March 29, 2014

Modesto Bee’s visiting editors say goodbye

Years ago, to reconnect with our maturing children’s musical taste, I purchased a CD by a then-popular band. Before I even had a chance to commit songs to memory, their ever-evolving teenage tastes moved on to the next “latest” group.

Lori Coleman: Central Valley should unite to increase its clout

Years ago, to reconnect with our maturing children’s musical taste, I purchased a CD by a then-popular band. Before I even had a chance to commit songs to memory, their ever-evolving teenage tastes moved on to the next “latest” group.

Though musically cool in my kids’ eyes just a short time, that CD introduced me to some wisdom-filled lyrics guaranteed to stand the test of time: “Sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

The years moved on and our three children are now full-time college students. In an effort to reconnect again, this time with our community, I welcomed the opportunity to serve as a visiting editor for The Bee and return to my roots in writing. I loved the experience. Editorial meeting topics – ranging from job development and growth to water issues, fracking and community and Valley-wide strategies – were informative and interesting. Our guests, as well as The Bee’s editorial staff and reporters, shared a commonality in their openness, knowledge and passion for advancing our region.

While genuine concerns for positive changes were expressed, what differed were our editorial board guests’ distinct approaches. Some offered visionary plans building upon our area’s economic mainstay, agriculture, while other viewpoints presented ideas limiting it. Rather than promoting individualized agendas though, it would be revitalizing for our city, county and regional leaders to focus on mutually beneficial outcomes. My brief tenure at the Bee made it increasingly evident we would be stronger united than divided, especially given the Valley’s already weak political clout.

It would obviously be difficult to coordinate such a collective dialogue given the influences of politics, power and money. But, “sometimes the hardest thing and the right thing are the same.”

Coleman is a Turlock resident who volunteers with several organizations and enjoys writing.

Richard Haratani: Role is like going to big leagues in civic activity

This ends my three-month stint as a visiting editor at The Bee, and what a fabulous opportunity this program offers! As a school newspaper reporter/editor in junior college days, this was going from Triple-A ball to the big leagues. I equate it to a graduate course in media and civics that anyone can apply to attend. Being part of the workings of a well-run daily is a rare experience without equal, and I would especially encourage local professors to offer credit to college students to participate.

I’ve learned Modesto faces myriad challenges that are also great opportunities. A recurring theme in this first quarter was the general apathy historically permeating this city by residents and businesses alike. The great qualities of this area are blanketed by perceptions of ongoing crime, grime and general malaise.

Take heart and take part. There are groups working hard to bring out positive results, and public support and participation are always needed. Love Modesto and Earth Day approach and cleaning up parks, creekbeds and rivers would be a great beginning to a lifelong commitment to reduce litter, respect nature and guard our irreplaceable resources.

Of all the topics covered in these past meetings, the one that stands out is health. It really is the one that encompasses all the others. Where are we if we lose our health? Air, water and land issues all converge there, and it should guide all other discussions. Depleting, squandering or poisoning our elemental needs makes a poor environment to celebrate economic gains in. Volunteer!

Haratani is a playwright and author working on a one-person biographical play on Manjiro Nakahama entitled “The Accidental Occidental.”

Mike Noordewier: To frack or not to frack in the Central Valley, is that the question?

The biggest threat to California’s clean air, water and our health is a subject few of us are talking about. If you would have asked me a year ago if we should allow hydraulic fracturing of the Monterey Shale to achieve energy independence I would have said, “frack, baby, frack.” It seemed like a no-brainer.

Now, as much as I believe we need to develop as many domestic energy sources as we can to achieve a state of independence, I question the wisdom of even attempting to frack the Monterey shale deposit found here in the Central Valley.

I am not sure if I buy into many of the arguments against fracking, such as groundwater contamination, massive leaks or rail cars exploding in our back yard (though these are very real concerns). But there is one undisputable fact: If we frack we will destroy our air quality.

I had hoped there was a way to cleanly frack, but environmentalists have assured me it just isn’t possible. It is probably true, though oil companies, I am sure, would say differently. Here is the scary part – once the oil companies are allowed in, there is almost nothing that can be done at a local level to oversee them. Everything is regulated on a federal level and I use the term “regulated” very loosely. I have much more to say about this (particularly about the chemicals they use), but what must be done immediately before the oil companies are allowed in is to organize all the counties in the Valley to work in conjunction in setting standards prior to drilling and to get a statewide severance tax in place to help preserve our wonderful state.

Noordewier lives in Oakdale and is CEO of United Sign Systems.

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