A Feb. 25 news conference on real estate fraud prevention gave the county's two top lawmen the chance to show off their many skills in front of the gathered media.
Larry "Numero Dos" Morse, Merced County's district attorney, gave a speech about real estate fraud in which he cited facts and statistics, as would be expected. But an open pair of ears in the crowd thought some of his words sounded familiar -- a little too familiar.
In fact, it sounded like Morse had grabbed lines directly from the Sun-Star to use in his speech.
Morse, who said he wrote the speech, admitted that he "stole some of it from the paper." But, he said, only part of it came from the newspaper. The rest came from other sources.
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"Like anything else, when I'm putting a speech together I'm using a variety of sources," he said.
Well, it's a good thing he isn't a journalist anymore. (It's true, he used to be a reporter.) If that were the case, his editors would call what he did plagiarism.
But Morse was not the news conference's only star. Mark Pazin, Merced County's sheriff, also shined that day.
With the news conference in full swing, a passing driver decided to show off in front of the crowd. The car spun a couple doughnuts in front of several police chiefs and the sheriff. That's when Pazin's natural inclination to take charge hit a wall.
To chase or not to chase? That was the question facing Pazin.
While he rarely shirks the limelight, in this case he seemed caught up. In any case he took chase, but it remains to be seen whether or not he did it because of the cameras. Pazin could not be reached for comment.
"I'm sure he was torn between his obligation to be at the press conference and his sense of duty to apprehend a miscreant in the commission of a traffic violation," Morse said aptly.
Where is Cardoza?While Congressman Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, came home to his district in mid-February to take part in the internment monument ceremony at the Merced County Fairgrounds, some constituents wonder why it was so hard to get a face-to-face with their voice in Washington when he was in town. He was here for three whole days.
According to his schedule for the brief visit, Cardoza was a busy man. On Feb. 17, he spent half the day with constituents, but who he visited is unknown since his office doesn't divulge that info. The rest of the day he was with the Merced-Mariposa Central Labor Council. Thursday and Friday he was busy meeting with unknown constituents, again. Saturday, his last day in town, the only thing on his plate was the Merced Assembly Center Dedication from 3 to 4 p.m.
Cardoza's spokesman Mike Jensen, a former journalist for the Sun-Star, told Lips Cardoza tries to make himself available to constituents as much as he can when he's in Merced and Washington. On March 2, for instance, Cardoza held a telephone town hall with 5,084 Merced voters randomly picked from the voter rolls, said Jensen. "It's going to be impossible to see every constituent; we do the best to accommodate people."