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By Tim Hunt

The two Californias

Uploaded: Mar 1, 2012

Here's another observation on Rep. Pete Stark. Back in the mid-1980s, he faced a tougher than expected campaign four years after he was elected. A Republican challenger, Bill Kennedy, surprised him and others by running much stronger than expected in Stark's first re-election campaign and was raring to go two years later.
So it came to Livermore's annual Rodeo Parade in June. Kennedy rode in a convertible and waved to the crowd from a distance.
Pete walked on the street, wearing blue jeans and a red checkered shirt, and shook hands and introduced himself to anyone who would listen. It was a stark (sorry) contrast and one that had to play well with voters. Here I am relating the story almost 40 years later.
That was a hungry, much younger politician. Haven't seen much evidence of that enthusiasm of late.
SWITCHING GEARS—I'm spending the rest of this week in Fresno, attending ABHOW's annual convention in my role as president of the Pleasanton Gardens board (we provide affordable housing to very low income seniors in our complex on Kottinger Avenue and Pleasanton-based ABHOW is our management agent.)
Listening to the radio and reading the Central Valley publications, the tale of two Californians shouts out. Newspapers up and down the valley supported Rep. Devin Nunes' bill in Congress to eliminate California water law, reverse the settlement of a long-standing law suit and guarantee water to the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. It passed the House of Representatives Wednesday.
It was also cheered on the radio as reversing the policy of putting fish (the Delta smelt) ahead of farmers and farm workers.
Bay Area newspapers and representatives as well as the Brown Administration (the Obama Administration as well) took very much the opposite view.
The dueling editorials and opinion pieces ranged from national publications such as the Wall Street Journal to the major regional papers. Location meant everything.
It just further re-enforced what Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters has written for years about the two Californias—the 16 blue counties along the coast that have the majority of the population against the other 42 inland counties.
Travelling just 150 miles to Fresno drove home that point.
Incidentally, the "Congress caused dust bowl" signs are old news, but it's was notable to see one large billboard screaming about the rail to bankruptcy with a picture of a high-speed rail car. It was a reminder that many farm folks in the Central Valley oppose the absurdly expensive high-speed rail project (less than $7 billion committed with matching federal funds against a $100 billion project that the governor blindly wants to push forward.) Their fervor to protect their farms and their way of life matches that of the folks on the peninsula who want no part of surface high-speed rail through their communities.
It's stunning how such an ill-conceived, miserably planned project still has politicians supporting it instead of running for cover.