Lawmakers punt on “gigaplant”

The L.A. Times reports that state lawmakers failed to pass a package of incentives to lure the Tesla battery “”gigaplant” to the state. That’s potentially bad news for Stockton, previously identified as the leading California candidate.

Thanks, lawmakers.

The story quotes one unnamed “policymaker” as saying, “The administration gave up about a week ago.”

Thanks, administration.

It is believed that Stockton city officials are making an extreme effort to accommodate the plant, which would bring 6,500 jobs, and a change in city fortunes. But they are keeping their actions in strict secrecy.

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The Valley: Republican time warp

What does it say about the San Joaquin Valley that it is one of the last redoubts statewide of the Republican Party?

The positive interpretation is that the Valley’s connection to the soil is part and parcel of a fundamental social sanity people instinctively want to conserve. Hence conservatism.

The negative interpretation is that the Valley is a time warp of white privilege, income inequality and anti-immigrant sentiment, all of which is popular with the Republican base.

The Fresno Bee has a story that the Valley is one of the last places in the state with meaningful two-party races. That’s a good thing. Jerry Brown could never reign in the free-spending left wing of his party without a few fiscal conservatives in the legislature.

The downside, in my view, is that the Republicans Party, which has forged too far to the right, will never reform, moderate and become more inclusive until it loses enough elections and purges or at least subordinates its Fox News/Tea wing. We see that happening in national races.

I hope we see it here. Birthers, Xenophobes, gun nuts, warmongers, climate change deniers, torture apologists and Ayn Rand groupies are a poor substitute for the old William F. Buckley type of intellectual conservatism.

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Drones, drones on the range

Wes Rhea of Visit Stockton writes:

“Thought I would share this cool site which shows how prolific drone use is worldwide and especially in Europe.  Some really cool videos!

The context here is Monday’s Fitz’s Stockton about Visit Stockton’s new drone.

I clicked on some of the drone videos from France. Wow.

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Jennings: Uncle Sam helping kill BDCP

Uncle Sam helped harpoon to near-death the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan, says Bill Jennings of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

As I blogged yesterday (see item, below), public comment rained heavy blows on the destructive plan to two 35-mile long tunnels under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to divert Sacramento River water to desert farms down south.

But the water grab “was placed on life support following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) scathing 43-page comment letter on the BDCP’s draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS).”

Want to relish the EPA’s dismantling of the tunnels plan? Here you go.

“The EPA comments coming on top of some 4,500 pages of searing reviews by municipalities, counties and water agencies that would be adversely impacted by the project, almost 2,000 pages of highly critical comments by environmental and fishing organizations, hundreds of pages of harsh analyses by government agencies and stinging comments from many thousands of California citizens reveal that BDCP is suffering from a congenital terminal illness,” Jennings said.

State officials have delayed the plan until next year. But, “Additional delay is unlikely to improve BDCP’s prospects for survival,” Jennings said.

I’ll give him the last word: “BDCP was doomed from the beginning because it was conceived on the fatal premise that you can restore an estuary hemorrhaging from a lack of flow by depriving it of another 2.5 million acre-feet of flow. Its two goals are fundamentally inconsistent …”


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A turkey in full retreat

State officials have sent the Bay-Delta Conservation Plan back to the drawing board.

The latest delay could be interpreted as a triumph of public input. The BDCP was all about limiting and managing certain public input — such as the Delta region’s — and drafting a dubious state water plan in a bubble of special interest perspectives. It’s a fair bet public comment showed state officials where the plan would be vulnerable to court challenge.

In other words, they’re not re-doing the plan out of standard democratic government regard for the stakeholder array. They’re re-doing it because public comment made it painfully clear that their turkey will not make it past Thanksgiving.

And why not? Take it away, Restore the Delta: “The EIR/EIS is fatally flawed due to its failure to include a viable funding plan, exclusion of any true no-tunnels alternatives, failure to comply with the Endangered Species Act as evidenced by numerous scientists’ red flags, misrepresenting taking water to be a “conservation” plan, secret BDCP planning with the exporters and their consultants, and lack of public outreach to non-English speakers.”

Other than that, it’s perfect. Really.


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Fine art photos of Stockton mini libraries (?!)

Mas’ood Cajee writes:

“This year, internationally-renowned Documentary Photographer Robert Dawson has been collaborating with the Library and Literacy Foundation for San Joaquin County and the Stockton-San Joaquin Public Library to document the culture of public libraries and literacy in San Joaquin County.

“The artist and writer Ellen Manchester is also gathering stories of how people use the system’s libraries and literacy programs, promoting reading and literacy as a means for improving the community’s well-being. This effort has been made possible by a generous grant from the Creative Work Fund.”

Dawson has a portfolio called “Public Library: An American Commons.” It’s pretty cool. I guess we’re in it now.

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Researchers: Let Delta levees fail

A reader sends a UC Davis study with a startling conclusion:

“This initial analysis indicates that it is economically optimal not to upgrade levees on any of the 34 subsided Delta islands examined, mostly because levee upgrades are expensive and do not improve reliability much. If upgrades can improve reliability more, it becomes optimal to upgrade some levees. Our analysis also suggests that, accounting for land and asset values, it is not cost effective to repair between 18 and 23 of these islands when they fail.”

In other words, the whole Delta model is doomed. Read the study here.


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The drought is lifting them thar hills

The drought is sinking the Valley, but it’s lifting the mountains, says the Scripps Institute of Oceanography.

Even as groundwater pumping causes subsidence on the Valley floor, California’s mountains have risen a squidge over a half an inch, Scripps says.

“How is this possible?” asks a science writer in Salon. “We’re talking about a lot of water being lost: about 63 trillion gallons this year (picture a 3.9 inch pool of water over the entire West, or the amount being lost every year from Greenland’s melting ice sheet). Without that weight compressing Earth’s crust, the researchers explain, the ground itself appears to rise up “like an uncoiled spring.”

Science never had the technology to resister this phenomenon before. The whole Salon story here.


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Delta levees’ strength proves their weakness (?!)

Delta levees didn’t fail in the Napa quake — proving Delta levees could fail in an earthquake, Gov. Jerry Brown says.

Brown made these remarks Tuesday on San Francisco radio.

“There’s a real, real risk there in the Delta area,” Brown said on KGO radio. “And that’s one of the reasons we’re looking to build a conveyance that will protect against that.”

I’m used to Brown and other tunnels supporters ignoring empirical evidence about Delta levee strength. But to actually use evidence that directly contradicts their view as evidence in favor of it is a new rhetorical frontier.

I’m of the Old School. Our syllogism works like this: 1. There was an earthquake. 2. The levees did not fail. 3. Levees do not automatically fail in earthquakes.

In fact, in the Delta’s entire history, levees have never failed in an earthquake.

Brown & Co. might want to use that last point as ammunition, too. You’re welcome, gentlemen.

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Hammett’s “Midget Bandit” not from Stockton

In his biographies, Dashiell Hammett, the great American author of hard-boiled detective novels, said the character of “Wilmer,” the pint-sized but dangerous gunman in “The Maltese Falcon,” was based on a diminutive Stockton crook whom the papers nicknamed “the Midget Bandit.”

The story was that this kid, who was short in stature but cocky, stuck up a filling station here. The paper quoted the filling station owner saying he’d like to get his hands on the kid. When the kid read that comment, the game little bantam went right back to the filling station and held up the owner at gunpoint again, just to show him who was boss.

Hammett got wind of the story, and liked it. And that was the idea for the character of Wilmer.

I gave the old college try to find Wilmer in old newspapers, but never could. Now, a researcher says why.

“I’ve found Dashiell Hammett’s midget bandit and discovered why you couldn’t find him in a search of the Stockton papers of the time,” writes Warren Harris.

Because the midget bandit did his thing in Fresno, not Stockton, Harris said. Harris id’ed the bandit: Edwin Ware of New York City.

In honor of Harris’ breakthrough research, Don Herron, the San Francisco Hammett scholar, has declared it “Midget Bandit Week,” and is running stuff about the little yegg all week. You can read it here. The only Stockton angle is a certain columnist digging futilely to find newspaper stories about the Midget Bandit, but if you’re a Hammett fan like me it’s all good.

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    Michael Fitzgerald

    Mike Fitzgerald is The Record’s award-winning metro columnist. His column runs in the paper three times a week. Born in San Francisco, he was raised in Stockton. His column covers diverse beats including, sometimes, the offbeat. Read Full
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