Friday, April 06, 2018

Recently, I have been going back and re-reading some of the same things that I had read when I joined the Green Party.  Prior to that, as you might know if you had followed California Greening, I had been a  Republican something of the mold of Pete McCloskey or John Rhodes, men of good moral character and a sense that Conservative and Conservatism had the same root meanings.

One of those sources was Arne Naess, a Norwegian philosopher who was credited with coining the term "deep ecology."  In simple terms (Wikipedia) "Næss averred that while western environmental groups of the early post-war period had raised public awareness of the environmental issues of the time, they had largely failed to have insight into and address what he argued were the underlying cultural and philosophical background to these problems."  Now, I might conclude that it is like looking at a platform for a progressive political party without understanding the entire philosophical foundation or the emotional attraction of the contents of that platform.  The result is that we are manipulated by the events that surround us and the memes that others use to explain them.

It was only after digesting Naess that I decided that action must be political.  It leads to the same conclusions that were voiced by Petra Kelly. "If we have a future, it will be green."  I note that unlike Kelly, Greens how seem loathe to initiate action.  Sure, we all join in when others protest, whether it is at Standing Rock, or with BLM, or on Earth Day, or at a local anti-war protests or just tweeting an expression of revulsion with 45's own tweets. But only a few seem grounded in a philosophical understanding of what the end would be like or what the next steps need be.  If we all were then we should be moving toward positive ends fulfilling the vision of a new society that we are bringing into being. 

I am not sure where I will take this, but perhaps it will best be done if I breathe new life in California Greening.

Friday, January 05, 2018

What we leave behind.

I read an new quotation from a familiar writer today.  It is worth repeating as the start of a new series of posts.

'Maybe I've been influenced by the old Quakers who believed it was a moral question always to consider what you're leaving behind. Why not? It's not a bad measure of a man - what he leaves behind".
William Least Heat Moon
Blue Highways: A Journey into America
One part of what I will leave behind is this blog and I either need to make better use of it or I need to move on to other methods of communication. 

So give me some encouragement if this is a useful platform or we will close it down.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

On the "Houstonization" of Inglewood, California for Sports Billionaires

By Alex Walker

The Golden State of California has an international reputation as a environmental leader., with the breathtaking beauty of our redwood forests, high deserts, sandy beaches, and snow-capped peaks. Under both Republican and Democratic administrations we, sure have setup an impressive store of environmental laws. But as the old saying goes God (or the devil) is in the details. As I write this,clever moves are under way by "liberal" legislators on behalf of the big league sports 1% in inner-city Inglewood, California. In this gentrifying working class city where Democrats can always sell thse projects as jobs for po' little oppressed "People of Color" (POVs) -- bipartisan "Houstonization" carries the day.
  1. Inglewood deal with the Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Team
  2. Inglewood deal with the Saint Louis Rams Football team
  3. Legislative initiatives to work around Cali environmental laws
  4. The record of Cali sports stadiums deals
  5. Big league sports and the "Houstonization" of American cities
Relevant Activist Links: 

The Uplift Inglewood Coalition:
Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles:
Center for International Environmental Law:

The Inglewood Deal with Los Angeles Clippers Basketball Team

In the Summer ofr 2017, The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved an an "exclusive negotiating agreement" with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that could lead to the construction of an arena for the NBA team across the street from the future home of the NFL's Chargers and Rams.

Posted By, Jun 15, 2017 
New LA Clippers arena approved by Inglewood City Council 

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) -- The Inglewood City Council unanimously approved an exclusive negotiating agreement with the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday that could lead to the construction of an arena for the NBA team across the street from the future home of the NFL's Chargers and Rams. 
The agreement calls for a three-year negotiating period, including a six-month extension, with a developer to build a state-of-the-art basketball arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats. It requires the Clippers to pay a non-refundable $1.5 million deposit to cover costs associated with the planning. 
The proposed arena would be on a 20-acre parcel of land located across the street from the under-construction, $2.6 billion NFL stadium that is set to open in 2020. The Clippers' complex would include team offices, parking and a practice facility.
The land is currently occupied by a variety of businesses. 
The Clippers have a lease to play at Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles through 2024. However, the team's owner, Steve Ballmer, has been open about his desire for a new arena since he bought the Clippers for $2 billion in 2014. 
The Clippers share Staples with the Los Angeles Lakers, the NHL's Kings and the WNBA's Sparks, leaving the Clippers third in choice of dates. They've played at the arena since it opened in 1999. 
Rams owner Stan Kroenke is privately financing the NFL stadium as part of a 698-acre mixed-use development that includes housing, retail and entertainment. The stadium is scheduled to host the Super Bowl in 2022. 
See Original Article:
At end of the summer. Inglewood residents, local businesses, and the owners of the nearby Inglewwod Forum, expressed concerns about the consequences of opening yet another sports arena in the city.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, August 13, 2017
Possible Clippers Arena has Many Inglewood Residents Worried They May Lose Their Homes or Businesses 
By Nathan Fenno 
When construction started on the $2.6-billion stadium for the Rams and Chargers last year, Bobby Bhagat figured his family’s commitment to Inglewood would finally pay off. 
For more than 40 years, they’ve owned the Rodeway Inn and Suites on busy Century Boulevard. The tidy 36-room property sits across the street from the 298 acres where the vast sports and entertainment district is starting to take shape. 
“We’ve got a gold mine now that the stadium is coming,” said Bhagat, whose father and uncle originally purchased the building. “This is what we worked for. We’ve been waiting for something like this to happen. Now with the Clippers project, it’s all up in the air.” 
The family’s gold mine could face a bulldozer. 
When a Clippers-controlled company and Inglewood agreed in June to explore building an arena, the 22-page deal sent panic through the neighborhood. Some residents are praying for the project to fail, losing sleep, participating in protests, consulting lawyers.
All this because of the legalese buried in the agreement broaching the possibility of using eminent domain to supplement land already owned by the city. The site map attached to the document shows 100 “potential participating parcels” over a four-block area where the arena might be built. Eminent domain allows cities and other government agencies to pay fair market value to take private property from residents or business owners against their wishes for public uses. 
The map doesn’t indicate there are an estimated 2,000 to 4,000 people, predominately Latino, who live in the four-block area. Same for the scores of children — schools are a short walk away — and blue-collar residents who have been in the same houses for decades. Many residences include multiple generations of the same family. The median income hovers around $30,000. 
The area includes the Inglewood Southside Christian Church, more than 40 single-family homes, apartment buildings with about 500 units, several businesses and the Rodeway Inn and Suites. 
The city owns large parcels of land in the area around the business, making it one of the most plausible arena sites. 
“It’s not an eyesore, it’s not blighted, it’s well-kept, well-maintained and we don’t want to go anywhere,” Bhagat said. “We’re going to fight tooth and nail to stop the project.”
He is among a growing number of business owners and residents pushing back against Clippers owner Steve Ballmer’s proposal to construct the “state of the art” arena with 18,000 to 20,000 seats alongside a practice facility, team offices and parking. Ballmer, worth an estimated $32 billion, has said the team will honor its lease to play at Staples Center through the 2024 season. 
See Original Article:

The Rams deal may not be a "gold mine" for the "little people" either. It may, however, be a "diamond mine" for the 1% The $2.6 billion stadium is contemplating a ticket-pricing scheme unprecedented in the NFL.

Published in the Los Angeles Times, August 31, 2017
Rams Could Have the Most Expensive Seat in America 
By Nathan Fenno and Sam Farmer 
The $2.6-billion stadium Rams owner Stan Kroenke is building in Inglewood will be the world’s costliest venue with a ticket pricing plan that would offer the most expensive seats in NFL history. 
According to a document obtained by The Times, the highest priced personal seat licenses for Rams games could range from $175,000 to $225,000 per seat. It would far eclipse the $150,000 PSLs offered by the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.
The license only entitles the owner to purchase a Rams season ticket after paying the one-time fee, which in a first for the NFL will be refundable — without interest — after 50 years. The buyer must then purchase a game ticket with the best club seats tentatively priced between $350 and $400 a game. The PSL can be sold to another party with permission from the Rams, a standard practice in the league.
. .  
Virtually all of the stadium’s 70,240 seats (about 5,000 are for suites) will require seat licenses, although licenses won’t be required for standing-room tickets. The document projects 80% of the PSL revenue will come from club seats, which make up 25% of the seats in the program. Despite the price range in the document, the most expensive club seats are expected to be closer to $175,000 when prices are final, according to a person familiar with the arrangement. 
The NFL’s three newest stadiums priced the licenses much lower: Atlanta ($45,000), Minnesota ($9,500) and San Francisco ($80,000). About half of the NFL’s teams use PSLs or something similar to finance their stadium.
. . .
See Original Article:

In the latest development. State Sen. Steve Bradford is engineering a last-minute end-run around the state laws requiring  Environmental Impact Report (E.I.R.) reports for development projects of this scope.

Published in The Los Angeles Times, August 23, 2017 
Backers of a New Clippers Arena in Inglewood Push a Last-Minute Plan in Sacramento 
By Liam Dillon and Nathan Fenno
Supporters of the Clippers’ proposed new arena in Inglewood are pushing for major help at the Capitol to get the project built.
Backers are seeking last-minute legislation that would give the arena a significant break under the state’s primary environmental law governing development, according to a preliminary draft of the bill obtained by the Los Angeles Times. 
Under the proposal, any lawsuits against the arena filed under the California Environmental Quality Act, which requires developers to disclose and minimize a project’s impact on the environment, must aim to be wrapped up within nine months, a significantly shorter timeline than in typical cases. 
The bill would also limit a court’s ability to halt the arena’s construction, even if it found the project's environmental review didn't adequately study traffic problems or had other flaws. Both of these perks were supported by the Legislature in 2013 to benefit a new basketball arena for the Kings in downtown Sacramento.
The Clippers proposal would also provide the same legal relief to a new transit hub that could include a street car or monorail for easier access to the new arena and the nearby under-construction NFL stadium for the Rams and Chargers. It would also allow the city to permit more billboards and other signage around the arena than otherwise allowed under the law. 
The author of the draft bill is Sen. Steven Bradford (D-Gardena), who represents Inglewood in the Legislature. Bradford wasn’t immediately available for comment Wednesday. 
In a statement, Chris Meany, the project manager for the arena, confirmed that the team was supporting the proposal in the Legislature and likened it to breaks under the environmental law that lawmakers have given to other stadium and arena plans.
"The L.A. Clippers will fully comply with the California Environmental Quality Act for its proposed city of Inglewood basketball arena and team facilities,” Meany said. “This compliance will include an open and transparent public hearing process.”
Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts said in an email to the Times that the city supports the proposed legislation and sought the help of its representatives in Sacramento to ease development of the arena and transit hub.
. . .
See Original Article:

The byzantine maneuvering around ther Rams, Chargers, and Clippers is not unusual in today's American or even in California. The Sacramento Bee has published an analysis of deals for the San Francisco 49ers and the Oakland Raiders. While it seems counter-intuitive, the subtle truth is that the big league sports billionaires do not want to be in world-famous metropolis like San Francisco or Los Angeles proper, and those bega-cties do not want them or need them. The 1% has figured out that the "price" of local politicians is cheaper in smaller towns populated by "the little people."  

Published in the Sacromental Bee, Qugust 31, 2017 

Why Santa Clara and Inglewood are Football Losers 
By Joe Mathews

Will California’s four National Football League teams – the 49ers, Raiders, Rams, and Chargers – win big in the new season? 
Who knows? But we already can identify the losers: California cities foolish enough to host teams. 
In other states, major cities build NFL stadiums because they see football franchises as providing a publicity and economic boost. But in California, with its nation-sized economy and globally famous big cities, major cities have been shedding their football teams, and avoiding the headaches of devoting valuable California real estate to stadiums. 
In this contest, the biggest winner is San Francisco, which got free of its NFL headache by “losing” the 49ers to Santa Clara. Across the Bay, Oakland, which resisted building a new stadium for the Raiders, will win by shipping them off to Las Vegas in three years. 
San Diego registered its civic triumph when – after its voters defeated a proposed new stadium – the Chargers left for a temporary home in the L.A. County city of Carson. In 2020, the Chargers, along with the Rams – who relocated to Southern California in 2016, from St. Louis – will move into a new, shared stadium in the city of Inglewood. 
The destinations of these teams are telling. The only places in California that seem willing to risk hosting an NFL team are smaller and poorer, cities in the shadow of global municipalities. Desperate for high-profile development, such cities devote land and resources to teams that won’t even incorporate their names. (It’s the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams, not the Santa Clara 49ers or Inglewood Rams.) 
That’s the least of the indignities of being an NFL city. Economic studies show that sports teams merely siphon dollars from other entertainment-oriented businesses. And then there’s the cost of civic conflict that greedy NFL teams can engender.
The Santa Clara stadium, while billed as privately financed, required a hotel tax and $600 million in construction loans by a city-related entity. 
Three years after it opened, city and team are fighting about everything from the 49ers’ use of local soccer fields for parking to whether the team lives up to its promises on financial disclosure and stadium spending. 
“We learned we cannot trust the 49ers,” Santa Clara’s mayor told the San Francisco Chronicle this spring. 
Things aren’t that bad in Inglewood yet, where the opening of the stadium, part of a larger entertainment complex, is three years away. But construction is already a year behind schedule, and community opposition is growing. The stadium, sold as a totally private project, could cost the city an estimated $100 million in tax breaks. 
None of this should surprise. Most NFL teams are profitable, so those teams that must relocate – including all four of California’s – carry the stink of failure. It’s no coincidence that California’s NFL owners show up in rankings of the worst owners in pro sports.
These include the Rams’ owner, Stan Kroenke, who has produced teams with losing records for a decade. The Spanos family, which owns the Chargers, alienated San Diego with poor management. Raiders owner Mark Davis, perhaps the NFL’s poorest owner, inherited the team from his late father, Al Davis, a litigious scoundrel who moved the team from Oakland to L.A. and back. 
And USA Today said 49ers owner Jed York had turned the team into “the NFL’s biggest joke.” 
Meanwhile, life after NFL football looks pretty good. San Francisco, sans the 49ers, is more prosperous than ever, and is using Candlestick Park, its former home, for developments more valuable than the stadium was. San Diego, still wrestling with the costs of the Chargers’ old stadium, is imagining happier development possibilities in replacing it. 
Oakland should find that the departure of the Raiders opens up transformational opportunities for land next to a transit center. 
But enough about the winners. NFL football in California is for losers. Pity the home teams. 
See Original Article:

Democratic Houston vs. Republican Houston 

The distinguished and influential New York Times columnist Paul Krugman, published a commentary the week Hurricane Harvey devastated the City of Houston.

Zoning: Both Sides Get It WrongBy Paul Krugman  
The disaster in Houston is partly Mother Nature — natural disasters will happen sometimes whatever we did — but with a powerful assist from human action. Climate change definitely made such an event more likely; beyond that, Houston’s total lack of zoning, complete failure to limit the amount of land paved over, made it much more vulnerable than sheer geography required. 
But this isn’t a simple parable where hostility to government intervention is the villain. In general, I have contempt for “both sides” arguments; given the corruption of modern American conservatism, on most issues there is a huge asymmetry between left and right. When it comes to land use policies, it really is true that both sides get it wrong. 
Having no zoning, no control, can be disastrous — which is what we’re seeing in Houston now. But all too many blue states end up, in practice, letting zoning be a tool, not of good land use, but of NIMBYism, preventing the construction of new housing.
In fact, liberal (in the non-political sense) land use policy is probably the secret behind Texas economic growth: the state doesn’t offer high wages, but it does offer cheap housing even in huge metro areas. Compare real housing price evolution over the decades in Houston and San Francisco . 
. .
See Original Article:

The problem with Mr. Krugman's analysis as with nearly all analyses based on generalizations about so-called red Republican areas and so-called Blue Democratic areas is that, as I said at the top, God (or the devil) is in the details. What Mr. Krugman calls "NIMBYism" only applies to places where the well-to-do live. Alas, when it comes to "the little people" in a gentrifying working class city like Inglewood where the Democrats can always sell the idea that stadiums mean jobs for those po' little oppressed "People of Color" (POVs) -- the bipartisan "Houstonization" marches on.

Important Relevant Links: 

The Uplift Inglewood Coalition:
Black Lives Matter, Los Angeles:
Center for International Environmental Law:

See CIEL Statement: 

Green Groups Oppose Amendments to SB488 (Bradford)

August 22, 2017

Thursday, February 09, 2017

Defending Science is a Priority for ALL. not just Scientists.

While there are multiple drivers for the current war on science; an anti-science media, religious ideologies, postmodern fuzziness; but it should be enlightening to look at the ways in which those on the political left and right have decided which science to challenge and which to accept. As we know more about the universe that we live in, it is increasingly difficult to know enough to make rational decisions about anything scientific. It has just become too complex.

As Nobel Peace Prize laureate Nicholas Murray Butler defined an expert, "someone who knows more and more about less and less until they know absolutely everything about nothing". In that final sense, we are all scientific experts.

The attacks of the anti-vaxers on the left: citing relatively fringe authorities, some even having been soundly debunked, claiming government collusion, relying on anecdotal evidence; are very much like those from the climate deniers on the right. They use the same tactics. There is an anti-authoritarian element in that neither believes the government nor government funded studies. There is a difference in that progressives tend to be convinced the industry lies about everything to make a bigger profit while the climate denying conservative tends to support the industrial technology that promises them more jobs and says that it will all be OK.

That is an oversimplification. But these difference prevent science becoming a partisan agenda item for the Democratic Party and thus it is not part of our national discourse. We need a new focus on science and that will require a new way of examining these issues. As a Green, perhaps even a Deep Green, I feel that it should be done through an ecological lens. Need to think about this a bit more and see where that applies. I know it does to pollution (a left issue in general) and to GMO use (an anathema to most of the left.)

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

I the 2015 election cycle, California Greens ran in 13 local races, winning 10.  That is a good record.  I am, however, surprised that we have not done more in this regard. This level of results indicates that we should.  All of the energy seems to be involved in the focus on the 2016 presidential race, a fact that seems to be driven by the big money that sponsors the outreach efforts of the candidates and the incessant campaign coverage from those oh so savvy pundits on the tube.

This seems antithetical to Green ideals that value, at least is words, grassroots democracy, decentralization and community based economics.  You would think that Greens would be making the effort to do more at the local level.  These are the offices that can literally change our lives and provide the name recognition to gain higher office.

In California, no event will dominate 2016 like a highly probable strong El Niño. This is all the more important as it follows a 4 year severe drought that has had far reaching effects on local government.   In Morgan Hill, two entities control how we get our water and at what cost.  They are the Santa Clara Valley Water District (wholesaler)  and the City Council of Morgan Hill, the retailer.  I use the business terms because both organizations are in the business of delivering water for our use

During the drought, we were asked to use less water, saving what little we had until the rains came again.  As a result, neither the Water District nor the City had as much revenue as they had projected.  Their solution is to charge more for each unit of water.  Since we use less, they need a higher rater to cover the costs that are mostly fixed, not subject to variation with volume.  In his recent book, Water 4.0, David Sedlak traces the history of water systems from ancient days to now and arrives at the conclusion that we can no longer manage this most precious of resources through large scale systems.

In Sedlak's view, Water 4.0 will have to provide for distributed management of water.  That is a bit of what we are doing.  We now have a collection process for rooftop water and use that to make sure our garden and fruit trees are adequately watered as long as we can.  In the past year, we managed to lower our consumption of city supplied water by over 30%.  In a review of Water 4.0 published in the San Francisco Chronicle, Kate Galbraith concludes  with a quote from Sedlak. "If they want to realize the full benefits of conservation, water utilities will have to accept the idea that they are no longer in the business of selling water," he writes. "Rather, they are stewards of a limited resource."

 Both the City Council and the Water District Board are elected offices.  This is where Greens should be focusing energy and effort.   If we can get this right, we might end up with Water 4.0 and a path to higher office because we proved that we can be trusted to govern.

Friday, October 16, 2015


This is a bit of a diversion from my promised series of posts on CA Water and the Delta.  But then, maybe it isn't.  Last month, I read a post by Oregon State professor Michael E. Campana (referenced in my list of sources in Part I.)  based on a review of UC Berkeley engineering professor, David Sedlak's new book, Water 4.0.  Yesterday, I was scanning the new book section at the Morgan Hill Public Library and there it was, Water 4.0.  Now, it is on my table waiting for me to finish it.

The review was written by G. Tracy Mehan III, currently Executive  Director of Government Affairs for the American Water Works Association. That makes him the key lobbyist for those whose business is delivering the water when you turn on the tap.;  Since Water 4.0 intends to turn a lot of this on it's head, that makes Mehan's review doubly meaningful.  Is he more apt to criticize those aspects of Water 4.0 that challenge the function, or the legitimacy of his member organizations?  I can't answer that yet, but welcome the words that conclude his review:
Sedlak has written a stimulating, provocative book that both informs and challenges the reader to think seriously, and creatively, about water management for the next generation.
More pertinent to my thinking, is the idea that we need to dispense with the "grid" as an effective means of distributing water.  As Mehan states, 
He sees climate change with its erratic precipitation patters (too much or too little,) as as the primary driverof this imperative to get beyond this traditional water grid. Other drivers include a growing economy and population; aging infrastructures; escalating costs of water capture, transportation, storage and treatment and tenacious resistance to price increases by local leaders and citizens whether it be for upgrading infrastructure or conservation.
Right now, we have a water grid that is massively expensive to maintain.   The most recent projects from the CA Department of Water Resources calls for spending $10s of billions on infrastructure... known as the tunnels... that will deliver no new water.   It is all part of a gigantic bureaucratic system in which so called stakeholders only pretend to represent the public.  When CA DWR asks for stakeholder input it comes not from the public who use the water, but from the wholesalers like the Metropolitan Water District who continue to need more water to sell to continuing paying for their operation and salaries.These organizations also appear to own the state apparatus that is supposed to oversee the system. 

If this sounds familiar, it should.  The Public Utilities Commission is supposed to regulate electric and gas industry in CA.  We have seen recently where both PUC members and PG&E executives have lost their jobs for being too cozy with each other.  Another hierarchical grid designed for the efficient delivery of  a needed service.  

Maybe it is time to lock up these grids.  The alternatives for electricity are clearly available and it is becoming easier to go off grid or to share locally.  When I sit on my deck, I can look across Anderson Lake to a row of houses on the crest of Finley Ridge to the east.  They are all off grid.  Homes were designed to be energy efficient years ago.  

What we are lacking is a regulatory system to manage this.  Can we envision PG&E as managing the distribution of electricity no matter where or how it is generated?  It might require also rethinking our local governmental structures to work deal with a rapidly changing architecture.  It won't be easy, but at least the pieces are there.  

The problem with Water 4.0 is that the pieces are not yet so clearly identified and the impact of land use is much greater.  Right now, our governmental leaders are not even asking the right questions, the word ecology not being in their vocabulary,  let along coming up with the right answers.  If we need distributed electric generation, and distributed water management might we alo need distributed political power in the manner that only Greens are advocating.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Drought, Water and Politics Part II, Saving the Delta

I don't think that you can understand what is happening regarding the CA Delta if you only consider what you are being told.  There are currents running through the politics that are as dangerous as an Ocean Beach rip tide if they are ignored. I hope to lay out what I think is happening though no one is quite willing to say it... yet.   I guess that stubbornness comes with age.

To begin with, we all need to understand just what the delta is and one good way to do this is to view the recently posted Youtube version of Restore the Delta's award winning documentary, Over Troubled Waters.  Words are not sufficient to tell us all we need to know.  We need the imagery.

There are some who do not think that the Delta can be saved, or at least not all of it.  There are two interlocked issues involved.  First, there is climate change with the inevitable result of sea level rise. That interferes with the multiple use of the Delta and it's water: agricultural land, water supply and an ecology that supports all of it's non-human species.  To view the scope of this problem, we need to look at a map.  The views on these maps show just how much of the Delta is threatened.

I have long espoused the view that the CA Dept of Water Resources has no intention to protect the Delta from climate change driven sea level rise.  That is the only rationale for the twin tunnel project that makes any sense at all.  But, I was waiting to find good substantiation for that.  This past week, the Woodland, CA Daily Democrat published an OpEd by Jerry Meral that lays it all out.
Even without earthquakes and floods, Delta islands will almost certainly be inundated by sea level rise during our lifetimes -- making it no longer possible to move fresh drinking water across the Delta to the Bay Area.

Who, you might ask, is Jerry Meral?  He is a long time Jerry Brown crony from Brown's first administration.  In more recent times, he was Deputy Director of the  Dept. Water Reso.urces in charge of, among other things, the Bay Delta Conservation Plan that includes Gov Brown's major tunnel project.  Earlier this year, he  resigned and joined the National  Heritage Institute as Director of the California Water Program.

It is my opinion that Greens should withhold any support for Delta Water Projects until the State of California has a clear plan what has to be done to deal with sea level rise.  Right now, that plan is often referred to but never worked on.

Major infrastructure investments are apt to be throw away projects if they are built in the Delta.  Two current plans are the tunnel project and a decision by the Metropolitan Water District to buy 4 Delta Islands.  In both cases, the lands involved have a high probability of being inundated by sea level rise before their useful life is completed.  The southern terminus for the twin tunnel project is called the Clifton Court Forebay, and that is only 1 M above mean high tide.  This could by severely affected by 2050 during very high tides. 

I wonder how what the residents of the Delta are going to do as they slowly lose their homes and livelihoods.  I also wonder how the State of CA might attempt to mitigate the financial ruin of those families.  It is not something than anyone wants to talk about and for good reason.  They have no answers.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Drought, Water and Politics Part I, Introduction

Not long ago, I promised that I would work on a review of water issues for the Green Party of CA.  It is a complicated set of issues with a long and often ugly history.  I won't go very far into the history of the issues here unless it applies directly to what we are facing now.
For example, when I started looking seriously at CA water issues I was working to unseat Richard Pombo, at that time Chairman of the House Committee on Resources (now Natural Resources).  Often, we saw Pombo, a Republican, together with Sen. Diane Feinstein, a Democrat.  Well, Pombo is gone but not Feinstein and so the history of what she has done in the past is open to criticism and that will be given.  The summary of her achievements is simple.  Nothing has ever worked but she gave great speeches and keeps getting re-elected. I have written about the Delta for years and that means writing about Sen. Feinstein, as I did back in 2006 when we were stuck with an unworkable CalFed compromise that she sponsored and which the current plans was supposed to fix. 

I think that it makes sense to divide this into specific sections focused on the upcoming issues that require political action.  First and foremost is the question of the State of California's plan to build twa o massive tunnels under a portion of the Delta, carrying the water from the Sacramento  and American Rivers under the Delta to discharge at Clifton Court Forebay northwest of Tracy, where it can be pumped into canals carrying it South to West San Joaquin Valley ag interests and then over the mountains to the Metropolitan Water District.  The scope and cost (upwards of $40 Billion) make essential that we get it right and that everyone understand what is happening, not just what the bureaucrats want you to know.   Clifton Forebay is only about 1 M above mean sea level and no one is talking about the cost to deal with that.  That will come as Part II, and shortly as we only have a couple of weeks to make any impact on the process.

In Part III, I will deal with issues related to the drought we are experiencing now and the deluge we might be getting from a very strong El Niño.  Very few media outlets get this right.  Most oversimplify the issues involved. There are only a few journalists that I trust with this story.  I will list those below.


Journalists:  These are the major CA journalists who have the knowledge and the capability to deal with water issues in CA.  Most of them have years of experience on the "environmental beat" and that show when they don't feed you pablum.
  • Paul Rogers:   Writes for the San Jose Mercury News.  I follow him on twitter(@PaulRogersSJMN) to make sure I don't miss anything.  Twenty years on the beat and tells the story straight.  Also often on KQED.
  • Matt Weiser:  Writes for the Sacramento Bee:  
  • Alex Breitler:  Writes for the Stockton Record and covers San Joaquin Valley issues.
  • Chris Austin:  Chris is a sel described "water news junkie" and maintains the Maven's Notebook.  She catches everything that the others don't cover and a lot more. If you only have time to follow one source, this should be it.
  • Emily Green.  Her blog is Chance of Rain and it is well worth the read including this summer's post, Fixing a Broken Delta.
  • John Fleck.  His inkstain blog is often cited by those who really know western water.   Lives in New Mexico but understands almost everything about Western US Water.
  • Lloyd G. Carter. Lloyd was a journalist until he became a lawyer.  He calls his blog The Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood. I will mention Lloyd more, as he was key to reporting the selenium pollution of the Kesterson Reservoir by ag interests from the Westlands Water District.
  •  Dr. Peter Gleick  Founder and Director of the Pacific Institujte.  Worldwide reputation on water issues.  Follow him on twitter to see what he is up to now.  @PeterGleick
  • Michael E. Campana  Professor Emeritus at Oregon State University.  Blogs as the AquaDoc  I follow on twitter @WaterWired as much of what he produces is irrelevant unless you have a degree and are interested in a job.  
  • Donald Zeitland.  He has a blog called Aquanomics.. the political economics of water.   But I list him here.  PhD in economics from UC Berkeley and currently Assistant Prof. of Economics at Leiden University in the Netherlands. If you think that water and economics belong in the same sentence, you need to read Zeitland.
Activist Organizations: Both of these have had some supportand or endorsement from GPCA.
Then, there is Dan Bacher: Journalist, blogger, activist and always outspoken.  Dan is managing editor of Fish-Sniffer, a magazine for sport fishing.  Blogs all over the place including at Daily Kos though he is no Democrat (not at Green either).

Wednesday, September 09, 2015

Testing the World's Will

Television news does a very good job of covering disasters.  Now, it is the flow of refugees from Syria and other Middle East or North African countries streaming in to Austria, Germany... passing through Hungary where the government does not want more workers, but is willing to pass them on and the people are turning out to help in a humanitarian way.

Television news does not do a very good job of digging in to the root causes of the story.  The "fleeing ISIS" motive is real enough to be all they need.  It is easy to understand.  It has a villain to blame.   But the problems in Syria come more from the reality of a multi-year drought.  With flocks and fields failing to support the rural existence, many Syrians fled to the cities where there was no work.  The unrest that followed is what we have seen, again and again, whether you want to blame the Assad regime or ISIS. 

For this type of news, you need to turn to alternate media, such as this post yesterday by Joe Romm at Climate Progress.   He clearly links the Syrian crisis to climate change.  More importantly, he warns us all that, unless the US makes major changes, we will be the target of an even greater climate driven mass migration.  While Donald Trump is railing against our porous borders and the fact that they allow relatively easy access to the US for those willing to risk the desert, we find that almost all of the Republican Candidates for POTUS have prepared some version of a "stop the immigration" position. 

Romm makes our choices clear:
Given the current political debate over immigration policy, it’s worth asking two questions. First: if the United States, through our role as the greatest cumulative carbon polluter in history, plays a central role in rendering large parts of Mexico and Central America virtually uninhabitable, where will the refugees go? And second: will we have some moral obligation to change our immigration policy?
While every current candidate of the major parties is treating this as a policy, their basis changes.  Some would protect our economy, workers jobs, the rule of law, or in Trump's case, provide safety on our streets, not a single one has come forward to treat this as a moral issue.  To do so would have ramifications that they dare not consider. If climate refugees becomes a moral issue, then surely we must act to prevent it.  Leave the fossil fuels in the ground until we have no other choice would be a good beginning.  Do we have the political will to do this?

Tuesday, July 07, 2015

What "The Left" Should Be Doing in the USA in 2015

Check this conversation between Amy Goodman and Richard Wolff.

Instead of obsessing over sex and "race" this should be the focus of "The Left" in the USA today.

RICHARD WOLFF: I think what Syriza shows in Greece is the potential of a mass popular resistance, not only to the austerity policies that came in after the crisis of 2008, but even to the very basic system of the countries of Europe that divide people into a tiny number of very wealthy and a mass of poor, that the system is producing outcomes that more and more people are hurt by, are critical of and want to change. But the conventional politics, the Republican and Democratic parties here and their equivalents all across Europe, don’t see it, don’t act on it, don’t even speak about it. So it becomes a kind of a vacuum, where there’s no political expression of what a growing mass of people feel, both about austerity and about capitalism as a system. And so it’s like a solution into which you drop that last little bit of hard material and everything crystallizes. Everybody is waiting for the new political voice to emerge that speaks to and represents what the traditional politics have failed to do.

Bernie Sanders is doing that in this country, and he’s doing it very well, exactly like Syriza surprised everybody. Indeed, in England, there’s a struggle going on right now inside the Labour Party, where a candidate like Bernie Sanders, named Corbyn, is surprising everybody by the support he’s getting inside the struggle for who will be the new leader of the Labour Party. So you see everywhere the signs of an emerging left wing, not because of some political maneuver, but because of the enormous vacuum that a left leadership can take advantage of, given what has happened in the last eight years of this capitalist global system.

AMY GOODMAN: How does Bernie Sanders compare to Hillary Clinton?

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, she’s the old. She is the staid, do it by the books, the old rules, as Paul said so nicely. She is playing the game the way the game has been played now for decades. Bernie Sanders is saying the unthinkable, saying it out loud, saying it with passion, putting himself forward, even though the name "socialist," which was supposed to be a political death sentence—as if it weren’t there. And he’s showing that for the mass of the American people, it’s not the bad word it once was. It’s sort of a kind of position in which the conventional parties are so out of touch with how things have changed, that they make it easy for Mr. Sanders to have the kind of response he’s getting. And my hat’s off to him for doing it.

AMY GOODMAN: Explain what socialism means.

RICHARD WOLFF: Well, that’s a big one. Socialism has traditionally meant one thing, but it’s changing, as well. Traditionally, it meant that instead of private ownership of means of production, of factories and land and offices, you socialize it. The government takes it over. And instead of having bargaining in the market, buying and selling goods to one another, we work from a governmental plan. So it gives the government an enormous power. But the idea was, if the government owns and operates the businesses, and if the government plans how we distribute goods and services, it will all be done more democratically, more egalitarian, etc., etc., than capitalism. That was always the idea. The problem was, socialists have to admit, that giving the government that much power raises a whole new set of problems, which the Soviet Union and China and so on illustrate. So the question is: Are there other ways of understanding socialism that gets us the benefits without the negatives? And I think the new direction is the whole focus at the enterprise level, of changing the way we organize enterprises, so they stop being top-down, hierarchical, board of directors makes all the decisions, and we move to this idea which is now catching on: cooperation, workers owning and operating collectively and democratically their economy and their enterprise.

* * * 

Unfortunately, Ms. Hillary Clinton is not the only one in USA politics representing "the old... the staid, do it by the books...  playing the game the way the game has been played now for decades." The same thing can be said of the old activists and intellectuals who dominate Our So-Called Left in the USA. They have lived their whole lives playing the game of single-issue "Identity Politics" for decades. And just like mainstream Republicans and Democrats our "Lefty" leaders "don’t see it, don’t act on it, don’t even speak about it."