Lead-contamination fears in Sacramento used as fodder for cheap-shot column

In filing criminal charges against three officials responsible for maintaining safe water in Flint, Michigan, the state attorney general declared that they “had a duty to protect the health” of Flint residents and “they failed to discharge their duties.”

That clear, compelling and obvious statement of accountability Wednesday is far removed from the reprehensible, self-serving bleating of Sacramento Bee columnist Marcos Breton this week regarding a local lead-poisoning danger.

Instead of providing a journalistic public service by focusing on city officials who displayed a callous disregard for the safety of residents near Mangan Park in south Sacramento over a period of years, Breton chooses to blame nearly 32,000 city residents, myself included, for the mess.

That incredible connection, if one can call it that, was our vote against Kevin Johnson’s attempted power grab in 2014 via Measure L. Breton apparently is still in a snit that his public declarations of support for his buddy Johnson failed to overcome voters’ wariness of our morally challenged mayor. A strong mayor, Breton seems to argue, would have established clear lines of authority throughout the city bureaucracy and all would be dandy for children, parents and other residents near Mangan Park.

Breton’s strained logic trivializes a serious issue of public safety and does nothing to establish needed accountability for a health danger initially recognized in 2006. According to a Bee story earlier this month, more than 20 tests conducted inside the range between 2006 and 2014 found lead in nearly every corner of the building that was used as rifle and pistol range.

The city-owned building was closed in December 2014 after elevated levels of lead were found on the roof, but local residents were not notified about the potential danger. The city did not conduct soil tests or put up a barrier around the building until the Bee starting investigating the issue recently.

The toll on public health remains to be seen. I haven’t read anything about what warnings – if any – were given to those who used the indoor gun range for years. The lead levels measured inside the building were sometimes hundreds of times greater than the state’s hazard threshold, according to the Bee. Then there are all the neighborhood children – including my two grandchildren – who played in the park with no awareness of possible unseen danger.

Who knew what and when they knew it should be investigated. Let’s see the emails and other internal communications among city officials, council members and the mayor. Maybe, as in Flint, criminal charges are warranted.

Meanwhile, if Breton is as enraged as he claims to be about this mess, he might start looking closer to home. Why didn’t he or others at the newspaper know what was going on for the past 10 years? Why wasn’t the 2014 closure investigated then?  Why were the watchdogs asleep on the job?


This entry was posted in journalism, Sacramento and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Lead-contamination fears in Sacramento used as fodder for cheap-shot column

  1. Alex Berg says:

    Marcos Breton conflates, CLUMSILY, a mythic relationship between lead contamination around Mangan Park with KJ’s agenda for a ‘strong mayor’ dictatorial role in city governance… Of COURSE this is absurd, attempting to make such a ridiculous relationship, when one has ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to do with the other… and demonstrates just how ridiculous the logic storm in KJland was and continues to be…

    This current lead issue is indeed, however, related to the Flint issue, with city officials failing to disclose publicly the accumulation of lead in the land and adjacencies, especially to residents of such an area… Failure to disclose may have already caused irreparable harm to those in the surrounding areas…

    Further, city officials failed to disclose a change in corrosion control chemicals introduced some time ago into Sacramento’s water supply, exposing potential toxicity to ALL of the city’s residents… This was later reversed because of the inefficacy of the new chemicals intended to save a relatively nominal amount in the city’s water infrastructure budget…

    What is problematic about these undisclosed changes and failures to monitor conditions properly is that it combines with a new city strategy to also raise fees, penalties, and even public housing rents, among other revenue hikes and cost savings… not to mention the use of federal funding, including from HUD, intended for HOUSING, to mask the city’s long term debt, as engineered by noneother than Goldman Sachs, the city’s current financial advisor (again, thanks to KJ), enabling the expansion in debt capacity necessary to fund KJ’S ARENA SCAM… rather than building HOUSING for the near 10,000 people in the most dire need in that city…

    I believe this is all directly related to the city’s funding apparatus (read: HOUSE OF CARDS) for the arena…. because it is CLEAR that the then economics of the arena simply didn’t even come close to penciling out, let alone meeting bank standards for such lending…

    …and I’m afraid that this Mangan Park thing is just the tip of the public disclosure iceberg, thanks to KJ and his tribe of willing whores, on council, on the mayoral staff, and embedded in the city’s bureaucracy…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.