Friday, January 20, 2012

Thoughts from this week's paper

• Thank the rain gods for the wet stuff that started falling Thursday — but we could have done without the wind that's turned Eleventh Street east of town into a scene from the Wild West. The tumbleweeds are out in force, and at one point in the early afternoon were completely blocking the No. 2 westbound lane just off the Interstate 5 off-ramp. Dodgy stuff.

• Rep. Jeff Denham has serious credentials in the 10th Congressional District race and widespread appeal in the Central Valley. But he might find himself out of step with his flat-tax proposal, which would shift the income tax burden down the country's pay scale. Note his answer to a question about that downside paid no mention of the average worker or taxpayer. (Yes, close to 50 percent of American's don't pay income tax under the current system — but they still pay plenty in payroll taxes, sales taxes, property taxes, etc., so please don't call those folks freeloaders.)

• It'll be interesting to see how Denham and his Democratic opponents, so far Mike Barkley and Jose Hernendez, approach the water issue in this district. Tracy and its environs south draw water from the Delta-Mendota Canal, and the quality and quantity of that water would in theory be increased if a Peripheral Canal is built around the lower reaches of the Delta. But that samesaid canal would decimate the water supply for San Joaquin County's top industry — agriculture — an industry that Denham, at least, has sworn to protect. With water in these parts a zero-sum game, it looks like folks running in the 10th District race will have to choose between safeguarding agriculture in San Joaquin or Stanislaus counties.

• Police are making more contact with gang members, and the number of documented gang members in Tracy has gone up. It's disconcerting to think that gangs' precence in Tracy is increasing. But these numbers could also be comforting — as long as the rise is reflective of a police force that's getting a more accurate picture of the reality on the ground.

• Spoiler alert: Evidently, West High School's boys basketball team is the younger, updated version of Phil Slama Jama. Look for some coverage of their high-flying attack in future issues of the Press.