Does the Public Have the Right to Know? MAYBE Says the Bee
By Emerson Drake
On July 31, 2012 the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (SCFB) sent a letter to each member of the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors and a copy to the Modesto Bee. In the letter they outline their concerns regarding the potential water sale to the San Francisco Public Utility District. The letter was extremely detailed, citing multiple California Environmental Quality Act (CEQUA) concerns, using exact numbers from MID reports and was cross referenced with the corresponding dates the numbers were published by the district.
Many of these concerns have been voiced by the public but never have they been documented to the extent of the letter. The Bee has refused to acknowledge even the receipt of the letter in print let alone publish it.
The media, or fourth estate, is important to an informed electorate but unfortunately sometimes some people feel it’s in their best interest to limit or shape public opinion by withholding important facts from the ongoing discourse. By limiting access to all sides of an argument they strive to control opposition to what ever view they are trying to propagate.
This isn’t about just disagreeing with their point of view, it’s about listening to all sides of a discussion and THEN deciding what is the best course of action.
Editors, especially Opinion Page Editors, like to be invited to the best soirees and have their “opinion” sought out by local movers and shakers. After all, how could their friends possibly be wrong? We just emerged from an extended period of being under the overbearing Mark Vasche, where politicians he didn’t like were attacked in print regardless of the good they were trying to accomplish. When it comes to MID, Mike Serpa comes to mind. Or like reporter John Holland has found, it’s easier to write stories when you can receive phone calls from those involved and their PR people and not even have to attend meetings.
The Bee’s refusal to publicize the letters from the Farm Bureau was first broken by Eric Caine at www.Thevalleycitizen.com and since this time several attempts have been made by many of us to get the Bee to discuss the letters for the record. Unfortunately, to this point our efforts have failed.
The original cover letter is here. This is followed by a short overview here and the entire SCFB critique is here.
Fortunately, here in Modesto we have several alternatives to enlighten readers who are concerned about the whole picture and not just what the Bee and a few of their friends think is good for you to know.