The Northern San Joaquin Valley is an economic disaster area, and President Barack Obama should see it for himself and start spending more federal dollars in the region.
That's what Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, told the president in a letter this week.
"Seeing the devastation firsthand is the only way you can fully appreciate the extent of the economic destruction plaguing my constituents," Cardoza wrote. "Pursuing farther-reaching solutions to the recession is the only way my suffering communities will obtain the federal resources and assistance they need to keep from falling off the map."
Cardoza has tried to get legislation through Congress to designate the valley as a economic disaster area, but he told the president "the legislative process is slow and cumbersome."
"My constituents cannot wait any longer for economic relief," said Cardoza, noting the region's high unemployment and foreclosure rates. He wants the president to use his executive authority to quickly direct federal funds to the valley.
The congressman wants the Obama administration to distribute additional federal funds to the valley for "public works projects that will create jobs and stimulate the economy."
Cardoza, who wrote Obama a similar letter in March, wants more federal grants for job retention and creation, plus money "to help to keep struggling homeowners in their homes."
Visiting the region would help Obama understand how bad things have become, the congressman said.
Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, agreed that the president should see the valley in person. Radanovich also has written letters to Obama seeking an economic disaster designation for the region.
But not everyone supports Cardoza's efforts.
"It's a politically contrived move on his part to show he's trying to do something for everybody," said Mike Berryhill, who intends to challenge Cardoza in the 2010 election. The Ceres rancher and Republican said Cardoza's political policies are what caused the region's economic disaster.
Bee staff writer J.N. Sbranti can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 578-2196.