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The Man Who Pitched, Madison Bumgarner

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The Man Who Pitched, Madison Bumgarner

(Sung to the tune of ‘The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance’ while pouring multiple beers down tear-stained face.)

When Madison Bumgarner took the mound, the Royals hitters cried, they cried.
When Madison Bumgarner took the ball, Kansas City up and died.
‘Cause the lash of his arm was the only law that Madison handed down.
When it came to puttin’ pine meat under batter’s seats, he’s the best around.

From outta the Midwest a blue-clad team came, bats upon the rack, a team
The kind of a team resembling Dodgers but drawing tons less green
‘Cause the whip of his cutter was the only law that Madison understood
When it came to knockin’ crowns off domes, he is awful good.

Many a man would face his stuff, and many a man would bawl
The Man who hit Madison Bumgarner
Who hit Madison Bumgarner
He wasn’t on that AL team at all.

The love of the game can make a man stay on the mound, pitch counts be damned
Just takin’ down batters like beers to chug and leads stay safe and stand
‘Cause the swerve of his curve was the only law that Madison understood
When it came to saving Game 7 for his bros, he was freaking good.

Afraid and beyond sense, his fans prayed he’d return that night, oh that night
From out of the pen, shooting snot rockets left and right, he strode into the light
First thing a fan knows when he loves the game, what he comprehends
When two teams play the seventh deal, only the best team wins.

Everyone saw five frames play out, the lefty flinging flame
The dude was young Madison Bumgarner
He dealt, Madison Bumgarner
He was the gamer of them all.

The horse was strong Madison Bumgarner
He shot, Madison Bumgarner
He was the Royal of them all.

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LARRY PARSONS: Nixon knew when to give reality an assist

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In the final run-up to Election Day, crazy stuff can happen. Or things can be made to look like crazy stuff happened.

Events often move like quicksilver as campaigns near the wire, while the sorting of facts about what really went down may take years to resolve. Or not.

There’s still plenty of room for conjecture about one of the strangest events in American political history, which took place 44 years ago just a few miles north of Monterey County.

At a noon rally on Halloween Day in 1970, then-President Richard Nixon took the stage at a Phoenix, Ariz., airport as several supporters held a large banner a few feet away that said, “We don’t want to know the way to San Jose.”

The message wasn’t a knock on the catchy 1968 song by Dionne Warwick or the still provincial Santa Clara County capital that would blossom within a decade into the civic center of Silicon Valley.

It referred to something that had happened two nights earlier — Oct. 29, 1970  — just outside the San Jose Civic Auditorium during a furious round of Nixon appearances to bolster the GOP’s flagging support before the 1970 midterm election.

If you think America is polarized today, think again. The turbulence of 1970 makes today’s deep divisions seem like hairline cracks in fairly new concrete. 1970 was the year of the secret war in Cambodia, the killings of four protesters at Kent State and an estimated 1,000 domestic bombings.

Such was the backdrop for what took place in San Jose. In what remains a unique happening in American  presidential history, the president’s departing motorcade, including the car that carried Nixon and then California Gov. Ronald Reagan, was pelted by rocks and eggs thrown from a crowd of about 1,000 there to protest a potpourri of causes, from the Vietnam War and the plight of California farmworkers to the immediate fates of aerospace workers in Mountain View.

A few moments before the rock-and-egg shower, Nixon had climbed onto the hood of his limousine, standing with feet apart and thrusting both arms toward the heavens as he flashed the V for peace sign with both hands. The crowd went crazy, and there ensued a few minutes of disorder that concerned the heck out of hundreds of San Jose cops and Secret Service agents trying to protect the officials.

“That’s what they hate to see,” Nixon was reported to gleefully tell an aide as he got back in the bullet-proof limo.

Both the president and Gov. Reagan, who would win his second term a few nights later, flashed more “peace signs” from their seats as the motorcade parted the angry protesters.

Reactions to accounts of the near-riot, which to the chagrin of San Jose officialdom flew out on the national and international wires, were predictably divided.

Nixon and his attack dog Vice President Spiro Agnew wasted no time in milking the spectacle for political capital. In his Phoenix speech, the president called upon America’s silent majority to stand up “against appeasement of the rock throwers and obscenity shouters.” At an Illinois rally, Agnew declared it was “time to sweep that kind of garbage out of society.”

The president’s political foes viewed the incident with suspicion, seeing it as being overblown or another Nixon dirty trick.

A wire service reporter, years later, called the San Jose confrontation and White House’s political profiteering “a con so crafty it even fooled the Secret Service.”

In the face of immediate criticism and pesky questions from the press, the White House allowed a few reporters to inspect the dings on the presidential limousine on Nov. 3.

Top Nixon aide H.R. Haldeman, in his posthumous 1994 insider account of the White House, allowed how the Rumble at the Civic was blown up as “a huge incident … We worked hard to crank it up.”

A few months later,  a Santa Clara County judge, in dismissing the 1970 grand jury that investigated the mini-riot, offered his perspective, saying the affair was a “tempest in a teapot and was blown all out of proportion.” The judge said “certain people know why that was done.”

But the San Jose fracas, described by Nixon speechwriter William Safire as “the most serious mob attack on a national leader in American history,” may well have had a deeper impact than simply supplying the White House with pungent, 11th-hour rhetoric against its foes in November 1970.

In his 1975 book Before the Fall, Safire said Nixon’s tactics for his 1972 re-election campaign were sealed the weekend after the San Jose confrontation. And everyone knows what happened with that campaign.

The answer to the vexing historical question, Why Watergate? could open with a few bars of that Dionne Warwick tune. It may well have started in San Jose.

There should be a plaque about it all in front of the historic, city-owned auditorium, which was rechristened City National Civic last year after its corporate sponsor.

The events center website tells the tale today drained of all its historic drama. It notes, in passing, the venue has played host to political figures, “such as the 1970 visit from then-President Richard Nixon that made national headlines when he was confronted by Anti-War protesters.”

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The politics of paradise taste a lot like home brew

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Why did the Kauai chicken (chikin) cross the road? To snorkel.

Why did the Kauai chicken (chikin) cross the road? To snorkel.

Some might call this a vacation, this journey to a relatively remote island, but that would imply leisure and luxury, neither of which would be helpful to the image or reputation of the Partisan. So let’s call it being “on assignment,” a one-week immersion into comparative politics and public affairs.

Here in this slice of the humid zone, let’s call it “Kauai,” election season is in full bloom. There are more campaign signs than tropical flowers. Many houses along the highways contain as many signs as all of Munras Avenue, as all of Seaside Highlands. If there is much stealing of campaign signs here, I am all for it.

There are so many signs that I suspect some candidates may pay for the privilege of planting them. There seem to be very few overt discussions of politics, at least not at the hotel bar or anyplace else where TVs display the World Series, yet so many locals are quite willing to obscure views of their yard sales. Other evidence of campaign signage as indications of commerce rather than ideology includes the fact that some highly visible residences allow both competing camps to post.

As in California, attack ads are the norm on television. This must be a highly Democratic state because one candidate for governor simply criticizes his opponent for acting like a typical Republican. A candidate for Congress displays an old news clip of his opponent saying sometimes it is necessary to raise taxes. The spot then segues into the assertion that Mr. Big Spender supports raising taxes on everything, including pensions. (A local radio commentator expresses his fear that the politicians soon will impose a tax on taxes.)

By the time this campaign is over, voters here will have an excuse for their confusion. The state’s congressional race is being inundated by outside money, mostly from Political Action Committees intent on besmirching one side or the other or at least blurring what little distinguishes them.  For instance, the American Action Network will spend $300,000 on TV commercials accusing Democrat Mark Takai of not being conservative enough to be in Congress. That PAC is headed by Republican Sen. Norm Coleman of Minnesota. It is nice to know he cares so deeply about Hawaii.

Republican Charles Djou, well he’s not liberal enough, according to the $144,000 in advertising sponsored by Working Familes for Hawaii, alias the public employee unions.

The newspapers are full of endorsement editorials, of course, and the editorials are full of endorsement speak.  In other words, they contain almost no information about any of the candidates’ characters or records of either accomplishment or failure. All that seems to matter is the degree to which either candidate “gets it,” code of sort for the extent to which either candidate agrees with the newspaper.

Matsumoto  “shows a deep understanding” of the issues confronting the town of Ka’Hio’Kalapaki while Takamoto “remains committed” to the principles of good government. Good to know Takamoto has not gone over to the bad government camp.

Because I “remain committed” to the task at hand despite the various distractions, I also am alertly on the lookout for any and all signs of voter alienation or “cross-channel contamination,” a term I saw in the Honolulu newspaper, unfortunately but accurately named the Star-Advertiser.

And since all politics is personal, I also remain on the lookout for insights into my own issues of the day. For instance,  can anyone tell me with certainty why so many chickens run loose on this island and whether anything bad will happen to me if I run over one? The Democrats say they are descendants of ancestors who were freed when a poorly prepared Republican administration allowed the island’s chicken coops to be destroyed by hurricane.  The GOP insists it is a function of fuzzy environmentalist policies that eliminated most natural predators.

Another nagging issue for me is this. Sunday I was in the lovely community of Hanalei and found myself humming that old ditty “Puff the Magic Dragon.” I am not sure why, and I do not subscribe to the flashback theory of cognition, but it came to me like a crashing wave that good old Puff had, according to song, frolicked in either the ocean mist or autumn mist in a town called Honna Lee or, could it be, Hanalei?

The most authoritative of references, Wikipedia, says yes, it could be.

Add to that the theory that “Puff the Magic Dragon” has something to do with marijuana, and the notion becomes even more compelling given the vibe of Hanalei. But I asked around. Truth be told, I actually just asked one grey-haired store clerk in Hanalei.

“I used to hear that all the time,” she said, “but not so much anymore. Maybe it’s because it’s an old song.”

So, there you have it, and without the need for any intrusive government involvement. Speaking of which, I also would like to see just one candidate stand up and explain once and for all this “resort fee” nonsense. The hotel charges good money for everything, including a “walking distance to Kmart” surcharge, and then tacks on $30 a night because management was smart enough to include “resort” in the name, as in Barney’s Beachside Barbecue/Shave Ice Bungalows Spa and Resort.

Finally, apropos of almost nothing, I conclude with my favorite news story of the week, reprinted in its entirety from the aforementioned Honolulu Star-Advertiser:

 Prison Visitation Canceled on Oahu, Big Isle

The Department of Public Safety canceled visitation to Halawa Correctional Facility on Oahu and the Punahele, Komohana and Waianuenue correctional facilities on Saturday due to ongoing staffing shortages.

Such cancellations have been an almost-weekly occurrence this year as the department deals with chronic absenteeism, especially on weekends and when major sporting events are on TV.

If I could vote here, I think I would vote for whatever candidate becomes “fully committed” to determining which sporting events have the greatest impact on staffing levels so taxes can be raised on the ticket prices.

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Peninsula people who aren’t sure that desalination is the cure to the region’s water troubles are indebted to Del Rey Oaks Mayor Jerry Edelen. That’s because he makes no secret of one of the goals that will be in play when officialdom works to merge two local water agencies.

In a recent interview with the Carmel Pine Cone, Edelen said it is his hope that adding five appointed city representatives to the board of the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District would reduce the influence of conservationists, slow growthers who are concerned about the potential development-inducing impact of a large desalination project.

Referring to the district’s existing board, Edelen said, “There are not enough votes representing the folks who need the water. For too many years, the water management district was run by those who did not want growth.”

ManEdelen is a member of another body made up of the mayors of the six Peninsula cities. It is called the Monterey Peninsula Regional Water Authority, which was formed largely to advance Cal Am Water’s current proposal for a regional desalination plant. The mayors’ group is under increasing financial and political pressure to essentially wrap up its work, most likely by merging with the Peninsula Water Management District.

The Peninsula Water Management District was formed to promote conservation and seek additional water resources after the state ordered Cal Am in 1994 to reduce its reliance on the Carmel River. The water management district is governed by a board made up of five elected directors and two appointees representing the cities and the county. Each election turns into a contest between development-minded candidates and more environmentalist candidates, with each side essentially taking turns holding the majority.

While the water management district has led conservation efforts and has had success with aquifer storage projects, it is constantly accused of failing to produce any significant additional supply. Voters rejected an early effort to dam the river and Cal Am has made little real progress toward a desalination solution.

Meanwhile, the relatively new mayors’ group has been working closely with Cal Am to attempt to expedite that process while simultaneously controlling desalination costs and adding public oversight. With Cal Am’s venture encountering delay after delay, the mayors’ group sustained a blow politically and financially earlier this month when the county Board of Supervisors expressed steep reservations about formally signing on to the mayors’ group and continuing to help finance its work.

Representatives of the mayors’ group, led by Carmel’s Jason Burnett, are working on a plan to amend its shape and possibly its mission. At the mayors’ Oct. 9 meeting, Edelen proposed merging the group and its functions into the Monterey Peninsula Water Management District. He said the resulting body would have more influence and greater efficiency. Edelen said the idea he is pitching, diluting the power of the environmentalists by altering the shape of the district board, originated with longtime board member Dave Pendergrass, mayor of Sand City.

In an editorial, the Pine Cone strongly supported the idea.

“Not long ago, you see, the water board … was dominated by environmental extremists who wanted nothing built, and they were willing to go so far to achieve this goal that they willfully stopped any new water from being developed,” the paper opined. “Horrible, yes, but true.”

“We think the mayors’ proposal is a good one, and we welcome a new era in land-use planning based on good public policy, not roadblock extremism.

The machinations come about while the Peninsula is under strong state pressure to step degrading the Carmel River and develop additional supplies. More than two decades after ordering reduced pumping, the state is now threatening to impose dramatic reductions starting in 2016 even though it is beyond obvious that construction of a desal plant could not even begin then much less reach completion. Burnett and other area officials are scheduled to meet with state representatives next months to plead for more time. Among their principal arguments is that reductions could cripple the hotel industry and other local commerce.

Conservationists and the growing number of Cal Am critics aren’t convinced that desalination is the answer, largely because it is a hugely expensive process that would inflate Peninsula water bills, already among the highest anywhere. They are pushing alternatives such as additional conservation, additional storage and reclamation of wastewater.

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As an old journalist — the operative word here is old — I find plenty of things to shake my head about with the way the media operate.

For one, the national media have the attention span of one of those poignant little bugs that live only 24 hours. Imagine trying to cram it all — toddler bughood, moody adolescent bughood, courtship and marriage to a 12-hour, lifetime bug mate, thousands of children and, then, bug dust — into a single day. Talk about “tempus fugit.”

Over the past couple weeks, our media’s treatment of the Ebola outbreak nearly matched the oh-so-brief life expectancy of one of those bugs that really must “live for today.”

Though more than 9,000 people in several West African countries have died in the current Ebola outbreaks, the toll in the United States stands at one dead, two nurses stricken but cured, and a dog exposed but found free of the deadly virus. A fourth person, a New York City doctor who recently returned from Guinea where he treated Ebola patients, was diagnosed with the disease Thursday.

This will likely touch off a bigger media stampede than the three earlier Dallas cases. It is the media capital of the country. And it’s NEW YORK CITY.
I suggest not gorging on endless news stories on cable television, keeping a clear head and remembering that politicians two weeks before an election play a lot of political games.

Politicians, who just a few months ago talked of impeaching President Obama because of his “czars,” demanded an Ebola czar right now and called for firings of top federal public health officials. Some schools cancelled classes because someone associated with them recently had been somewhere in Africa. And on FOX News, a couple of clear-headed thinkers, said the president wanted Americans to die from Ebola because of reparations, anti-colonialism, allegiance to Africa over America, or something equally shameful and crazy

bugBy this week, the story, which is still a serious one for our health care system, evolved into a final stage with stories about Ebola hysteria, stories that some wags pointed out entirely glossed over the media’s role in whipping up the hysteria.

But there are new stories to spotlight — terror attacks in Canada, the aging face of Renee Zellweger and, of course, the upcoming midterm election races that could tip the balance between de facto GOP control of the U.S. Senate to numerical control.

I trust — an unusual word, I know, to use these days in civic affairs – that the health care professionals whose counsel was largely ignored during Ebolagate will keep working on ways to better treat Ebola victims and to prevent its spread.

Meanwhile the media will turn to other tidings to provide us with what used to be known as “the first draft of history.”

These days, as it appears to this old guy, that first draft is more like the first wild lines drawn on an Etch A Sketch by a 5-year-old. They show lots of zig-zagging energy but nothing close to a fuzzy picture of anything. No matter, give the toy a shake.

The screen clears for another try at a rough sketch of something, anything, or whatever’s trending today

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On a more serious note, here is an article on Monterey County supervisorial candidate Ed Mitchell from a publication called Faces of Fracking. Check it out by clicking right here. It’s pretty slick.

Ed Mitchell

Ed Mitchell

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If you take things quite seriously, forgive the interruption and go back to this week’s “The Economist.”  But if you could use a few minutes of pointless entertainment, check out this video, produced primarily on an IPhone using images straight from a TV screen. (Even the NY Times runs silly stuff sometimes, OK)

It’s by a relatively unknown Portland band called Lost Lander. Thanks to radio station KRML for introducing it to me. Cheers.

 

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Howard Gustafson

Howard Gustafson

Angry exchanges are standard fare for the Marina Coast Water District’s board of directors, especially if Howard Gustafson is engaged in the topic, but one of his recent communications has landed him a formal censure from his colleagues.

It was an email to the full board that resulted in the directors voting 4-1 Monday evening to censure Gustafson. The lone dissenter was Gustafson.

The email was in response to an email from director Peter Le, a Marina engineer. Gustafson’s response is quoted in a memo to the full board from the district’s special counsel:

The problem with Peter Le is he always uses E-mail to submit his stupid ideas instead of doing it in public so we can respond on the expenses Le keeps racking up for the rate payers to pay. You were supposed to come to the job with some understanding of something but you do not understand anything by judging your comments and mannerisms. I can remember all the crap you fed the electoric. Keep everything the same or hold another meeting so I can explain to the public what a reject Peter Le is. Quit hiding behind your e-mails, Le.

Regards, Howard Gustafson

Gustafson said in a brief phone interview Wednesday that he considers Le “stupid” because he had helped end the failed regional desalination project, the Cal Am project that collapsed as a result of delays and criminal conduct.

“You mean the guy that ruined the desalination project? Yeah, I think he is stupid. The guy that beats up on the employees?”

Gustafson said he wasn’t concerned about the censure and expects it to be overturned because of procedural errors

In a letter to the special counsel, Le had complained that, “Over a year and a half, Director Gustafson has called me names on several occasions, and showed disrespects to my values and opinions and unprofessional conduct during Board open and closed meetings.

“You may recall that Director Gustafson called President Moore a moron and me President Moore’s ‘sidekick’ previously. Director Gustafson also stated that I was ignorant and did not understand grading and improvement plants. In his email to all the Directors and the District consultant this morning, attached with this complaint, Director Gustafson called my ideas stupid and made other accusations against me. There were other occasions Director Gustafson showed disrespect and unprofessional conduct to me that I could not recall at this time.”

Le wrote that Gustafson had repeatedly cut him off when he spoke during meetings.

“I am very surprised that the current and previous boards had not addressed the unprofessional conduct and behavior of Director Gustafson.”

In her memo to the board, special counsel Jeanine DeBacker said Le had told her that Gustafson had called Director Jan Shriner a liar at a board meeting. DeBacker wrote that Shriner did not recall that “but did confirm that during both closed and open session during the meeting, she was repeatedly not allowed to hold the floor to comment and otherwise prevented from performing her director duties.”

Gustafson is seeking re-election in the Nov. 4 election and hopes to be joined on the board by former director Ken Nishi. In recent years the board had swung back and forth philosophically. Before Nishi’s departure from the board, they were able to form a voting bloc with Bill Lee at times. More recently, though, the votes of Shriner, Le and Tom Moore have tended to prevail.

Though Gustafson’s agenda is sometimes difficult to decipher, he tends to favor efforts to develop more water resources in order to accommodate growth in Marina and on the former Fort Ord. In private life, he works as a building inspector for the city of Salinas.

Lee is also seeking re-election along with Shriner and editor and environmentalist Margaret Davis.

Gustafson, Nishi and Lee have been endorsed by the Monterey Herald while Lee, Shriner and Davis have been endorsed by the Monterey County Weekly. The Partisan has endorsed Shriner and Davis.

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Some stories stand alone. Others aren’t quite long enough to justify all that precious cyber space, so the Partisan hereby initiates “Shorts,” an occasional column about politics, public affairs and whatever else is cooking.

SCORE ONE FOR MILLER

The Bernal for sheriff camp was landing quite a few punches against Sheriff Scott Miller, mostly low blows, but Miller left the Bernal team dazed and confused with a flurry of jabs over the last few days.

For some reason, deputy Bernal’s handlers, led by Brandon “Tricky” Gesicki, thought it would be a good idea to get an endorsement from UFW icon Dolores Huerta even though she is about as popular as mildew among the grape growers and other agriculturalists who are the base of his support. I’m guessing they were hoping to capitalize on an earlier Miller misstep, hiring a retired DEA agent as his campaign spokesman despite the agent’s not-so highly evolved views on immigration and related issues.

Speaking of missteps, the Bernal people breathlessly announced the Huerta endorsement late late week. On Huerta’s behalf, Sen. Bill Monning announced the next day that it was a mistake. And Miller announced Tuesday that he now holds Huerta’s endorsement. Miller is hard to categorize politically but if you look in your neighborhood, you might notice that the Rush Limbaugh listeners on your street aren’t putting up Miller signs.

Gesicki went ballistic over the news coverage, of course. He does that. This time, he accused the media of lying, lying, lying. That’s because Huerta mistakenly said it was Bernal adviser Chris Marohn who had misled her about the candidates. The misleader was actually Bernal adviser Chris Schneider. Late Tuesday, it could not be determined whether Gesicki had calmed down.

 DRAMA IN THE DESERT

In a field of strong Monterey City Council candidates, retired police officer Ed Smith has escaped much notoriety but he has one out-of-town critic who’s hoping to end that. The critic is Dean Gray, who edits a watchdog-oriented website in Desert Hot Springs, the Palm Springs neighbor where Smith worked after leaving the Monterey Police Department.

Starting late last year, Gray’s Desert Vortex News published  several stories critical of Smith for his association with Tony Clarke, the would-be promoter of what was to be the Wellness and World Music Festival in Desert Hot Springs. Here is a link to the most complete article, which he sent to the Partisan over the weekend. Its a safe bet that others in the race are well aware of it by now.

Monterey City Council candidate Ed Smith

Monterey City Council candidate Ed Smith

The gist is this: While working as a police commander in the desert town–a “well-respected police commander,” Gray wrote at one point—Smith was assigned to assist Clarke, largely because Smith had had considerable experience with large events in Monterey. The city also forwarded $265,000 to Clarke to help with the effort. After Smith retired from the Desert Hot Springs Police Department, he went to work with Clarke to try to finish the job. It turned out, however, that Clarke was not a music promoter as he claimed to be and they only thing he was really good at was spending the city’s money, Gray reported. Smith made presentations on Clarke’s behalf but he told the Partisan this week that he never reached a formal agreement with Clarke and never got paid for his work.

To give some context to it all, Smith noted that Desert Hot Springs is a troubled town, with more than its share of scandal and controversy. It has had eight police chiefs in just 11 years.

“I’m glad to be back in Monterey.”

RILEY RESPONDS TO CAL AM SABER RATTLING

 When California American Water formally accused water activist George Riley of illegally breaching a settlement agreement by speaking up on a key desalination issue, the utility might have figured he would shut up and go away. Cal Am has a kennel full of lawyers and seems to enjoy unleashing them.

But Riley isn’t backing down. In a letter to the company on Monday, he denied breaching anything and made it clear he will continue exploring ways to make the proposed desalination project more effective and less expensive. Here’s the letter: Breach Response

The accusation from Cal Am was that Riley had publicly declared that slant wells are not feasible for the project and that he would attempt to prevent a test of that technology at the Cemex cement plant site near Marina. In one of the several legal proceedings associated with the desal project, Riley was among the folks signing agreements not to disclose this or that. In Riley’s view, the agreement didn’t and doesn’t prevent him from speaking out about his concerns.

(Slant wells are drilled slightly inland but angled so that their intakes are in the sand and stone under ocean water. The design of the intakes is a critical component of each desalination plant as engineers seek to minimize the amount of damage to aquatic life.)

Riley wrote, “I treat your letter as a soft form of a SLAPP suit, intending to intimidate or censor me. You refer to comments before the Mayors Authority and the Water Management District, neither of which are in the permit track for the test well. You did not quote me. You did not summarize my comments. You did not show evidence of the impact of my comments. You have not identified any permit or easement hearing that I even participated in …

“I will continue to look at ways to support a water supply at the lowest possible cost, and on a schedule that meets local needs. And I will continue to seek reasonable discussions of a fast track that may have higher risk and cost, and may have unintended consequences. In my opinion, the pressures of the compressed schedule are driving out rational discussions. This is my focus these days.”

MAYBE THEY WERE TRYING TO SAVE ON LEGAL FEES

Speaking of Cal Am and slant wells, the company spent much of 2014 seeking approval from Marina officials to install a test well at the Cemex cement plant property on the Marina shoreline, but the request was denied. Later, Cal Am acknowledged that it had no formal agreement with Cemex but it is going to court to try to force a Cemex to cooperate.

Here’s an interesting sidenote that might explain how things went sideways. Local land-use lawyer Tony Lombardo has been representing Cal Am in its effort to find a location for the desal plant and I’m told by people who should now that Cemex has been using Lombardo for some time to represent its local interests as well. It’s a Mexican company.

Was Lombardo negotiating with Lombardo? Who knows. Lombardo hasn’t returned my calls in years, including the one I made Monday.

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OK, so it’s not really big news for anyone else, but it is for us. Starting now, those of you who enjoy/tolerate the Monterey Bay Partisan have an easy way to help ensure its survival. When you look at the latest posting by Royal Calkins, or Larry Parsons, or Bill Hood, or Susan Meister, or the supplemental comments by everyone from Steve Collins to John Narigi, you’ll have instant access to a button you can click on in order to become a friend of the Partisan.

Take a look. The button is right there on the right side of this Partisan pages. It’s yellow. It says “Pay Now.” I wish it said “Please Pay Now.”

As in life, there are various levels of friendship. There’s “friend” for 10 bucks, “good friend” for “$20 and “best friend” for $50 and “we might come weed your flower beds” for more than that. The amount is limited only by your imagination and your net worth. You can send money by PayPal or various credit cards. No muss. No fuss and you’ll feel that much better about yourself.

No, you don’t have to pay to subscribe. You and your entire family and everyone else can still be in the know simply by clicking on the subscription button above the “Be Part of the Partisan” button. The reach of a local news blog is limited from the inception and making it harder for people to read it would make little sense. So you can read for free or if you’re so inclined, you can apply for sainthood by clicking on the “Be Part of the Partisan” button.

We’re raising money in order to sustain ourselves and this fool’s errand. Like everyone else, we have expenses. And if we can get some sort of income stream going, we can pay for freelance submissions and, who knows, maybe pay folks for some regular reporting. We have, in fact, started paying for some contributions and we hope to do much more.

As a business model, this is an absolute dud. Many have tried to make a go of news-related websites through contributions, paid subscriptions, foundation grants and groveling at the feet of angel investors. It probably has worked somewhere, but I don’t know where that might be.

We seriously thought about making this a non-profit, by design, not default. But the process became too daunting. For those of you who care about such things, it is a sole proprietorship. Potentially, it could make a profit. Potentially, my hair could grow back.

Some of you eagle-eyed readers may have noticed that we also have started letting Google place those annoying ads on the site, ads pitching whatever you have been shopping for online. They started last week and as of Sunday I believe we had made $7.49. We may be closing in by $8 by now.

Legitimate inquiry about how your money is being used will result in meaningful response.

So, why should you care enough to pull out your credit card?

Great question.

The Partisan’s mission is to supplement the journalism that is now being produced locally, especially by elaborating on the news you may have seen already, by creating context and, at times, presenting information that simply hasn’t been and won’t be presented anywhere else.

The Herald, as most readers now, has become the Daily Challenge. When I started as city editor there some 13 years ago, there were 16 cityside news reporters and several other reporters in sports and features. Now there are six assigned to local news and one in sports. Features, nada. They work hard and are dedicated to serving the public, but there’s no way they can keep up with everything.

Monterey County Weekly does a fine job of supplementing, but its staff is also small and its resources limited. And weekly means just that.

KSBW has a solid news operation but its daily report is about as deep as the Carmel River in October.

The Carmel Pine Cone? Don’t get me started.

Which brings us back to the Partisan. We certainly can’t reverse the decline of print journalism all by ourselves, but we can help slow a little. We will tackle topics that other media outlets can’t get to or don’t want to. Topics that scare the bean counters. We’ll try to make sense of things if and when we understand them. We’ll listen to our readers and attempt to respond.

For instance, after we published our list of endorsements in the upcoming local elections, a nice reader thoughtfully sent me a note letting me know that the post was so flippant in places that she couldn’t tell whether some of the recommendations were sincere. So, I went back, took out some of the flippancy and added some actual information in an attempt to end the ambiguities. You’re not going to see any other local news operation do that. I miss the world of print newspapering, but the immediacy and flexibility of digital journalism does have its strengths.

BTW, we can promise that Cal Am will never take out an ad in the Partisan, so it will never be able to threaten to pull its ads unless the coverage becomes friendlier. Not that that could happen anywhere else.

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I realize I may be far more excited about the World Series, which starts this week, than many Americans. Already there are predictions the series will produce television ratings so low that the whole thing should be banished to the back of a minor-league bus rambling through the hinterlands.

But It is an intriguing matchup between Middle America and the Left Coast, as represented by the Kansas City Royals and the San Francisco Giants.

The Royals, whose fans have decked a decidedly red state in a prairie of blue (their uniforms are royal blue and cloud white), have captured the imagination of baseball cognoscenti throughout the land. They haven’t been to the World Series since 1985, and the current team plays defense with the speed, grace and will of Marvel super heroes.

The Giants, an orange-and-black mix of old hands, rookies, recycled pitchers and cool customers, are making a serious bid to become one of the greatest baseball dynasties of all time. They won it all in 2010 and 2012, and, by gosh, this is another even-numbered year, so the good vibes are vibrating for the team by the Bay.

Just the music that will be played around the edges of the game should be magical. Charlie Parker, the prophet of modern jazz, hailed from Kansas City, the destination of a thousand bands who’ve sung joyously of going to Kansas City.

San Francisco had its sound, and still has Tony Bennett singing about cable cars and stars. And yes, two members of the Grateful Dead likely will sing the National Anthem before one game with the Giants’ third-base coach. That’s just the way The City rolls.

And unlike the other two major sports, football and baseball, in which identified stars inevitably decide the outcome of contests for all the marbles, baseball’s World Series has a way of shining halos above the heads of the unlikeliest members on the 25-man rosters.

What other sport has a play as simple and, at the same time, as complex as the sacrifice bunt? It is the 120-year antithesis to the self-adulation that accompanies every sack in football and every alley-oop jam in basketball.

I could go on and on about the many dimensions of complexity just under the surface of a game where, at any moment, the players are either standing around or sitting on a sunken bench. But I won’t. Other writers and filmmakers have done it far better.

And again, the casual baseball fan’s two most common questions arising during the World Series — “Why do they spit and scratch themselves so much?” — will go unanswered.

But this World Series will keep baseballers in Northern California and the rest of the world transfixed over the next several days. And people who choose not to tune in, of course, won’t know what they are missing. Bush-leaguers.

My prediction: Giants in six.

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Does Steve Bernal have a future in the cattle business?

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Sheriff’s deputy Steve Bernal

For less than a day, Monterey County sheriff’s candidate Steve Bernal had the endorsement of UFW leader Dolores Huerta, which made absolutely no sense to anyone who knows anything about Huerta, Bernal or his campaign opponent, Scott Miller.

Then, on Saturday, Huerta withdrew the endorsement, saying she had been lied to by the Bernal campaign. Huerta said she had been told that the incumbent, Sheriff Scott Miller, advocates for deportations of undocumented workers.

For some campaigns, this would be a giant deal, a huge embarrassment. Not for the Bernal campaign, though. It’s beyond embarrassment. For me, the Huerta fiasco brings up a few questions I might ask of the Bernal camp if they’d return my calls.

  1. Considering that almost all of Bernal’s support comes from South County ag interests, with the exception of Carmel Republican interests, why would he want Huerta’s endorsement in the first place?
  2. Bernal has been a deputy for 15 years mostly in South County. How’s his Spanish?
  3. Bernal criticizes Miller for personnel decisions. Yet Bernal apparently is employing Brandon Gesicki, Chris Marohn, Chris Schneider and others, including one fellow who escaped federal campaign corruption charges only by becoming a government  witness. There may be more. The question is this. How many GOP operatives does it take to run an expensive and clumsy campaign? (Miller’s running his own campaign.)
  4. How can Bernal claim that the Sheriff’s Department is a mess and that it doesn’t do a good job fighting gangs and then tout endorsements from the four sheriffs who held the office before Miller took over four years ago?
  5. There is this shadowy fellow, who may or may not be Jeff Woods, or Jeff Phillips, or Ryan Williams, who posts anti-Miller rants on You Tube. Does the Bernal camp pay him?
  6. Is Bernal’s family supporting him in this campaign because there isn’t a place for him in the family cattle business?

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Sheriff Scott Miller

Sheriff Scott Miller

Because of this column, some will accuse me of overdoing it in my support for Monterey County Sheriff Scott Miller. The truth of it is that I am only moderately supportive of the incumbent. He has done a good job, with only a few hiccups, but I do not usually get worked up about the selection of sheriffs. I have seen competent ones and incompetent ones. I prefer the former, but I do not lose sleep wondering whether the sheriff of my county is a stellar performer or just an average enforcer of our law and manager of our deputies. Until moving to Monterey County a decade ago, I had always assumed the existence of basic competence.

But given the status of the current race for sheriff, it not a safe bet at all. In fact, if deputy Steve Bernal wins the race, the highly complex operation would be headed by someone who is not qualified to hold most of the positions he would be overseeing.

Running a sheriff’s department is a managerial nightmare. Demands are high, funding is low and the personnel are responsible for so many things, many of them truly matters of life or death. Deputies staff the crowded and dangerous jail. They make up the SWAT team. They must be competent investigators, skilled enough to present prosecutors with what they need to put the bad guys in jail. They need to be well trained and well supervised. It is no place for amateurs or rookies.

Bernal has been a sheriff’s deputy for 15 years now and has received no advanced training in any aspect of the job, and certainly no training of the type that would be expected for someone wishing to climb the career ladder. The department has some two dozen specialized units, such as the SWAT team. I understand that Bernal is the only deputy with more than a couple of years experience who has never applied for membership in any of them. Speculation in the department is that it would have been too difficult for him to make the training sessions because he has lived in San Luis Obispo County for half his career. It’s a long drive to training sessions in Salinas.

Instead, he has been content to work first in jail, the department’s entry-level position. He has worked in the transportation unit, meaning he has driven inmates from the jail to court and vice versa, and he has been a patrol deputy.

Bernal has no managerial experience. He has never hired anyone or fired anyone. He has never disciplined anyone or helped a struggling employee get on track. He hasn’t balanced a budget or lobbied the Board of Supervisors. He hasn’t negotiated a labor contract or overseen construction of a jail or other significant structure. Bernal says he has the skills to balance a budget that Miller has bungled. Even though Bernal lost a house to foreclosure and had his car repossessed in the spring.

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

GOP campaign manager Brandon Gesicki

Miller, by contrast, worked himself up the ranks in the busy Salinas Police Department and served as chief of the Pacific Grove Police Department before being elected sheriff. Unlike Bernal, he has a college degree. Unlike Bernal, he speaks Spanish. Unlike Bernal, he knows what he is doing.

The scary thing is none of this might matter in this era of sound-bite politics, this time when candidates can get away with saying anything they want in their advertising and mailers, apparently because public expectations have gotten so low.

With the help of family and the local Republican Party, Bernal has plenty of money to spend on TV commercials and hit pieces. He has access to some good ammunition in the form of his endorsement by the deputies’ union and its recent vote of no confidence in Miller. Why a vote of no confidence? Because Bernal has offered the rank and file free lunches, veto power over training assignments and even veto power over new scheduling practices. Those are promises he cannot keep, and if he could, it would be disastrous.

Bernal also has armed himself with a campaign staff that knows no boundaries. GOP stalwart Brandon Gesicki has been in charge from the start, a decision made by the local party chairman, Peter Newman, but Gesicki created such a sour taste among the electorate that Bernal now pretends Gesicki isn’t involved.

This is the same Gesicki who dressed himself and friends up like FBI agents to scare Latinos away from the polls. The same Gesicki who persuaded a client to run as a Democrat and a Republican in the same primary and then denied it had anything to do with strategy. The same Gesicki who creates phony organizations in other counties in order to produce deceptive campaign mailers. The same Gesicki who claims he is an idealist who is simply trying to protect the electorate from more rabid Republicans to his right. If they make them more rabid than Gesicki, I don’t want to think about it.

The public has made it clear in many ways that it does not want local elected offices to be partisan. Unfortunately, the public has not played close attention to the partisan games being played by Newman and his cronies. They are obsessed with the idea of having a large count of Republicans in office, even going so far as to offer to finance the campaigns of incumbents who would agree to register as Republicans. Even going so far as to make to make a sheriff out of someone who apparently isn’t qualified to be a sergeant.

Sheriff's deputy Steve Bernal

Sheriff’s deputy Steve Bernal

Bernal may be a fine fellow and a great family man. At the same time, though, he is a cardboard cutout of a candidate propped up by the GOP. His union support is no outpouring of affirmation. Gesicki orchestrated the union endorsement and the vote of no confidence. Even while Gesicki claimed to have no role in the campaign, he even managed to get the Monterey Peninsula Chamber of Commerce to stay out of the race.

You may have seen the ads in the Herald in which the chamber endorses anyone and everyone for local office but offers no opinion on the sheriff’s race. That’s because Bernal and Gesicki privately told the chamber that they would be coming out with some dirt on Miller that would embarrass anyone who had endorsed him. Unfortunately the chamber fell for it.

Bernal’s candidacy is evidence of cynical politics of the worst kind. To the GOP’s Newman and Gesicki, getting a Republican into an important office is the only thing that counts, not the results, not the impact on public safety.

If you take a look at the various media endorsements during this campaign, you’ll see significant agreement between the Partisan and Monterey County Weekly but with the Herald off on its own. In this race, however, all three have endorsed Miller. That says a lot.

If you have read this far, you probably get it. You’re going to vote for Miller. Even so, I have a suggestion. Tell your friends what you know. Talk to your neighbors. Put a Miller sign in your yard, or email the Miller campaign at reelectsheriffmiller@gmail.com and volunteer to help in some way.

For decades now, some forward-thinking Californians have lobbied to end the practice of electing sheriffs and having them appointed instead by county boards of supervisors. I have resisted the idea, largely because I have spent considerable time at supervisorial meetings without always going away impressed. The Miller-Bernal race has me rethinking my position, largely because it is truly frightening.

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Carmel BeachAt this very moment, a team of two people are 
architecting the future of the public’s Carmel beach fire experiences.”

 

That statement may or may not raise the hair on the back of your neck.  You might rest easily if you knew that the team had a clearly defined set of goals and objectives.  You might rest even more easily if you knew they were following a structured process for problem solving.

What if I said, “They don’t and they aren’t”?  Scared yet?

Before I proceed, let me just say that my critique concerns the performance of the Ad Hoc Subcommittee for Beach Fires (“the subcommittee”) and is in no way meant as a personal attack.  The subcommittee members are, by all appearances, decent, nice, people with good intentions and good hearts.  But, should they be architecting what will become permanent regulations for Carmel beach fires?  In my opinion, no.  I know that sounds harsh and unfair on the surface.  Allow me to explain how I formed this opinion.

No activity will succeed unless a clear set of goals and objectives is first established.  For small tasks, such as washing the dishes, we do this subconsciously, but for large, important tasks that will be subject to critical review (especially critical review from the public) goals and objectives must be written in detail, published, and understood by the public before any work is undertaken.

Why?  There are at least a couple of reasons.

One is that public servants have a fiduciary responsibility to their constituency. The public will judge the public servants on the achievement of their tasks.  But, if the tasks aren’t defined (or are poorly defined) the public is denied a method with which to judge either the servants or their activities.  Loose cannons come to mind.  Loose cannons may or may not hit the intended target, and they’re pretty much guaranteed to cause collateral damage.

Another reason for a clear set of goals and objectives is that it saves time and effort.  It’s intuitively obvious that, if we know where we’re going and how to get there, we’ll get there faster and with less wasted effort!  It’s why we plan our cross-country trips or multiple errands around town.

Establishing goals and objectives isn’t rocket science.  Goals are general.  Objectives are specific and support the achievement of a goal.  There are many resources online that describe the process.  Here’s one.  Here’s another.  Note that both of these come complete with a handy mnemonic device to remind us how to generate effective goals.  It’s S.M.A.R.T.  Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant (to the goal), and Time-specific.

To understand, let’s take a look at our dishwashing activity.  You might say to yourself, “I’m going to clean these dishes.”  That’s your goal.  Then, you say to yourself, “I’m going to pick up each dish, scrub it with warm, soapy water until it is free of food, rinse it with fresh, warm water until it’s free of soap, and set it in the strainer to dry.  I will repeat this process until every dish is in the strainer.  I have 15 minutes to do this, because I have to go to work.”  Those are your (unspoken) objectives.

So, how’d we do?  Were we S.M.A.R.T.?  Let’s see. The objectives were fairly specific.  A person could probably use them as an instruction set.  Are they measurable?  Sure.  Count the dishes in strainer.  It should equal the number that was in the sink.  Inspect each dish for food.  There should be none.  Are they achievable?  Yes.  Very.  Are they relevant to the goal?  Yes.  Each objective contributed to the goal of cleaning the dishes.  Were they time-specific?  Yes, you gave yourself 15 minutes.

What if you just had the goal and no objectives?  Is “clean” defined?  No.  Did you set a time limit?  No.  Did you state exactly how many dishes you’d clean?  No.  You could remove most of the food from a few of the dishes over a period of ten days, and you’d still achieve your goal.

Now, let’s take a look at the published (on 10/9/2014) objectives of the subcommittee.  This is the only set of published goals from the subcommittee.  Presumably, this is what we, the public, will use to determine if we can say “mission accomplished,” at the end of the process.  This comes from slide 62 (hand-written number on left side) of the Forest & Beach Agenda Packet Part 2 – Oct 9 2014. These are transcribed word-for-word here:

  • Alternatives suggested by citizens range on a continuum from ban fires to do nothing.  Banning fires is not being explored, however, doing nothing is also not acceptable.
  • Forest and Beach Commission has chosen to find a middle ground, that is, to address the issues of environmental impact on Carmel Bay, the air, and the beach, as well as issues of trash, crowds, safety and reputation while still preserving the tradition of beach fires in Carmel.

Obviously, these aren’t S.M.A.R.T.  I won’t go through all the reasons why.  Frankly, there are too many to discuss in this blog post.  Suffice it to say, the public are at the mercy of the unspoken, unwritten agendas of the subcommittee members, and will be in a very poor position at the end of this process.  Also, the subcommittee will be able to claim victory in every instance.

Now, why do I believe it is not within the capability of the subcommittee members to architect a sensible solution?  It’s because I’ve tried to help them on the right track for a few months, and not much has changed.  One need only read my blog from its inception to see that.

Scott McKenzie is a systems engineer who lives in Carmel. This is adapted from his blog, CarmelNatur

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Competition And AdversityI may have mentioned that one of my former employers, the Fresno Bee, routinely published a little blurb on the opinion page declaring “The Fresno Bee does not publish poetry.” About once a year, someone would write in to differ, primarily by writing:

The Fresno Bee
Does Not Publish
Poetry

Because I receive nearly enough correspondence already, and because I don’t care much for rules, the Partisan will never adopt such a policy. And to make sure everyone understands, here is a poem of sorts by regular Partisan contributor Bill Hood that also serves to succinctly summarize the Monday-night town hall meeting at which area residents had the opportunity to question California American Water about why commercial enterprises pay one rate for water while residential customers pay different and generally much higher rates:

My rent is going through the roof
My groceries even worse
And my utilities are all from hell –
A real devlish curse

 
Although I work from 9 to 5
The money’s good, but still
There’s not enough to pay for food
And my monthly water bill

 
So I went to a meeting held last night
Where I unloaded on CalAm
And asked them why my bill’s so high
And if they gave a damn

 
They listened, but their responses
Were unresponsive, as I had feared
For all they and others talked about
Was that my water rates are tiered

 
I still don’t understand them
But one thing I conclude:
The hotel owners do OK
While the residents get screwed.

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