Sunday, February 26, 2012

Black Girls Code

I graduated from Flagstaff (AZ) High School in 1958. A recent story local San Francisco television about Kimberly Bryant and her organization, Black Girls Code, made me think about how much, and how little has changed since I was in High School.

Flagstaff was always a place where multiple races lived in a state of tension where harmonious relaxation never really occurred. It was not just White / Black. There were always sizable populations of Hispanic and Native Americans in town, and in the school. But something was happening that introduced some change, but not enough.

Most of the African American population lived in the SE part of town… south of Rt. 66 and the Santa Fe tracks, East of Agassiz St. Their children went to the Paul Lawrence Dunbar Elementary School where only they attended. The "Mexicans" and others went to South Beaver School. Only the latter still exists. Dunbar was shut as the result of Brown vs.Board of Education decision. It's last principal was Wilson Riles, later Superintendent of Public Instruction for the State of CA.

Those Dunbar students were my classmates at Flagstaff High School in the 1950's. One of them stood out to the extent that would occasionally check what happened to Joan Dorsey. When I knew Joan, she was a member of the National Honor Society and a leading singer in our school choir. Then we went our separate way, Joan to the University of Arizona and I to the University of Redlands. After graduating with a degree in education, Joan became the first black stewardess at American Airlines.

There are always those who break down barriers. Joan was one of those. It seems that Kimberly Bryant is another, only society has changed to the extent that now Kimberley is getting girls, black girls, interested in computers and engineering. It is a long way from aspiring to be a well trained waitress as a career goal. But there is still a long way to go and leaders like Bryant need support.

Now the old Dunbar School has been re-purposed and Joan and Wilson are getting a measure fo the credit that they deserve. Last August, the Arizona Daily Sun carried the story of a new mural on the old building... one with pictures of both Riles and Dorsey.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Duopoly's Diversions Drive Water in California

The oppressive character of a one-party system is that it does not incorporate input from other parties. There is nothing "supposed" about that circumstance. Greens know full well how it comes down. We are subjected to numerous administrative and legislative efforts to deny us ballot access in California. The record speaks for itself. Recent changes have further marginalized Green engagement.

The character of the water war in California is about allocations. It is demonstrated by various advocacy groups who have aligned with propositions that promote one group of users at the expense of others [see Pacific Institute's assertion linked below]. Los Angeles has taken water from the North for decades. San Francisco pipes its water from the east. The condition on the ground in California is that the drought is over and reservoirs are filled. The proposition for secession that was brought up by a Republican state legislator is based on lack of influence in the decision-making entities under the status quo. Now there is a move to restore Hetch-Hetchy coming from rural water users to increase their own base of support in the state.

The situation of the groundwater overdraft and the satellite monitoring of the Central Valley Aquifer presents a conumdrum to those who are hitting the bottom of the well as it were. (That would be the users east of the Sierras) The conflict over the peripheral canal is the same as has been addressed by the massive diversions to Los Angeles in the California Aqueduct and other projects including the Owens Valley diversion. Make no mistake about it, this IS a resource war. Notice the Delta would be included in the new state. This makes up the northern tip of the Central Valley Aquifer.

The largest metropolitan areas in California are located next to the ocean and yet continue to rely on freshwater sources from other parts of the state and have been financed through bonds. Even El Paso figured out how to access new supplies through desal of deep water aquifers. Their cry of poverty is inconsistent with their ability to utilize other sources. The state of Israel is looking to implement desal for 65% of its water supply. It CAN be done.

Population has increased throughout the state of California, including in the Central Valley. See the chart in regards to population growth in California . L.A.'s growth has been an exercise in failing to abide by even minimal restraints and it has long ago surpassed the carrying capacity of the bioregion. there is no question that these guys want all the gravy with none of the lumps.

California makes up about 17% of the U.S. population. Its crops also provide 17% of the U.S. produce. But there remains a belief, as Arnold himself put it that:"we CAN have it all". The Pacific Institute Report states: “The total volume of water withdrawn nationwide in 2005 was lower than it was in 1975, despite substantial economic and population growth. This is a significant achievement (my emphasis- MZ) that water demand can be successfully delinked from growth." (my emphasis) MUNICIPAL DELIVERIES OF COLORADO RIVER BASIN WATER, page 2-3 at . This sounds more like Arnold Schwarzenegger than John Muir.

The consequences of a state legislature that has a majority of urban users is the failure to establish and govern with the interests of others incorporated into it. California has manipulated its water law so that it means all things to all people. Public Trust Doctrine has been used to promote private interests receiving takings from other users as a result of state actions. Beneficial uses are so inclusive as to lack any real meaning in regards to distinguishing consumptive use. In California water law doctrine is inclusive of pueblo rights, riparian, prior appropriation and a separate one for groundwater. Fourteen Federal agencies and 15 state agencies (table 2.10, page 129, PPIC Report) put their hands in the waters of California and local authorities exist in nine distinct jurisdictional governmental entities (ranging from municipalities to flood control, sanitation and water districts).

The Department of the Interior under G.W. Bush that predicted regional hotspots and projected regions of conflict in the U.S. in the Water 2025. It remains to be seen if we are doomed to stay on the course that guarantees conflicts as growth proceeds unabated and resources continue to be depleted. No one can "have it all" when "it" is at the expense of others. It is long overdue for real prioritization of regional water planning to replace the continued expensive, massive aqueducts and diversions.

Sunday, February 05, 2012

Delta? Who dat?

About once a year I am reminded that the Stockton Record columnist, Mike Fitzgerald, is really good at what he does. Since most of that involves writing about San Joaquin County, I don't follow too closely until something sends me back and I am reminded yet again. This week it was this column on the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta.

I am not sure how many times I have posted about the Delta. I know that there are 7 labels for posts that begin with "Delta". A search of this blog for the labal "Delta Vision" will get at least 10 posts. So, I was a bit surprised, as Fitzgerald seemed to be, that some 78% of California don't know who, where or what it is. I wish that I could deal with that as well as Fitzgerald does.
In the latest installment of "Invisible Valley," the saga of a region nobody pays attention to, a survey shows 78 percent of Californians don't know what the Delta is.

Or where it is. Or who it is.


Seventy-eight percent of the lotus-eaters in this state haven't got a clue the Delta even exists.

Even as they drink it, fill their swimming pools with it and live on food that couldn't have grown without it.
"Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also believes to be true." -Demosthenes

I really wish that every Green reader of this blog were part of the 28% who know a bit about where we get our water, and so, learned reader, I will continue to believe it.

What bothers me most is that it is just so damned difficult to make any progress at all toward a comprehensive negotiated settlement of CA's Water Wars and this lack of public awareness, or knowledge, is allowing that power brokers to continue doing what they have been doign for years, screwing the rest of us for relatively short term economic advantage. Even such an Green sounding organization as the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta is now what it purports but, according to activist Dan Bacher...
Three executives of Stewart Resnick's Paramount Farms in Kern County founded the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta. Resnick is the politically connected Beverly Hills billionaire who has made tens of millions of dollars annually from buying and reselling water back to the public for a big profit.
Then, Kern County isn't exactly part of the Delta either, is it.

It is fast becoming too late to do anything to stop the process currently under way, one that is aimed at giving the current Gov. Brown a legacy of building CA's infrastructure to match that of his Father. Unfortunately for us, if he succeeds, there will be hell to pay, and pay, and pay for years to come. We will be in bonded servitude to debts of a failed project.

In one more reminder of just how far things have gone awry and how little the bureaucrats care, I suggest your taking the time to read this post by Jane Wagner-Tyack at Restore the Delta.
Just to be clear here: Delta levee improvements, including seismically-resistant levees, were found to be less costly than conveyance and to have greater risk reduction benefits. So the risk-reduction benefits were misrepresented in both reports, and the seismically-resistant levees disappeared altogether from the second.
Oh yes. The fix is in and all the Good Dems will continue nodding to Gov. Brown's planned Big Dig.