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Wrong time for TID bonuses
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The leaves of the field of wheat rustled dryly in the hot wind that skimmed across the dry and cracked surface of the ground as the man leaned on the shovel and looked at his crop - crisp and dying from lack of water.

He raised his gaze to the sky that curved above him, a coppery inverted bowl of shimmering heat. Down the wagon road, a pall of dust crept slowly toward him as a buggy emerged from its rolling clouds.

...That pesky man from town coming out again to talk to him about building a dam somewhere in the hills above him and impounding the river so he and other wheat growers could have water for their crops. The idea was idiotic and he would tell the man so again.

The leaves of the nearly dead field of stunted wheat rattled again in the breeze like the faint buzz of a rattlesnake. It was the drought years of 1874-75 and the wheat shriveled in the field.

But the man from town persisted and others like him until, after a dozen weary years of work, hundreds of miles of driving and a thousand visits to ranchers and businessmen, the Turlock Irrigation District became a reality in 1887.

The previous text is an except from the story "Miracle of Irrigation Long Time in Making" by former Turlock Journal reporter Howard C. Pond. His descriptive use of language makes me feel like I am right there next to that Turlock wheat farmer in 1874, looking at his dying fields and then the heavens for an answer. His prayers were answered - not in the amount of time he was hoping for - when the creation of the Turlock Irrigation District brought blessed water to dying fields across Stanislaus County.

TID has been a pioneering organization since its inception. It was the very first water district to be formed after the Irrigation District Act of California, which became law on March 7, 1887. The building of Don Pedro Dam was considered a marvel of modern irrigation engineering in 1923. And today TID is aggressively moving towards the future of renewable energy with the Tuolumne Wind Project - 62 turbines which will generate enough green energy to power approximately 44,000 households each year.

To recap: TID brought water to the dry farmlands of Stanislaus County; its innovation has been world renowned; and the district continues to be in the forefront of the future of energy.

The thing I don't understand is how could four out of five TID Board members vote to give administrators and managers pay bonuses in a year when the district increased electric rates to account for a $57 million deficit. For 122 years TID has been looking out for the farmers and electric customers of this land, then in a year of unprecedented unemployment and drastic cuts in state benefits, they decide to raise rates to give themselves bonuses!

While retired persons on fixed incomes will be looking for a way to come up with the extra $12 a month for their electric bills this summer, TID managers will be installing new swimming pools and vacationing in Hawaii.

I think the TID administrators and managers should follow the lead of other local public entities. Turlock Unified School District Superintendent Sonny Da Marto volunteered to take a 3 percent pay cut and city of Turlock employees agreed to take an effective 5 percent cut in their salaries. Both Da Marto and the city employees realized that if everyone sacrificed a little, then no one would have to make a major sacrifice - like homeowners who can't afford their electric bills who may smelter in a 160 degree house this summer.

Instead of bringing integrity to the TID Board of Directors, four members decided to take the path of the Big Three auto companies - asking for more money from the public, while refusing to give up their luxuries.

Now where did I park my private jet again?

To contact Kristin Hacker, e-mail