Tuesday, November 24, 2009

A Green Party Approach to Oppose the Water Bond and Address the Budget Crisis

The political solution for rational and sound water planning lies in structural reforms that establish bio-regional entities that represent stakeholders in the decision-making process. Such a solution would inherently impact on the character of water diversions that we have seen in the past and provide a new political landscape for Greens running for political office.

Green Party candidates, who come forward in the next election cycle, need to oppose the bond issue, promote regional water planning and oppose continued diversions from one region of California to another. Greens running for the State Legislature can develop campaign strategies that focus on the environmental and budgetary issues around the theft of funds for education, the reckless spending for favored agri-business interests and the failure to end multi-billion dollar diversions without recognition of the needs of the regions impacted. Prioritization needs to be based on documented and consensual processes, not on back room deals made in the dead of night.

Education and water are issues that California state government has failed to provide real solutions. The Green Party is willing to break from the failures of past policies and promote reforms that are long overdue.

New support for the Green Party will develop based on our willingness NOT to repeat the hollow rhetoric of the Democrats and the Republicans. Too many times they have showed their true colors. It is time for advocacy groups to come forward and unions and other political action groups to step forward and support Green campaigns through financial support and to step forward in building and creating a new agenda for California.

We have worked often with environmental groups, Constitutional reform groups, student groups, teachers groups and other political organizations. We have contributed to their efforts and continue to do so. But reforms will not happen without the representation in there willing to make it happen.

In water there is no step backwards. Opposing the bond issue, as many environmental groups already have, is one step forward. The group RESTORE THE DELTA has been actively engaged in organizing based on the concerns of regional stakeholders. They have steadfastly opposed the water agreement when it was in the state legislature. It circulated a petition along with 23 other environmental groups stipulating:

First, I oppose the creation of a Delta Council on which the Delta would only have one representative. Second, I oppose the authority the Council would have over all quality of life issues in the Delta as it would have the right to override approval of local agencies for all local projects. Third, I oppose the intent of the bill "authorization of new conveyance" as this would offer a new layer of super protection for the outcome of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Fourth, I oppose the idea that protecting the Delta, fisheries and communities alike, can be set as a co-equal goal with water exports to another region in California, all at a loss to the Delta's ecosystem and economy. And last, I oppose a general obligation water bond or bonds that will fund infrastructure and programs that will not restore the Delta, regardless of whether these bonds are offered as one large package or in future bond cycles.

The work opposing the water bond is the next on the political agenda to oppose the agreement reached in the state legislature. RESTORE THE DELTA issued a statement following the passage of the water agreement by the state legislature that pinpoints the irresponsibility of the bill.

“Restore the Delta Blasts Legislature for Boondoggle Water Deal”

Today, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director for Restore the Delta, issued the following statement regarding the water deal that was passed early this morning by lawmakers:

"The water package that passed in the dead of night epitomizes the dysfunction that has gripped our Legislative process," Barrigan-Parilla said. "The package lost any semblance of rational debate and turned into a pork festival with the water bond ballooning to over $11 billion dollars. With our state already facing a massive debt and more red ink on the horizon, how can we afford this?"

Barrigan-Parilla added, "In addition, the one bill that would have required a full fiscal analysis and a vote of the state legislature before the peripheral canal could be built, Huber-AB 13 7x, was killed by Legislative leadership because Southern California water interests viewed it as a 'distraction.' Since when is it a distraction to require fiscal analysis?"

"We will continue to use every means possible to oppose this package which sets in motion the canal and allows an unelected body to make key decisions that will impact our Delta Communities, while we are left on the sidelines," Barrigan-Parilla concluded. "It's no wonder Californians have such a low opinion of their elected representatives." http://archive.constantcontact.com/fs062/1102037578231/archive/1102807343943.html

There are public forces and political representatives who have opposed the bond and the agreement. According to Restore the Delta public officials and groups opposing the bond include: Senator Mark DeSaulnier (D- Antioch), Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis), Assemblymember Joan Buchanan (D-San Ramon), Assemblymember Alyson Huber (D-El Dorado Hills), Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis)and Assemblymember Chuck DeVore (R-Irvine)

The bond has been criticized from a financial perspective and its impact on funding of education and social services. In the RESTORE THE DELTA statement, officials from SEIU, AFSCME and Sierra Club were critical of the bonds impacts.

Jason Dickerson, director of state administration at the Legislature's nonpartisan analyst's office, said "voter approval of the water bond would add to California's massive debt, which could soon require 10 percent of state revenue to pay down. Debt service on the water bond alone would likely cost between $725 million to $809 million a year after all the bonds have sold, he said". ("Calif. voters have final say over $11B water bond," Associated Press, November 4, 2009)


Let it not be said that the Green Party stood silent in the midst of crises. Let it not be said that who dared to present new alternatives were disregarded by those whose support could make the difference between winning and losing.

To the family farmers, the migrant farmworker, the unemployed, the student, from the Silicon Valley to the Central Valley to the Imperial Valley, from the Delta to Death Valley, from Orange County to Humboldt County: Green is the only real choice.

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