McNerney: extradite my hijacker

Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Stockton, has asked Secretary of State John Kerry to support extradition of the sole surviving gunman who in 1971 hijacked a plane on which McNerney was travelling.

The reluctant traveler: Congressman Jerry McNerney


Here’s that story. Quite a ride.

“As a passenger of the hijacked plane, I am deeply saddened that Hill, and numerous other U.S. fugitives, have not been brought to justice,” McNerney writes.

Here’s McNerney’s letter. KerryCubaLetter7-24-15


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Pension reform: the counter-attack begins

And it’s self-serving balderdash, as expected.

Some of the words used by the chairman of Californians for Retirement Security to describe the Voter Empowerment Act’s reasonable (and urgently needed) pension reforms in this SacBee op-ed: an attempt to “force-feed warmed-over political ideas; a “gutting” of the public pension system; “Orwellian;” “sinister;” a “brazen assault on retirement security.”

And this: “They are falsely selling their proposed ballot measure as a proposed cut in pension for new employees. In reality it could cut or eliminate pensions earned by current employees for future work.”

And that is precisely why the measure deserves support. Pensions are killing cities. The Voter Empowerment Act takes nothing away from what employees have earned. But it gives voters the power to reduce unsustainable pensions going forward.

Because public employees are irresponsible supporters of their gravy train.

The measure simply gives voters a choice: do they want all their municipal tax dollars going to pensions? Or do they want cops, firefighters, library hours, road maintenance?

It is not Orwellian to call this voter empowerment. It is accurate, and a healthy assertion that power in democracy flows form the people, not public servants.

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Meet the new tunnels, worse than the old tunnels

UOP analyst Jeffrey Michael dismembers Brown’s revised tunnel proposal.

“The latest numbers estimate the tunnels will increase water exports south of the Delta by an annual average of 257,000 acre-feet, with no increase in drought years when it is needed most,” he writes in this SacBee guest editorial. ”The cumulative value of that water supply over 50 years is $2 billion to $3 billion.

“For comparison. San Diego’s new desalinization plant will provide 56,000 acre-feet of drought-proof water for a capital cost of $1 billion. Desalinization is the most costly water supply alternative, but it still provides more than three times the water supply per dollar invested than the Delta tunnels.”

He’s also very strong rebutting the argument that the tunnel is needed should earthquake ruin Delta levees.

“The earthquake argument is not only economically wrong, it’s morally outrageous. The real damage from what some call California’s Katrina would be death and destruction in the Delta itself . the state’s model of this tragedy shows hundreds could die and that 80 percent of the economic damage was from the loss of property and infrastructure in the Delta.

“It’s shocking that the state’s response to this are water tunnels that protect only 20 percent of the economic loss and zero percent of the life loss. Levee upgrades are much cheaper and reduce risks for all Californians.”



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From Larry’s vaults

Larry Valterza sends a photo of downtown Stockton during the flood of 1892.

The building to the right is the San Joaquin County Jail,  ”Cunningham’s Castle,” as it was known.

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Tourism “regardless of the city’s image …”

Wes Rhea, head of Visit Stockton, responds to today’s column:

“I always feel it’s a good article when I finish reading and say, “that was not so bad.”  Thanks for spreading the word about our efforts.”

Wes Rhea with Visit Stockton's drone


“I can appreciate poking at the Celebrate branding effort (many of us were never in love with it).  That was a DSA led process funded primarily by the city, and it just never got legs in 2008,  somewhat due to the fact that we had checklist of things we were recommended to do to make the brand happen – of which very little got done. One being a city events commission to become the  “event city.” And we continue to talk about events today…”

Rhea’s money graph:

“I totally agree that image is not changed by branding and we do not expect to change any image with this process. Regardless of the city’s image we must still do what we need to do to attract visitors, groups and businesses to Stockton. If we can do that with a consistent and cohesive marketing brand, then that makes the dollars go farther.

“We do not expect the world to change with this new brand, but we do hope more of us will work together to market and promote or city with some semblance of togetherness. It should be much more than a tagline and logo. This process, like many, is very research driven, and for us in marketing, that will go along way.”

The failure to follow up on the “Celibrate!” campaign is understandable — Great Recession, foreclosure capital, bankruptcy, etc. — but still a failure of government.

Rhea’s hotelier constituents pay taxes and expect results. I understand that, and I respect the job he has to do. Just, please, no more exercises in wishful thinking and marketing ineptitude from City Hall. Rhea, at least, sounds like he knows what it takes.

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Slate beams to Mt. Shasta

Recently we talked to a local guru who took followers to Mt. Shasta to meet with Compassion, a higher being communicating through a crystal skull.

In earlier years we learned the story of the man who built a following for his tales of discovering Lemuria within Mt. Shasta.

What is it with Mt. Shasta?

Slate magazine takes up the topic:

“In modern times, people believe that Bigfoot roams Shasta’s slopes. Others say that the 8-foot-tall descendants of the lost city of Atlantis live inside the mountain in a crystal city named Telos.

“Others claim that UFOs refuel at the peak, or that mountain inhabitants called Yaktavians use sound to manipulate reality. People claim that Shasta is flush with energy vortices; that it sits on a ley line, like Stonehenge; and that it wields a magnetic power, drawing people in and holding them emotionally captive.

“In Shasta’s woods, the founder of a movement called “I AM,” Guy Ballard, met an “Ascended Master,” a spiritual entity who considered Ballard a trained messenger and spoke through him …”

The story here.

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If Fresno can do it …

A Fresno developer just completed renovation of a “Warehouse Row” of old brick warehouses down by Fresno’s Amtrak station. William Dyck of Summa Development Group mixed new buildings with old renovations in a splendid $13 million project.

A model for modern building repurposing.


Vision, anyone?


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Help for the time-warp tank

A Good Samaritan says he’ll pay to paint over the embarrassingly obsolete logos on Stockton’s I-5 water tank. If he can put his logos up there.

California Cougars ... r-i-i-ight.

“We would be more than willing to pay for the costs,” says Peter Kilpatrick, head of the Stockton Youth Soccer Association which, as you can see, has a perfectly fine logo.

Not that it’s a big deal, but the weirdly inaccurate logos inform visitors that Stockton is home to the California Cougars Professional Soccer Team and Stockton Lightning Professional Arena Football team. Both went under years ago.

The time-warp tank also trumpets the Stockton Asparagus Festival, which also went under, though it was reborn as the San Joaquin Asparagus Festival.

“I’ve already got a painter that says he’s willing to do it for me,” says Kilpatrick, who says his youth programs serve around 3,000 kids.

A city spokesperson’s reaction: “We’re looking into it.”

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55er campaign reaches its goal

The Indiegogo campaign to raise $5,000 to publish a book of Dave Waldon’s 55-word writings reached its goal, and then some.

Dave Waldon in 2010

Waldon is a Stockton writer who adopted my 55-World Writing Contest as his form of artistic expression. He is now nightmarishly ill. Local arts figure Paula Sheil wants to publish the book as his artistic legacy to Stockton.

Sheil is grateful for the donations.

“Oh, my gosh,” she said. “I don’t know that there’s anything more eloquent than when you wan to do something and everybody is with you. It’s just very gratifying.

“I hope David feels that love and that appreciation for his work, too.”

Sheil now goes to Tokay Press to work out publication details. She hopes to get the book out before Spring.

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UC Merced wants it. Stockton deserves it.

UC Merced is asking for $1 billion expansion money to “allow the school to attract more students from the surrounding Central Valley region.”

Here’s a better idea: build California State University Stockton. 

It chagrins me that UC Merced reps are lobbying the regents for $1 billion in resources, while nobody is there to say Stockton and environs would be better served by its own university.

Give us that billion and we’ll transform the northern San Joaquin Valley.



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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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