Sunday, July 27, 2008

Red, Blue and Green

Here are a couple of things that I find amazing. To begin with, the Democrats are allowing the Republicans to define the issues regarding energy. This is not just my opinion. Dave Roberts at Gristmill is starting to take this seriously. First, he commented that the Republican are bluffing on drilling. Then, he complained, like I have just done, that the Democrats are allowing the to get away with it. According to Roberts you should "never let your enemy choose the battlefield."

I could not agree more, and forwarded that to my Congressman, Democrat Jerry McNerney... known around here as McWind for his background working as a wind energy consultant. But that is just the beginning. I have more to say.

To begin with, the most well known oilman in the country is telling everyone that this is one problem that you can't drill your way out of. I am talking about T. Boone Pickens who is buying a lot of ad time and, in effect, telling us all that Republicans like Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) are just trolling for votes with their talk of offshore drilling. At least, Pickens recognizes the scope of the problem and says that he has a plan.

At least, Pickens provides the best evidence that McCain and the rest of the Republicans have concluded that the public is a bunch of fools and easily bamboozled. They went out, took a poll and found out that people hate the high gas prices. So, they offer a 19th Century solution for a 21st Century problem. This issue by itself tells me McCain has no bleeping idea about what this country needs to do.

On the other hand, we have Obama shilling for renewable, especially corn based ethanol. This is as bad as McCain in that he seems to know there is a problem and chooses to use the problem to buy votes rather than to actually do what we need.

My bigger question is that of where is the Green Party. We need to be out telling people the true story every chance we get, but I don't see it. We have absolutely the best opportunity to hammer home that the demagogues in our major parties are all tuned in to sound bites and image projections. If there were ever a situation that makes the perfect argument for 3rd parties, this is it. Yet, as the one party that does not have to put on an act to have Green in our name, we are silent.

Cynthia, what are you going to do about this? We don't need to hear about 911 any more. There are bigger problems. It may not be the issue on which you are the most comfortable but it is one big issue on everyone's minds and both Republican and Democrats are treating us like they think we are fools.

Carol Wolmann, Barry Hermanson,
Carol Brouillet, Peter Meyers, Tom Lash; are you attacking your opponents over their lame energy pollicies? Why not?

Mike Thompson (CA-1) takes the Democratic Party line on Energy. From his latest release:
  • Allow for additional withdrawals from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) to increase domestic supply. The SPR is currently at 98% capacity, and reducing it slightly to 90% would immediately increase supply, reduce prices and still maintain a substantial amount of reserve;
  • Work with Congress to take aim at speculators who are artificially increasing the cost of oil, and;
  • Require oil companies to use existing oil and gas leases, which according to the Department of Interior covers nearly 70 million acres – roughly the size of Colorado – and are estimated to have billions of barrels of recoverable oil.
If you read Dave Roberts, you know that this is a dumb strategy but it is what their playbook says to do.

Jackie Spier (CA-12) has not been around long enough to have much to say, but at least she has an idea. Change the speed limit so that we burn less gas per mile. My experience driving 101 is that we don't enforce the speed limit now. How, pray tell, is this going do anything more than than allow her to tell her constituents that she is doing something.

Anna Eshoo is so oblivious to the problem that her Congressional Web Site talks about the Caliofornia Energy Crisis on 2000, 2001. Maybe, though, of the entire list of House Candidates with Green opponents, she is might do the least harm just because she is doing nothing.

Mike Honda (CA-15) is not even there yet. Here is his plan to make it easier to find and burn more oil. Again, he is solving the Republican's problem.
  1. speeding the development of the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska (NPR-A) by requiring the Secretary of Interior to offer at least one lease sale annually in the NPR-A.
  2. reinstating a ban on the foreign export of Alaskan oil.
  3. incorporating the ‘Use It or Lose It’ legislation, which simply requires oil producers to drill on the leases they already have or relinquish them so that another company can produce the oil there.
  4. calling on the President to use the powers of his office to facilitate the completion of oil pipelines into the NPR-A and to facilitate the construction of a Alaska natural gas pipeline to the continental United States to move the product to market.
Now, for Dana Rohrabacher (CA-46) who we know is hopeless. Again, he has a plan to burn more oil more quickly than anyone else.
...the American Energy Act. The bill – a product made possible by energy policies proposed by Members throughout the House Republican Conference – will increase the supply of American-made energy, improve conservation and efficiency, and promote new and expanding energy technologies to help lower the price at the pump and reduce America’s increasingly costly and dangerous dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Not a single one of these Congress Critters, all with Green Party opponents, makes a modicum of sense. Since our candidates are not making this a major issue, let's do it for them.

We need to have letters goign to the editor of every newspaper in each of these districts, especially the local community weeklies. We have a much greater chance of being printed that way.

T. Boone Pickens tells the truth. This is not a problem that you can drill your way out of. Neither his problem (money spent on foreign oil) nor the greater problem of global warming can wait for a solution. Time to give 'em all a little Hell.

And to all of you who are worried about that spoiler issue, here is the perfect example of why we need to have more than two parties. At least, Greens are going to tell you the truth.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Failure of political leadership

I anyone wants to fully understand the failure of political leadership in Washington over the past 30 years, you have only to watch President Jimmy Carter's address to the nation on Energy.

If the problem that Washington is trying to solve is the high price of gasoline, then we will continue to experience the consequences of continued failure. Think of that as you listen to the rhetoric of our presidential candidates.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Yet another canal

As I noted in the previous two posts, the Public Policy Institute of California has just released a new report that is being used by everyone who has a mega-project idea for the solution to California's Water Problems. Today, it was the subject of the first hour of discussion on Forum (KQED's call in talk show). Panel consisted of:
  • Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director for Restore the Delta
  • Ellen Hanak, associate director and senior fellow at the Public Policy Institute of California
  • Jeff Kightlinger, general manager of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California
  • Peter Gleick, president of the Pacific Institute

It was a very informative hour. The biases were easy to see. I was glad that Peter Gleick made the point that the environmental view is a weak player in the game of allocating water. The PPIC Report calls for the abandonment of many acres of prime farm land.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla did a good job of pointing out the economic issues that had not been considered in the report.

I would urge everyone to listen to the report later in the day or tomorrow. It is not yet available online, but will be.

Friday, July 18, 2008

PPIC Report on the Delta - Words Fail Me.

When words fail me, I should get professional help. In the case, the professional help is from Dan Bacher, Editor of Fishsniffer. I quote an early copy on the jump as the Fishsniffer does not have it up on the web site yet.

Stephen Bechtel Jr. Funds Peripheral Canal Report!

by Dan Bacher

The people and foundations who fund "scientific" reports and studies often reveal what is the real agenda behind the publishing of any document.

A new Public Policy Institute (PPIC) report recommending the construction of a peripheral canal on the California Delta, "Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta," was released yesterday with wild acclamation by the Governor and the state's water contractors, since it "scientifically" justifies the destruction of the West Coast's largest estuary by building a canal.

Little noticed in the media reports was where the funding came from. According to the PPIC's press release: "The new report, Comparing Futures for the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, builds on the findings of a 2007 PPIC study by the same team, which concluded that the need for a new Delta strategy is urgent. The new report was funded in part by Stephen D. Bechtel Jr. and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation."

Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. (born 1925) is, with his son Riley, co-owner of the Bechtel Corporation. He is the son of Stephen David Bechtel, Sr. and grandson of Warren A. Bechtel who founded the Bechtel Corporation, the world's largest engineering firm.

Bechtel Corporation, one of the world's largest engineering and construction firms that is instrumental in the "reconstruction" of Iraq, is a leading advocate throughout the world of the privatization of water systems. It was Bechtel that sued the country of Bolivia for canceling a contract there sponsored by the World Bank.

A CorpWatch report, "Profiting from Destruction," provides case studies from Bechtel's history of operating in the water, nuclear, energy and public works sectors. These case studies reveal a legacy of unsustainable and destructive practices that have reaped permanent human, environmental and community devastation around the globe. Letters from "Bechtel affected communities" included in the report provide first-hand descriptions of these impacts, from Bolivia to Native American lands in Nevada. The report reveals a 100-year history spent capitalizing on the most brutal technologies, reaping immense profits and ignoring the social and environmental costs. For more information, go to

Another CorpWatch report,, details "Bechtel's Water Wars" in Bolivia. Fortunately, the people of Cochabama rebelled against Bechtel's scheme to privatize their water system and won.

The role of Stephen Bechtel, Jr. in funding the PPIC report must be exposed. Are the scientists who authored this report aware of Bechtel's record of devastation across the globe? And will Bechtel profit from the destruction of the California Delta fish, farms and people if a peripheral canal is built? These are both questions that must be asked!

Central Valley chinook salmon and Delta fish populations are in a state of collapse, largely due to massive increases in water exports from the Delta in recent years. A broad coalition of recreational anglers, commercial fishermen, Delta farmers, Indian Tribes and environmentalists is opposed to the peripheral canal because it would result in the diversion of more water from the Delta and further exacerbate the current fishery collapses.

The PPIC report amounts to being an "elaborate sales brochure" for the peripheral canal, quipped Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. I completely agree, especially when you consider who is funding the report!

PPIC Report on the delta appear biased.

I had planned to write a post today about the real need to protect biodiversity. However events changed my plans. You are already seeing the spin machine going to work to sell the peripheral canal concept. The most recent action is the release of a new report by the Public Policy Institute of California, a supposedly non-partisan (but not necessarily non-biased) think tank that does what someone will pay them to do.

This PPIC report, especially with the current drought in question, is getting a lot of play on the television news. Most of it comes without any commentary from those with opposing view, of which there are many.

Restore the Delta had published their own position just prior to the PPIC report's publication. It was an update commenting on the work that had been going on in Sacrament. However, things changed rapidly. Almost as soon as the PPIC report was available, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla issued a rejoinder that has yet to receive proper media attention.
I cite this press release in it's entirety as it is not yet up on their web site.
Press Release from Restore the Delta

Stockton, California
July 17th, 2008

Restore the Delta
PO Box 691088
Stockton, CA 95269

Contact: Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
Phone: 209-479-2053


Stockton, California -- Restore the Delta, a Delta-based coalition including Delta farmers, environmentalists, everyday citizens, fishermen, business leaders, the faith community, and recreation enthusiasts, is calling into questions many of the findings in the Public Policy Institute's Navigating the Delta, a report calling for a peripheral canal.

First, longtime Delta advocate, Tom Zukerman, notes that the report's conclusion that Delta islands with highways were worth saving, while others are not worth maintaining, is an unrealistic conclusion. "How can one maintain any semblance of land form, so as to protect highway structures, with an ocean essentially in the middle of a few islands? For that matter, without the semblance of land forms in the Delta, how would water and gas lines, the railroad, and shipping channels remain protected?"

Central Delta Water Agency's Dante Nomellini further explains that the inter-relationship between Delta islands extends to seepage, wind-wave generation, and fishery and wildlife habitat. "One cannot simply flood islands without adversely affecting the ecosystem and infrastructure on the surrounding islands," says Nomellini.

Second, Restore the Delta Board Press President Bill Loyko questions how constructing a peripheral canal could possibly solve water needs throughout the state. "A peripheral canal, first and foremost will not make more water. The present problem with California's water system is that it is short 5 million acre-feet of water annually to meet current state needs. Rerouting water will not solve that problem." Loyko also asserts that the report's call for building a peripheral without limits in size is merely the means by which to take away the Delta's last major fresh water source, and thereby would worsen Delta water quality.

Third, Restore the Delta's Campaign Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, adds that the report's analysis of water quality is also faulty. "Their analysis assumes that water flowing into and out of the Delta remains unchanged when the point of diversion is changed. But everyone who lives, works, and recreates in the Delta knows that with less fresh water flowing through the Delta, more salt water will intrude into local waterways."

In fact, the report makes a highly inaccurate assumption that water quality would improve for farmers near the San Joaquin River. Barrigan-Parrilla says that the report's authors have not engaged in any conversations with local Delta experts, South Delta farmers - some of whom have lived on the land for ninety years.

Barrigan-Parrilla also adds that such changes in water quality to the Delta will result in economic chaos for the region. "Neither the PPIC Report authors nor officials with the State have done a full-scale economic analysis of how a change in water quality with the operation of a peripheral canal would impact farming, recreation, or fisheries. It is estimated that Delta farming alone contributes $2 billion per year to our local economy, and recreation like boating and fishing another $750 million. If the Delta is made into a salty inland sea the economic impacts will be devastating to those living in the surrounding five counties of the Delta."

Last, Restore the Delta Board Member, Betsy Reifsnider, notes problems with the report's conclusions regarding governance for the Delta and how these conclusions mirror problems with the Delta Vision Strategic Draft Plan. Reifsnider explains, "The PPIC Report concludes that consensus regarding Delta management cannot be reached. While that statement may be true on the surface, it unfortunately is a polite way of saying that local Delta experts should be left out of governance decisions." Reifsnider also adds that the Delta Vision process is calling for a governance council for the Delta comprised solely of governor appointees. "Where do Delta locals have the opportunity to assist with governing the Delta?" asks Reifsnider. "After all, who knows the Delta best?"

All contributors are available for interviews.

About Restore the Delta

Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta - a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists - seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

Restore the Delta
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla
phone: 209-479-2053

Barbara raises the substantive issues. We also have to look at the possible bias of the team that put this together. One of the "funders" of the study was Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr. Bechtel, along with his son Riley, is Co-Owner of Bechtel Corporation. The history of Bechtel Corporation in dealing with water is one of aggressive privatization, back room deals to support no-bid contracts (just like in Iraq). They even had the audacity to start charging farmers in Ecuador and Bolivia for the water that fell on the farm because that was water that Bechtel claimed was their's by contract and which was to be resold to cities. Bechtel sued the government of Bolivia when they voided the contract.

Bechtel lost the suit. But this illustrates that manner in which they would be expected to deal with the Delta. The PPIC report un-surprisingly came to the conclusion that a peripheral canal was required and who would be in a better position to build, own and operate such a facility?

Something smells like dead fish.

This is a time when I hope that Greens all over this state will lose no time in contacting their local media and demanding that they note the potential bias in the PPIC report and that they allow Restore the Delta to offer the counter arguments.

Come to think of it, I did write a post about biodiversity. If Bechtel and the PPIC "experts" carry the day, the delta will become a very different place and we will have all lost.

Monday, July 14, 2008

Cynthia McKinney is Nominated

Saturday, July 12th

Cynthia McKinney Accepts Green Party Nomination

Cynthia McKinney won the Green Party nomination for President of the United States at the Nominating Convention in Chicago in the 1st round of voting Saturday evening.


CHICAGO – The progressive left chose its new candidate for President Saturday when former U.S. Rep. Cynthia McKinney – now a resident of California – was tabbed as Green Party's candidate for President at the Green Party Presidential Nominating Convention here. She won on the first ballot, garnering 313 of 532 votes cast.

"This was an amazing phenomenon. The nomination of Cynthia and her vice president running mate Rosa Clemente demonstrate the growing strength of the Green Party. Let there be no doubt now who speaks for the progressive left in this country," said David Cobb, the 2004 Green Party nominee for President, who resides in Eureka, CA.

"We are getting stronger with every election and with candidates of the caliber of Cynthia and Rosa, we have leadership from constituencies we have not had in the past," Cobb added. Clemente, a hip hop activist and journalist, accepted the vice-president nomination

There was, indeed, amazing energy and excitement in the nominating convention in Chicago Symphony Hall. We were witnessing history being made and everybody in the room knew it. 2008 has been an extraordinary election in these United States. Yes, it has been, though not necessarily as the story is told by the mainstream media (MSM). Both mainstream political parties have emphatically rejected the Bush-Clinton-Bush status quo. However, evidence is piling up in an avalanche that both Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama are unwilling and/or unable to turn their respective political camps from driving this nation (and the world) over a cliff. As the brilliant Green Party activist, Malik Rahim, noted in his keynote address, irregardless of how the votes fall in November, and no matter what they say about us in the clueless MSM, we have "already won" by helping to jump start the international Green Movement in the united States.

Excerpt from McKinney Acceptance Speech:

And when I got to Washington, I saw that public policy is really made in a room at a table. There were real seats at the table. Well, imagine what has happened to public policymaking now. There is a real room with a window and a door, and there’s two seats at the table. The window is for us to look through, while our representatives make policy for us, so we can see what they’re doing. At the table, one seat is for the Democrats, one seat is for the Republicans. Now, we don’t know who did it, but one of them put a lock on the door and slipped a key to the corporate lobbyists who can come and go at will and whisper what they want to Democrats and Republicans, and the result is that we the people, who pay for those seats and determine who sits in them, want one thing, but because the corporate lobbyists can come and go at will, our values get overridden and our representatives give us something else. That’s how we end up with everyone saying they’re against the war and occupation, but war and occupation still gets funding. That’s how we end up with everyone saying they’re against illegal spying on innocent people, yet end up with a telecom immunity bill being signed into law. That’s how we end up with everyone saying they’re in favor of universal access to healthcare and no one supporting what the physicians, nurses and healthcare really want, and that’s a single-payer healthcare system in this country.

The Movement is key because no president, least of all a president from the one-corporate-race-obsessed-war-party-with-two names can turn things around from the top down.

Go Green!

Great Candidates -- Mesplay, Johnson, and Swift

Friday, July 11th

Candidates Forum

There was a delicious irony to the garish, ostentatious "Red Lacquer" ballroom of Chicago's old Palmer House Hotel being the setting for the final Green Party presidential candidate forum. This hotel is a monument to the First Gilded Age of corrupt capitalist wheeling 'n dealing. Today, my Green Party is the leading edge progressive voice speaking in the Second Gilded Age.

Kent, Jesse, and Kat
(Left to right) Kent Mesplay of California, Jesse Johnson of West Virginia, Kat Swift of Texas

By Friday evening, Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney was already the presumptive nominee. Accordingly, as I watched the three "minor candidates" ably fielded tough questions, I could not help but feel a certain pride in the depth and talent within the Green Party.

Dr. Ken Mesplay, California's favorite son, was the strongest on the environmental issues which are, after, the bright green center of our philosophy. I spoke with delegates from all around the country and it seems everyone, everywhere was impressed by Kent's knowledge and commitment.

Jesse Johnson, a bona-fide mountain man from West Virginia, has a towering presence. He spoke about the devastating effects of mountaintop removal by the rapacious coal industry. One thing I learned was that the Appalachian Mountains are the watershed for the rivers that supply drinking water to many states in the Southeast. The clogging and destruction of these waterways is a factor in the drought currently plaguing the Southeast. Johnson says what we need is not "the audacity of hope," but rather, the "audacity of truth." Johnson puts the lie to the pernicious Democrat-Republican mythology that all "working class white people" are racist reactionaries who can only be moved by an appeal to their fears (by the way, this mythology may yet cost the clueless Democrats another presidential election).

Kat Swift, our braided, blonde sister from Texas, is a young, tough activist with a lot of charm. She is smart. But she is open-minded and not too proud to admit she doesn't know it all. At one point, during a response to a question about energy, she joked that her "expert" on energy policy was Dr. Kent Mesplay. One question from the floor was about the touchy question of Israeli-Palestinian relations. Kat gave one of the wisest answers. She said that conversations with people on both sides of that bloody divide has convinced her that, in order to make peace, we have to go around the "leaders" with vested interests in maintaining the conflict and that the United States, of course, cannot be a so-called broker for peace while arming one side. Since this also happens to be my personal opinion, I thought her answer was very wise.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mayor Daley Welcomes You to Chicago

Mayor Richard M. Daley Welcomes You to Chicago
--Sign in Chicago Midway Airport

Thursday, July 10th

Between the plane and the Orange Line subway train into the city, on my way to the Green Party National Convention, I had to read "Mayor Richard M. Daley" a dozen times. Daley is Chicago. Chicago is "Duh Mayah" -- perfect symbol for the primitive "Old Politics" we are here to organize against.

Thursday night there was a reception for international Greens. A brother from Brazil explained to us the difficulty of fighting for Greens issues there, reminding us that having a strong Green Party in the U.S. is absolutely essential since the U.S. is the 800-pound gorilla in the world, especially in the Western Hemisphere.

International Greens

One of the things I like about the Green Party is that, unlike the one warmaking imperial party with two names, the Greens are international. At the reception there was a tribute to Ingrid Betancourt, the Columbian Green activist.

The Brazilians say they like President Lula's social program, but environmentally. At a discussion afterwards, a few of our folks said they could not understand this. I replied that "This is why we need Greens. We need political leadership around the world that thinks Green." Even the best of the "Old Politics" leaders are going to be interested in "development" in their countries in the conventional way. Brazil is a big, poor country with a lot of "undeveloped" resources. Lula, like evey conventional politician, Left, Right, or Center, is wants to raise the standard of living in his country by the industrial exploitation of the nation's natural resources. That's just the way these guys think -- even the best of them.

There is going to be a workshop on NAFTA and the so-called North American Security and Prosperity Partnership (SPP) facillitated by Janet Eaton of the Green Party of Canada. Ms. Eaton is a foremost expert on water issues.

California Caucus

There was a California State Caucus Thursday night. We had heard rumors of credentials challenges. The good news is, for once, internal procedural issues have nothing to do with California. Thanks to our "Super Tuesday" primary, California has ben meticulous about certifying the elected delegates. We are going to cast 60% of our votes for Ralph Nader on the first ballot because that was the way the Californians voted in the primary. I have no problem with that at all. There is this thing called "democracy" that ought to be respected. Some states, apparently, only came up with lists of delegates this week. One cheer for the Golden State.

This morning I plan to attend a meeting of the Black Caucus. I already met some interesting folks. At the reception an African-American journalist from Chicago and I had a good time swapping stories about crooked politicians in Chicago and L.A. He told me he has a higher of our Republican Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger than the Democratic pols in Illinois. "At least Arnold will listen and sometimes change his mind. The politicians here will listen, thank you for your input... and then say 'F**k You!' That's Chicago poltiics."

Oh yeah... the "City that works."

Thursday, July 10, 2008

In a fairly recent post, I mentioned the work done by climate paleontologist Dr. Jonathan Overpeck from the Univ. of Arizona Institute for the Study of Planet Earth. Overpeck was a member of the IPCC and did research on the role of climate change in causing drought in southwestern North America. It makes me think of our own future.

I wonder if our future is not being foretold by this story from the Melbourne, AU HeraldSun.
The once mighty Murray-Darling is now little more than a creek.

The Murray-Darling Basin Commission yesterday revealed that June inflows to the parched river system were the lowest on record.

Just 95 gigalitres flowed into the system last month, down from the previous low of 106 gigalitres in June 2006.

The average is 680 gigalitres.

The report backs up predictions that the Murray-Darling will be dry by the end of the century.
* In depth: The Big Dry
We have to be concerned, though I don't think that we are doing enough. Step 1. has to be based on energy use reductions. If that is not done, there is no step 2.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

This 'Green Brotha' Going to Chicago

The Los Angeles Times published a timely editorial this week on the disgraceful handling of the mess at Martin Luther King/Harbor Hospital in Watts.

From the Los Angeles Times, Monday, July 7, 2008.
Editorial: Learning From a Death in Brooklyn

On June 19, surveillance cameras in a Brooklyn, N.Y., mental ward captured shocking images of a woman collapsing on the floor and lying there, untended by hospital workers, for an hour. She soon died.

The tape, released last week, touched a nerve in Los Angeles because the incident was reminiscent of the death of Edith Isabel Rodriguez at Martin Luther King Jr.-Harbor Hospital in May 2007. Rodriguez lay on the emergency-room floor as a janitor mopped around her. The description of her suffering, and of the indifference of hospital workers, silenced all but the most recalcitrant defenders of the mismanaged medical center...

I've made copies of the article (along with some others) to distribute when this "Green Brotha" goes to Chicago this weekend.

On Super Tuesday, when Mayor Villaraigosa, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Laura Richardson, and my Congresswoman Diane Watson were all busy campaigning for Hillary, I was elected a Cynthia McKinney delegate to the 2008 Green Party National Convention. When I get there, if anybody shoves an Obama poster in my face babbling about "change" I'll shove this in his face speaking truth about the status-quo in One-Party Democratic Los Angeles.

The Democratic Convention will have rousing speeches by hypocrites bloviating on health care. Michael Moore will be the toast of Denver for his "Sicko" documentary. But L.A. bosses (and their "Amen corner" among liberal intellectuals) won't talk about Edith Rodriguez at King-Harbor in Watts, Linda Brown at Brotman Medical Center in Culver City, or "Transplants-for-Crooks" at UCLA. They won't talk about patients dumped on skid row, or Dawnelle Keys' daughter dying while bean counters at King and Kaiser Permanente haggled over money, though those stories were featured in Moore's film.

Times investigators have discrovered that even since the sad closing of King/Harbor last summer, almost nothing has been done to discipline the perpetrators of this tragedy.

. . . It is also striking that action against employees in New York was swift. The director of psychiatry, the director of security and the doctor on duty were all fired within 24 hours of Green's death. No one was fired over the Rodriguez incident, and, in fact, a Times review of personnel data shows that hundreds of problem employees who were supposed to be swept out of the county health system remain on the job. Times staff writers Garrett Therolf and Jack Leonard reported that at least 22 workers with significant discipline histories at King still work at the clinics that remain open on the site of the hospital or at other county health facilities. County supervisors claim they had no idea. . .

Cynthia McKinney, all the other Green candidates, and Ralph Nader are speaking truth about the Democrats in Washington - and in Sacramento -- and right here in my town and yours.

Alex Walker
Los Angeles Greens
July 8, 2008

On Life in South Central Los Angeles

Think Green issues are for "elite" suburbanites? Think again. See below a brilliant statement about the quality of life in South Central Los Angeles by L.A. Green activist , Linda Piera-Avila. Ms. Piera testified before city planners in opposition to a proposed warehouse on the site of the South Central Urban Farm.

According to "No Place to Play," a report by The Trust for Public Land, two-thirds of children 18 and under in Los Angeles do not live within walking distance of a public park.

The study compared the number and percentage of children living within one-quarter mile of a park -- what's considered to be walking distance-in seven major metropolitan areas. With only one-third of children living near open space and 1.8 million children countywide lacking easy park access, Los Angeles fared worst among the areas evaluated.

According to Los Angeles City's website,, there are 250 parks in the city of Los Angeles. Not one is sited in the 90058 zip code, the same zip code as the proposed warehouse project

A recent study by the California Air Resources Board found that in the South Coast air basin alone, particulate matter causes:
  • 5400 premature deaths annually

  • 2400 hospital admissions

  • 980,000 Lost Work Days

  • 140,000 cases of Asthma & Lower Respiratory


The estimated economic value of the health impacts of particulate and ozone pollution from these issues is $19 Billion annually statewide. The concentration of these health and economic impacts in certain communities versus others exacerbates the seriousness of this issue and also raises environmental justice concerns.

Clearly, approving a warehouse in an area already lacking in parks and open space exacerbates an already dire situation. Siting a token 2.5 acre soccer field immediately adjacent to a mega warehouse spewing copious amounts of diesel exhaust is counterproductive to children's health. A full environmental impact report (EIR) is warranted to assess the compounded impact of both the lack of parkland as well as the
potential for increased health, safety and economic risks that this project would pose on the neighboring residents. Additionally, environmental justice issues need to be acknowledged and evaluated in an EIR to ascertain whether or not residents of 90058 would shoulder an unfair burden of chemical, air and noise pollution, social effects of deprivation of open space, increased traffic congestion, and heightened
health and safety risks based on their economic status and ethnic background.

Thank you.

Linda Piera-Avila
Council Member Elect
Green Party of Los Angeles County

Monday, July 07, 2008

Fair pay for fair work.

The idea that information is free seems to be a mantra for the Internet. Some ask if that is not just a capitalist scheme to short change those who supply content... for free.

Consider Huffington Post. Paying their writers is "not our financial model" says the founder, Ken Lerer. Yet, time and again the progressives who loudly support Danny Glover and Unite Here, who march with the California Nurses Association when they strike over wages and benefits, have no qualms about using venues that do not pay the writer, or the reporter.

This argument was brought forward by Stephen Smoliar at The Rehearsal Studio. Smoliar is a scientist and writer by trade. The Rehearsal Studio is where he tries on / works out ideas that may or may not find their way into other content. His view is the progressivism has lost touch with the world of work.

Whether or not you agree with that, you have to pay attention to those who he cited in this post, especially Timothy Egan, whose NY Times blog entry, Save the Press, is quoted liberally. Egan is fighting for his job. He wants to be paid for doing what he does, as we all do. However, what he does is to write, and content is a commodity to be acquired and the lowest price and resold for what ever anyone can make out of it.
If any of those guys on the docks heard that I was now part of a profession that asked people to labor for nothing, they’d laugh in their lunch buckets — then probably shut The Huffington Post down. Doesn’t the “progressive” agenda, much touted on their pages, include a living wage?
So what is it about Huffington Post, or OpEdNews that makes them the model to be emulated? Well, it seems to be in the best tradition of the worst of Capitalism, to make money off the labor of someone else.

Is there a Green Solution? What we currently have are venues for private publishing (Green Party Watch or Green Commons if it gets revived???) and an attempt to build a social networking site for Greens. (Green Change.) Yet, I have no answer for my wife when she asks me how much I am making for all the time I spend here and would not my time be better spent completing the very long list of homeowner tasks that we have agreed must be done.

Saturday, July 05, 2008

Environmental Justice

Why does it seem that every movement seems to have an ethnic / racial aspect to it? There are many who consider the environmental movement just a white person's gripe. When it comes to climate change, I don't see that as the reality. After all, the same climate will affect us all. In fact, it will affect mostly those who can not afford a shining palace on the hill.

That is the theme of a new video published by The New Republic. Go there to view it. There are some interesting non-conversations. I was surprised by several things. First, while the video and the story it tells is excellent, TNR provides the following as the front page link TNR TV: Finding Environmental Activists In the Most Unlikely Place

If the problem is going to affect the South Bronx more than it will Berkeley, then why consider that this is an "unlikely place" for environmental activists? Should not those with the problem be the ones who initiate change, who command attention, who define the solutions?

There is a role for the rest of us, to help, to join, to witness, but not to presume to know best what is good for "them." Such arrogance is what got us into most of the troubles we have. That is the arrogance of the George W. Bush who would rebuild New Orleans but not spend another dime to prevent that environmental catastrophe that will inevitably flood it again... along with a lot of the rest of the country.

Reliance on Washington and the big programs it always defines.. and then porks up... allows arrogance to continue unabated. More than anything, we need more local activism aimed at greening our own cities, our own block.

Here is a good example:

Early Fall of 2007 neighbors joined together to create GoSolarMarin, a program where communities and homeowners could benefit from a group purchase program to go solar.

Let's find a few more and add them to the list.

Thursday, July 03, 2008

G8 must get down to our business

I need to tie a few apparently disconnected things together and hope that they make sense to someone besides myself. Please bear with me.

After my recent post on Tipping Points, Lisa commented:
"As a GP activist I try to focus on local issues where I can see some success: Ballona Wetlands, South Central Farm, getting IRV on the LA ballot, etc. too many issues, too little time!

What would you have city GP activists do about gas prices for rural folks, and everyone?"
That is a good question. I have to agree with Lisa that there are different actions for different situations and that one sized solutions will in this case fail us all.

We still have to pay a lot of attention to the fact that we just may be at a tipping point and that we here in California are going to be in need of triage before it is over. The warning could not be more clear than in this recent report from the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Human activities are already changing the climate of the American West. This report by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization (RMCO) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), drawn from 50 scientific studies, 125 other government and scientific sources, and our own new analyses, documents that the West is being affected more by a changed climate than any other part of the United States outside of Alaska. When compared to the 20th century average, the West has experienced an increase in average temperature during the last five years that is 70 percent greater than the world as a whole. Responding quickly at all levels of government by embracing the solutions that are available is critical to minimizing further disruption of this region's climate and economy. (emphasis mine).
The problem we have is that the general public can only solve one problem at a time and so they have decided that they one they want to solve is that of high gasoline prices. According to a Pew Research Study, even young people, women and so called liberals view the energy shortages that are driving up gasoline prices are more important than environmental considerations.
The public's changing energy priorities are most evident in the growing percentage that views increased energy exploration - including mining and drilling, as well as the construction of new power plants - as a more important priority for energy policy than increased conservation and regulation. Nearly half (47%) now rates energy exploration as the more important priority, up from 35% in February. The proportion saying it is more important to increase energy conservation and regulation has declined by 10 points (from 55% to 45%).
So, Lisa, I am not sure what you might do other than to keep spreading the word. But, if we don't fix this problem and do it quickly, there will be no more Ballona Wetlands. After all the hard work by many dedicated people, to lose it all must not be allowed.

I would ask that every political leader take the little exercise suggested by Dr. Jim Hansen (N.A.S.A.) to Prime Minister Fukuda as yet another G8 opens in Tokyo.
Finally, Prime Minister Fukuda, I would like to thank you for helping make clear to the other leaders of the eight nations the great urgency of the actions needed to address climate change. Might I make one suggestion for an approach you could use in drawing their attention? If the leaders find that the concept of phasing out all emissions from coal, and taking measures to ensure that unconventional fossil fuels are left in the ground or used only with zero-carbon emissions, is too inconvenient, then, in that case, they could instead spend a small amount of time composing a letter to be left for future generations.

This letter should explain that the leaders realized their failure to take these actions would cause our descendants to inherit a planet with a warming ocean, disintegrating ice sheets, rising sea level, increasing climate extremes, and vanishing species, but it would have been too much trouble to make changes to our energy systems and to oppose the business interests who insisted on burning every last bit of fossil fuels. By composing this letter the leaders will at least achieve an accurate view of their place in history.
There is a lot more in Dr. Hansen's letter. It summarizes just how important this is to us all. Lisa, if I have not convinced you that there is not other single issue more important than this, I have been a total failure.