Monday, November 30, 2009

Michael Moore: Begging Obama on Afghanistan

In 2004, Michael Moore and Bill Maher got on their knees on national television to beg Ralph Nader not to run for president again. Six years later, Mr. Moore is begging Democratic President Barack Obama *NOT* to escalate the war in Afghanistan. Behold the difference between Republicans and Democrats -- when Democrats are in power we get to beg on our knees facing the White House.

Nader, Moore, and Maher

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. ...
Michael Mooere's "Open Letter to President Obama" is a good letter. It is also a sad letter. It is sad that in 2010 after eight years of war that such a letter is even necessary.

Posted on, November 30, 2009
An Open Letter to President Obama from Michael Moore
by Michael Moore

Dear President Obama,

Do you really want to be the new "war president"? If you go to West Point tomorrow night (Tuesday, 8pm) and announce that you are increasing, rather than withdrawing, the troops in Afghanistan, you are the new war president. Pure and simple. And with that you will do the worst possible thing you could do -- destroy the hopes and dreams so many millions have placed in you. With just one speech tomorrow night you will turn a multitude of young people who were the backbone of your campaign into disillusioned cynics. You will teach them what they've always heard is true -- that all politicians are alike. I simply can't believe you're about to do what they say you are going to do. Please say it isn't so.

It is not your job to do what the generals tell you to do. We are a civilian-run government. WE tell the Joint Chiefs what to do, not the other way around. That's the way General Washington insisted it must be. That's what President Truman told General MacArthur when MacArthur wanted to invade China. "You're fired!," said Truman, and that was that. And you should have fired Gen. McChrystal when he went to the press to preempt you, telling the press what YOU had to do. Let me be blunt: We love our kids in the armed services, but we f*#&in' hate these generals, from Westmoreland in Vietnam to, yes, even Colin Powell for lying to the UN with his made-up drawings of WMD (he has since sought redemption).

So now you feel backed into a corner. 30 years ago this past Thursday (Thanksgiving) the Soviet generals had a cool idea -- "Let's invade Afghanistan!" Well, that turned out to be the final nail in the USSR coffin.

There's a reason they don't call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan's nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires." If you don't believe it, give the British a call. I'd have you call Genghis Khan but I lost his number. I do have Gorbachev's number though. It's + 41 22 789 1662. I'm sure he could give you an earful about the historic blunder you're about to commit.

With our economic collapse still in full swing and our precious young men and women being sacrificed on the altar of arrogance and greed, the breakdown of this great civilization we call America will head, full throttle, into oblivion if you become the "war president." Empires never think the end is near, until the end is here. Empires think that more evil will force the heathens to toe the line -- and yet it never works. The heathens usually tear them to shreds.

Choose carefully, President Obama. You of all people know that it doesn't have to be this way. You still have a few hours to listen to your heart, and your own clear thinking. You know that nothing good can come from sending more troops halfway around the world to a place neither you nor they understand, to achieve an objective that neither you nor they understand, in a country that does not want us there. You can feel it in your bones.

I know you know that there are LESS than a hundred al-Qaeda left in Afghanistan! A hundred thousand troops trying to crush a hundred guys living in caves? Are you serious? Have you drunk Bush's Kool-Aid? I refuse to believe it.

Your potential decision to expand the war (while saying that you're doing it so you can "end the war") will do more to set your legacy in stone than any of the great things you've said and done in your first year. One more throwing a bone from you to the Republicans and the coalition of the hopeful and the hopeless may be gone -- and this nation will be back in the hands of the haters quicker than you can shout "tea bag!"

Choose carefully, Mr. President. Your corporate backers are going to abandon you as soon as it is clear you are a one-term president and that the nation will be safely back in the hands of the usual idiots who do their bidding. That could be Wednesday morning.

We the people still love you. We the people still have a sliver of hope. But we the people can't take it anymore. We can't take your caving in, over and over, when we elected you by a big, wide margin of millions to get in there and get the job done. What part of "landslide victory" don't you understand?

Don't be deceived into thinking that sending a few more troops into Afghanistan will make a difference, or earn you the respect of the haters. They will not stop until this country is torn asunder and every last dollar is extracted from the poor and soon-to-be poor. You could send a million troops over there and the crazy Right still wouldn't be happy. You would still be the victim of their incessant venom on hate radio and television because no matter what you do, you can't change the one thing about yourself that sends them over the edge.

The haters were not the ones who elected you, and they can't be won over by abandoning the rest of us.

President Obama, it's time to come home. Ask your neighbors in Chicago and the parents of the young men and women doing the fighting and dying if they want more billions and more troops sent to Afghanistan. Do you think they will say, "No, we don't need health care, we don't need jobs, we don't need homes. You go on ahead, Mr. President, and send our wealth and our sons and daughters overseas, 'cause we don't need them, either."

What would Martin Luther King, Jr. do? What would your grandmother do? Not send more poor people to kill other poor people who pose no threat to them, that's what they'd do. Not spend billions and trillions to wage war while American children are sleeping on the streets and standing in bread lines.

All of us that voted and prayed for you and cried the night of your victory have endured an Orwellian hell of eight years of crimes committed in our name: torture, rendition, suspension of the bill of rights, invading nations who had not attacked us, blowing up neighborhoods that Saddam "might" be in (but never was), slaughtering wedding parties in Afghanistan. We watched as hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians were slaughtered and tens of thousands of our brave young men and women were killed, maimed, or endured mental anguish -- the full terror of which we scarcely know.

When we elected you we didn't expect miracles. We didn't even expect much change. But we expected some. We thought you would stop the madness. Stop the killing. Stop the insane idea that men with guns can reorganize a nation that doesn't even function as a nation and never, ever has.

Stop, stop, stop! For the sake of the lives of young Americans and Afghan civilians, stop. For the sake of your presidency, hope, and the future of our nation, stop. For God's sake, stop.

Tonight we still have hope.

Tomorrow, we shall see. The ball is in your court. You DON'T have to do this. You can be a profile in courage. You can be your mother's son.

We're counting on you.

Michael Moore

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Sarah Palin- Before the Election

A recent web article is worthy of some review and discussion in regards to Governor Palin’s “Record on Alaska Native and Tribal Issues”. It is good when substantive policy issues are referenced in the discussion of Palin. A lot of people are unaware of the importance of indigenous issues in Alaska. In the 2000 Census, 15.6% of the Alaska population listed themselves as Alaskan native or American Indian. “While over 40% of the residents live in the largest city of Anchorage, most of the rest of the state is sparsely populated or uninhabited with communities separated by vast distances. 52.3% of the state population lives in frontier areas.” This makes for a significant percentage of the population in rural regions. There are also well-established tribal governments in Alaska. “There are 562 tribal governments in the United States with 225 of them located in Alaska,” explains Paul G. Moorhead, a Federal Indian law and policy attorney with the Indian Tribal Governments Practice Group at Gardner, Carton & Douglas in Washington, D.C.”

The most significant act in recent history that impacted indigenous and Native Alaskan peoples was “in 1971, the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act was signed into law by the U.S. President, under which the Natives relinquished aboriginal claims to their lands.[2] In return, they received access to 44 million acres (180,000 km²) of land and were paid $963 million. The land and money were divided among regional, urban, and village corporations.”

Criticism from a former Chief of the Neetsaii Gwich’in tribe from Arctic Village, Alaska and the current Executive Director of Native Movement points out: “The same piece of unilateral federal legislation, known as the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) of 1971, that extinguished our hunting and fishing rights, also extinguished all federal Alaska Native land claims and my Tribe’s reservation status. In the continental United States, this sort of legislation is referred to as ‘termination legislation’ because it takes the rights of self-government away from Tribes.”

In the article the former Chief stated: “Governor Palin maintains that tribes were federally recognized but that they do not have the same rights as the tribes in the continental United States to sovereignty and self-governance, even to the extent of legally challenging our Tribes rights pursuant to the Indian Child Welfare Act.” Given the Federal interface required for indigenous claims it should be said that the state’s role in determining policies is strictly defined by litigation and federal statute. Much of the jurisdiction over subsistence hunting and fishing rights within Alaska has been federalized. “The secretaries of Agriculture and the Interior are legally bound to manage fish and wildlife for the rural subsistence priority on federal land and water because the State of Alaska is not able to do so under the provisions of the [Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act] ANILCA.” This is the substance of the court decision of May 2007 referred to in the article SARAH PALIN’S RECORD ON ALASKA NATIVE AND TRIBAL ISSUES .

A more comprehensive examination of the subsistence policy is available. This history indicates that the ongoing dispute is one in which a resolution has not yet been found in the courts or in the state legislature. As a result of the Katie John case a declaration was issued that ". . . subsistence is integral to the lives and essential to the survival of Alaska Native peoples and communities. The subsistence way of life for Alaska Natives and rural Alaskans is a unique and important Alaska value that must be protected by our state government. The Legislature shall adopt a constitutional amendment guaranteeing a rural subsistence priority for use of Alaska's fish and game resources." There has been no such adoption of a state Constitutional amendment to date.

This keeps the issue alive in state and Federal courts. Gov. Palin has NOT sought to pass a state Constitutional amendment that would address the matter of rural subsistence rights and is working in opposition to the efforts of most Alaskans to resolve it in this way. She stands isolated in this regard. “Prior to 2002, three governors, the Alaska congressional delegation, and a majority of State legislators supported a state constitutional amendment to resolve the conflict. “Although a majority of Alaskan citizens also appeared to support amending the constitution to allow for a rural priority for subsistence, this amendment was not able to achieve the required two-thirds majority in both houses of the state legislature and was not passed. No legislative or judicial solution is expected in the foreseeable future that would allow the State of Alaska to comply with ANILCA provisions and to manage subsistence hunting and fishing on federal public lands and waters.”

Even the majority of the court in the Katie John case declared: “If we were to adopt Katie John's position, that public lands include all navigable waters, we would give federal agencies control over all such waters in Alaska. ANILCA does not support such a complete assertion of federal control and the federal agencies do not ask to have that control. The issue raised by the parties cries out for a legislative, not a judicial, solution. If the Alaska Legislature were to amend the state constitution or otherwise comply with ANILCA's rural subsistence priority, the state could resume management of subsistence uses on public lands including navigable waters. Neither the heavy administrative burden nor the complicated regulatory scheme that may result from our decision would be necessary. If Congress were to amend ANILCA, it could clarify both the definition of public lands and its intent. Only legislative action by Alaska or Congress will truly resolve the problem.”

In fact, a website, addressing candidate policy positions, quotes specifically indicates Governor Palin’s opposition to just such a Constitutional amendment. This makes her MORE than just an observer on this matter. “Palin opposes a constitutional amendment, saying equality provisions should not be tampered with. She says the state should work toward another resolution that protects subsistence for those who need it most.” Alaskan Republicans have consistently opposed an amendment. Opposition to a state Constitutional amendment is also the position taken by the Alaskan Independence Party that sought to negate aboriginal rights in Alaska at its 2000 state convention in Wasilla, Governor Palin’s hometown.

In 2008, Governor Palin sent an official video welcome to the state convention of the Alaskan Independence Party. The article SARAH PALIN’S RECORD ON ALASKA NATIVE AND TRIBAL ISSUES presents the case that only Governor Palin stands between subsistence rights and indigenous peoples. “Palin continues to argue in the litigation that the federal subsistence protections are too broad, and should be narrowed to exclude vast areas from subsistence fishing”.

The fact is that there is a general recognition that the Federal jurisdiction in Alaska greatly exceeds its reach. In addition to the view of the Court of Appeals expressed above in the majority opinion, the dissenting opinion of the Court of Appeals in the Katie John case indicated a concern regarding the Federal authority in Alaska: “I do not think it is for us to decide, on the basis of these two factors, that Congress intended "interest" to be defined so broadly so as to bring all of Alaska's navigable waters under ANILCA. Such a drastic change in the amount of control exercised by the federal government over all navigable waters in Alaska can only come from Congress.” Judge Hall dissenting.

Governor Palin supports oil drilling in the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR). “Caribou from the Porcupine Herd, for which the Coastal Plain of the Arctic Refuge is critically-important habitat, is the key subsistence food resource for the Gwich’in Nation. There are about nine thousand Gwich’in people who live in fifteen small villages along the migration route of the Porcupine Caribou Herd in Northern Alaska and Canada… Since the beginnings of the political battle over the biological heart of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, the Gwich’in people have spoke in a unified voice in opposition to drilling on the Coastal Plain.”

“ANWR is 19.5 million acre refuge in the northeastern Alaska. Within those borders, there is a 1.5 million acre section called “1002.” …It is the lands within the 1002 area that would be opened for exploration and drilling. The Native-owned Arctic Slope Regional Corporation owns 92,000 acres of subsurface land and the Kaktovik Inupiat Corporation, also Native-owned, owns 92,000 surface acres of land within the 1002 area.” Many Inupiat people, perhaps a majority, who live in this region support oil drilling. Their view is expressed by former Mayor Benjamin P. Nageak: “ANWR holds resources that can be extracted safely with care and concern for the entire eco-system it encompasses. The Inupiat people, working through the North Slope Borough, will act in the same careful, caring and cautious manner we always have when dealing with our lands and the seas.”

“The Inupiat from Point Hope, Alaska recently passed resolutions recognizing that drilling in ANWR would allow resource exploitation in other wilderness areas. The Inupiat, Gwitch'in, and other tribes are calling for sustainable energy practices and policies. The Tanana Chiefs Conference representing 42 Alaska Native villages from 37 tribes oppose drilling, as do at least 90 Native American tribes. The National Congress of American Indians representing 250 tribes and the Native American Rights Fund as well as some Canadian tribes and International Tribal Organiza-tions also oppose drilling in the 1002 area.”

In reviewing the feedback of Native Americans on the nomination of Sarah Palin, there has been a diversity of views expressed. INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY reported differing opinions regarding Gov. Palin’s policies and actions as Governor. The article contains various statements by Gov. Palin and various people in the state of Alaska reviewing her positions. The article states: “Despite strong Indian support at the convention, Palin has drawn concern from some Alaska Natives, especially on issues surrounding an initiative to stop development of the Pebble Mine adjacent to the Bristol Bay fishing grounds, which is a prime area for both commercial and subsistence salmon fishing.”

Pebble Mine is not just a mine. It is to be the world’s largest open pit mine, situated immediately up-gradient of this renowned, salmon fishery that bolsters a $300 million economy on its renewable resource, and has been the livelihood and lifeblood of thousands of native Alaskans for centuries, and still is today.” “Northern Dynasty and its partners [mining giants Rio Tinto and Anglo American based in London- MZ] are continuing with efforts to assess the size of the deposits of copper, gold, and molybdenum. “The proposed Pebble Mine, which would be the first of many, would include the largest dam in the world, larger than Three Gorges Dam in China, and made of earth not concrete, to hold back the toxic waste created in the mining process.” Opposition has come from the Alaska Inter-Tribal Council.

“[Supporters of the mine- MZ] have been greatly helped by Gov. Sarah Palin — the Republican candidate for vice president — who, despite a constitutional ban [I have not found anything in reading through Alaska’s state constitution to confirm this- MZ] on state officials becoming involved in ballot initiatives, publicly expressed her “personal” opposition to the measure. Many say the popular governor’s stance was decisive. Before her comments, polls suggested that citizens supported the referendum. Afterward — and following the use of her picture in advertisements opposing the tough mining initiative — the measure was voted down on Aug. 26, with 57 percent against and 43 percent in favor.” See

Recently forces opposed to the Pebble Mine responded to the NO vote in the state referendum. In an Opinion piece by Verner Wilson in the Bristol Bay Times, Governor Palin and the Alaska Department of Natural Resources (Department of Natural Resources) were criticized for their role in defeating Ballot Measure 4, the Clean Water Initiative. “Before meddling in our livelihoods again with their powerful and inappropriate remarks, I hope Palin and DNR heed the facts that show the very poor and disturbing environmental compliance records and relationships that Anglo- American and Rio Tinto have or have had with indigenous peoples in the United States and around the world with many of their mines. I also urge Alaska leaders and anyone who voted “no” on Ballot Measure 4 to read a scientific article that shows Alaska does not have the capacity and proper regulations to protect drinking water and wild salmon from a large mine like Pebble, found at .” Local opposition in the Bristol Bay mine region ranges from 70-80%.

On another issue impacting resource management, in February Governor Palin issued an Executive Order to transfer biologists from the Department of Natural Resources to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. “Some of Pebble project's biggest opponents in the Bristol Bay region recently began collecting signatures for a ballot initiative to force the state to return the biologists to Fish and Game -- an initiative that now may be moot. One of its sponsors, Bobby Andrew of Dillingham, said he is grateful to Palin for her decision but he will wait to see her executive order before deciding how to proceed.”

This step by Governor Palin stands on the record as an action by the Executive of the state that was supportive of concerns for ecological preservation. “Five years ago, [then Governor- MZ] Murkowski ordered the transfer of the habitat biologists to DNR -- which issues development permits -- claiming they had thrown up too many barriers to industrial projects such as logging and dam-building. Murkowski's decision prompted an outcry from five former Fish and Game commissioners, Democratic legislators and environmental groups, who said putting the biologists in the state's development agency violated the balance between resource protection and development.” There is no question of Governor Palin’s familial ties and her personal lifestyle. An article in INDIAN COUNTRY TODAY addresses Governor Palin’s personal views as the wife of a man who is mixed blood Yup’ik. “Palin has talked positively of her husband and children's heritage in the past. When running for governor in October 2006, she wrote a letter addressed to rural voters, saying she ''so very much appreciates Alaska's First People, their proud heritage and diverse cultures so abundant in the communities throughout our state.'' The article continues: ''I personally feel the language, stories, and traditions of Alaska Native cultures are a national treasure to be nourished and held close to our hearts,'' Palin added. ''It is our rural lifestyle and diverse cultural heritage that distinguishes Alaska from the rest of the world and makes it our wonderful home.''

The article SARAH PALIN’S RECORD ON ALASKA NATIVE AND TRIBAL ISSUES inquires as to the propriety of Governor Palin appointing an outside counsel for “Once in office, Governor Palin decided to continue litigation that seeks to overturn every subsistence fishing determination the federal government has ever made in Alaska. (State of Alaska v. Norton, 3:05-cv-0158-HRH (D. Ak).) In pressing this case, Palin decided against using the Attorney General (which usually handles State litigation) and instead continued contracting with Senator Ted Stevens' brother-in-law's law firm (Birch, Horton, Bittner & Cherot).” It is difficult to point to the role of the Governor in NOT assigning a case to the state Attorney General as evidence of corruption by itself, as alleged in , unless the case is made before a court. It is worth asking why this decision was made and why it was felt inappropriate for the State Attorney General to litigate the case. The case referenced in the article above in the article SARAH PALIN’S RECORD ON ALASKA NATIVE AND TRIBAL ISSUES regarding the use of the Yu’pik language on ballots was decided in a court case in which it was decided: “A Federal Judge has ruled that Yup’ik is not an historically written language. The ruling resulted from a lawsuit brought on by Yup’ik elders and tribes against the State of Alaska and the City of Bethel. The ruling by Judge Timothy Burgess did limit the kind of language assistance the state is required to provide.” The ruling did establish means for poll workers to increase ballot access for Native Yu’pik speakers.

An article in an Alaskan newspaper reported: “A federal judge in the suit ruled plaintiffs would suffer immediate and irreparable injury,” if not provided assistance to fulfill their right to vote in primary elections. He ordered the state on July 29 to remedy the situation in time for the primaries. The requirements included the placement of Yup’ik-English bilingual poll workers in every polling place with a significant number of Yup’ik voters – large portions of Western Alaska which are historically Yup’ik lands – and a standardized written Yup’ik translation of the ballots for poll workers to read aloud.

In testimony before the court, the state counsel for Alaska in July 2008 argued “the state of Alaska recently hired a Yup’ik translator to coordinate statewide assistance to Yup’ik speaking voters and that it now plans to provide a translator in all 38 voting precincts in the Bethel census area in time for the primary and general elections.”

The Bethel lawsuit was filed by the Native American Rights Fund (NARF) on behalf of four traditional elders and four tribal councils representing 1,000 people. The area affected was characterized by a NARF attorney, who represented the plaintiffs, as being one of only three census areas in the US which is not a majority English or Spanish-speaking area. Sixty-eight percent of the population speaks Yu’pik at home. There is an illiteracy rate of 21% and 89% of those over 55 have no high school diploma. The decision could also impact on Inupiaq speaking peoples in the Arctic Circle of Alaska. The report summarizing the state’s steps to provide support for Yu’pik speakers at the polling places for the primary election will be submitted to the court on September 26.

Some of the matters raised are still undetermined because of the failures of previous state legislatures and Governors in Alaska, as well as Governor Palin’s positions. Nothing in her record indicates that she will support indigenous subsistence rights in Alaska. The subsistence issues that remain unresolved present her with the opportunity to act decisively and affirmatively for Alaska’s future. The dependence of many in Alaska on hunting and fishing for subsistence and food supplies for the year are distinct characteristics of 60% of the state’s population that are NOT familiar to many in the lower 48. There appears to be a particular disregard by Governor Palin on defending the particular subsistence rights of indigenous peoples in Alaska that are protected under Federal law.

There are clearly constitutional and legal issues in Alaska that have yet to be addressed to the satisfaction of Native Alaskans and tribal peoples of Alaska. Clearly, Governor Palin has opposed any action that supports a state Constitutional amendment on rural and subsistence hunting. The state of Alaska will present a report to the U.S. District Court regarding the implementation of the court’s decision requiring assistance to Yu’pik speaking voters in the primary election. Governor Palin not only supports oil drilling in ANWR to increase the economic growth of Alaska, but looks to changing Senator McCain’s views on it as well. Governor Palin is on record denying that global warming is human caused. As global warming increasingly impacts on the Arctic icepack and the survival of polar bears, Governor Palin has opposed including the polar bear on the list of endangered species.

In elections, everyone makes choices regarding what’s important to them. Candidates are often chosen by their actions in one particular area, while other shortcomings are disregarded. There are NO issues in which there are NOT disagreements within communities, ethnic groups, states and nations. Some decide it is sufficient to vote for a candidate if a person is supportive of Second Amendment rights. Many prioritize land use and management issues in their decision. Others see ecological preservation as a significant consideration. And still others see tribal sovereignty as the singular issue. Governor Palin has taken action that has NOT furthered the rights of subsistence hunters or Native Alaskans. She has taken actions that could potentially damage the preservation of Bristol Bay and could endanger salmon hatcheries and wildlife in the region. She continues to feel compelled to give away Alaskan land rights to outside corporate interests in the ANWR.

Much has been made about how Alaska is simply a wilderness crying out for exploitation. This is reminiscent of the attitude in Brazil towards the interior rainforests. One should take note of the deforestation, forced displacements of indigenous peoples and the threats to native species that accompanied Brazil’s growth strategy before one looks to duplicate it in Alaska. Governor Palin has NOT shown herself up to the task of Governor and has failed to focus on defending Alaska’s natural resources, preserving its unique environment or protecting and enhancing the democratic rights of Native Alaskans. Most of the problems have NOT been of her making, but neither has she demonstrated the ability to “think outside the box” of the powerful economic interests seeking to come into the state for their own short-term profits. -->

Bio-regionalism or Classic Liberalism?

The more we tie the Green Party onto solutions that require massive federal programs, the less likely we are to minimize the centralization of the economy and our political structures. The debate to be had within the CA Green Party is: Reduce spending, improving infrastructure while restructuring and reforming our government. If bio-regionalism works for water planning, it can work for energy planning with adaptations for high volume users. Taxes need to be structured around ecological purposes so revenues are there to draw on.

We need to increase our voices locally and increase the ability to implement fair and equitable sources for revenues and stop the Gavin Newsome nonsense of "taxing 'em where they drop". Expensive fines for parking violations and bike lanes are not decreasing auto traffic. Just costing ordinary people more to come into town and endangering bike riders. We can agree with the intention without agreeing with the solution. What's bio-regional about importing our drinking water from Hetch-Hetchy? How do we start the transition to be self-reliant for electricity, when we get 25% of our electricity from outside the state and metropolitan areas like Los Angeles import 50% of their elctricity?

Priority #1: Get a swing vote in the state legislature. Priority #2: Get a new process for the state water plan; Priority #3: Increase mandatory electricity conservation in urban areas and water diversions; Priority #4: Implement royalties for oil drilling.

Friday, November 27, 2009

What's growth got to do with it?

I had an interesting exchange with Grist's David Roberts on twitter tonight.   It began when @drgrist came through with this tweet.
Dear Beltway journalists: economic slowdown, not increased spending, causing current deficit. Solution not less spending, but more growth.
I could not pass up the opportunity to question this chase after growth, and so I responded using the Green Party CA id, GPCA.…
@drgrist Isnt' the need for growth at all costs part of the problem? Energy? Population? Water? Food?
Roberts was attentive enough to reply.
@GPCA We need to decouple growth from resource consumption in long-term. Short-term, we need to save O's political bacon...or Pres Palin.
And there you have the Democratic Party platform if the race were being run now… and in many ways it is. Anybody but Palin.

This still sidesteps the basic question of when, if ever, will it be proper to talk about this decoupling of growth from resouce consumption. I listened to a piece on NPR about climate change and the tragedy of the commons this AM. That is what seems to be playing out here. We all know what is good for everyone. But our fears keep us from doing it, whether it is Roberts's fear of a President Palin, the Obama - Summers - Geitner group fear of an economy without growth to pay off our debts, or the Republican's fear that someone else will have the economic magic for the 21st Century.

So we muddle along. Politicians preen in public but compromise, shave the results, are satisfied with mincing little steps in the right direction because "that is what we can do this term."

Well, I am not satisfied and neither should you be. If politicians are not going to deliver a sustainable future, if they are only using that word "sustainable" to make us believe, then maybe we need to go watch The Road to get a reminder what what can happen. I have not seen that movie. I did read the book. The review in the Washington Post seems to remind us of just why Washington seems not to understand.

If leaders will not lead, then we need to elect new leaders. If some corporation would sell us the koolaid, then it is time to just stop buying. If growth would bring the end, then start planning for a steady state economy. It is no longer up to them. It is up to us.

Climate Change: an example of the tragedy of the commons

NPR this AM had an interesting discussion of climate change as an example of the tragedy of the commons, where everyone is better off if you act one way, but that a country might individually gain an advantage by doing the opposite.  I learned about this from Aquafornia, recommend that you listen to the short (4:30) discussion here

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

California Greening's 2009 Un-Green Product Award

California Greening's first Un-Green Product Award goes to Fiji Water. We could think of no single product that more exemplifies the total disregard that many major corporations have of the welfare of this planet and all of the species on it. Besides all of the problems that we find with this product, Roll International follows the typical greenwashing practice of trying to brand their product as actually being Green.

After sorting through a lot of products, here are the reasons we chose Fiji Water:

First, some of the problems belong to the bottled water industry in general.
  • The marketing of water in small bottles is just part of a wider movement to privatize scarce natural resources.  We know that water will be the oil of the 21st Century and having its production and distribution in private hand subject to the profit motive is an exploitation of those who will not be able to afford the price... and that is most of the population of the earth.
  • We object to the general practice of using petroleum derived plastic bottles designed for a throw away economy.  It is a truly wasteful use of the material and provide a large portion of the input to the Pacific Gyre Plastic Trash Island Island.  At this, they are no better nor worse than their competitors, but that is still bad. 
  • Use of plastic bottles seems to be a driver for the market of little blue pills.  I will hold this as an un-green characteristic of Fiji Water and all of it's competitors until they produce lab analysis that shows their bottles have no bisphenyl-A.

And then there are those characteristics which are unique to Fiji Water.
  • Fiji Water has to be shipped from Fiji to the United State for distribution.  Such shipping uses petroleum products, un-necessarily depleting the a resource that we know to be both in decline and increasingly expensive.  Those who talk of reducing our dependence on foreign oil will surely recognize this problem as being real. 
  • While Fiji Water claims to be working toward a Carbon Neutral position through the purchase of rip-offsets, their accounting makes no mention of transportation costs, only production and packaging costs.  That is part of the greenwash campaign to make them look green, but it makes us green at the gills. 
  • The import of any water takes jobs away from American workers.  It seems so un-necessary since Roll International controls an entire aquifer in California's San Joaquin Valley.   American workers could process Roll's American water.  That should make both the unions and the Republicans happy.
  • The idea that special water from Fiji is truly better than anything else on this earth, worth all of the troubles outlined above, only appeals to the snooty pseudo-sophisticate of exceedingly fine taste.  Let them try New Orleans tap water and I bet they can't tell the difference.  This is advertising driven consumerism at its worst.
We call for a national boycott of Fiji Water.  I know that no true Green would drink the stuff, but we need to bring the rest of the country to the same conclusion.  Spread the word.  It is easy.  If you find a store that sells Fiji Water, tell them you are not coming back until it disappears from their shelves.  Write a letter to your local paper and tell them how American water is not good enough for some elitists.  Now is time to get these wasteful, ecology damaging products off the market.

    A Public Television Series: California's Water

    I do not know anything about Huell Howser's politics, but I do know that he has a gift for presenting California history and culture in an easy popular format. Notice that this PBS series has been "generously funded" by institutions with a direct stake in this mess. Even so, anyone interested in a video overview might want to check out a PBS television series that you can view directly on your computer.

    A Public Television Series: California's Water

    PBS Series

    Climate Change: Trek high into the Sierra Nevada for a close look at the winter snow pack and how climate change may threaten its critical role as the state’s largest water storage reservoir. Trace the journey our melting snow takes from the mountains to rivers and streams, and ultimately into man-made reservoirs as part of our elaborate water supply system.

    The Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta: Visit the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta by boat and learn why it is the single most important – and most vulnerable – link in California’s water delivery system. Get a look at Delta levees and understand what experts such as UC Davis geologist Dr. Jeffrey Mount see as a growing risk to the water supply for 23 million Californians and millions of acres of farmland.

    . . .

    What's New on the Colorado River: Travel to the Colorado River Aqueduct and learn what California water agencies that rely on the Colorado are doing to stretch supplies in light of new rules governing the river. See how cooperation and innovation are helping to ensure we get the most out of every drop of Colorado River water.

    Using Water Wisely: Necessity is the mother of invention. To keep pace with a growing population and a fairly static water supply, water agencies are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in innovative hardware and cooperative programs that stretch supplies. See the latest in water-saving tools and technology, and learn why every drop counts.

    . . .

    In 2010, California's dysfunctional Republicans and Democrats are going to ask the voters to approve a half-baked, pork-laden, $11 billion package of water projects sealed in a classic cigar smoke filled back room. And again, as always, this "bipartisan" solution requires exploting the general ignorance, indifference, and prejudices of voters, like me, in California's big thirsty coastal cities.

    And here again, the California Green Party is the only organized political party that gives a damn about both the working and middle classes in the One-Party Democratic cities and also family farmers, migrant farmworkers, and "throwaway kids" without hope in the One-Party Republican countryside.

    Tuesday, November 24, 2009

    New water legislation already old.

    The recently passed and widely publicized wildly hyped water legislation is already out of date.  This is almost a full year before the voters are going to be asked to approve a bond measure that won't do what it is supposed to do even if that was not enough.  In order to follow this, you have to set aside any doubt you might have and just assume that the scientists are basically right about our changing climate.

    Buried in SBX7.1(pdf) are several references to climate change and one of it's major effects… a rising sea level.  Since the Delta is on the boundary between our rivers and the bay, any change in sea level is serious and major changes are potentially catastrophic.

     85307(c) The council, in consultation with the Department of Transportation, may address in the Delta Plan the effects of climate change and sea level rise on the three state highways that cross the Delta. (bold emphasis mine).
    We obviously do not want any highways to go under water, so that would have to be considered. But that items about consulting with the Department of Transportation is rather vague. In fact, the bill says only that they "may" do this.  Even more unclear is how they might arrive at the amount of change they have to account for.

    There is a clue to this in another section of the bill dealing with the possible design and construction of a conveyance through or around the canal.
    85320(B)(2)(c).The potential effects of climate change, possible sea level rise up to 55 inches, and possible changes in total precipitation and runoff patterns
    on the conveyance alternatives and habitat restoration activities considered in the environmental impact report.
    That sounds like a lot. In fact, the number is taken from estimates of sea level rise by 2100 and it to be found in a lot of the literature including some from the Pacific Institute that even provides mapping data of the areas of California to be inundated by 55 in.

    So, this legislation establishes a guideline for considering sea level rise for one use. I can even envision that State Senator Simitian, who is the nominal author of this, was quite proud of getting this recognition of a key environmental issue into the final version of the bill.

    The only problem is that the number is out of date. Two reports now available make it clear that we have to consider much higher numbers.  The first is a general report entitled The Copenhagen Diagnosis updating the 2007 IPPC information in preparation for the December IPPC in Copenhagen. The press release announcing the report calls attention to the areas where the original estimations of the pace of climate change were wrong.
    Global ice-sheets are melting at an increased rate; Arctic sea-ice is disappearing much faster than recently projected, and future sea-level rise is now expected to be much higher than previously forecast, according to a new global scientific synthesis prepared by some of the world’s top climate scientists.

    In a special report called ‘The Copenhagen Diagnosis’, the 26 researchers, most of whom are authors of published IPCC reports, conclude that several important aspects of climate change are occurring at the high end or even beyond the expectations of only a few years ago.
    Note: The Copenhagen Diagnosis was written before the next report was published.

    In the second, published in Nature Geoscience, it is noted that the East Antarctic Ice Sheet, once thought so cold as to not be a factor, has been show to have been losing mass (thawing) after all, contributing more fresh water to the oceans. The link above is to an abstract of the report (subs required). Joe Romm has an explanation at Climate Progress. The net for this discussion is that 55 inches is not going to be enough and it was naively stupid to put such in any legislation.

    The current thinking is that we need to plan for 2 meters of sea level rise by 2100 and those making the projections have consistently underestimated the effects.

    The final legislative mention of sea level rise in not so detailed, only part of the definition of the term, "Restoration" as in "Restoration of the Delta".
    85066. “Restoration” means the application of ecological principles to restore a degraded or fragmented ecosystem and return it to a condition in which its biological and structural components achieve a close approximation of its natural potential, taking into consideration the physical changes that have occurred in the past and the future impact of climate change and sea level rise.
    Taken all together we see that this legislation was just thrown together with not enough understanding of the forces they will have to deal with. For being so specific on this one point, a 55 in. sea level rise, it is surprising that there are so many unanswered questions which the California State Legislature left unanswered.

    • How much are we willing to spend to protect any part of California from the effects of climate change that we know are coming?
    • Where will we draw the line between that which we are willing to protect and that which we acknowledge that we will have to let go? 
    • Is it in the Bay (Alviso for example is already lower than current sea level.) 
    • Will we try to stop the salt water intrusion between Suisun Marsh and the Delta? 
    • Are we willing to let Bethel Island, it's homes and businesses, disapper forever, it's residents relocated at our expense?
    If we have not begun to think about the answers to these questions, it makes no sense to start building infrastructure for a future water world.  The entire water bond we will be asked to vote on lists project after project with no sense of prioritization, having been thrown together not to protect the water supply for Californians but rather to secure the votes of legislators who might otherwise have shown a streak of common sense and voted "no."

    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."

    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.

    Sen. Inhofe was right?

    Did I really write that? That Sen. James Inhofe, ├╝ber climate denier was right about something? I guess that I did, and as much as I hate to admit it, his criticism of climate change science has an element of truth in it… though not exactly as he intended.

    Faced with an unrelenting attack from those who would profit from the continuation of our energy status quo, many scientists have under reported their findings, emphasized the low end of their estimates of the rate of climate change and, in fact, have just plain missed some of the data. The problem for Sen. Inhofe is that the direction of their error is just the opposite from that which he proclaims.

    As reported in just the last week, scientists completely missed the effects of a warming climate on the East Antarctic ice sheet. While that is a long distance away and most of us will never go there, we will all have to deal with an ocean that is rising faster and will rise higher given our general tendency to do nothing until trouble hits like a Hurricane Katrina, full of intensity, overwhelming our resources and easily managed had we only done what we should have.

    This is the effect that Inhofe and his ilk have had. We had concrete evidence of that effect in April, when the U.K. Guardian published this.
    Far from over-playing their hand to swell their research coffers, scientists have been toning down their message in an attempt to avoid public despair and inaction.
    So we have been lulled into inaction, fueled by a sense that there is always time enough to act and an arrogance about our own technological capabilities. Now we let the half-truthers warn us of catastrophe fatigue while they hope that we just sit down and shut up.

    We we are not going to sit down and shut up. And the scientists are becoming more forceful, as noted on Yale Univ.'s Environment 360 blog today.
    Ahead of talks in Copenhagen, a group of leading climate scientists has issued a new report summarizing the most recent research findings from around the world and concluding that scientists have underestimated the pace and extent of global warming.
    For California, perhaps the most important effect is the under-estimation of sea level rise. That will be the subject of a subsequent post, since it tears at the very fabric of the recently passed water legislation in California. Suffice it to say that the bond issue is already out of date before it is even put to a vote.

    If Greens are to be relevant in the determination of our future, then Greens need to increase our level of participation in all aspects of the climate debate and to become leaders in climate action. The time has passed when only polite reasoned debated will carry the day and save mankind. Let's take this to the streets with the same intensity that we have done over the Iraq War. The moral issues, the ecological justice questions are of a scope that far exceed anything that we thought about Bush's folly. We are not referring to the thousands who died by the action of the US, but of the millions who will die due to the inaction of the US and moral hypocrisy of U.S. Senators like Inhofe.

    Monday, November 23, 2009

    "Give me night, or give me Blucher"

    The failure of state government is that it failed to govern, failed to administrate and failed to establish sound budgetary principles underlying each and every budget for the last thirty years. Greens for our part need to address these fundamental issues of accountability, fiscal responsibility and prioritization in the budgetary process. We need to get the handcuffs taken off, increase state revenues through direct royalties from oil companies and accounting that prevents deficits.

    Student protests are all well and good, but political, legislative, electoral and Constitutional actions loom as the only viable alternatives for the mess we are in today. Prioritization: 1. Education; 2. Regional water planning, 3. Increasing revenues, 4. Re-organization of debt (feel free to add to this list, it's just off the top of my head.)

    The impact of a dysfunctional government are profound and CA has certainly touched the face of God at this point. We should tremble at the potential cataclysmic impacts and not simply bask in the upsurge of a student movement that rekindles memories of our youth. It is indeed a downward spiral to the abyss that mesmerises us..

    What did we fail to do as Greens? 1. We failed to predicate political work on consolidating mass public support; 2. We failed to prioritize issues, often falling behind the 'social movements" of the moment. 3. We failed to develop sound grassroots organizations that were capable of amassing the information and data around us and from there developing strategies and focused campaigns with something more then a "message". 4. We failed to develop leadership that could work together and assimilate our experiences onto a learning curve capable of benefiting our future work.

    We missed the boat. "Give me night, or give me Blucher" said Wellington on the verge of defeat at Waterloo. He got Blucher. Has anyone seen Blucher?

    Not with a bang.

    The condemnation of the current political regime in Sacramento has become nearly universal. The following T. S. Eliot inspired quote appeared in the August/September issue of Connections, a publication of the Peace and Justice Center, Stockton, CA.
    This is the way California ends. Not with a bang, but a whimper. With a failure of leadership so complete, so total, as to leave the state bereft of hope for its future.
    Those were the final words of an opinion piece by Robert Cruickshank from his July 19th post at Calitics.

    I am not as pessimistic as Robert was in this post, but then maybe he sees more of the intestinal insides of power politics than I do. After all, he is a delegate to the State Democratic Party. I still hold out the hope of a fundamental change that I believe is necessary if the never truly realized dream of California is to have another chance.

    It should be clear to all that the frustration with Sacramento politics as usual has essentially gone viral in California. Comb through the comments to OpEds in the opinion pages of any California newspaper from the very Libertarian Orange County Register to San Francisco Chronicle and you need to hack through the resentment with a mental machete, filtering it out to determine if there is any real substance to the comment or just emotion.

    We are now ready to got through another long, painful and secretive budget process. Economic recovery has not come to California. If history repeats itself, California will lag the rest of the nation in terms of job creation and that makes it very difficult to be optimistic about revenue projections for the State. It appears that history will also repeat itself in that the real negotiations will take place in secret meetings and then both sides will run to the nearest microphone to sell the result as a victory for their side.

    California needs a legislature where there are no backroom deals, where the process of legislative budgeting if fully transparent and open to media and the public, where the education of our children is an assumed responsibility of government, where the care of the ill and dying is not determined by the need to pay executive bonuses, where water is a human right and not a tradeable commodity.

    If your legislator is not running to deliver all of the above, then it is time to go in a new direction. Those goals, common to most Californians, define what Green candidates can, and if elected, will deliver. Green candidates who do not accept corporate donations are set free to serve the public rather than their masters.

    Sunday, November 22, 2009

    If Ex-Legislators tell the truth, what do our current crop tell?

    I am astounded the termed out State Senator Sheila Kuehl has found way to describe the problems of the much lauded water legislation so that even a dummy like me can understand it. This propensity for telling thing truly is probably why some of her legislation never passed… she didn't play the Sacrament game.

    Click Read more! to find out just how far truth takes her from the party line.

    Kuehl has started to release a series of four essays on that recent water legislation. The first one set the stage and specifically dealt with the manner in which a bill to authorize the monitoring of ground water is an empty bucket.
    Think oil. Think sticking a straw into the ground and drawing water out of vast underground lakes. There is an amazing amount of fresh water underground in California and the state has mapped the various "basins" and "subbasins" where it lies. Some groundwater is polluted and can't be withdrawn. As to the rest, private landowners, corporations, cities and other public entities draw it out in wells.
    Assembly member Jared Huffman referred to SBX7.6 as providing "California’s first comprehensive groundwater monitoring requirement". Kuehl, on the other hand is a bit more objective.
    One of the bills just passed, SBX7 6 (Senate Bill 6 in the 7th extraordinary session of 2009), provides that entities may "volunteer" to do groundwater monitoring of the quantity, not the quality of the groundwater (a much watered down bill from its original introduction, no pun intended).

    In addition, even if they do volunteer, monitoring entities are still prevented from entering onto private property or even asking private property owners in their entity district to submit to monitoring. So, although we finally have something in the law about groundwater monitoring, we can't compel it. This is particularly troubling in the many districts where private landowners control most of an entire basin. Under the bill, voluntary monitoring may start in 2012.

    Finally, paying for the monitoring is a problem as, when there is no monitoring entity, the Department of Water Resources is allowed to monitor, but may not charge private well owners. If DWR determines that all of part of a basin is not being monitored they must identify existing monitoring wells, determine whether these wells provide sufficient information and, if not, and if the State Mining and Geology Board concurs with the determination, perform the groundwater monitoring. However, since there is no extra money in DWR's budget for increased monitoring, it is not clear how they would accomplish the goal.
    Today, she released the second in her series, this one covering the restructuring of the governance of the largest source of water for both agricultural and urban use, the California Delta. Once again she neatly lays out the scope of the mess that we are in.
    For years, a combined federal and state entity called Cal-Fed tried to work out possible agreements, but was hamstrung by lack of funds and lack of authority to enforce agreements. A Delta Protection Commission, made up of more than twenty members, has struggled to put together a protection plan. A Delta Blue Ribbon Commission and the Public Policy Institute of California have both created extensive recommendations.
    I have long felt that there were two major problems with the new governance structure. One is the lack of public representation. The major change is the naming of a new Delta Stewardship Council to create a plan for the Delta and then to see that everyone follows the plan. By law, the plan must have a dual objective of meeting both the environmental needs of the Delta as well as the needs of California for water for other uses.

    In reality this will be a lobbyist driven effort with only the nominal authority to enforce the plans that they develop. They are a planning agency with some authority to block project that do not meet the plan. Unfortunately, the planning will be controlled by the Governor, who appoints 4 of the 7 members of the board, public be damned.

    Kuehl and I agree on the second major weakness. The State of California has no money and so it not going to adequately fund the Delta Stewardship Council. Kuehl's point is similar.
    As with every other aspect of state funding this year, the lack of funding for the entities created by this bill are troubling. The Conservancy has to find its own money. The Stewardship Council is only funded for a year. The Council has no fee authority and no power to require water users to pay for any of the improvements in the Delta. Time will tell if this has the same weakening effect that such a lack of funding had on all previous Delta governance entities.
    The lack of such honesty from California Legislators is shameful.

    CA State Education Budget Cuts and the Governor's Race

    The recent upsurge of student strikes and rallies surrounding the CA budget cuts and education cutbacks are significant in their scale and scope. Our task as Greens is to focus their political impact and develop campaign strategies, such as the one in Orange County that increased voter support for Greens. The election of Dana Silvernale to the Northern Humboldt Union High School Board is a significant accomplishment and an indicator of our viability as a political and electoral option.

    These issues raise the immedicacy of a viable Green candidate in the next Governor's election.

    "Protests and occupations have taken place at UCLA, UC Berkeley, UC Santa Cruz, UC Davis, CSU Fresno, San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. Students have occupied Campbell Hall at UCLA, Kresge Town Hall and Kerr Hall at UC Santa Cruz, Mrak Hall and Dutton Hall at UC Davis, Wheeler Hall at UCB, and the library at CSU Fresno."
    Occupations of administration buildings are increasing at various state universities throughout the state. But even here tactics have taken precedence over strategy. Arrests are considerably less then prior actions as university adminitrators are clearly avoiding the polarization of such arrests and may see some advantage to prolonging them in regards to getting the funds back.

    Teachers' unions are clearly developing their own strategies. The LA teachers union is backing an action in March. This could catch on given the extent of the cuts. The current tactics of opposing the budget have been weak on issues such as royalties on oil companies. Clearly there is a base of support among teachers and families for a Green alternative for Governor to address the budget issues..

    Mass actions are needed and build popular awareness, but from all appearances they have been anticipated consequences of the budget agreement. To date they have not appeared to have a significant impact on the political processes that they are meant to influence. But, more public officials and various groups are beginning to address the budget issues. While the regents have become the target, the lack of funds from the state has clearly presented them with narrowed options. They might even support the actions as leverage for getting the funds back. Support from employee unions have been evident from the beginning but even there the employee turnouts in the recent "strikes" appear minimal. This may be influenced by the fact that 1/3 of university employees are part-timers.

    The budget has been locked in place for years as a result of Props 13, 218 and various referenda passed over the years and the 2/3 vote requirement in the legislature. California can anticipate a $21 billion deficit even with the current draconian measures, State revenues are declining because of the economy and the source of new revenues include an additional 10% state extraction of incomes until income taxes are filed.

    Greens have seen some impact in votes in Orange County and Fairfax, but internal disorganization remains rampant
    within the Green Party throughout the state. If we are to have any influence this needs to change. Greens need to structure county organization in more effective ways and prioritize recruitment of candidates and selecting critical campaigns. K-12 and the entire system of the University of California and Cal State campuses have been impacted. Locally, public education funding need to be incorporated into our campaigns.

    How do we avoid trying to run from one issue to another and ground our campaigns in the profound economic and environmental crises confronting our state? One way is for Greens to run for office. The election of Dana Silvernale is proof that we can win and we can build campaigns in school boards that address the fundamental issues confronting public education. Candidates are coming forward but we are still behind in establishing a real alternative in such campaigns throughout the state.

    The Governor's race would be a highly visible effort for the party to engage in to make the most significant impact on the Green Party's relevance in the water agreement and the education cuts. Candidates for Governor need to be vetted and recruited to establish our credibility in opposing the water bond and the education budget cutback.

    One water wonk and one ex-School official, or former Mayor or city supervisor, and we can establish a presence in the Governor's race with effectiveness.
    Is anyone out there listening?