Bill McEwen

Northeast Fresno water history is clear as mud

Around the world of politics faster than a burly bodyguard can politely escort a Sandersnista protester out of a Donald Trump rally:

▪ As City Hall’s top brass tells it, former northeast Fresno water plant operator Robert Moorhead was ahead of his time. Long before Hillary Clinton was exposing classified information to hackers by storing it on her private server, Moorhead was taking public information (citizen complaints about orange drinking water) and making it classified info on his private server.

Moorhead told The Bee’s Marc Benjamin that he feels like “I’m being used as some kind of scapegoat.” Sort of like how the city used to blame the orange water on the water-softening systems in people’s homes.

▪  Orange is the New Clear, Take II – If Fresno City Councilmembers think they will have much say over how this mess will be cleaned up, they are kidding themselves. You have scandal. You have city employees hiding information from the public and state officials. You have lead-tainted water. You have an investigation that thus far has cost the city’s water enterprise reserve fund $800,000. And you have two nationally known drinking water contamination and water chemistry experts called to the scene. The only way this is put into the rear-view mirror is with money and lawyers.

▪  Orange is the New Clear, Take III – Hard to believe that no one on Mayor Ashley Swearengin’s team didn’t know about the northeast water trouble until January of this year. Just like no one in the police department had an inkling that Deputy Chief Keith Foster allegedly was dealing drugs. Then, again, this newspaper didn’t know about the water problems, either. The lesson? If you get stiff-armed by City Hall, call or email a Bee reporter.

▪  True Confession – I am a Twitter follower of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who occupy parallel but vastly different universes.

Friday, @‏realDonaldTrump tweeted, “I love watching these poor, pathetic people (pundits) on television working so hard and so seriously to try and figure me out. They can’t!”

It’s not just the pundits who can’t figure out Mr. Trump. Add his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Republican Party leaders and an increasing number of voters to that list.

▪  “Liar, Liar” – The 1997 comedy starring Jim Carrey had the perfect title for the 2016 presidential election. Clinton’s lies are polished and delivered with either a straight face or a pained expression. My theory is that because Clinton is a perfectionist, she has a hard time admitting failure. Trump’s lies are outrageous and easily caught. It’s likely that he’s been telling lies for such a long time, he simply can’t stop.

For the curious, politifact.com is the place to go. They have the goods on both candidates.

▪  My Party isn’t My Party Anymore – Elections like this one inevitably give rise to conversation about forming a third major party. There are two big hurdles in the way. Setting up a nationwide political operation requires billions of dollars, and no one who is a star in the Republican or Democratic parties is likely to bolt to a new outfit.

But Michael Bloomberg, who believed to be the eighth-richest person in the world with a net worth of $48 billion, and a few of his allies could easily bankroll an attempt at a major third party. For the record, Bloomberg has been a Democrat, a Republican and an Independent over his lifetime. He surely would have no reservations about adding another affiliation to his legacy.

Who would join this party? Establishment Republicans and conservative Democrats who recognize that America is largely a center-right country and are tired of the political nonsense that goes on in Washington, D.C., and many state capitals. Such a party could isolate the tea party on the far right and the Bernie Sanders’ supporters on the far left, and move the country forward with data-driven solutions and recognition that compromise is essential in a successful democracy.

A major third party could not be formed overnight. And the party would have to discover and groom its own stars. But it’s something to think about in a presidential election in which many Republicans and Democrats wish they could vote for “none of the above.”

Marketing is everything, so this third big party would need a name that resonates with American voters. Send your suggestions to bmcewen@fresnobee.com. Bill McEwen is The Bee’s opinion page editor.

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