Monday, August 31, 2009

Stop the Water Bills

The LA Greens and LA County GP locals have both signed on to the sustainability principles of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN). Now, C-WIN is asking us to all work together to stop the water bills that are currently in the State Legislature. This is one thing that all Greens should get behind.

If you click Read more! I will provide additional information and tell you how to get started. Key grassroots organizations are taking very firm stands. We need to demonstrate the Greens will buck the flood and stand up for doing what is right, not just what may appear to be politically expedient.

First, you should read the letter that C-WIN sent to State Senator Fran Pavley and Assembly Member Jared Huffman. They head the key committees dealing with Water.
The California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) urges you to recommend that your committees reject SB 1 (Simitian) and AB 1 (Huffman). These bills will only coddle certain agricultural water districts to perpetuate their movement to eliminate California’s system of water rights and make water supplies for the future of California’s major urban economic engines, southern California and the South Bay Area less reliable than they now are. Moreover, these bills represent the legislature’s efforts to enact the Governor’s drive on behalf of his conservative agricultural friends in the San Joaquin Valley for new dams and a peripheral canal, neither of which the California Water Impact Network supports.

These bills will add another layer of governance to an already bloated and ineffective bureaucracy in Sacramento. Things are so bad that the Little Hoover Commission has established a committee to study and make recommendations on water governance in California. It would be idiocy for the Democrats, along with Gov. Schwarzenegger, to try and cram through this legislation before the commission has completed it's work. They are a long way from that and are still soliciting applicable testimony.

At the same time, Restore the Delta has commissioned a public opinion poll regarding attitudes toward a new "water conveyance" (euphemism for a peripheral canal). That poll indicated that there is very little support for such an undertaking, given that the budget is in shambles and the cost is high (lowest estimate is $23 Billion).

This is how they suggest using that data.
Dear Legislator:

Attached you will find a copy of a statewide voter survey on water issues conducted on behalf of Restore the Delta by EMC Research of Oakland, CA. EMC Research conducted 800 telephone interviews among registered voters statewide in California from August 23-27, 2009.

The poll indicates that while voters are concerned about water and ensuring a long-term reliable water supply is a "very high priority," all segments of voters are strongly opposed to a Peripheral Canal and very close to half oppose a bond for new dams, reservoirs or other water infrastructure projects.

It is clear there is very little support among the electorate for many of the elements included in the 2009 legislative water package.
I have a copy of that data, but only in image format. I would like to get it as a pdf and will post that when I do. However, here is the key point.

When first asked about the proposed solution, the distribution between those in support of, in opposition to, or undecided respectively was: 28%, 34%, 39%. However, after further being presented some additional background information, those numbers changed to 26%, 70%, 5%. Finally when given the opportunity to review position statements on the proposed legislation, the numbers again changed to 21%, 76%, 3%. In other words, there was some erosion of the supporters and a significant change of the undecided to the opposition position.

Restore the Delta is also calling for a stop to the idiocy being foisted on the people of California by Pavley, Huffman and State Senate Pro tem, Darrell Steinberg. It would seem that they are pushing this now just to head off any organized opposition. Then, I think it is incumbent on us to give them some opposition. I am working to get a Green's position in front of the Little Hoover Commission and, unless we drop the ball on this, it will happen.

So, what should you do? The easiest is to follow the process set up by C-WIN. You can find that here. They provide sample letters, but do not mention the Little Hoover Commission. If you use that, please indicate that it is irresponsible for the Legislature to craft this before the Little Hoover Commission report comes out.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Climate Change and California Parks

I know that there are many who love going to California's many parks. There is one Green who travels out from LA to Joshua Tree National Park. I am sure that the following climate change prognostication will sadden him.
The emblematic tree of the Mojave Desert is in big trouble. At a February 2009 climate-change symposium in Joshua Tree sponsored by the National Parks Conservation Association, scientists spoke with gallows humor about the eventual need for Joshua Tree National Park to change its name. The way things are going, it looks as if there will be no Joshua trees left in the park before too many more decades go by. Victorville Daily Press.
You many think that Climate Change is something that we can avoid by buying better cars, or CFL's, or turning off the radio when leaving the room. The truth is that it can not be avoided and the effects are already being felt. Tell that to Sen. Boxer.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Cost for fixing the Delta

An August 2009 study by Strategic Economic Applications Company puts the cost to "fix" the Sacramento - San Joaquin Delta at somewhere between 23 and 53 Billion US $. We should be familiar with those numbers if not with the details of the study. Given the current status of the California Budget Process, and the California Economy, there is no way that we can do this.

Everyone wants money that we don't have: Given the choice, I would rather have a high speed rail link running N<->S than this... which only runs South.

A Green Opportunigy - Adaptive Governance

Thanks to Alex for posting the link to Timothy Brink's OpEd in the LA Times. Unfortunately by the time I went there, the note indicated that comments were closed... and there were none to read.

I found one problem with Brink's OpEd. The call to action could be applied to any of the various bills in the California state legislature dealing with Water. The objectives are OK but there are no specifics. So, if you follow the jump, I will give a hint of something that is going on regarding water, the Delta and how it is governed.

To start with, the question of governance is critical to sensible action. The last time we tried to deal with governance, the result was a Cal-FED bureaucracy that lacked the authority, moral or legal, to do anything but it was yet another "compromise" crafted by Sen. Feinstein and so people gave way while it failed.

Right now, the Little Hoover Commission has a committee working on Water Governance. The most recent session was on August 18 and I quote from the meeting notice:
Water rights experts representing state agencies, water conveyors and users, environmental organizations and other areas will discuss the history and current issues within California water rights permitting processes.
They have looked at more than just what has historically been done in California. Presenters to the commission have presented the Utah Model and the Arizona Model. I am not sure what they are, since the presentations are not posted to the public.

So, today, I sent a note to Stuart Drown, the Exec. Dir. of the Commission. In it, I suggested the California Green, Martin Zehr had experience in helping to develop a new model of water governance in New Mexico and asked how we could get that before the commission. (Reminder to self... call the commission on Monday.)

Paul Seeger of the Delta Greens has been looking for a speaker at a meeting on the Delta that he is organizing for Aug. 30. We have tried a number of different tacks, but I think that Martin will be giving a talk on his experience and the idea of Adaptive Governance for water.

Martin cites Adaptive Governance and Water Conflict by John T. Scholz as a source. That should be well worth reading, because the outline of Martin's proposed talk is dynamite. (A comment both on quality and hoped for effect.)

After Martin finalizes the presentation, I will get it posted. I would hope that Paul gets the word out to a wider audience. We need to have more Greens show up and support Paul, and Martin.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Read & Comment on Timothy Brick's Op-Ed about the Delta

The Los Angeles Times published an Op-Ed by Timothy Brick, chairman of the board of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, claiming that "plans to manage the San Joaquin delta --the hub of the state's water system -- have finally got it right."

That is an extraordinary claim.
The Los Angeles Times, Wednesday, August 26, 2009
by Timothy F. Brick

A generation ago, Southern California water managers thought they had the solution for dealing with the hub of the state's water system -- the magnificent Northern California estuary known as the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. They wanted to build a canal from the delta to the existing aqueduct system that sustains San Joaquin Valley agriculture and Southern California.

They were wrong. And now we finally have the chance to do it right.
. . .
For the delta, chances like this don't come along very often. We've never seen an entire package like this that advances water policy and makes the responsible plumbing changes. We're at the brink of a sustainable water future for California -- if we seize the moment.

Will those of you who know much more about this issue than me please follow the link, read the full text, and leave a comment. Is Mr. Brick right? If not, why not? How should Green activists respond to this challenge?

A legacy for Ted Kennedy

We are always saddened by the passing of a leader. Now, we will hear about how great was Kennedy, the Senator. Politicians will line up to express their admiration for his gumption and his civility.

If they really want there to be a lasting memory for him, the way to do it is not with words, but rather to pass the legislation that he wanted so very much: Single Payer Health Care for all.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

CA Dept. of Dept. of Natural Resoures Fails Again

Alex's post earlier today makes the distinction between Greens and the other parties quite clear. If you need more evidence of just how much our Government in Sacramento publishes propaganda, you need only read the latest blast from Kari Hamerschlag (Sr. Analyst with the Environmental Working Group). Kari refers to the 2009 California Climate Adaptation Strategy document, a draft now in circulation.
Unfortunately, the action plan for agriculture leaves out one critical proven strategy for coping with extreme weather events: the promotion of organic agricultural practices that will make soils healthier and more productive, while also conserving water and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The draft adaptation strategy points out what most critics of federal and state climate change legislation constantly fail to acknowledge: That taking no action to address climate change now could cost key sectors in the state “tens of billions of dollars per year in direct costs.”
It is good that someone is thinking about the effects of climate change, since we are not doing much about avoiding it. Still, it sounds like the ag plan is in need of some good old manure. It is like almost everything else out of Sacramento. The words sound good, the thoughts are lofty, but the green is just astroturf.

Green vs. Democrats vs. Republicans

Editor's Note: This note was originally posted on the Facebook Page for the Green Party Eco-Action Committee. I think this is so right on that I have reposted it here.

Posted on Green Party Eco-Action Committee Notes
Green vs. Democrats vs. Republicans

Greens have been around long enough to include us in the spectrum of political ideas. All too often Greens are lumped into the "left" end of the spectrum. It's time to evaluate Green perspectives from our base up. To do that we have to address matters such as voter support and electoral strategies and find ways to implement our Platform.

It is worthwhile to review the current administration's policies with the previous administration's and ask: "What's new about this or that?" We also can ask why are we not making the structural changes that are really needed for ecological democracy or adaptive governance. We don't need to gloss over differences to include them in the decision-making processes and yet, that is what we continue to do. Rather then using a model that proposes central government versus state governments, I would suggest a model that presents autonomous regions (or governing entities) with defined authorities integrated into both state and Federal governments.

My particular point on this matter is for Greens to begin to challenge the bi-polar debate patterns of the duopoly by opening up with our own presentation of governing in the US in the 21st Century. The Green vision needs to be concretized so that Green candidates can deliver victories that benefit supporters, provide structural reforms and address critical energy and resource matters without simply riding the coattails of the Democratic left or pandering to the corporate interests of the Republicans. see

One example is on the horizon in regards to the reauthorization of the Clean Water Act. The bill appears to be presenting the alternatives of an expanded federal authorization for the control of waters and streams without establishing mechanisms for regional decision-making. What is a real Green position in regards to this? How can we accomplish viable alternatives under new political structures? How do we begin to have a conversation and work with Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and Independents in the context of reforms that democratize the political processes? What is bioregionalism and what makes it a distinctly Green perspective ( )


This argument is doubly strong for California where we are enduring something like a total breakdown of (small "d") democratic governance on account of a dysfunctional Democratic so-called liberal vs. Republican so-called conservative political system.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Healthcare Town Meeting - Congresswoman Diane Watson (Los Angeles)

Healthcare Reform Town Hall
Thursday, August 27, 2009
6:30 -- 8:30 PM
1177 West 25th Street
(25th ST and Magnolia AVE)
Los Angeles, CA

Hosts: Ward African Methodist Episcopal Church
Featuring: Congresswoman Diane E. Watson (CA 33)

All are invited to come out and Learn the Truth - Tell Your Story - Kill the Rumors on Thursday, August 27th at 6:30pm. Congresswoman Diane E. Watson and Speaker of the House Karen Bass will highlight how the Healthcare Reform will impact you and me and the State of California.

Ward A.M.E. Church


More Info: 323-965-1422

Scott McLarty, GP media coordinator, summarized the view of most Greens on his Facebook page: "On one side, Dems stage bogus town hall meetings to push a complex high-cost plan with mandates to send millions in taxpayer dollars to for-profit health insurance companies. On the other side: Repubs & rampaging troglodytes think they're heirs to the Boston Tea Party but are really stooges for the same insurance industry. The Dems want phony reform, the GOP wants no reform. Either way, insurance CEOs win and we lose"

Jack Lindblad, our Green Party candidate for the California State Assembly, 32nd District, declares one of his legislative top priorities is to: "guarantee quality universal single payer healthcare for all,"

Lisa Green, our Green Party candidate for the California State Assembly, 53rd District, observed: "In May, physicians, nurses, Greens, and other single-payer advocates were arrested after peacefully standing up to protest the exclusion of single-payer experts during Senate Finance Committee roundtables on health care reform. If fearmongering Republican leaders, front groups, and public personalities like Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Glenn Beck are urging mobs of their supporters to break up town hall meetings, they should be investigated and prosecuted, just as the nonviolent single-payer protesters were arrested."

The Green Party has released a statement on our position with respect to these so-called Town Hall meetings:
Green Logo
Greens: Democrats' Town Meetings on Health Care Reform Deserve Debate and Civil Protest, Not Disruption and Mob Violence


For Immediate Release:
Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Scott McLarty, Media Coordinator, 202-518-5624, cell 202-904-7614,
Starlene Rankin, Media Coordinator, 916-995-3805,

WASHINGTON, DC -- Green Party leaders spoke out today against the violent disruptions taking place throughout the US at town hall meetings on health care reform.

But Greens said that both Democratic and Republican leaders deserve blame for obstructing the public debate on health care reform. Greens pointed to various attempts to silence discussion of single-payer national health care in public forums and the media, as well as spread misinformation about single-payer and the Canadian health-care system.

The Green Party is urging supporters of real universal health care to lobby their US Representatives in advance of a promised vote on the single-payer bill ( Greens have called for a nationally televised debate on the merits of single-payer and for GAO and Congressional Budget Office studies on single-payer. Analyses from these offices in the 1990s showed that single-payer will reduce health care spending by billions (

Once again, Green Party activism is sorely needed as an alternative to the cynical, corrupted, dysfunctional Republican "conservative" versus Democratic "liberal" debate.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Unscientific America... ditto California's Governor.

This is my latest column in the very local Morgan Hill Times. I am posting here for the very good reason that I want you to get a copy of Unscientific America and read it. It isn't long (125 pages) and it isn't difficult but it is important. Greens who don't understand science will never find the solution to global warming nor make a Green Economy work.

I have two topics that I want to mention this week and the more I think about them, the stronger the relationship appears to be. I will try to give both their due and still keep this to one column.

I recommend a new book, “Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens our Future.” It is the collaborative effort of a top journalist, Chris Mooney, and a marine biologist, Sheril Kirshenbaum. Their major point seems to me to be well taken. We live in an age where science has been engineered into the fabric of our lives and still we choose to remain relatively ignorant of the nature and practice of scientific inquiry.

The goal of the book as well as of intersection, a blog that Mooney and Kirshenbaum co-author, is to help bring about a melding of cultures in such a way as to include science. They end the book by quoting C. P. Snow's two culture lecture from 50 years ago. “We require a common culture in which science is an essential component. Otherwise we shall never seen the possibilities either for evil or good.”

That is seems so simple, but with Hollywood sending us one un-scientific story after another and some who would politicize science for reasons known only to themselves, the task of building such a common culture is daunting. The most recent politicization is the accusation by one time Congressman Dick Armey that then entire H1N1 pandemic was manufactured to help push Obama's health care agenda. With that example I need not even mention climate change and the raft of falsehoods that have been used to maintain the status quo.

There was no way that Mooney and Kirshenbaum could have written on this subject without acknowledging the ongoing debates over evolution and religion. I would agree with their position that those who have been labeled as the New Atheists are doing more damage to the cause of science than they are willing to acknowledge. There is no rational for some of the antagonistic actions that have taken place.

I watched physicist, mathematician Freeman Dyson on the Charlie Rose show this week mention new atheist Richard Dawkins and saying that he has done much harm for future science by chasing away young people who might become scientists but who are not ready to give up the religion in which they have been raised... as Dawkins would insist.

We live in Silicon Valley, in a culture that produces much of the science based technology that fills our lives, or will in the near future. From I-Pod to I-Phone, from solar cell power generation to a Tesla Motors roadster or resveritol in a pill. the fabric of our existence is being changed by science. Yet, our media is rarely allows for science stories to make it into print or onto the screen. We have much discussion about a world class center for mathematics being established in Morgan Hill and yet I see little if any influence on our youth.

I hope that all of you who read this will get the book. At a minimum, Mooney and Kirshenbaum are asking questions that should be asked.

My second topic is the Sacramento – San Joaquin Delta and California's water problems. There is much more to this story than that which make the news. Too often the demand to boil the story down to short soundbites or a desire to explain it in terms that the un-scientific reader can understand ends up with a he-said / she-said style of reportage in which neither is telling the truth. As one person remarked, solving California's water problems is a likely as winning a comprehensive peace settlement in the Middle East.

We can not expect the current situation to remain as it is. Our climate is changing. A recent study from UC Davis indicates that the orchards of the Central Valley will all need to be replaced due to global warming. It is quite probable that apple, pear, cherry, pistachio and many stone fruits will no longer set good crops as winters become increasingly mild. We also know that population will continue to increase. Finding the right solutions will require paying more attention to the sciences: climatology, agriculture, ecology... and less attention to the calculus of short range vote margins, something that not even the American Institute of Mathematics can help with.

There are those who posture in public, who claim that drought is costing far job, who would have us build more dams for future supplies because it sounds good now. Unfortunately, the ecological changes that we are undergoing will happen. We seem not willing to try and avoid severe climate disruption. At least, let us use the best of our science knowledge to plan for our future. It is not a time to be scientifically illiterate, even if you are the Governor.

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Slate: How Is America Going to End?

Here is an example of the kind of admittedly silly intellectual "mind experiments" that I enjoy during my summer vacation season.

Slate Magazine

Posted on Slate, August 3, 2009.
by Josh Levin

If and when America expires, we probably won't agree on the cause of death. For proof that autopsies of empires are inconclusive, consider the case of Alexander Demandt, the German historian who set out in the 1980s to collect every theory ever given for why Rome fell. The final tally: 210, including attacks by nomads on horseback, blood poisoning, decline of Nordic character, homosexuality, outflow of gold, and vaingloriousness.

In tribute to Demandt, I've gone looking for every possible reason why America could fall. I've paged through the work of scholars who have studied the characteristics of declining and failed societies. I also collected theories from futurists, doomsayers, separatists, economists, political scientists, national security experts, climatologists, geologists, astronomers, and a few miscellaneous crazy people. The result: a collection of 144 potential causes of America's future death.

In my humble opinion, we are seeing the collapse of (small "d") democratic governance in California right now. I'm surprised Josh Levin's analysis underestimates the evils of our tiresome race-based politics. The current "leaders" of California's non-Hispanic "Whites" will never accept being a "minority" and current "leaders" of California communities of Latinos and Blacks like me will never stop thinking of themselves as oppressed "minorities." Eventually, this means disaster.

The End of America on Slate.
The End of America on Facebook.

Monday, August 03, 2009

Meet LeAlan Jones -- Illinois Green Party

LeAlan Jones, the 30-year-old Green Party candidate for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois, is as angry at injustice as he is at the African-American intellectual and political class that accommodates it. He does not buy Obama’s "post-racial" ideology or have much patience with African-American leaders who, hungry for prestige, power and money, have, in his eyes, forgotten the people they are supposed to represent. They have confused a personal ability to be heard and earn a comfortable living with justice.

Why should African-Americans join the Green Party?
Isn't the Green Party a "White" party?
Aren't the Democrats the party of "Our People?"

This is the kind of nonsense I get all the time as an active outspoken Black activist in the California Green Party. Want to see what a no-nosense Black Green looks and sounds like? Meet LeAlan Jones, Green Party candidate for Senate from Barack Obama's very on state of Illinois. His passion for speaking truth to power is precisely what is missing from the current "No Drama Obama" regime and a perfect counterpoint to disgraced Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich's hand-picked Democratic Party hack, Sen. Roland Burris.

See below some highlights of a column by Chris Hedges posted on the TruthDig web site:

Posted on Truthdig, Aug 3, 2009
"So Much for the Promised Land"
By Chris Hedges

LeAlan Jones, the 30-year-old Green Party candidate for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois, is as angry at injustice as he is at the African-American intellectual and political class that accommodates it. He does not buy Obama’s "post racial" ideology or have much patience with African American leaders who, hungry for prestige, power and money, have, in his eyes, forgotten the people they are supposed to represent. They have confused a personal ability to be heard and earn a comfortable living with justice.

"The selflessness of leaders like Malcolm X, Dr. Martin Luther King, Harold Washington and Medgar Evers has produced selfishness within the elite African-American leadership," Jones told me by phone from Chicago.

"This is the only thing I can do to have peace of mind," he said when I asked him why he was running for office. "I am looking at a community that is suffering because of a lack of genuine concern from their leaders. This isn’t about a contract. This isn’t about a grant. This isn’t about who gets to stand behind the political elite at a press conference. This is about who is going to stand behind the people. What these leaders talk about and what needs to happen in the community is disjointed."

Jones began his career as a boy making radio documentaries about life in Chicago’s public housing projects on the South Side, including the acclaimed "Ghetto Life 101." He knows the world of which he speaks. He lives in the troubled Chicago neighborhood of Englewood, where he works as a freelance journalist and a high school football coach. He is the legal guardian of a 16-year-old nephew. And he often echoes the denunciations of black leaders by the historian Houston A. Baker Jr., who wrote "Betrayal: How Black Intellectuals Have Abandoned the Ideals of the Civil Rights Era."

Click the link below to view a good television news report on the Illinois Green Party Convention:

ABC News 15 in Champaign

Remember, this is home-turf of President Barack Obama. If Illinois Greens can speak truth to power like this in the "Land of Lincoln", then surely we can do as well in the tarnished "Golden State." My personal opinion is that it's past time for African-American progressives to leave that old 1960s Black Power era rhetoric to the dustbin of history and just go ahead and be the change we want to see. But that is just Alex Walker's eccentric view. The Green Party is and ought to be a big tent and I am delighted that a great young new leader like LeAlan Jones is in it.