Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the day “December 15, 2011”

The State of Virginia Sets Women Back 50 Years

By Louise Taylor

Virginia had a state election last month and the Republicans won by an overwhelming majority.  So, you might wonder, what is the first order of business for the newly elected Republicans?  Is it providing jobs?  Is it helping the poor or needy?  Is it helping students receive a good education?  Is it helping uninsured people get health care? No, their first order of business is to ban all abortions, regardless of circumstance.  In addition to that, they want to ban “all hormonal birth control”.  That means the birth control pill, the most commonly used form of birth control nation-wide, may now be banned inVirginia.  We can be certain of the results of this type of legislation:  illegal abortions resulting in the deaths of many young women, an increase in the number of families and children living in poverty, and a drop in the number of girls that graduate from high school.  Teens have sex, whether we want them to or not and by taking away a teen-age girls ability to prevent pregnancy, you are condemning her (and her children) to a life of poverty.

The birth control pill is a remarkable advance in the ability of women to plan and space their children as they see fit.  It allows college age women to finish their educations and start their career path prior to having children.  It allows young mothers to go back to work without the worry of having a baby every year.  Countless studies have shown that women who have fewer babies and space them appropriately are healthier and happier, as are their children.

Ultimately, it is the middle-class and lower-class women who will suffer from this legislation.  The wealthy women who experience an unwanted pregnancy can afford to travel to a state that allows safe abortions. 

The second order of business for these newly elected representatives?  Jobs?  Healthcare?  Education?  Reduce poverty?  These would all be worthwhile endeavors for politicians of any political affiliation, but that’s not what’s going to happen inVirginia. Virginia will now try to make it legal to discriminate in the area of adoption.  Not only will you be banned from adopting a child if you are gay, but other “legal” reasons to stop someone from adopting a child will include:  gender (I guess if you’re a man or a woman, you can’t adopt), disability, religion and POLITICAL AFFILIATION!  That’s right – you might be denied the ability to adopt a child inVirginia because you are Jewish, or Catholic, or atheist, or Buddhist, or because you are a democrat!  I guess there are plenty of straight, Republican, (insert appropriate religion here), inVirginiato adopt all those needy children.  They’ve sure made it impossible for anyone else to adopt. 

Don’t Republicans care about children?  Why do they condemn children who have yet to be conceived to a life of poverty?  Why don’t they care about children already living, who need good homes?  Why can’t they do better?

Modesto Irrigation District Meeting: The Changing of the Guard

By Emerson Drake

Newly elected MID Directors Larry Byrd and Nick Blom took their respective seats on the dais today.  For the many who have never been to a MID meeting the dais is U shaped with the two end seats facing each other.

While they don’t have officially designated seating, in days gone by they actually sat by the number of the district they represent.  But with the seating of the two new Board members, Glen Wild, Division 1, apparently felt the need to sit next to his mentor/advisor in all things MID, related Tom Van Groningen who has been sitting on the far right.  Van Groningen, Division 3 used to be in the middle but when Paul Warda was elected Board President a year ago, Paul assumed the center seat.

 Hey, Wait a Darn Minute. Is Our Electricity Costing More then Necessary?

The quiet yet controversial discussion revolving around MID’s unusual way of approaching their “green” portfolio is curious.  Currently MID has renewable energy at 27% of our generating needs and that will increase to 29% when the McHenry solar acreage comes on line.  By law we aren’t required to have even 20% until 2013 and 28% until 2016.  While all of us appreciate the head start toward mandated goals, it means we as ratepayers are being required by MID to pay more for our electricity than actually necessary.  To put MID’s energy costs in perspective, hydro electricity is .03 kwh.  Gas turbine generation costs are .06-07kwh. The recently negotiated solar costs are .14-17kwh and escalating as time goes by depending on which numbers you quote

These surpluses do roll over but they only roll for 36 months. These credits are nice but MID didn’t offer information to show how much we actually benefit as these credits get “stale” and fall off,  and are lost.  With our excessive “head start” the extra money MID ratepayers are  now paying will be wasted and lost. 

I have to admit their story sounds nice until you sit back and think about it.  Then “Hey wait a darn minute” comes out of your mouth.

The decision was made to sign a contract with Fayez Sarofim and Company to transfer about $33 million dollars from under G.E. guidance since it was felt that the investments G.E had been overseeing had been underperforming for the past two years.

A squabble over the Don Pedro Recreation Agency’s (DPRC) desire to raise overnight fees on weekends and to almost double the cost of going to the “Fireworks Day display” has been brewing for about four weeks. Former Board member Cecil Hensley had been against the rate increases and Larry Byrd is continuing his stand against raising the rates.

It first appeared it was going to be a 3-2 vote with Byrd and Blom against and Warda, Wild, and Van Groningen in favor.  But at the last minute Van Groningen voted against the increase and requested staff member Bill Ketchner to approach the DPRC and attempt to talk with them again.  This is interesting because Cecil Hensley, who Larry succeeded when Cecil retired, was a voting member and MID’s representative to the Dom Pedro Rec. Agency Board of Control and it was expected Larry would assume the role as MID’s torch bearer.

The two members of the public who spoke were against the rate increase.  One speaker noted that other the members of the  DPRC,  who are  Turlock Irrigation District (TID) and the City and County of San Francisco, don’t seem to have a problem with raising the rates on the weekend campers without exhausting cost cutting efforts first since weekends are usually booked close to capacity.  And that San Francisco was known for their “Tax and Spend” approach to financial problems and hoped MID would stand against taking the easy way out.

In a final bit of business for the year, Tom Van Groningen was elected Board President for the next year and Van Groningen’s sycophant and rubberstamp, Glen Wild, will be the Vice President.

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