my real-world friends scoff at Facebook, so I actively try to avoid Partisan topics that they would enjoy. I’ll show them. I am not a Facebook friend of Carmel Pine Cone publisher Paul Miller. Apparently some things are beneath him.

I have always enjoyed Facebook as a way to keep in touch with old friends and keep up with the daily affairs of current friends. Now, I have entered a new dimension, learning quite a bit about people I don’t know at all. Recently I have become friends with several massage therapists and practitioners of various arts at Esalen. The majority of my new friends are women, but I don’t think I’m knowingly avoiding men.

For the most part, my new friends live on or around the Peninsula. That’s because there’s little point in promoting a Monterey Bay-oriented website to people in Paducah. If you live in Hollister or beyond, I am doubly sorry for bothering you.

I find my potential friends by clicking on the friends link on my page. I also will admit to sometimes going to the page of an actual friend and trolling for possibilities. A couple of times I received messages from Facebook strongly suggesting that I was misusing the “friend” function and encouraging me to knock it off. I got up from the computer, walked around the room for a while, whistling casually, and returned to my pursuit quietly so as not to attract attention. It seems to have worked. If you live in or around Monterey, you very likely have been spammed with one of my requests. You can immunize yourself against further intrusions simply by accepting my next request. You can then send me a Facebook message of complaint and I will send you a sincere apology, along with a link to the Partisan. If that happens, please read the post, but only after hitting the “share” button.

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I’m probably not alone. When I read Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin’s interview  in the Washington Post last week, I believed it when he said California ranks at the bottom in the number of police officers. The way he put it was that “nobody has fewer cops than California.” I believe he meant, in more formal language, that of the 50 states, California has the lowest number of police officers per capita.

Crime SceneBut to one Partisan reader, Christine Love, that just didn’t add up. So she looked it up. She went to a website, discoverpolicing.org, run by the International Association of Police Chiefs, and found that California doesn’t rank 50th or even 49th or 48th. According to the International Association of Police Chiefs, California’s 217 officers per 100,000 population puts it in 33rd place among the states.

Below California are:

  • Nebraska, 211
  • Idaho, 206
  • Indiana, 206
  • North Dakota, 206
  • South Dakota, 203
  • Montana, 201
  • Iowa, 195
  • Maine, 195
  • Michigan, 190
  • Kentucky, 189
  • Alaska, 189
  • West Virginia, 186
  • Minnesota, 185
  • Vermont, 178
  • Oregon, 177
  • Utah, 175
  • Washington, 174

Easily topping the list was Louisiana, with a whopping 405 officers per 100,000 population. In second place, New Jersey, with 389, followed by New York, 341, and Illinois, 321.

I can’t explain Louisiana’s number but suspect it could have something to do with law enforcement salaries. New Orleans for years paid notoriously low wages to police officers, resulting in a truly stumble-bum force. But the discover policing.org site puts the average pay for Louisiana patrol officers at $38,000 annually, which puts it above Oklahoma, Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma and West Virginia.

Based on the numbers in McMillin’s own department, he obviously has true cause for concern. Police department staffing numbers are a moving target because the number of officers in the budget is often well above the number actually on staff. Based on the numbers the city reported to the FBI for 2012, Salinas had 95 officers per 100,000 residents. Based on the numbers on the city’s website, it’s 112 per 100,000. Either way, it’s well below the numbers for the most poorly staffed states.

In McMillin’s lengthy interview for the Post, he didn’t talk about salaries but he complained about the great difficulty he has recruiting qualified officers. According to the national website, some of the stiffest competition may come from New Jersey, where patrol officers receive an average of $79,300 (the numbers are the latest available but are not necessarily current). California comes in a close second at $77,250. Surprisingly far down on the list is New York, $60,270. Surprisingly high, the state of Washington, $65,700. The lowest? Mississippi at $31,400.

We are asking McMillin for a response. We thank Love for her contribution, which follows:

————

I had to pause at some of Kelly’s statements. The first one I had doubts about was that California had “fewer enforcement officers than any other state”. So I had a few moments for some detective work and came upon a site called: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/ where they had a very informative system… a map that you can use, by clicking on each state for their stats. I chose 13 states at random, after choosing CA first. I was surprised that the first three states I chose after CA had significantly lower numbers of officers than CA, right off the bat! I underlined the number of officers per 100,000 population for each state’s statistics.

The other stat that surprised me was: out of the 13 random choices: CA officers were paid a significantly HIGHER annual salary!!! Even over NY and DC!

Wyoming’s, number of officers per 100,000 population surprised me (at 317 officers per 100,000).

DC had the highest number of officers per 100,000, at a whopping 722 per!!!! What are they afraid of in our nation’s capital (which has very strict gun laws)? They are supposed to be the ones who know what’s going on… so THAT number says a LOT about them!

California:
Population1: 37,349,363
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 509
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 217
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $77,290
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/CA#sthash.ihX1fHdO.dpuf

Oregon:
Population1: 3,838,957
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 174
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 177
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $58,310
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/OR#sthash.TbYaxasN.dpuf

Washington:
Population1: 6,744,496
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 260
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 174
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $65,730
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/WA#sthash.l9Flobh8.dpuf

Utah:
Population1: 2,776,469
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 136
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 175
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $45,430
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/UT#sthash.3I1ezHsK.dpuf

Wyoming:
Population1: 564,460
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 90
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 317
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $49,250
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/WY#sthash.VZW3v9Fj.dpuf

Texas:
Population1: 25,257,114
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 1,913
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 244
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $50,440
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/TX#sthash.K6NJGSkP.dpuf

Tennessee:
Population1: 6,356,897
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 375
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 256
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $41,050
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/TN#sthash.MRGlhSUt.dpuf

Georgia:
Population1: 9,712,587
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 628
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 274
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $39,450
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/GA#sthash.khtQOBbT.dpuf

Illinois:
Population1: 12,843,166
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 877
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 321
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $66,680
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/IL#sthash.HhPPHlmh.dpuf

DC:
Population1: 604,453
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 4
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 722
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $67,560
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/DC#sthash.IlkqtMn9.dpuf

New York:
Population1: 19,392,283
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 514
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 341
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $60,270
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/NY#sthash.CVBSUjkH.dpuf

Maine:
Population1: 1,327,567
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 146
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 195
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $39,910
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/ME#sthash.xAYbLcnD.dpuf

Vermont:
Population1: 625,960
Number of Law Enforcement Agencies2: 69
Officers per 100,000 Population2: 178
Average Annual Salary (Patrol)3: $43,220
1 U.S. Census Bureau, 2010
2 Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2008
3 Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010
– See more at: http://discoverpolicing.org/map/?fa=view/VT#sthash.aAi10KWr.dpuf

Interesting to note that Psyche Exams were “unavailable” in NY, DC, GA, and probably several other states I passed over.

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Crime SceneIn today’s Washington Post, Salinas Police Chief Kelly McMillin talks about his department’s challenges and other issues in the context of the situation in Missouri. It left me uneasy, but I’m not sure why. I’d love to see what others think. You can leave a comment below after you’ve read it.

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????Although they’re about water, newly available documents concerning the proposed Monterey Downs racetrack and residential/commercial compound make for some fairly dry reading. The only chuckle-inducing part comes early on when project manager Beth Palmer attempts to create a new category of water.

The Marina Coast Water District concluded that there is not “sufficient existing water supply to achieve the complete build-out…” of the huge Fort Ord project. Palmer, however, doesn’t like that conclusion. She writes, “We believe that conclusion is not completely accurate.” And why’s that? Existing doesn’t mean existing. It means existing plus “anticipated future water supplies.” It’s reminiscent of that great Bill Clinton line: “It depends on what your definition of ‘is’ is.”

To Palmer, existing could mean water from the Cal Am desalination plant that remains little more than a gleam in a utility accountant’s eye. Or a desalination plant to be built by the Marina Coast Water District, which shows little interest in such a thing. Or recycled wastewater. Or excess surface water from the Salinas River. It might surprise the farmers of the Salinas Valley to hear that there is much of an excess.

Could it be that when Palmer refers to existing water, she’s thinking of water that exists somewhere but not around here?

Palmer’s thoughts are contained in a supplemental water report  2K.14.02.21.MD.LLC.WSA.with.city.seal for the project, a report prepared for the developer and submitted to the city of Seaside for possible inclusion in the project’s environmental impact report. A draft EIR is scheduled for release in September but it won’t be as comprehensive as anticipated. Rather than serving as a self-contained, all-inclusive environmental impact report, it will be what is known as a “subsequent EIR,” meaning that it incorporates many elements from the earlier EIR prepared for the Fort Ord reuse plan. Less thorough. Less expensive. Fewer elements for legal challenge.

The supplemental water assessment is the Monterey Downs developer’s attempt to argue that the project won’t need as much water as previously believed and that it will have access to more “existing” water than previously calculated. The report was submitted to the city in March but didn’t become publicly available until this month, the result of a public records act request by the Keep Fort Ord Wild group. It doesn’t do much of a job supporting the desired numbers but does make some interesting arguments. Such as this. It was the project’s water provider, the Marina water district,  that determined that there simply isn’t enough water to complete the project. (That determination was made two years ago, when the district was led by a heavily pro-development majority, which has since been replaced by a more conservation-minded group.) Palmer directs her commentary to the city, however, arguing that the law allows  the Seaside City Council to overrule the water district’s opinion. That could explain why Monterey Downs wants to have some key approvals completed by the end of the year–before a potential change in the council makeup.

The lead agency (Seaside) is not bound to follow the determinations and conclusions …  as ‘the lead agency may make a finding that adequate water supplies exist (or do not exist) to meet the project’s anticipated demand, even if that finding is inconsistent with the conclusions in the public water system’s assessment,'” Palmer writes. In other words, “inconsistent” can be turned into “consistent” through the proper application of campaign contributions.

Michael Salerno, spokesman for Keep Fort Ord Wild, says Palmer’s numbers don’t add up and neither does her reasoning. The water district calculated the project would need 852 acre-feet of water annually. Palmer argues for a total of 712 acre-feet because of various poorly defined conservation measures and other factors. Pair that with more water from every direction and, what do you know, Monterey Downs practically submerges itself.

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At 7 o’clock this evening, Tuesday Aug. 19, at Monterey City Hall, Cal Am customers get a chance to discuss the rate schedule that provides commercial users with a low, flat rate for water while residential customers pay higher tiered rates.

It was a result of negotiations between the Public Utilities Commission, Cal Am and Peninsula industry representatives. The schedule was adopted last year with no input from residential users. The water management district was party to the discussions but apparently just went with the flow.There was some coverage in the Herald and an editorial criticizing the arrangement but the hospitality industry kept quiet about it, hoping people wouldn’t notice and the issue would go away.

It didn’t.

Here are talking points that water activist George Riley sent to members of Public Water Now in advance of tonight’s session. He does a good job of summing it up as succinctly as possible.

Why the new commercial water rates are unfair to residential ratepayers and to commercial customers:

  • Unfair w/ flat rates vs tiered rates
  • Stealth proceeding, No chance for residential customers to comment
  • Shifted costs to residential customers
  • Without tiers, commercial has no incentive to conserve
  • Successful residential customers (well to do) have highest rates. Well to do commercial customers have lowest rates.
  • Caste system is applied to commercial–Less well off businesses with less resources are penalized, whereas most well off with the most resources are rewarded.
  • Pressure to conserve is a one time investment for commercial, whereas similar one time investment by residential user will not remove the pressure of high tiers to conserve.

Some narrative on talking points.

  1. It was a stealth procedure with no clear warning nor opportunity for public input or understanding.
  2. It is a flat rate. Therefore there is no incentive to make further changes in attitude or performance.
  3. Bill spikes are eliminated. The average commercial use over time makes spiked use a non-issue. Not true for residential users.
  4. Any increase in use can be attributed to a better economy, with no attention to improved conservation.
  5. The 4 categories of commercial rates reward the richer businesses (lower rates) and penalize the struggling businesses (higher rates). Not true for residential ratepayers. Even the most investment does not remove the tiered rates nor the attention needed to actual use.
  6. The lowest commercial rates apply to investment choices (more water saving devices), not on behavior of customers or service personnel. A one time choice removes conservation from further owner/management attention.
  7. The commercial water bill contains a bar chart on usage, which gives a monthly use picture instantly. Not true for residential users, who have a distinct need to see their monthly use pattern because of the spike potential and the need to conserve to reduce costs. Residential bills do not have bar charts. Cal Am removed them about a year ago.
  8. So the tool useful to residential users to conserve and reduce costs was eliminated by Cal Am without ratepayer input nor warning.
  9. Without the useful bar chart to get an instant picture of use, the interested residential user must review prior bills and tally use data.This is ponderous and discouraging to any person wanting to understand their water use.
  10. The flat commercial rates apply to all types of non-residential users–cities, school districts, medical facilities, golf courses. In other words, it is the entire community of users that have flat rate benefits that are not available to residential customers.
  11. The perception of unfairness is real, when the voting customer has a harsh daily reminder of conservation, yet the flat rate can be a one-and-done action.
  12. The caste system for commercial users is unique and terribly archaic to modern fairness in this democracy. The well to do residential users (the richer) pay more and help subsidize the lesser well to do (poor and struggling). The new commercial categories of favoritism rewards the ‘rich’ with low rates, and penalizes the lesser successful and struggling businesses (poorer) with higher rates.

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Monterey Downs Supporters and Opponents Should Read This

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Just a link to a New York Times piece on Del Mar Race track, which might be of interest to those following the Monterey Downs proposal

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A Town Without a Newspaper Wouldn’t Be Much of a Town

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The NewsThis weekend the Monterey Herald moves into new, smaller quarters along Garden Road near the airport, which means quite a few things depending on one’s perspective. For me, it means that none of the newsrooms in which I toiled over the past four decades will continue to exist except in my faulty memory.

First to go was the old Chico Enterprise-Record, aka the Enterprise-Wretched, an institution in a lovely downtown until the business, for that’s what it was, was moved closer to the freeway to make distribution easier. The old building is now a Salvation Army store. My old desk sat in what is now the women’s clothing section.

Next was the Journal-Gazette in, of all places, Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was a wonderful newspaper, locally owned, a champion of progressive values in a state that had other things on its mind. The newsroom was later moved to a space next door to a paper with opposite leanings. The circulation of both has plummeted.

Then it was back to the West and the venerable Fresno Bee. Unfortunately I missed the years in the grand old downtown building that is now an art museum. My 19 years were spent in a large box in a redevelopment zone. By the freeway, of course. The building is still there but the newsroom later moved into a much larger space for reasons that now must seem mysterious.

Like everyone in Fresno, I had always dreamt of an escape to the coast. For me, that meant the Santa Cruz Sentinel. The newspaper was downtown, where newspapers should be. The newsroom was upstairs. Because of earthquakes, the floor was a suspended affair meaning it bounced up and down whenever the largest photographer walked in the room. The Sentinel now resides in rented space in, of all places, Scotts Valley, and the newsroom has been downsized even more since the move.

And finally, the Herald. Again I missed the relatively grand old downtown building. My 13 years were spent on the fringe of Monterey, in Ryan Ranch, in a modernish building that, by the time I left, had a very leaky roof, no air conditioning and some inoperable plumbing. Surely CSU-Monterey Bay will improve things before it moves students in. The new Herald newsroom will be in the old Community TV building. I have not seen it but I’m told it is about a quarter the size of the one that produces its final scoop today.

A historic Herald photo marking Larry Parsons' final day at the paper. He's the handsome one in the back row, goatee and cap.

A historic Herald photo marking reporter Larry Parsons’ final day at the paper on Friday. He’s the handsome one in the back row, goatee and cap. People, especially those over 50, tell me all the time that they don’t like to get their news from the Internet, that they like holding a newspaper in their hands. Usually they show me what they mean by pretending to hold a newspaper. I get it. That’s the way I like it, too. But the format, the method of delivery, means less to me than the news itself, which I miss even more than I miss the old newsrooms.

The shrinkage of the industry should alarm all of us. If you worry about what the government is up to, if you want to understand your region’s issues, if you want to feel any sense of community, you must have a source of local news and information. It scares me to think about what could happen in Salinas, where the Californian could go the way of my old newsrooms.

Fortunately for the Peninsula we have the Monterey County Weekly, once the alternative paper and increasingly now a main if not the main source of information on government and politics in the area. I give it credit but not too much because I know it could do more. When I came to Monterey, the Herald news staff was at least three times as large as the Weekly’s. Today, I believe they are roughly equal. I’ve seen the ad volume in the Weekly. I suspect the budget would accommodate some real growth in staffing and enterprise.

Fortunately KSBW is a relatively strong provider of local information even though it hasn’t produced any semblance of investigative reporting since Dan Green had a full head of hair. (Check out this website for more information on the former KSBW anchor who describes herself as the station’s former investigative reporter). It does a fine job of covering community events. Those are easy to cover. Wading into some tougher issues would do the station and the community some real good.

As for the Herald, I suppose the only hope for a revival is new ownership, which certainly is a possibility if the hedge fund that holds the purse strings ever gets around to letting go. All we can do is hope. In the meantime, though, I encourage the community to support the Herald. I’m irritated, too, by the size of the Monday paper, but I continue to read it and to subscribe because I can’t imagine a city the size of Monterey, a region the size of the Peninsula, without a daily newspaper, even if it is produced in someone’s living room.

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On Wednesday, the Legislature overwhelmingly approved and Gov. Brown signed a comprehensive water bond that should go to the public for a vote in November. It does not specifically fund any projects on the Central Coast, but the region is eligible to apply for a share of many of the components, according to the office of state Sen. Bill Monning. They include:

Chapter 5: Clean, Safe and Reliable Drinking Water ($520 million)

  • $260 million for State Water Pollution Control Revolving Fund Small Community Grant Fund for wastewater treatment projects.  Priority for disadvantaged and severely disadvantaged commun
  • $260 million for grants and loans for public water system infrastructure improvements and ability to meet safe drinking water standards.  Priority for disadvantaged whose drinking water source is impaired.

Chapter 6: Protecting Rivers, Lakes, Streams, Coastal Waters, and Watersheds ($1.495 billion)

  • $30 million for Ocean Protection Council
  • $100.5 million for the State Coastal Conservancy
  • $200 million for Wildlife Conservation Board that enhance stream flows.
  • $285 million for Dept. of Fish and Wildlife for watershed restoration projects.

Chapter 7: Regional Water Security, Climate and Drought Preparedness ($810 million)

  • $43 million for Central Coast hydrologic region
  • $100 million for water conservation and water-use efficiency plans, projects and programs.
  • $200 million for multibenefit stormwater management projects.

Chapter 9: Water Recycling  ($725 million)

  • $725 million for water recycling and advanced treatment technology projects

Chapter 10: Groundwater Sustainability  ($900 million)

  • $900 million to prevent or clean up the contamination of groundwater that serves or has served as a source of drinking water.

Chapter 11: Flood Management ($395 million)

  • $100 million for flood management activities and projects.

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shutterstock_185810549-2 2HISS: Vandals made a giant mess of two kindergarten classrooms at Tularcitos Elementary School in Carmel Valley this week, two days before the start of school, forcing pupils and teachers into other classrooms. Tricycles and other objects were tossed through windows, leading to a decision to replace the classroom carpeting for fear that all the shards might not be found. Boxes full of toys had to  be tossed for the same reason. Fortunately, the culprits were quickly identified because of security cameras…., er, uh, never mind. No security cameras. The district’s ample budget had been routed to such things as a beautiful new high school theater too small to accommodate the student body and all sorts of shiny new sports equipment. The Partisan isn’t a big fan of security cameras but putting them in an elementary school doesn’t seem like the worst idea ever.Security cameras at an elementary school?
HUG: We’re actually going to give a hug to the Peninsula traffic this week. Yes, we are. Sure it’s a nuisance and it could be trouble in an emergency. But the Concours is a great event. A great, world-class event and how in the world can you have a great world-class event without traffic? A grocery clerk marveled Wednesday about the woman from Vancouver who bought several $200 bottles of wine and all the expensive cheese she could carry. Vancouver woman might deserve a hiss for  the way she got her money, but getting the cash into the local economy deserves a hug. Traffic on Friday will be horrible. Stay home if you can. If you have to go out,  leave a half hour early. Avoid having emergencies. This too shall pass.
HISS: The folks who run Sand City are doing everything possible to bring in a big beachfront hotel but suddenly they’re bothered by a few homeless folks camping out on the same beach. Wouldn’t want to mess up the beach, right? Speaking of which, how come even the enviros seem to be accepting the idea of a Sand City beachfront hotel with a mitigation measure here, some “don’t step on the birds” signs there. The Coastal Commission messed up on a technicality years ago so now the court essentially says the hotel project must go on. Nonsense. This must not go on.
HISS: Monterey County officials are talking about moving some of their offices out of downtown and in to the former Capital One building on the south edge of Salinas. Bad move for downtown Salinas. And now there’s talk of moving the Salinas Police Department to the outskirts. The talk centers on what’s good for the government agencies involved but there is little talk about providing the best service for the constituents. Aren’t residents better served when key county offices are clustered in one location? Government agencies aren’t businesses. Job one is serving the public and that should drive the debate.
HISS: Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry told a story this week about how they wouldn’t serve him a beer this week at a California Pizza Kitchen because he wasn’t recognized and didn’t have his I.D. We were reminded of the time Michael Jordan tried to go out nightclubbing in Fresno. He was in town to help out at Rod Higgins’ basketball camp. He and Higgins wanted to cut loose a little, so they headed to the nearest Black Angus steakhouse and nightclub. Unfortunately, the management there had started worrying that the clientele wasn’t white enough so it had come up with a special rule for anyone of color. Two pictures I.D.’s or you don’t get in. Jordan was still with the Chicago Bulls then. He had his Illinois driver’s license but no other I.D. with a picture. Sorry, Mr. Jordan, but rules are rules.

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Dog is waiting
If I am looking for opinions
I know places I can go –
For issues international
The New York Times is the pro
For Washingtonian politics
There’s is one rag that can boast
 And of course there is no question
That that rag must be the Post
And for all things Sacramento
There is just one rag I’d see
It’s the strangely named newspaper
Called the Sacramento Bee
So, I wonder, when I seek opinions
On local issues of great note
I can’t find much at all to read
From any writers of great note
Instead, I find Krauthammer
And others writers from the Right
Plus flaky editorials
That come off not too bright
I had hoped that the old Herald
Would report on local news
With opinions on such issues
That would reflect all sides, all views
So bring back the glory days of yore
When we could let the likes of Potter
And Della Sala for sure
They’re not acting like they oughter
Until it happens, at least there’s hope
With Royal’s present blog
So to him I’ll vent my anger
Then I’ll go and walk my dog
Dog is waiting
Bill Hood is a water lawyer and engineer and former director of the Association of Monterey Bay Area Governments.

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It was encouraging to hear that Cal Am is surveying area residents. Could it be that our water purveyor has decided to start listening to its customers? A lot of people on the Peninsula have a lot to say about the company, its price structure, its customer service, its approach to protecting its monopoly.

So I’ll admit to some disappointment when I learned that the telephone survey is only partly designed to find out what’s on the community’s mind. Unfortunately, it’s more like one of those “push polls,” in which the surveyor is engaged in spin more than in research.

shutterstock_117041995You may have been on the receiving end of such a poll during a political campaign: “Would you vote for So and So for county supervisor if you knew that he routinely drives drunk and does not recycle?” Or “Would you vote for Measure X if you knew it would end all property rights forever?”

The Cal Am survey is subtler than that but the intent reveals itself as the questions go on. It starts, interestingly enough, by asking for the respondent’s opinion of the Peninsula water management district, Cal Am, PG&E, city government and Monterey County government. The nice caller from Quantel, a research outfit out of Ogden, Utah, asks the respondent to rank each of them, from very favorable to very unfavorable. It then asks for impressions of various utility services, including cable TV, electricity, gas, cell phones, sewage and, of course, water.

Speaking of PG&E, here is an excellent editorial from the San Francisco Chronicle this week urging the removal of Public Utilities Commission Chairman Michael Peevey because of his extreme coziness with a company he supposedly regulates.

The poll continues. How do you like the way your water bill is calculated? (My own answer is that I would like it better if it resulted in smaller numbers.)

How do you feel about the reliability of your water service? Would you be willing to pay more for water if it would ensure an adequate supply during drought or other emergency? Excellent question, that one.

This may be one of the most important questions: Are you tired of the debate over who should own the water system? If so, how tired? And don’t you wish those darned elected and community leaders would work with Cal Am on a solution? (They didn’t really use “darned.”) The ownership question is particularly important because the group pushing for public ownership of the water system appears undaunted following its November defeat and is pursuing various strategies.

I emailed some questions of my own to Cal Am spokeswoman Catherine Stedman on Thursday. I wanted to know the purpose of the survey and who’s paying for it, Cal Am shareholders or ratepayers. I also asked about the cost. As of Friday morning, I haven’t heard anything back yet. I’ll update this if and when I do.

If you’d rather not wait, maybe you could ask Stedman yourself. Catherine.Stedman@amwater.com.

EVENING UPDATE: In response to an inquiry from a Partisan reader, Stedman had this to say: “The survey is an opinion research poll and it is being conducted by a very reputable firm, not at ratepayer expense.” Perhaps other Partisan readers can get her to disclose the purpose. 

I particularly enjoyed where the poll went next. Quantel wants to know to what extent folks agree that Cal Am has integrity. It might have been more interesting if the question had been worded like this: “If you knew that Cal Am spent a fortune to defeat a ballot measure regarding public ownership and used a variety of deceptive techniques in the process, would you think the company has integrity?”

If there was any question about whether this is about spin or research, the following points cleared it up. The poll asked respondents how they feel about Cal Am’s:

Involvement in the community

Management abilities

Rercord of keeping the community informed

Practice of sharing the community’s values

Concern for its shareholders and workers

Rate structure, which requires big water users to pay more than small water users

Its performance in finding a new water supply

The survey taker also wanted to know how people feel about Cal Am’s practice of providing rain barrels to area schools, providing training grants to firefighting groups, and providing water-bottle filling stations at the airport.

I’m guessing a fair number of people like those things. But then the survey goes deep with tougher questions. Such as how do you feel about Cal Am’s 75 employees living right here, and how do you feel about Cal Am’s success in fixing leaks to the point that it ranks better than average? How does it make you feel to know that you pay just a penny for a gallon of tap water compared to what you pay for bottled water? How do you feel about Cal Am’s highly reliable service?

Buried among the fluffy questions are a couple of good ones. How do you feel about the proposed desalination plant? Do you think it will ever get built? How much of an impact do you believe it will have? Good questions that might have been even better about a decade ago.

Have you heard about sharp rate increases? If so, how concerned are you?

Near the end, the survey includes a message from Cal Am President Rob McLean saying the company had been caught off guard by the move to the four-tier pricing structure and was not set up to handle it. He may be talking about those huge bill spikes for customers whose homes did or did not develop leaks. He correctly notes that the result may have shaken consumer confidence in the company, and he apologizes for the inconvenience.

Among the concluding questions is this. Now, having heard all this, what do you think of Cal Am?

Feel free to use the comment section below to answer that question for yourself. You’ll find that the comment box is blacked out. You can leave a comment in the blacked out box though it is very hard to read what you are typing. I do not know why it is like that, but I’m working on it. Sorry for the inconvenience.

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If sheriff’s candidate Steve Bernal won’t debate Sheriff Scott Miller, he should drop out of the race.

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