Liberty Chronicles

A Tale of Two Cities

A Comparison Porterville Past Trajectory and Current Trajectory

By Ed McKervey
Subscribe To Liberty Chronicles
your source for visionary views


Spring has arrived and the wildflowers are blooming all around in a breathtaking hue across the land.  I see swaths of flaming yellow mustard 4 feet tall and some weeds maybe even taller.  The snow in the mountains is a marvelous backdrop. I can’t remember a more beautiful spring day than today.  We spent Easter weekend with friends & family celebrating and counting our real blessings that we sometimes take for granted when we focus on the material things in life.  It is refreshing to pause and enjoy the majesty of nature all around us reflecting the rebirth, renewal and redemption of the true meaning of Easter and living for today.

The emerald green pastures above the lake are the darkest green I’ve ever seen contrasted against the cattle basking in the sun and the pure white backdrop of the record breaking snow pack.  It is so refreshing to see the waterfowl everywhere after all of the water we received in this record breaking year.  The whole valley was brown, dry, dusty and parched just 6 months ago.  My family has enjoyed the shift to a long overdue wet season with joy and thankfulness. One season gives way to the other and neither can coexist.  The beauty of where we live between the extremes of flood and drought is California and has been for millennia.  We would be missing out if we didn’t take the time to celebrate each moment. The cleansing water brings to life our wonderful green pastures and delightful array of wildflowers. The moment may be fleeting so enjoy it while it lasts, as the forever drought crowd already saying it’s never enough.

I had the pleasure of a guided tour of our Tule River Parkway Gardens this week full of flowers and native plants that stand out from the rest of the river area.  The river has been ravaged by flood changing the flow and undermining banks formerly thought solid now crumbling and caving in as the water always finds it’s own way despite man’s efforts. I also noticed roll off bins here and there where the city has done a good job starting to tackle the years of neglect to help clean up the area. Improving access to river will serve us well in coming fire season and protecting the environment. I even spoke to a couple of people that were cleaning up some of their mess from squatting by the river. Even squatters know it’s clean up time also utilizing the same bins in the same spirit of renewal which was refreshing. Great to see the foresight and the clean up as this will likely be a big fire year following all of this rain. We have to restore river access so we can prepare for the fire season to protect the city as we work to repair the river channel and guard against heavy snow melt.

There are 18 Gardens and 3 Oak Restoration areas down on the south side of the river west of Jaye St.  All of which are maintained by volunteer groups with guidance and direction from their fearless leader Cathy Capone who leads the Tule River Parkway Association.   The dedication by those involved in the parkway is inspiring.   The original vision for the parkway emerged back in the late 1980’s and by the early 2000’s in partnership with the city and local volunteers several asphalt pathways were installed along with a parking lot near the Jaye St. Bridge providing community access.   The original vision of the parkway needs to be restored in the hearts & minds of the community as it is a noble endeavor. A vision that lacks support of the people and local leadership cannot be achieved and cannot expand and thrive. We must protect the garden from the wilderness.

The garden areas are terrific but seem to be but a small island in a sea of neglect in the wider river bottom.  The neglect of the river front has even crept up to the houses and the bike path next to city streets are unkept and overgrown. Not very inviting.  The recent flooding has brought focus back on the area that most chose to ignore due to all of the squatters. The abuse of our waterway has been running rampant in our backyards for far too long.  Despite some efforts to address the real issues down by the river there has not been a cohesive long term agenda to make real sustainable change a reality.  It is a conflict of visions.   The former vision was to create a space for the community to gather and enjoy the river front but it has given way to willful blindness. The problems we face at our river front are all too well known.  The current vision seems to only increase the abuse of our river parkway and ignoring the problem only makes it worse.

The squatter problem in at least one other California city was solved recently by zero tolerance policies. In the 1970’s New York’s Times Square was a den of iniquity, crime, prostitution and drug abuse. Times Square was transformed into a great public space after the city enacted broken window theory and tackled the problem head on. Broken windows theory is a commitment to overcome and it worked very well despite the naysayers negative claims.  The problem we face has been growing for years through complacency and made worse by state policy primarily focused on housing which is wholly inadequate.  Like the man made drought we seem to have created another man made crisis with no way out. Government is force by definition and its attempts to impose compassion leads to more problems than it solves and feeds a broken power structure that thrives on not solving problems.

We need to return to local control and local solutions not blind obedience to bad state edicts that create crisis after crisis with no end in sight.  Don’t you find it strange that there are no real pathway’s to success or solutions? Our Governor’s campaign promise in 2008 to end homelessness in 10 years has lead to the greatest increase in homelessness in history.  Our one party state overlords have made everything more expensive at the same time that they are demanding we make things more affordable.  Its almost like they should do the opposite because what they are claiming they are doing is having the opposite effect. The small measures that work to ameliorate part of the problem caused by state interventions only lead us to more poverty and inverts the word affordable when you connect it to housing. Our governor created a campaign that did the opposite of what was promised and the local leadership fell for it because it has some money hooks tied to it to further a failed agenda. This is a path of destruction, not creation. Recognizing where things “lead to” is an essential part of leadership.  Good leadership is about choosing a path of success even if unpopular.  Affordable housing sounds great but is not affordable at all.

There is a tale of two cities here.  Formerly a city with a positive vision of natural beauty and parkway habitat in the center of town accessible by everyone and secure like the other parks in town. A destination for families to relax, enjoy and engage the community. A city where each city councilmen represented the whole city not just a district and was voted in or out by the entire city. Contrast that with the current vision (nightmare) to ignore the problem we all know is getting worse by the day until it become a crisis.  To ignore the extreme ecological damage that this problem causes with all of the unmentionables piling up on our precious waterway.

The current track accepts the false premises of affordable housing which is a failed campaign promise from 2008.  This failed plan provides a little grant money while adding to our long term debt obligations which enables the destruction of the waterways in the meantime. The state plays favorites at our expense ignoring the long sought after environmental laws then embracing a defacto promotion of lawlessness.  This state campaign creates health, safety and fire hazards using fear, threats of litigation and outright intimidation.  State policy demands we deal with the failed outcomes of rising crime and drug trafficking that is spilling onto our streets as a result of inflation caused by bad government. Much of the inflation is driven by failed green policies like electric buses that cost a fortune and don’t work that money can be used elsewhere and should. The current vision embraces policies that create more problems than they solve.

Imagine, we are so risk averse in our city we created 5 separate city districts to avoid potential equity litigation. A city where councilmen are now mostly focused only on their own districts that elect them. A city council that can vote against overall city needs to support their own district. These opposing visions cannot coexist.  One of these visions will win out and we must choose wisely a path forward.  Similar to the ongoing drought crisis there are no solutions and now they are trying to convince us its our own fault despite our successful conservation. We cannot have a river parkway serving the community at large while ignoring the growing squatter problem at the river that undermines the community at large, at the same time in the same place.  Worlds are colliding.

Maybe it’s because we don’t want to solve problems we just want to use crisis to bypass regular order for money and power. Many are beginning to think that folks in positions of power find it easier to lead by crisis than to do what they were elected to do. Why are we continuing the 10 year drought crisis even today after a generational flood?  People use 7% of the water and Corporate Farms use 90%.  In business you don’t go to the 7% and ask them to solve the 90% problem. I would sincerely like to see a coalition of engaged citizens and groups unify to solve some of these local problems before they are made worse again by playing follow the leader. Ignorance and apathy are our greatest enemies.

The questions leaders must always ask are “where are we headed?” and “what direction does each policy lead to?”   Are we sacrificing our future for the present, or are we sacrificing our present for the future?  What are the trade offs? The residents of Porterville are beating water conservation goals by more than 20% without smart meters and that’s a good thing.  The city just staked out a positive position to restore the river and that is a good sign that we will stop ignoring the entrenched problem. It is a sign that the city is beginning to work towards some real solutions the community can get behind and support.

The old adage “where there is a will, there is a way” comes to mind.  We have to decide if we are going to pursue good leadership that seeks to solve problems and provide real solutions.  Good leadership chooses to lead and stop following.  Good leadership secures a positive future for the next generation.  Good leadership does not accept the way we have always done it and chooses a vision of success and strives for solutions to entrenched problems.  Good leadership is not afraid to say no to bad policy.  A board that always agrees and always says and votes yes is an unnecessary board. Good leadership seeks a vision of optimism and hope and redemption and takes a stand for what is good right and just against all that is evil failed and wrong.   We must resist the status quo of neglect, inaction and indifference.  Two opposite visions cannot coexist one will win over the other and we must choose which future we want. We must choose and fight for a future that secures the river front for our community to enjoy and realize the hopeful optimistic river front vision neglected for a generation.


Originally published in the Porterville Recorder's 4/12/2023 issue.

Blank Person

Ed McKervey

Liberty Chronicles presents a range of perspectives. Views are writers’ own and do not necessarily represent those of the editors, Blessings of Liberty, or its Board of Directors.

Subscribe To Liberty Chronicles
your source for visionary views