Turlock Irrigation District, cities need to follow through on old water promise

October 7th, 2013 by admin

By Mike Lynch

The water wars are increasing in fury. Out-of-district interests are increasing their pressure to take more water from the Tuolumne River to send to the Delta, to make available to out-of-district agricultural and urban interests and to restore fish flows.

It is a very good thing that the Modesto Irrigation District and the city of Modesto agreed years ago to provide clean Tuolumne River water to the residents of Modesto at the same low raw water cost provided to MID irrigators. Urban use is recognized as the highest beneficial use of water and trumps demands to allocate it elsewhere, particularly in times of shortage.

At the same time that Modesto and MID worked out their arrangements for the water, the Turlock Irrigation District and the cities of Turlock, Ceres and Hughson announced that surface water from Tuolumne would be made available to their residents. All parties celebrated the accord.

But unlike Modesto and the MID, the TID and its cities never worked out the details. Twenty-five years later, all we can point to for progress is the millions of dollars in staff costs and reports for the on-again, off-again discussions.

We now face even more threats. In addition to the state effort to increase the flows into the river for fish and efforts to make water available for agricultural or urban uses outside irrigation district boundaries, most of the cities in TID’s territory are facing a groundwater crisis of epic proportions. The groundwater basin that provides Turlock with its drinking water is being drained at an unprecedented and alarming rate. This is new. Millions of trees planted outside of TID territory on the east side are powered by megawells without regard to impact on the groundwater basin as a whole. That’s why some of the wells in the Denair area have dried up.
Turlock is in the cross hairs. Many of our wells are already contaminated with arsenic, nitrates and other pollutants. The public health of our residents and the economy of our region are at risk. Experts agree that without a supplemental supply of clean water, the costs to treat contaminated water from existing city wells will be in the millions.

Some say Stanislaus County can help by stopping the overpumping on the east side. But will the Board of Supervisors take that step without the active support of TID and the cities of Turlock, Ceres and Hughson?
Long term, the TID must fulfill the commitment it made 25 years ago to provide surface water at the same rate as irrigation water to the cities within its borders. Some believe this surface water should be reserved for agricultural uses only, but all TID’s constituents – ratepayers and farmers – should be treated fairly.
There is a little publicized fact that helps explain why irrigation rates in TID are among the lowest in California. Irrigators are not charged anywhere near the cost of the water that is delivered to them. Every power customer in TID pays a 3 percent to 4 percent surcharge in his or her monthly bill to cover the irrigation service shortfall. TID, which prides itself on transparency in its billing, highlights different costs in its monthly electricity invoices, but the charge for irrigation services is never listed.

TID power customers, the vast majority of whom live in the cities within TID, paid most of TID’s share of the bonds that were used to construct Don Pedro. In addition, they pay for the shortfall in any capital or operational costs on the irrigation side of TID. This amounts to millions of dollars each year.

Our civic leaders in TID and the cities in the TID service area have taken so long to fulfill what MID and Modesto have had for more than 20 years that there soon may be no water to share.
TID, the cities within its borders and Stanislaus County must act, and soon.

Lynch is a government affairs consultant, resident of Turlock and current member of the Turlock Chamber of Commerce board of directors. This was not written on behalf of the chamber.

California’s ugly experience with mass deportation

August 28th, 2013 by admin

By Mike Lynch

It can happen here!

As Congress prepares to act on immigration reform, it is useful to examine this important and value defining issue. Just recently, I learned that my belief about one major component of the issue was wrong. The idea that 13 million people could “just be deported” always struck me as silly.

A plaque in downtown LA commemorates the forced deportation of upward of 2 million Mexican Americans from California and other states during the Great Depression.

Aside from the manifest unfairness of forcibly deporting people who have lived, worked, raised families and paid taxes here for many years, it would be physically impossible to actually evict that many people.

But I was wrong. America has past experience in successfully carrying out forced mass deportations.

Recently, my wife and I attended a wedding in Los Angeles. Near downtown there is an area that is devoted to the original settlers from the Mexican states of Sonora and Sinaloa who came to L.A. in 1781. A plaque marks where the town began. Nearby there is another display that commemorates the forced deportation of upward of 2million Mexican Americans from California and other states during the Great Depression.

Raids into Mexican American communities and neighborhoods marked this deportation effort. People were taken into custody and transported deep into Mexico. There was no due process. Well over 60percent of those deported were American citizens. Historians differ on the total numbers, but estimates range from 500,000 to more than 2million forced deportations.

Imagine government agents coming through your front door. Men, women and children were taken from their homes and neighborhoods, forced into trucks under armed guard, and shipped hundreds of miles away to a country most had never seen before. That is what happened.

Call a lawyer? Due process was nonexistent.

Our country has apologized for the mistreatment of more than 100,000 Japanese Americans in World War II. The forced deportation of Mexican Americans did not even have the bad excuse of national security. Rather, according to officials at the time, Mexican Americans were evicted because they threatened the jobs of “real Americans.”

Sound familiar? Today some argue that illegal immigrants should be deported immediately. It doesn’t matter that they have lived here and worked here for 20 or 30 years, that America is the only country they have known, or that their children and their children’s children were born in the United States. Nope. “Deport them!” say some.

I was not aware that America had already enforced mass deportations. I have asked many of my friends if they were aware of this episode in our history. My Anglo friends were not. My Latino friends knew it well.
As descendants of Catholic Irish immigrants, my family is well aware of the problems of discrimination encountered by our forefathers. Times have changed, however, and those bad days are now just family lore.
But don’t dismiss as nonsense those calls for the deportation of millions of our neighbors. It’s been tried before. It could be tried again.

And think about this: What if you, your family, your friends and your neighbors were threatened with being uprooted and deported? And you knew this had happened in the United States before? How could you trust a government that specifically and overtly insisted on retaining the option to forcibly deport you, year after year after year?

America is a great nation and we are a great people. We are not perfect, but for every step we take backward, we seem to take two steps forward. Our Constitution empowered slavery, but our civil war ended it. Many religions have been persecuted at times, but all are legal. Mormons were chased from state to state, but just last year a man who is a Mormon was almost elected president of the United States. And we have elected and re-elected as president a man who happens to be black.

Let’s keep moving forward. Tell the leadership of the House of Representatives to allow a vote on the comprehensive immigration reform bill. Its pathway to citizenship is not easy, requiring at least 13years, full background checks and the payment of extensive fines. In return, the undocumented get certainty and the removal of fear. This is good for America! Let’s make our country stronger and healthier.

The Scales of Injustice

April 29th, 2013 by admin

The Scales of Injustice

By Michael Lynch (April 2013)

It was time. I could put it off no longer. Overweight and out of shape is tough to deal with under any circumstance, but if you are 64 years old you recognize that it is a question of now or never (and never might not be too far away).

scalesI have lost a lot of weight before, and gained it back. This wasn’t going to be a new road for me. But I wanted a jump start. Several friends recommended I contact a personal trainer to get me going. Brian had a good reputation, seemed to be a nice guy around 38 years old, and operated a small gym in downtown Modesto. His methodology is hands on one on one training. I figured this would be a good match for me.

Starting an exercise regimen is not a walk in the park. In fact, your muscles hurt so much that walking in a park or anywhere else, even from the chair to the table, is a hurtful experience. And this isn’t even during the sessions! It’s the next day!

Brian knew I had no illusions about becoming an athlete, running a marathon or similar activity. Weight loss and getting healthier was my only goal. Brian’s first rule: the best exercise to lose weight is to stop using the muscle that lifts the fork to the mouth. Diet and Exercise are partners in health and weight loss.

One summer, when Ana and I were in Spain, we visited a museum devoted to the “Devices of the Inquisition”. Other than being rusted and having sharp points and edges, the equipment in the museum is little different than that in Brian’s gym.

Every machine and instrument is designed to pull, press, stretch, and pound down muscles. They are without mercy, especially when Brian is operating them. Thing is, Brian doesn’t believe in reaching a level of performance and holding even. He wants to exceed the previous level. Ageing never slows, neither should training.

“Give me 5 more” is one of the most hated phrases used by Brian Mengele (not his real last name, but a descriptive name none the less) when I reach the performance target. And when we switch to a different machine he changes the weight or increases the pressure. It never gets better because even if you have survived the first two weeks of anguish and actually improved your stamina, he ups the ante on his end. It is a zero sum game…except that your work directly increases in proportion to your success. It’s like the progressive income tax was supposed to be, before they invented offshore tax havens.

Brian is also very cheerful. Always. With a smile and a gleam in his eye, he will ask questions that you cannot answer because to do so would mean you have to stop breathing (or gasping). He has a mother, whom he trains, a good-looking courteous woman who is younger than I am. He also trains his fiancée. She is gorgeous and very pleasant. I met her one day in the gym and told her I know a lot of attorneys should she ever have need of one.

In addition to three intense exercise sessions a week I have started taking long walks and bike rides. This has actually become a somewhat routine activity for the first time in my life.

Changing your diet is very hard. I have some discipline, having given up the heavy use of both alcohol and cigarettes for over 20 years. But trying to find healthy food that also tastes good is almost impossible.

I have an attorney friend, Bob, twenty years younger than I who has become a biking fanatic. Once he and his biker cult friends had overcome the emotional drain caused by the stripping of sainthood from Lance Armstrong he adopted another crusade to supplement his biking…eradicating gluten from the face of the earth.

Now I must confess great ignorance here. I had never heard of gluten. It sounds like one of the evil creatures in the Lord of the Rings who are always trying to get the hobbits: “Watch out Frodo, the Orcs, and the Gluten have our scent! cried Samwise”. Gluten is something in food. I suspect that it is the stuff that makes food taste good, because my friend admonishes us from eating anything like bread, rolls, pasta and any other gluten infected items. Even pretzels are banned.

Bob believes that gluten didn’t exist in caveman days and that’s why the cavemen didn’t get cancer or some other diseases. I didn’t have the heart to tell him the cavemen didn’t live long enough to get those diseases because they were being eaten by saber tooth tigers (or by other cave people). Besides, cavemen were hunter-gatherers. Their usual meals consisted of roots, leaves, bugs, grubs, worms and the occasional raw rodent. Try ordering that at Galetto’s or Tresetti’s!

There is one thing that is really annoying about a lot of the food correctness police, whether they be vegan, veggies, meat only eaters or any of the many variations. Most give themselves an exemption from wine and other alcohol. (Apparently wine grapes don’t have the same sugar issue that regular grapes have). Even I might be able to exist on the caveman diet if I could offset it with consumption of a variety of wines and spirits.

But I am 64 years old, so I decide to watch the diet also. In addition to the training and the exercise, I have given up pretzels, cinnamon roles, bread, diet coke (mostly), potatoes and virtually every other food that might be tasty. Seriously, how many different ways can you prepare lettuce?

But I do feel better, even after doing this for five or six weeks. I have refused to weigh myself for years because I would rather live in denial. (This is particularly hard to do at the doctor’s office unless you have professional level instantaneous memory lapse skills, which I possess in abundance). Brian had weighed me and written my weight down on his chart. I knew the number. One morning, summoning up some courage from a reservoir of boldness I had forgotten I possessed, I stood on the bathroom scale at our house. Unbelievably, it showed I had lost 32 pounds. I felt joy, gladness and cheerfulness. Perhaps the money and effort were worth it!

It was a training day, and I couldn’t wait to tell Brian. He had me stand on his scale. It showed a loss, but not 32 pounds, not 22 pounds, not even 12 pounds. Imagine that. The very old non-digital scale we have in our house is more accurate than Brian’s new super modern digital scale.

A few days later, after many opportunities to test the scale had come and gone, and after it was clear that Brian’s scale was more accurate than mine, I made an executive decision to keep using the old scale as the scale of record. This is the dieter’s version of voter suppression, but the current Supreme Court is likely to let me get away with it.

One more thing. Brian just told me today that celery and carrots are the best snack food. I think he has a disability. Celery and carrots aren’t even food.

Stanislaus County employees wages go down; Irrigation distrcit wages are up

March 5th, 2013 by admin

I have done an analysis of the average 2011 wages for public employees of select jurisdictions in Stanislaus County. All numbers come from the office of the California State Controller and can be verified at: publicpay.ca.gov (Note: These figures are supplied to the Controller by the jurisdictions and are posted as given. The wage numbers do not include benefits. The site does not contain info on k-12 education agencies. It also does not reflect any increases or decreases that occurred after 2011. Jurisdictions who are in noncompliance with the data submittal requirements are also listed. The Controllers office regularly updates this site)

Average 2011 wages for:

–Stanislaus County: $45,313
–MID: $75,020
–TID: $74,746
–Stanislaus Consolidated Fire Protection District: $65,070
–OID: $58,172
–West Stan ID: $33, 243

Average 2011 wages for cities within Stanislaus County

–Ceres: $56,432
–Modesto; $47,334
–Turlock: $44,483
–Oakdale: $43,057
–Newman: $37,172
–Riverbank: $30,677
–Patterson: $26,961
–Hughson: $25,608
–Waterford: $22,015

Interesting facts:

*From 2009 to 2011, Stanislaus county average wages dropped by $4,000, from $49,347 to $45,313. In total wage cost, the county saw a drop of over $16 million, from $224 million to $208 million.
* In the city of Modesto, the average wage dropped $2,300, and total wages were cut $13 million during same time period.
* A much smaller agency, the city of Turlock, decreased it total wages by $100,000 (out of $2.7 million over the same three year period.) Waterford was the only city to see an increase in total wages from 2009 to 2011.
* MID saw a net reduction over the same time period of approximately $800,000 out of $ 34.8 million in total wage cost while TID saw an increase of $3.4 million(from $36.4 million to $39.9 million).

Late endorsement news/June 7th

June 7th, 2010 by mikelynch

Addditional endorsements:
Modesto Chamber of Commerce: Stanisluas County Sheriff Adam Christianson
Modesto Bee: State Senator Jeff Denham for Congress;
Bill Lyons for District 3 Supervisor
Dick Monteith for District 4 supervisor
Adam Christianson for Sheriff

Latino Community Roundtable: Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson

Endorsement notes:

–Modesto Bee and Merced Sun-Star endorsed Senator Denham for Congress. Their sister paper, the Fresno Bee, endorsed former Mayor Patterson for the spot.

–Both Jeff Grover and Gary Lopez, rivals for district three supervisor in 2006, endorsed Bill Lyons for supervisor this year.
–A majority of the directors of the Woodland fire district, on which Terry Withrow serves, have publically endorsed Bill Lyons

Endorsements in Stanislaus County races by local groups and civic associations. Certain groups have not completed their endorsement process. This list is current as of May 7th, 2010. It will be updated as more groups make known their recommendations.

Modesto Chamber of Commerce
–United States Congress, 19th district: Jeff Denham
–California State Senate District 12: Anthony Cannella
–California Assembly District 17: Cathleen Galgiani
–California Assembly district 26: Bill Berryhill
–Stanislaus County Supervisor 3rd district: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor 4th district: Dick Montieth

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (additional endorsment)
–Stanislaus County Supervisor district 4: Balvino Irizarry

Latino Community Roundtable
–Stanislaus County Supervisor district 3: Bill Lyons

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau:
–United States Congress, 11th district: Brad Goehring
–Stanislaus County Sheriff: Adam Christianson
–Stanislaus Supervisor District Three: Bill Lyons
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill

Turlock Chamber of Commerce:
–United States Congress 19th district: Jeff Denham
–State Senate 12th District: Anthony Cannella
–State Assembly 26th District: Bill Berryhill
–Stanislaus County Assessor: Dave Cogdill
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County District Attorney: Birgit Fladager
–Stanislaus County Superintendeant of Schools: Tom Changnon
–Stanislaus County Treasurer Tax Collector: Gordon Ford
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith

Modesto Police Officers Association:
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill
–25th Assembly District: Kristin Olsen
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: Shawn Bessey

Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties Central Labor Council
–Stanislaus County Sheriff Rob Jackson
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Balvino Irizarry
–Stanislaus County Auditor-Controller: Lauren Klein
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: (Dual endorsment) Geoffrey Hutcheson; Nancy Williamsen

May 7th endorsement update

May 7th, 2010 by mikelynch

Endorsements in Stanislaus County races by local groups and civic associations. Certain groups have not completed their endorsement process. This list is current as of May 7th, 2010. It will be updated as more groups make known their recommendations.

Modesto Chamber of Commerce
–United States Congress, 19th district: Jeff Denham
–California State Senate District 12: Anthony Cannella
–California Assembly District 17: Cathleen Galgiani
–California Assembly district 26: Bill Berryhill
–Stanislaus County Supervisor 3rd district: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor 4th district: Dick Montieth

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (additional endorsment)
–Stanislaus County Supervisor district 4: Balvino Irizarry

Latino Community Roundtable
–Stanislaus County Supervisor district 3: Bill Lyons

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau:
–United States Congress, 11th district: Brad Goehring
–Stanislaus County Sheriff: Adam Christianson
–Stanislaus Supervisor District Three: Bill Lyons
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill

Turlock Chamber of Commerce:
–United States Congress 19th district: Jeff Denham
–State Senate 12th District: Anthony Cannella
–State Assembly 26th District: Bill Berryhill
–Stanislaus County Assessor: Dave Cogdill
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County District Attorney: Birgit Fladager
–Stanislaus County Superintendeant of Schools: Tom Changnon
–Stanislaus County Treasurer Tax Collector: Gordon Ford
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith

Modesto Police Officers Association:
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill
–25th Assembly District: Kristin Olsen
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: Shawn Bessey

Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties Central Labor Council
–Stanislaus County Sheriff Rob Jackson
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Balvino Irizarry
–Stanislaus County Auditor-Controller: Lauren Klein
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: (Dual endorsment) Geoffrey Hutcheson; Nancy Williamsen

April 30th endorsement update

April 30th, 2010 by mikelynch

Endorsements in Stanislaus County races by local groups and civic associations. Certain groups have not completed their endorsement process. This list is current as of April 30th, 2010. It will be updated as more groups make known their recommendations.

Stanislaus County Farm Bureau:
–United States Congress, 11th district: Brad Goehring
–Stanislaus County Sheriff: Adam Christianson
–Stanislaus Supervisor District Three: Bill Lyons
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill

Turlock Chamber of Commerce:
–United States Congress 19th district: Jeff Denham
–State Senate 12th District: Anthony Cannella
–State Assembly 26th District: Bill Berryhill
–Stanislaus County Assessor: Dave Cogdill
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County District Attorney: Birgit Fladager
–Stanislaus County Superintendeant of Schools: Tom Changnon
–Stanislaus County Treasurer Tax Collector: Gordon Ford
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith

Modesto Police Officers Association:
–12th Senate district: Anthony Cannella
–14th Senate district: Tom Berryhill
–25th Assembly District: Kristin Olsen
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Dick Monteith
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: Shawn Bessey

Stanislaus and Tuolumne Counties Central Labor Council
–Stanislaus County Sheriff Rob Jackson
–Stanislaus County Clerk-Recorder: Lee Lundrigan
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 3: Bill Lyons
–Stanislaus County Supervisor District 4: Balvino Irizarry
–Stanislaus County Auditor-Controller: Lauren Klein
–Stanislaus County Superior Court: (Dual endorsment) Geoffrey Hutcheson; Nancy Williamsen

Mike Lynch Consulting

November 6th, 2009 by admin

Mike Lynch Consulting is a public relations and public policy consulting firm owned by Mike Lynch operating out of Modesto California.