FRESNO -- “Drive around this city and take a look at the economic distress. It’s tragic,” Carly Fiorina suggests as we wrap up a sit-down interview in sleepy Fresno, California. “It’s way too quiet here.” She’s right. Shuttered windows, closed down businesses, and chained-off, vacant lots litter the heart of Fresno’s downtown district, which stands as an enervated shell of its former bustling self. The only storefront with any discernable foot traffic is a bail bonds joint next door to the Sheriff’s office, where Fiorina has come to accept the endorsement of the local law enforcement association. The economic outlook is grim in today’s California Central Valley, but Fiorina says it won’t stay that way if she defeats Barbara Boxer this fall.
Environmentalism Run Amok
“Just look at this situation by the numbers,” Fiorina says. “Fresno County has unemployment above 15 percent. Individual communities in the Central Valley have unemployment at 20, 30, even 40 percent (as in the case of Mendota, CA). It’s just terrible.” She points out that although the region suffers from the same economic ills plaguing the rest of the state, an additional factor is impeding any chance of recovery from Modesto to Bakerfield: A crippling water shortage. Fiorina penned an Op/Ed about the issue in the Fresno Bee last year, explaining that this “man-caused disaster” arose by dint of a poorly conceived federal effort to protect a species of small fish called the smelt. The result, she argues, has been unacceptable human suffering:
While the persistent drought has certainly contributed to these effects, what would have been a difficult problem has become a crisis due to the aggressive and ill-considered implementation of the Endangered Species Act.
The recent decision to limit water flowing to the Valley was made by nameless, faceless bureaucrats. These federal officials are unaccountable to voters for their action and there is little recourse to reverse their decision — unless Congress acts.