I have often noted that the progressive movement in CA is a coastal phenomenon while the real battle for the future of this state is being fought in the Central Valley. This is true for the Green Party, of which I am a member and it appears to be true for Calitics as the nexus of California’s progressive netroots.
Let me call attention to the 20th Congressional District, where Jim Costa campaigns like a Democrat, but too often votes like a Republican, especially when the issues are ecological: water, fresh air, extractive industries, etc.
Last night, I was reading the most recent issue of High Country News. One article was about the proposal to re-establish Tulare Lake as a cost effective alternative to building some of the dams called for in the Schwarzenegger Water Project passed by the legislature in the recent special session. Surprisingly, this story, from a Colorado based publication, mentioned that Steve Haze was going to enter the primary against Costa, and never a peep out of Calitics before this.
After reading the story, it seems to me that Haze has it right.
“We’ve lost more jobs in construction than we have in farming this year,” he says, piloting his granite blue Chevy pickup through clouds of fluffy bolls. “The real question is: How do we manage the water we have for farms, fish and people?”
That is a far cry from Costa’s message of fry the delta smelt. In fact, Haze is doing a lot more.
But it’s the feasibility study Haze completed last year that both the California Democratic Council and the California State Grange, a 137-year-old farmers’ advocacy group, quoted when they endorsed the plan. In that study, Haze’s team of engineers, hydrologists and economists argue that returning water to Tulare Lake would cost $1.3 billion — a fifth as much as a proposed dam that would capture flows from the Upper San Joaquin River at Temperance Flat. It would also store twice as much water.
For the life of me, I don’t see why Calitics is not paying attention to this race. Finally, there is a chance to break the hold that regressive agribusiness puppets have had on the Central Valley and to let new ideas grow like the tules that once covered the landscape.