Wednesday, September 29, 2010

The Phone Call of the Day

Yesterday's Phone Call of the Day came from an irate reader who was upset about — well, something. We newsroom dwellers couldn't quite understand exactly what the problem was, but it ranged from the competency of the Press to the reasons this person was "stuck in Tracy," and included some stream-of-consciousness word play as well as several repeated and drawn out renditions of the reader's name, address and Social Security number.

Needless to say, it was an interesting way to cap the work day.

So take this as a reminder for all of us to take our prescription medication. Take it also as a reminder that one should never, ever, share their full name, address, and Social Security number with a newspaper reporter.

Unless, that is, it's accompanied by a bank account number and directions to the Cayman Islands.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Plenty of water after all?

For some time, I and others have called misguided the claims that the government is creating a "Dust Bowl" out of the San Joaquin Valley's West Side.

As per this letter to the Westlands Water District — a letter that reveals Westlands, a chief "Dust Bowl" claimant, actually has more federal water this year than it knows what to do with — you can now add "disingenuous" to misguided.

Also, while we're talking about the fate of the Delta, consider this report, which reveals a sobering development: The same people who tried to discredit a nonpartisan, sceintific report about how much water the Delta needs to be healthy are now the ones conducting closed-door meetings that could determine how that water is divvied up.

Can you say "conflict of interest"? How about "foregone conclusion"?

One more equally revealing post about the Delta. Tom Philip, a strategist for the Metropolitan Water District, shares how Delta water is doled out during an average year here. It's an interesting look, and the results might surprise you.

Monday, September 27, 2010

One 'weird' quote of the day

The story of Kyle R., the teenager who escaped alleged imprisonment and torture nearly two years ago by leaping a fence with a shackle still on his ankle, is sadly real, but the details are so disturbing you'd think it was fiction.

Judge Terrence Van Oss, the judge presiding over the trial of the four people accused of beating the boy, admitted that he's just as surprised as the rest of us.

As the white-haried veteran of the black robe said today from the bench:

"This is one of the weirdest cases I've ever seen."

Friday, September 24, 2010

Luna shines on Tank Town

Earlier this week, heavenly bodies lined up as an appropriate reminder of Tracy's location in the state's great breadbasket.

The harvest moon, accompanied by Jupiter, actually lit up area fields and orchards on the Autumnal Equinox, something that hadn't happened since 1972 and won't happen again until 2029.

Despite the name of the celestial event — hearkening a time that said moon was used to extend the time the fields could be worked — there wasn't much harvesting going on during the 2010 harvest moon, as the mild summer and relatively late spring have delayed the gleaning in much of the county.

Monday, September 20, 2010

There, but for the grace of God, go us all

It's been some time since the last tragedy involving a carful of young drivers in Tracy, but when I heard about the four teenagers who died Saturday in an accident on Schulte Road, I was immediately reminded about that crash in front of West High School.

And while a few years have ticked by between these two accidents, my reaction remains the same.

It's too early for anyone to stand on a soap box and rail about teenage drivers, speed and the like. Young adults don't always make the best decisions. But the same could be said of all of us — it's just that those of us still here have been lucky enough to be spared the ultimate penalty.

Let the perfect cast the first stone. Or, instead, extend a sympathetic hand and hug. Because that's what our community should be about when tough times strike — and this certainly qualifies.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

A trial no-brainer

The defense in the Kyle R. case — in which a teenager with a shackle on one leg escaped his alleged captors and bounded into a Tracy health club pleading for help — is seeking a change in venue.

Those details, as reported in the Press and elsewhere, have a tendency to stick in the mind, as has the case's popular label: The Tracy Torture Case.

That's made the defense claim — and not without reason — that the four defendents can't get a fair trial in San Joaquin County. So far, the judge seems to want to move ahead with the trial, since it's nearly two full years since Kyle R. made his first public appearance.

That fair trial business is kind of important.