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Blame city for Walmart delays
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Editor, Ceres Courier,

In response to the Courier's April 9 column, "A longtime editor could very well blame gray on job," it is difficult to tell why the editor's hair is going gray. He talks about the pressures of his writing job, but I guess he was speaking metaphorically. I am unaware of any scientific evidence that stress correlates with gray hair, but I am no expert. Near the end of the editorial, he used the characterization that Ceres residents are "knuckleheaded activists" for not waiting with bated breath (like the editor is seemingly waiting) to see the Supercenter built.

For the editor to imply "Citizens for Ceres" is causing him stress is comical. It is common knowledge that the Supercenter's delayed construction is a result of the actions of the city of Ceres and Walmart. Even with the editor's graying hair, he should recall how the city and Walmart claimed that they could engage in secret negotiations and discussions about the project and the environmental review, and preclude the public from seeing this information. Ceres residents took issue with this behavior, and in July 2013, the Court of Appeal in Fresno strongly condemned the city's actions.

Thus, one must ask, would the editor also dismiss, as "knuckleheaded activists," the parents of Topeka, Kansas schoolchildren whose perseverance ended "separate but equal" segregation with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954? Or were he managing the Mobile, Alabama Press-Register in 1955, would the editor label Rosa Parks a knuckleheaded activist for daring to deny the bus driver's order to give up her seat that day in 1955? What about our founding fathers who refused to accept the concept of "taxation without representation" and then started a revolution? Or Susan B. Anthony and the members of the women's suffrage movement? Were they just more knuckleheaded activists?

In Ceres' case, the "knuckleheaded activists" have already proven the editor wrong. In a May 30, 2012 opinion piece the editor chided Citizens for Ceres' attorney for "dragging his feet about the content of the administrative record, which City Attorney Michael Lyions calls ‘major delay tactic.'" And, he lambasted those who dared question whether the city and Walmart complied with the law. Likewise, in a Feb. 15, 2013 editorial, the editor labeled Citizens for Ceres' action in the Court of Appeal as nothing more than an "abuse of the legal system." Even when the Court of Appeal issued a published opinion highly critical of the city for unlawfully withholding hundreds of documents from the public in the litigation (and disproving the editor's claim that the appeal was without merit), the editor did not eat his hat, but rather in a July 17, 2013 article simply referred to this as a "minor victory" for "Walmart foes" and suggested the city would ask the Supreme Court to review the decision (the city never made that request for review).

The editor has never once acknowledged that any delay to the project was a result of the city's and Walmart's aggressive attempts to withhold information from the public records, which delayed the litigation by nearly two years. And the public record reveals that Walmart greatly influenced the environmental review and mitigation process on its project in a series of backroom meetings with city officials. Had the city simply produced the required documents and information as required by law, in the fall of 2011, the case would likely be resolved by now.

Perhaps the editor should look to the city for a supply of hair dye, so he can look younger. Better yet, he can purchase hair dye at Walmart - we already have one in Ceres.

Jerry Mankins,