Saturday, March 25, 2017

Why did U.S. Representative Norma Torres hold her town hall at the Merton E. Hill Auditorium, rather than the Gardiner Spring?

Do our politicians want to hear from us, or do they want to hide from us?

Over the last few months, there have been a number of instances in which Congresspeople have been accused of hiding from their political enemies. The general argument is that it is the duty of a Congressperson to listen to his or her constituents.

But is that standard universally applied?

On March 4, the Daily Bulletin ran an article about two upcoming Town Halls for Congresswoman Norma Torres.

The other town hall for residents of Torres’ district is scheduled for March 25.

Note the "residents" qualifier. We'll come back to that.

Torres herself announced the town hall a few days before the event.

The key part of the announcement is the following:

Please RSVP below. Space for the event is limited, and entry will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Of course space is going to be limited for something as important as a Congressional town hall, because many, many people are going to want to come to it. Therefore, the Torres office chose to hold the town hall in an auditorium - specifically, the Merton E. Hill Auditorium. We'll get back to this.

On the surface, the setup sound great. First come first serve, for people within the district. I even saw a bit of the event on Facebook Live.

But Facebook Live didn't show the whole story.

My suspicions were aroused when Matt Munson wrote this.

I think it should be illegal for elected officials to exclude people from their events in public facilities just because they are from the wrong political party if the event is paid for with tax money. Only way one should be legitimately excluded is (felony or they do not live in the district).

I'll grant that this video is in some respects over the top (why would a MAGA person call someone a Communist? Aren't Communists good this month?), but it does appear that some people were let into the event without having to go through all of the "give your address" stuff (see 8:40 into the video), while other people were examined much more closely. Apparently the ones who were examined more closely were judged by the color of their (red) caps.

As the MAGA people claimed, Norma Torres' folks were setting up an un-Constitutional "border" to keep people out of the event. Why do you even need tickets to get into a town hall?

Well, you can't let everybody in, Torres supporters will argue. The Merton E. Hill Auditorium can only hold so many people.

Gosh, it's too bad that there isn't a larger facility that could provide the capacity to host a town hall. But even if there were such a facility, I'm sure that it would be a long distance away.

Oh, like two buildings over.

The smaller red box in the northeast corner is the Merton E. Hill Auditorium, where the town hall was held.

The larger red box is the Gardiner Spring Auditorium, the main auditorium on the Chaffey High School campus. As you can see, it is much larger.

It should be noted that when the high school itself has events with a lot of attendees, they hold them at the Gardiner Spring. Choir concert? Theater production? They're held at the Gardiner Spring.

So it makes absolutely no sense for a U.S. Representative to hold a town hall at a facility that is so small that it's unsuitable for a high school theater production.

Unless, of course, you don't want people to come to the event.

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

Inland Empire people, here's how @realdonaldtrump can get @NestleUSA out of our national forest

On Google Plus, Jason ON discussed the wild idea of the U.S. government selling water rights to private entities.

Jason may not have realized that this has already happened.

In the course of a post last month in my Empoprise-BI business blog, I discussed Nestle USA's headquarters move from California to Virginia and talked about our little Inland Empire issue with Nestle.

Speaking of organic, Nestle signed a sweetheart deal years ago with the U.S. Forest Service to take millions of dollars of water out of the San Bernardino National Forest at minimal charge. Now perhaps you haven't seen Nestle Water on your shelves, but you've seen Arrowhead water. Yup, that comes from my national forest.

Perhaps if I just agreed to let Nestle take all that water, and cut down all the trees (that's a joke - there are hardly any trees in the National Forest because of the elevation) in the National Forest to boot, they would have stayed here.

But then again, perhaps my friends in Arlington will have their own troubles when Nestle gets to their Rosslyn headquarters and starts draining water out of the Potomac.

Now Nestle gets its Arrowhead water from the forest because the water is pristine and wonderful and all that.

But what if that changes?

President Trump signed documents Tuesday directing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to review the Obama administration's "Waters of the United States" rule. In doing so, Trump said he is "paving the way for the elimination" of the rule.

He asked for the reviewers to assess its consistency with "promoting economic growth" and "minimizing regulatory uncertainty," among other factors.

Now I have no idea if the Arrowhead springs are affected by this particular move, but it's no secret that certain government officials want to promote economic growth in a lot of areas. And that could very well include the San Bernardino National Forest.

Yeah, but what resources are present up there other than water and (a few) trees?


In 1855, gold was discovered in the San Bernardino mountains. Over the second half of the 19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly....

If you stop reading there, then you may quote from a famous Democrat - "It's the economy, stupid" - and realize that you can Make America Great Again by restoring our economic viability.

Just don't read the rest of the paragraph that I started quoting above.

In 1855, gold was discovered in the San Bernardino mountains. Over the second half of the 19th century, mining, timber, and grazing grew quickly, taking a heavy toll on the land. By the end of the 19th century, significant sectors of the forest had been felled and overgrazed. Streams and rivers were silting in and water quality was declining. Meanwhile a growing population and a thriving citrus industry made increasing demands for clean drinking and irrigation water.

Now let's say that economic growth proponents kinda sorta ignore that last part - and hey, the citrus industry has moved anyway! Now let's say that the San Bernardino National Forest is opened up to logging, gold mining, grazing, and other activities to restore our economic competitiveness.

Of course, a resurgence of such activities could result in "water quality...declining" again, affecting Nestle's pristine water.

Which brings up the possibility of Nestle suing the government for not being environmentally friendly, and reneging on its contract with Nestle. Only one problem - Nestle can't sue the government for reneging on a contract, because Nestle's permit expired a long time ago.

So Nestle will have to shut down its Arrowhead operation and start getting water from the Potomac River.

Or perhaps from Flint, Michigan.