Editorials

Our View: Thumbs up, thumbs down returns – Who do we like, dislike this week?

Opinions editor Garth Stapley is pictured in The Modesto Bee newsroom on Wednesday February 27, 2019.
Opinions editor Garth Stapley is pictured in The Modesto Bee newsroom on Wednesday February 27, 2019. jlee@modbee.com

Question: When’s the last time you saw a Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down column on The Modesto Bee’s Opinions page?

Hint: If your guess even comes close, you’ve been a dedicated reader for some time, and we appreciate your support. See the answer below.

But first, let’s give some pats on the back and slaps on the wrist for actions we consider noteworthy, whether good or otherwise.

THUMBS UP: To the local river guides who recovered the body of 5-year-old Matilda Ortiz in a stretch of the Stanislaus River on Wednesday, three days after she fell in near Knights Ferry. These guides, normally associated with happy times for people who enjoy the thrill of rafting, set aside the fun for a somber task and succeeded where dedicated firefighters, deputy sheriffs and other volunteers had not been as fortunate. Our hearts go out to the Patterson girl’s family and loved ones.

THUMBS UP also to several water agencies on various levels working together to help the search by lowering the flow of the river, swollen by melted snow filling reservoirs upstream. It’s not easy getting everyone on the same page when it comes to water management, especially at a time when rivers should be as big as possible to make room for anticipated snow melt in reservoirs. If they hadn’t slowed the huge river a few hours before, searchers very well may have come up empty.

THUMBS DOWN: To ending this week’s very important Stanislaus County Board of Supervisors meeting at 1:08 a.m. No doubt everyone would have preferred to finish much earlier, but people had a lot to say — most of it, negative — about proposals for two cannabis nurseries on California Avenue, west of Modesto. It’s imperative for neighbors and others to have their say, but continuing to conduct business long after most people have gone to bed is not in anyone’s best interest.

THUMBS UP, however, to county leaders for finding a tenuous compromise; they weren’t about to approve the nurseries after hearing neighbors’ concerns, but neither did they outright kill the proposal by a company that’s considered tops in its field. Tabling the matter will give Legacy Nursery an opportunity to find better locations. They should consider industrial zoning rather than rural tracts; no one on Tuesday opposed an indoor cannabis grow proposed for an industrial area in southeast Modesto.

THUMBS DOWN: On five unnamed, former Modesto Police Department officers whose dishonesty cost them their jobs in the past five years. An eye-opening Sunday piece by Modesto Bee reporters Kevin Valine and Erin Tracy outlined the officers’ misdeeds, including a policeman so eager to catch drunken drivers that he overlooked the truth, and another who lied about getting out of his patrol car while it was still in gear, damaging the car and someone’s fence.

THUMBS DOWN: On Ceres, which has refused to provide similar documents under Senate Bill 1421, a state law requiring that agencies stop hiding records about officers who were deemed dishonest, who sexually assaulted someone or who shot at or otherwise hurt another. Although agencies up and down California are coming clean in response to SB 1421, Ceres — which has had two recent fatal shootings by police — is balking. Keep an eye out for future Bee reports as other records are unveiled; those from the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department are expected soon.

Answer: May 2013

Garth Stapley is The Modesto Bee’s Opinions page editor. Before this assignment, he worked 25 years as a Bee reporter, covering local government agencies and the high-profile murder case of Scott and Laci Peterson.


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