Friday, February 24, 2006

Local Governance

Greens talk a lot about impacting local governance. Then we often go and base political campaign on big issues, forgetting Tip O'Neil's maxim that "all politics is local." Often it is hard to sort through everything that is happening to understand where we are making a difference.

One effort to collect an publish information about Green impacts on local governance is at the Green Institute, self-described as "the only national policy institute in the United States based explicitly on the values and principles of Green politics, an eco-social analysis and vision that has spawned Green Parties in over 100 countries."

The Green Institute his doing several things that I feel I should call attention to. Collectively, they are referred to as the Local Governance Project. The are building a collection of "case studies from around the country of innovative progressive policy that is currently in use. The emphasis is on practical policy and not academic study." Currently, there is a bit of California material available.

  • Arcata, Calif. Ordinance Regarding the Patriot Act article by Dave Meserve
  • Santa Moncia, Calif. Sustainable City Plan a link to the plan on the web.
The Green Institute also solicits proposals for local projects which they might be able to provide with some minimal funding.
Green Community ProjectsUnder its Local Governance Program Area, the Green Institute is setting up a Green Community Projects funding plan. Green Community Projects will fund small-scale local Green projects that are determined by the Institute to be innovative and to further Green values and issues.Grants to individuals in this project area will be no more than $1000, and will result from evaluation of simple proposals. No detailed or complex proposal process is required. But the funding is under the legal limitations of non-profit, non-partisan activities.
Given the non-partisan legal requirement it should still be possible to find a way to fund some efforts.
Proposals will be evaluated on the following specific criteria:
  1. Locally based
  2. Innovative policy or organizing
  3. Alternative institution building
  4. Diversity in all its measures

Full description of the project is at this link.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Californians And The Environment

The Public Policy Institute of California has recently release the results of a survey on Californians And The Environment. The primary conclusion, that Californians are interested in the environment to the extent that "Ignoring Environmental, Coastal Concerns Could Be Perilous For California Politicos In 2006 Election Year."

This may be a true statement given the set of questions that they asked. They approached the environment as if it were something that we go to, rather than as something that we live in. So, yes, we are concerned about whether the beach has residual oil on it or is closed due to e coli infsetation. But is that enough to affet policy.

The questions that the did not ask are much more important. When it comes to a tradeoff between maintaing a Sunset Magazine Lifestyle and the environment, what would the survey participants choose? When it comes to selecting their housing and/or transportation based on environmental issues, would they do so? When it comes to the choice of more jobs, or a higher local tax base, would the survey participants vote for the environment?

I don't think that they wanted to ask those questions because they did not want to hear the answers.

The full report including all of the questions can be downloaded (pdf format) from the PPIC.

UPDATE (2/24/2006)

I exchanged notes with the survey's owner, Mark Baldassare, concerning the problems that I perceived the results. He replied that " Earlier environment surveys in the PPIC series on the website concerning land use, housing, development and growth have taken into account some of the tradeoff issues that you have raised but there is always more work to do on this subject."

Here are two additional PPIC studies that I think I need to understand.
  • Water for Growth: California's New Frontier: (July, 2005) California’s population is expected to add another 14 million people by 2030, reaching a total of 48 million. One of the most serious concerns of policymakers is whether the state will be able to supply the water needed to sustain such a population.

  • California 2025: It's Your Choice PPIC’s California 2025 research study found that trends and forces are building that, left unchecked, could seriously erode the quality of life in California in the next two decades. The study concludes that is imperative for policymakers and others who influence policy in the state to begin asking some hard questions and making some well-informed, careful choices now.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Press Release

Monday, February 13, 2006

Sara Amir, 310.270-7106
Pat Driscoll 916.320-6430
Susan King 415.823-5524

Green Party activists help shut down bid by Wal-Mart to build ‘Supercenter' in a small community near San Francisco

HERCULES – Retail giant Wal-Mart has withdrawn its application to build a "Supercenter" here, just a few miles east of San Francisco, after a broad coalition of community, labor and social justice activists, including Greens, rallied to oppose the big box store.

It is just the latest defeat for Wal-Mart in the Bay Area and Northern California. At the end of 2005, plans for a store in Elk Grove, a few miles south of Sacramento, were killed because of citizen complaints. And, Wal-Mart lost a $171 million judgment when a jury found the company was not allowing lunch breaks for employees.

Joseph Feller, a Green Party spokesman in Solano County, said the victory for the community was only made possible because of an "unusual coalition" known as the "Friends of Hercules" neighborhood association.

The association was supported by a regional anti-Wal-Mart coalition which includes, among others, several labor unions, the public advocacy organization ACORN, the feminist organization NOW and the Green Party.

"The Green Party of California supports efforts like this because we believe Wal-Mart is a danger to not only small businesses and working people but also the environment," said Feller.

The coalition made public recently a study – paid for by the city of Hercules - that found that Wal-Mart's proposed big box store is not a good fit for the residents of the city and will, in effect, pollute other planned retail centers in the area.

"As Greens, we agree with what the Rev. Phil Lawson, a retired minister and former local NAACP president when he says ‘Wal-Mart does not build communities, it destroys them,'" said Feller.
GPCA Press Release

News Advisory

Monday, February 20, 2006

Sara Amir, 310.270-7106
Pat Driscoll 916.320-6430
Susan King 415.823-5524

Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Gonzales should be impeached, county Greens declare; Green-led S.F. Supervisor panel also calls for impeachment

NEVADA CITY, Ca. – Green Party county officials here have approved an official resolution calling for the impeachment of President George W. Bush, Vice-President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld and Attorney General Alberto Gonzales for committing "high crimes and misdemeanors."

And, late last week, the chair of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors Rules Committee, and Green Party member Ross Mirkarimi, voted with a majority of the panel in calling for the impeachment, or resignation of Bush and Cheney. More than a year ago, the Green Party dominated Arcata City Council also called for Bush's impeachment.

According to the one-page resolution drafted by the Green Party of Nevada County (about 40 miles northeast of Sacramento), Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Gonzales are being cited for:

  1. "Ordering the National Security Agency to conduct secret warrantless searches and seizures of the private personal communications of American citizens;
  2. "Authorizing and permitting torture against human beings;
  3. "Depriving American citizens of their constitutionally guaranteed rights" (through the use of indefinite detentions);
  4. "Launching an illegal, unjust and undeclared war against the sovereign sate of Iraq;
  5. "Authorizing the use of illegal chemical and radioactive weapons in military campaigns;
  6. "Repeatedly, consciously and with forethought, lying to the American people and U.S. Congress" to justify the war in Iraq;
  7. "Authorizing, ordering and condoning direct military attacks on Iraq;
  8. "Violating and unilaterally abrogating lawful signatory treaties...providing for humane treatment of combatants and civilians."

"Americans now face a grave conflict. We can either support the policies of George Bush, or the Constitution - but not both. They are mutually exclusive, and we must choose wisely," said Beth Moore Haines, Nevada County Green Party spokesperson.

"It's time for concerned citizens to rise up and remove George W. Bush from office. Two-thirds of the American people agree he's taking our country in the wrong direction. It's come down to Bush -- or the Constitution. We hope Americans everywhere will join us to defend our Constitution," said Kent Smith, a longtime Green in Nevada City.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Green Power.

A few posts back, I pointed out that Grist Magazine, an online compendium of environmental news and ideas, had started a series on Poverty and the Environment. In an article, The Fatigue of Nations, they address the manner in which sustainability programs have unintended consequences, where by local programs in one country may sound like trade barriers when viewed from another, poorer partner.
While sustainability proponents may genuinely want to ensure that the benefits of greener lifestyles cascade to have-nots, she said, the more effective route -- one embraced by many community activists in the U.S. -- focuses on "increasing the power of the poor. When the environmental movement relates to power, then it becomes salient and relevant to minority communities."

When Greens call for local sustainable economic development, should that really preclude international trade? It is easy to make the arguement that this is just one more way in which the priviledged intend to keep their priviledge. Consider those countries that lack mineral resoures and whose major export must be agricultural products. What is the Green solution for their problems?

Monday, February 20, 2006

Press Releases:

I believe that I will start posting press releases here, as it gets them online more quickly than waiting for them to show up on the GPCA web site. Here is the first:

News Advisory

Friday, February 10, 2006

Cindy Sheehan's decision not to run for US Senate leaves Green Party candidates as the only real option for millions of California voters opposed to the war in Iraq

SACRAMENTO – The nominee of the Green Party for U.S. Senate – after anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan bowed out of the race Thursday – may be the only hope for millions of California voters who desperately want the war in Iraq to end, said a trio of Green Party Senate candidates Friday.

Cindy Sheehan ended speculation she might seek public office on an anti-war platform by announcing Thursday she would not, as had been rumored, run in the upcoming June Primary opposing pro-war incumbent Sen. Dianne Feinstein for the Democratic Party nomination.

The Green Party's nominee for US Senate is now the only "peace" option for voters – including Democrats – who want the war to end, said the three hopefuls who will face-off in the June Primary.

"I have the utmost respect for what Cindy Sheehan has been able to accomplish. Now, without someone like her on the Democratic Primary ballot to give peace voters an option, the only way they can make a strong statement is by registering Green and voting in the Green Party Primary, and then vote Green in November," said Tian Harter, one Green candidate.

And, Todd Chretien, also running in the Primary for a chance to meet Feinstein, predicted that, had Sheehan run, "millions of Californians would have abandoned the pro-war incumbent to support her. The senate race will be a referendum on the war in Iraq. Sen. Feinstein wants it to continue. I want to bring our troops home now."

Kent Mesplay, another Green Party Senate candidate and former party presidential candidate in the 2004 California primary, praised Cindy Sheehan for her "determination to shine a light on the truth and to help in whatever way she can to lead us toward a more peaceful and equitable world.May we all encounter such genuine participants in our fledgling democracy."
Green Party General Assembly Scheduled

The next Green Party of California General Assembly will be in Ventura on
April 29-30.

Please check the following web site as more details come forth.
To continue the focus on environmental issues, I want to note the following:

Sunday night, CBS New's program 60 Minutes had a major segment on the subject of Global Warming. Entitled A Global Warning they did a very good job of making a visual presentation of the effects of Global Warming. While you might discount words, it is much harder to discount the photographic evidence that significant change is happening and at an accelerated rate. The question now is whether or not we are going to head that warning.

Within the same week, LinkTV, an internet TV outlet, is running a special 4 hour series on Global Warming. While the names of the participants are big drawing cards in the environmental community, Dr. David Suzuki is featured in one, this will not have the reach of the 60 Minutes show but it will speak to those who are already involved. These are on tonight and again on Wednesday eveing.

One of the problems that we have to overcome is getting the message that Global Warming is a scientific fact into the main stream consciousness of the US electorate. As long as the conversaton stays on Link TV, we are suffering from the balkanization of the media, where small groups of people who already agree with each other keep passing the same message back and forth. Maybe, the fact that this got on to 60 Minutes is the first step in changing all of that.

The second challenge is to combat the false dichotomy that has been established in the American consciousness in which being pro-environment means being anti-economic growth. This view is behind that fact that the current administration puts more money into scientific research on Global Warming than any other, but refuses to take any steps toward solving the problem that might involve "American economic competiveness."

The San Jose Mercury News featured Global Warming in an editorial today.

With new, alarming headlines about global warming arriving daily, and with the Bush administration choosing to bury its head in the sand, it's a good thing California and other farsighted states are taking this global threat seriously.

Last week, the state's Public Utilities Commission voted to go forward with a plan to establish a mandatory cap on emissions of greenhouse gases for the state's electricity generating utilities. It was the latest of several measures established under the leadership of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to address California's contributions to global warming.

The San Francisco Chronicle has run a series of stories on Global Warming within the last week. I will quote a bit from each.

Glaciers are our business
Michael Oppenheimer, a climatologist at Princeton University, said the participation of businesses in efforts to address global warming is absolutely essential.

"It can't happen without the business world," he said. "This is where decisions have to be made about how to reduce emissions, even if the government decides when."

The Greenland glacier data clearly illustrate that time is running out.

Alarming data on Greenland's glaciers: Warming trend indicates faster rise for Earth's oceans
While sea-level increases of a few feet may not sound like very much, they could have profound consequences on flood-prone countries such as Bangladesh and trigger severe weather around the world.

"The implications are global," said Julian Dowdeswell, a glacier expert at the University of Cambridge in England who reviewed the new paper for Science. "We are not talking about walking along the sea front on a nice summer day, we are talking of the worst storm settings, the biggest storm surges ... you are upping the probability major storms will take place."

Saving the Earth can also bring profit to startups
Russ George wants to turn a profit from global warming. And he thinks algae is the way to do it.

Don't laugh. Now that Europe has opened a market based on carbon dioxide emissions, it could work, he insists.

George and his Foster City startup, Planktos, plan to create huge algae blooms at sea that will suck some of the greenhouse gas out of the atmosphere, then sell credits to European companies unable to meet their emissions targets.

Here is the point. The issues behind global warming are into the media, and not just in an alarmist mode. We still see very little concern on the part of the general public. I monitor some forums on a regional newpaper (Contra Costa Times) where the conversation on global warming is basically one of denial. The people who post are quick to use ever winter storm, such as we currently have with record cold in N. California this week, to down play the idea that Global Warming exists. Why? Because if they admit that it is real, they just might have to do something about it.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Environmentalism awakened

That is a bit of an stretch for a headline. Maybe the only thing that has awakened is the rest of us. Still, since I started to make some noice, is looks more is getting done, generally outside the Green Party or very quietly inside. Environmental issues had not been appearing on Green Party list, but they are now and that is goodness. It reminds us of where we have been. Let me give you a list beyond what Lisa has reminded us that they have been working on in Los Angeles.

Marc Soloman has posted to CalForum about a formal effort to get the SFGP to endores a resolution against HR 3924 (TESRA) and getting the SF Board of Supervisors to endorse a resolution on the subject. The San Mateo Board of Supervisors has already passed a similar one.

I found that there is a really big battle going on in Monterey County. The issue involves the differences between a new General Plan Update for Monterey County, 6 years in the making and a Community General Plan Initiative that supporters hope to have on the June ballot. If there were every a place where there is a clear battleground on the major issues of transportation, water resource management, sprawl, land use, etc., this is it. I would hope that the Monterey County Green Party is right in the middle. Note: I have not had the time to read through each side, so I don't have an opinion. It is just clear that this is where Green Values can make a big difference.

The Stockton Record reported today on the problems with salinity in the water of the California Delta. There is a requirement to clean up the problem. Pumping more salty water to the Metropolitan Water District (Los Angeles to San Diego) is part of the problem. It is hard to maintain the current level and keep the water fresh enough to use for irrigation. In this issue, the farmers of the Central Valley and environmental organizations are aligned together against the Water District.

Fixing this might require Southern California Cities to start paying people to plant cactus lawn like Las Vegas is doing. It might also required Central Valley farmers to change their normal cropping practices, replacing cotton with industrial hemp would be a start, as the hemp requires less nitrogen fertilizer and less water and both can end up as textiles. It will require everyone to give a bit, including LA. The delta is far away from there, but as long as LA keeps asking for more water to supply more people there will continue to be problems for the rest of the state.

Santa Monica's Sustainable City Plan calls for a reduction in resource usage.

Across all segments of the community:

  • Significantly decrease overall community consumption, specifically the consumption of non-local, non-renewable, non-recyclable and non-recycled materials, water, and energy and fuels. The city should take a leadership role in encouraging sustainable procurement, extended producer responsibility and should explore innovative strategies to become a zero waste city.

And when the evaluate themselves, they do not yet live up to the plan.

However, water and energy use and waste generation are on the rise in all sectors of the community. High daytime populations of workers and visitors to Santa Monica as well as the strength of the local economy and increased development have likely fueled these increases. It will require concerted efforts by residents, businesses and community institutions to reverse these trends in the coming years.

We all have a lot of work to do. I hope to hear more stories about what others are doing. Keep the comments coming.
Red, Blue and Green.

When I started this blog, I did wonder if I were the only one thinking about the fact that many of the most vocal Greens define the party as "of the left." I am happy to report that I am finding others whose view is very much in line with mine. The most recent is from another blog hosted here: SoCalGreen. I have just added it to my template. Roger has got it right.

The big split between leftists Greens and Green Greens may be on their attitudes toward Corporations. Again, I find myself in agreement with Roger in the way that we should treat corporate behaviour. Roger says:

Corporations are not per se bad. They're just a collection of people doing business under a group name. People have been doing that for a very long time, and nothing about doing business mandates poor community citizenship or moral corruption.

But the legal structure surrounding corporations both requires and permits them to do what are essentially evil things without personal responsibility for the individuals doing the bad acts, and remove any need to look beyond beyond short-term profit, and foolishly selfish motives.

This is in conrast to the Forrest Hill / Todd Chretien assertion that "Green politics will not work without a left critique of capitalism, both in terms of its dependence on the perpetual destruction of the natural resource base and its exploitation of workers." This is essentially a socialist / Marxist view and that is not where I think this party should be.

I hope that this plays out in the Senatorial Primary. All three candidates have similar view on the Iraq War. Their viewpoints as to what else this party should be doing should make a difference in who we select. From what I have seen so far, the one who most closely matches what I think is Kent Mesplay.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Update on the Delta

This is an action alert for anyone who cares about future water supplies in California. Tracy Representative Richard Pombo will have his Resources Committee visiting Stockon on Monday, Feb. 27th at 8:00 AM. The announced purpose is an oversight hearing on the decline of fish populations in the Bay / Delta. The Resources Committee Media Advisory is just now on line...they did not even get the HTML title right yet.

The witness list has yet to be announced. I did make sure that Dan Bacher at The Fish Sniffer got a copy of the hearing notice. If anyone should be there and on the witness list, it is Dan: and then Dr. Jeffrey Mount from UC Davis Center for Watershed Sciences. So, I alerted Dr. Mount and the Center also.

The Resources Committee has a habit of setting up their "witness list" so that they only hear what they want. In this case, we need to make sure that there are a significant number of knowledgable people in the audience to make sure that they hear the true facts. In previous instances, when grassroot organizations were going to be actively present, the hearings have been cancelled or moved to Washington. But, this is Pombo's home district and moving it would not look good. I hope that his primary opponent, Pete McCloskey, makes it to the hearing.

This is not just about endangered species (the delta smelt) but also about the livlihood a an entire region with 1000 miles of navigable waterways, a high number of sports fishers and a number of active sports organizations who consider themselves to be true environmentalists.

If any of you know of environmental organizations or sportsman organizations that have a presence in the Centeral Valley, make sure that they know about this.
I have been commenting about the apparent split between urban related issues and rural issues in the Green Party. It could also have been seen as a division between social justice issues and environmental issues. There is a common perception that environmentalism is dead. In fact, the entire environmental community was shaken to its roots with the publication of The Death of Environmentalism by Michael Schellenberber and Ted Nordhaus. I even commented on the subject at my PomboWatch blog.

I believe this to be a directional issue for the Green Party. It helps define whether the Green Party has a set of core values of its own or is constrained to be the political embodiment of some greater progressive movement, as some would have it. Perhpaps one way to address this is to consider whether the divisions in perception or focus are truly divisions on issues. Is the perceived rural / urban divide meaningful? What about the environmental issues as something separate from social justice issues? I don't think that most have the experience to know the answer.

The current issue of Weekly Grist has started a seven week series on Poverty & the Environment. Their opening statement suggest that maybe, most of us have it all wrong.
Consider this central paradox of U.S. environmentalism: In much of popular and political culture, the movement is dismissed as the pet cause of white, well-off Americans -- people who can afford to buy organic arugula, vacation in Lake Tahoe, and worry about the fate of the Pacific pocket mouse. And yet, the population most affected by environmental problems is the poor.

If I go back and quote some more fact from the same sources that I used yesterday, you find that Weekly Grist has got it.

  • (rural) population tends to be older with 60% of the population above 35 compared to 49% for the state as a whole.
  • exacerbating the age differences between rural and metropolitan areas is that many of the youngest and most highly educated people are moving away from rural areas.
  • 18 percent of rural populations in California are below the poverty level as compared to 14 percent of urban.
Here is another example. We know that the Centeral Valley has 4 Metropolitan Statistical Areas that rank near the bottom in terms of poverty in the US: Sacramento, Stockton/Lodi, Fresno, Bakersfield. To put that in perspective, the Rural Migration News published by UC Davis compares San Joaquin Valley to Appalachia. Let me add a few quotes from that report.

Trends. In the mid-1970s, Fresno county's unemployment rate was almost a point below the state average, eight compared to nine percent, and the county's per capita income was 90 percent of the state's. In 2005, 30 years later, Fresno county's unemployment rate is twice the state rate, and its per capita income is about two-thirds of the state's.
And, if you want to know about the ties between urban solutions to their problems (often to export them) you only have to examine what we do with sewage.

The city of Los Angeles and other southern California cities own farm land in Kern county on which they spreads treated sewage sludge. Kern residents have qualified an initiative for the June 2006 ballot that would ban the practice of using human waste on fields used to grow hay and grains. Three counties - Sutter, San Joaquin and Stanislaus - have already banned the import of sludge for spreading on farm land, and nine others have strict rules that make the importation all but impossible.
I wonder what the results would be if Los Angeles were to mandate that all lawns in the San Fernando Valley would have to have their soil ammended with Los Angeles Sludge before the they would be allowed to use Metropolitan Water Districe water on them.

This is just one more illustration of the fact that we are all in this together. It is one more illustration of the fact that Greens need to be involved in all land use issues at the intersection of urban and rural living. At the very least, we need to continue reading this series in the Weekly Grist.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Getting the Green back in the Green Party

I have used this forum to comment on the fact that the Green Party of California appears to have lost interest in Environmental Issues. This is especially true of issues that are evidenced in rural areas of the state. One person forwarded a notice about Global Warming to a GP email list today and added this comment. "Why isn't the GP organizing demonstrations and policy statements about this? We have lost our environmental focus."

It is not just because most members are from urban areas. Kevin McKeown responded to the elist with a reference to the Sustainable City Plan for the City of Santa Monica where he is a council member. I havn't made it all the way through that, but it seems to be right on track. It focuses on urban environmental issues. That is the right thing for local involvement and all Greens should be advocating for a local version of this.

Kevin went on to comment that "our California cities are where the MOST environmental work needs to be done." One way to look at this is to examine the fact that people cause environmental damage and most people live in Cities. It is, however, necessary to understand what rural and urban mean in a quantitative way. According to the California State Rural Health Association and the California Communities Program at UC Davis, California is highly urbanized.

  • California has 58 counties; only three are entirely urban. Fifty-five of California’s counties have substantial rural areas
  • Twenty-nine of California’s counties are considered totally rural.
  • 94% of the population live in urban areas, while just 6% of the population (1.8 million)live in rural areas
  • 32% of the rural population live in counties that are at least 91% urban.
I would disagree only somewhat with Kevin's conclusion. The biggest environmental challenges are coming at the intersection between urban and rural areas. This is where sprawl is happening. It is also where impact of the Endangered Species designation is getting it's focus, as developers fight all efforts that might constrain their right to build whatever will be most profitable in the locations that would be the most profitable, no matter what the impact might be on the rest of us. But that is only part of the problem.

The other thing is that most urban Greens will focus on the social justice issues that they hear about every day, to the extent that environmental issues never make it up to the level of getting excited, upset, pissed off enough to do something. To begin with, most environmental issues can not be really understood without some study. Who really knows what should be done to ensure that the environment of the California Delta is protected, that the agricultural grocery cart of the Central Valley gets enough irrigation water and the elite of suburbia can water their lawns and fill their pools? Who really knows what actions we, and collectively we through our government, should be taking concerning Global Warming?

So, we just argue about things that we can easily grasp, personalities, tactics, the keep score or settling scores of political life and meanwhile those who can claim to be stakeholders in the planning process will make all of the decisions. When it comes to water, we are all stakeholders. When it comes to clean air, we are ALL stakeholders.

It may be time to listen to Al Gore, if you don't fall asleep. Global Warming is real.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

I have been reading some more. It is a dangerous thing to do. I have just finished a couple of mysteries by Rudolfo Anaya: Zia Summer and Rio Grande Fall. They are intriguing because the setting is in the Chicano community of Alburquerque, New Mexico. This use of an ethnic tradition with a long history provides Anaya with the opportunity to comment about the loss of those old traditions in contempoary society. The sympathetic characters are deeply rooted in the ethos of that tradition just as Anaya is touching on the magical ralism of a Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The bad guys are the ones who would destroy it. The PI hero, Sonny Baca, is no mere mortal.

The background is always political: the anti-nuclear movement, the Chamber of Commerce Growth is Greatness mentality, the connection of drugs and politics.

Even this genere book goes to the heart of Green Issues and leaves me with the conclusion that our new techno age, fed by the sense that only the latest is good, gotta have a video I-Pod, pay my bill with a microchip in my cell phone. Maybe what gets left behind is the feeling that the old are not longer to be valued, listened to. It will be a rude awakening for the boomers.

I wonder if the reason that there are so many older people in the Green movement is that we know how much we are losing.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Ecological Wisdom

If the Green Party is only the collective political voice of the left, then what differentiates this part from any other incarnation of the far left? It is that fact that the Green Party is MORE than that. I feel that sometimes, we forget that that fact.

It is time to resurrect ALL of the Green Values we give lip service.
While we talk about the 10 Key Values, it seems that only a few of them occupy our attention. In recent years, the one that most often gets sidetracked seems to be Ecological Wisdom. Maybe we count on the Sierra Club and the Natural Resources Defense Council to "handle things.' Well, they may do what they can, but that does not mean Greens, as a political entity, should be ignoring the planet.

From the 1970's through the early 1990's the environmental movement pretty much had it's way on a lot of issues. Even Pete Wilson had Doug Wheeler, ex-president of the Sierra Club, heading the California Department of Resources. Starting in the early years of the Clinton Administration, there was a push back, exemplified by the difficulties with land use planning in Southern California and the problems in establishing a Habitat Conservation Plan for the Pacific gnatcatcher, an endangered specie.

We found that there was even more of a tendency in Congress to take nti-environmental positions, as with Diane Feinstein's negotiation of the "compromise" with Hurwitz and the Pacific Lumber Company.

Now, we are faced with a habitat challenge from the California State Government. The State of California plans to log an environmentally significant portion of Jackson State Forest. For years, environmentalists and logging interests have been at loggerheads over plans for Jackson State Forest. Right now, there seems some possibility of a compromise that allows some logging but still protects the environment. That compromise is supported by interests on both sides, but not the government. The time for concerted Green Action on this is NOW.

A draft Environmental Impact Report (EIR) is out for public comment until February 14, 2006. That is only 5 days in which to take some immediate action on this single issue. The easy action is to go to the EIR Comment Page that has been set up. Most organizations tend to discount duplicated, easy to reproduce commentary. In fact, the originators ask that you edit or personalize the letter. However, if you want to take just a little more time, you might send a direct email from your ID to the California Board of Forestry. It is probably too late to send a snail mail letter.

The State Board of Forestry and Fire Protection maintains an internet WWW page specifically about the Jackson State Forest Management Plan and encourages people to send email input to

I would suggest that you tell the Forestry Board that you find the following fact to be unreasonable and indefensible:

It finds that the proposed industrial logging of the forest, including use of clearcut variations on 30% of the forest, will have "no significant environmental impact". Source:

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

The Voice of the Terkel

This afternoon,working in the garage, I threw on an old tape that a friend had put together for me. Most of it was from the Weavers: Ronnie Gilbert, Lee Hays, Fred Hellerman and Pete Seeger. It took me back to my early days. I remember running out of Church on Sunday, grabbing the keys to my Dad's '49 Ford and jumping in the car to listen to The Voice of the Terkel. Studs Terkel introduced me to a wide range of music that I came to love. Woodie Guthrie, John Jacob Niles, Mahalia Jackson, Hubie Leadbetter (Leadbelly), Jean Redpath, Bill Monroe. Long before the pop acts, Kingston Trio, Peter Paul and Mary, Hoyt Axton, folk music in America was defined by the group of people that Terkel played every Sunday and about whom Alan Lomax wrote.

There was a connection to the land in that music, something that is not at all present in most rock and never present in hip-hop. I can not listen to any of that without thinking about the vast expanses of land in the United States and what we have done with it, to it.

I entitled my post about the Delta When the Levee Breaks. Some readers might recognize the music as covered by Led Zeppelin, or even the drum bread as part of the sound track from Kill Bill. You might have to go back to the original blues written by Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie in 1929. The subject was the Mississippi River flood of 1927 in which was the most disastrous flood in America prior to Hurrican Katrina this year.

According to Wikipedia:

The Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles or about 16,570,627 acres (70,000 km²). The area was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet (10 m). The flood caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states.

The flood affected Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Tennessee. Arkansas was hardest hit, with 13% of its territory covered by floodwaters. By May of 1927 the Mississippi River below Memphis, Tennessee reached a width of 60 miles(100 km).

So what has this all to do with the Green Party? I think that we have lost most of that connection to the land. The hip-hop culture is all about urban problem, urban life. But the core of green values is all about sustainability and that is about how we live together with the land. Maybe we should all stop and listen to those who sang folk music before it became popular. When the Levee Breaks

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

When the Levee Breaks Update

I promised readers on CalForum that I would update this list with further information about what can be done concerning the problems with the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta.

The first thing is to educate yourself. There are a number of sources, but I recommend the following places to start.

1. Just look at this map to see what we are talking about.

2. Read Bruce Babbitt's new book entitled "Cities in the Wilderness: a New Vistion of Land Use in America." Actually, just Chapter 1, which begins with a long story about the Everglades and then relates that to the Delta at the end of the Chapter. It is very good background because it gives an insider's view of how the Army Corps of Engineers and Congressional Support really function (or not). Especially challenging is the way that Congress likes to provide "projects" and the Corps of Engineers likes to run them. Together, that adds up to big, expensive solutions.

3. You can get an overview of what the State of California thinks it is doing from the web site of the California Bay-Delta Authority. However, it is my firm belief that the socalled CalFed is a part of the problem, and not driving toward a solution CalFed is only around two years of being fully funded and already they are talking about "revitalizing" it.

4. You get an environmental organization's view from the Natural Resources Defense Council's Green Gate site.

My next post in this series will contain a list of things that we can do to affect change.

Monday, February 06, 2006

ECO-ACTION Committee.

The national GP has approve the establishment of the ECO-ACTION Committee. Be careful with the contact link. It may not yet be correct. It is for Kristen Olson.

The Mission of the ECO-ACTION Committee is:

The Eco-Action Committee is a new standing committee for 2006 and will focus on helping organize greens for local and national events and drives to protect and promote ecological wisdom and sustainability.

The GP CA does not yet have any member on this committee. I believe that this should become a priority. We need the linkage to national resources. We need to do a lot more to promote the concept of sustainability. And, having an active member of the national would restore some of the focus on issues of ecological wisdom and sustainability that we have lost.

Our Green Issues Working Group has re-validated the email list, moving it from yahoo groups to a GPCA owned system. This forces everyone to re-register. I hope that we will actually gain active membership. Those who are interested in joining, should just click here.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Senate Candidates

There are three candidates running for the Green Party nomination for Senate. That is the chance to be beaten by DiFi. Since the media and just about everyone else considers any race against Feinstein to be quixotic, one journalist I know replied to my comments on any race against Feinstein with "zzzzzzzzzzzz", you have to question why each of the three are running.

One look at his web site makes it clear why Todd Chretien is running.
ThatÂ’s why IÂ’m asking you to volunteer time, donate whatever amount you can and cast your vote for peace. LetÂ’s bring the anti-war movement to the polls. Sen. Feinstein has all the money, the corporate connections, and the defense contractors on her side. All we have is the desire to build a movement for peace and justice.

It is almost as if he is a stand in for Cindy Sheehan. In fact, the buzz about the potential of Sheehan's entry into the race as a Democrat has filled Green Discussion lists as well as gotten media attention. It seems that Cindy will have to make

Tian Harter has a broader view, but one with less overall media attention. Again, going to his web site, he tells you why he is running.
I'm running because I want to tell as many people as possible that we need to mend our fuelish ways. It's all about using that First Amendment "right to petition the government" to talk about the 2,000 lb. Elephant in the living room, that being the consumer lifestyle corporations are advertising. I've got some creative solutions about how we can change the situation I want to share. I'm looking for opportunities to talk about it with anyone that wants to know more

Kent Mesplay was rather more specific and truthfully more realistic in his definition of what he is trying to do. The following is a slightly edited version from an email that he sent to a group of people.

Kent Mesplay, Green Party presidential candidate intends to use the U.S. Senate Race to gain popular support, especially among the youth, to do the following:
  1. build the Green Party into a sustainable "leadership" body that will help us to: positively prepare for the probable continued and escalated consequences of Global Climate Change;and 2) speak in shorter sentences
  2. have a Renaissance in civic participation (yes, a Green can win!),
  3. make better use of our Solar assets,
  4. Improve relations with Mexico,
  5. have a physical security that is "built-in," in terms of water, food, housing, transportation and medicine (ALL medicine, including of the Spirit) and that will grow as a team, nationally and internationally to check the conditions that lead to war and thus prevent most war.

Ours is a peace movement and there is nothing wrong with that. There is also nothing wrong in looking out for future generations by helping to make our democracy more democratically accessible. There are jobs in Green Business, especially when such is presented as a Security Issue. Our lives and those of the future depend upon good governance and a severing of the corruptive cord that links earmarked projects to Selected Official.

Publicly funded campaigns, a Revised electoral system that fosters coalition-building and preferential voting: I.R.V., Single Payer Health Care for All, An energy-independent California based upon Renewable Energy leading the global economy, and not just being number six with the importance of our business. Mesplay for Senate. These are astatementsnts that one can expect to hear in an educational and convivial contested Green Party Primary race for U.S. Senate.

It is clear the Kent is trying to broaden the range of the debate. It is the exact opposite tactic from Todd's, who is trying to use the energy that is in the anti-war movement to carry him through. Tian is somewhere in the middle in this.

If I think about what I want a Senator to be doing, what they should work on, then the I want someone in that office who is concerned with the events of my life. Kent comes the closest doingign that. While Todd focuses on Feinstein's position on the war, I would argue that the single worst thing that she has done is to force CalFed on the people of California as the solution to the problems of managing the water in the delta. CalFed is not as successful solution and has embarked on programs that are proving to be an environmental disaster in the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta.

There are a range of issues that should occupy the attention of the Green Party, not the least of which is good local governance. A preoccupation with the big issues of the progressive left may energize some segment of the electorate, but it looses the rest. I much prefer Kent's approach, focusing on the things that make a difference, supporting a range of Green Solutions and working with the local green communities on their problems.

Thursday, February 02, 2006

When the truth becomes spin.

Cincy Sheehan spoke out about her eviction from the State of the Union Speech and arrest in Washington.

As most of you have probably heard, I was arrested before the State of the Union Address tonight. I am speechless with fury at what happened and with grief over what we have lost in our country. There have been lies from the police and distortions by the press. (Shocker) So this is what really happened:

This afternoon at the People's State of the Union Address in DC where I was joined by Congresspersons Lynn Woolsey and John Conyers, Ann Wright, Malik Rahim and John Cavanagh, Lynn brought me a ticket to the State of the Union Address. At that time, I was wearing the shirt that said: 2245 Dead. How many more?

What was done to Cindy Sheehan was wrong.

What was done to Beverly Young is never mentioned.

Both were ejected from the State of the Union Speech for the same
offense: wearing a tee shirt with a slogan on it. Progressives get
upset over the suppression of Cindy Sheehan's rights. Progressives
(this forum, Daily Kos blog, etc.) do not mention Beverly Young at all.
Why? because her tee shirt said "support our troops." In Cindy's case,
there was the additional fault by the Capital Police of placing her
under arrest while Beverly Yound was only escorted away from the premises.

Beverly Young did not even make most mainstream media.

A Google Search for "State of the Union" "Cindy Sheehan" gets over half
a million hits. Substitute "Beverly Young" and you get 305.

If there is outrage for Cindy Sheehan, should there also not be outrage
for Beverly Young?

Then, maybe we should return to the days of Thomas Jefferson, when he
merely wrote out his State of the Union Report and had it walked over to
Congress. The incessenct Demorcrats stand up and applaud / Republicans
stand up and applaud / made for television grimaces from perspective
candidates has taken a serious event and placed it in the realm of
political theater, more meaningful for the effect that one wants to
portray than for the presence of ideas.

Cindy Sheehan took one more step deeper into the realm of spin meister
politician when she presented her case as suppression of her personal
dissent without aknowledging that this was not a one sided event in
which she had been singled out for her particular opposition.

I would like to have seen both Cindy and Beverly in a joint appearance
(though unlikely) in which they would have to deal with whether it was
right to have been removed from the gallery. Since it was both, then
maybe the questions go to whether this particular event is the place
for such expressions of support / dissent and whether we really want the
gallery at the State of the Union Speech to become the refuge for every
person with a cause to push, cheering, jeering, waving signs, etc. I
would tend to think not. But then I am an old fogey.