Saturday, February 07, 2009

The perfect place for Greens

The fact that Sandy Stiassni has joined a long list of people seeking to be appointed to the Irvine Ranch Water District Board of Directors. It seems that a recently (November, 2008) elected member has even more recently resigned and so there is a vacancy to be filled by appointment.

Sandy is taking on one of the biggest, and most important challenges that Greens can tackle in the coming years. Water, and how we acquire, distribute and use it is the determining factor for the quality of life in California, even the existence of our major cities. We should all provide whatever support we can for Sandy including showing up at the Feb. 9th meeting where he will be interviewed... along with nearly 30 others.

But there is more to this so follow me to the rest of it by clicking Read more!

The situation that created an opening for Sandy, a resignation that is filled by appointment, is not unusual. In my own area, the Santa Clara Valley Water District has a 7 member board. Five are elected by district and two are appointed by the Board of Supervisors as at large members for North County and South County respectively. Consider the elected five:
  • District 1: Rosemary Kamei. Appointed in 1993 and re-elected in 1994 and every terms since.
  • District 2: Joe Judge. Appointed in 1986 to an at-large seat for N. Country, elected to District 2 in 1996 and each year since.
  • District 3: Richard Santos. Retired Fire Captain elected in 2000.
  • District 4: Larry Wilson. 30 years Water Management Experience. Retired and on the board since being appointed in 1994.
  • District 5: Patrick Kwok. Appointed 2007.
Four of the five were initially appointed to the board and have used that incumbency and their supposed expertise to retain those positions. It is an ingrown organization that does not allow new thinking or new priorities to intrude on the way that they "know" the district needs to be run.

This pattern of vacancies being filled by cronies from the inside and then incumbents being re-elected is common all across the state. In normal times, it may not hurt very much. But these are not normal time. It is a time of water crisis and cronies will not provide the answers.

Last night, a friend emailed me the following comments on our own water district.
During that time and sitting in on the Little Llagas Creek Flood Control Meetings, and the Coyote Valley Task Force, I have seen the complete and total breakdown of the public's trust in the Water District. I have heard some things said both on and off the record that are hard to believe.

California is in the third year of a drought and the rains that came this week will not make a difference. Water Districts all over the state have failed to provide for such events and, even more to the point, have no plans to adequately deal with the impacts of climate change on their ability to supply the public with water.

The Green Party value provice an approach to developing sustainable water resources, one that recognizes that water belongs to all and should not become the property of any private entity. For those who seek entry into the ranks of elected officials, starting with a water district seat, campaigning for that seat based on Green values, just makes sense. We need to break with the status quo.

This is one role in which Greens have been successful in getting elected.
Kaitlin Sopoci-Belknap currently serves as a Director of the Humboldt Bay Municipal Water District.

The need is great. The future of California is at stake here as much as it is with the Sacramento Budget fiasco. I urge Greens to follow the example of Stiassni and take on the cronies ensconced on these water district boards.

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