Tag Archives: San Joaquin County

Ding, Dong, the [Canal] is Dead!

Well, at least for another year. The Sac Bee reports that the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, chaired by Yolo County’s own Lois Wolk (D- Davis), just killed SB 27 until next year. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) would have established a committee to build a peripheral canal diverting water around the Sacramento Delta for export south, although it called it a “conveyance” in a modest feat of bureaucratic obscurantism.

Wolk, whose 8th Assembly District represents the northern half of the Delta, and who is running for the 5th State Senate district, which encompasses most of the eastern half of the Delta, recently spoke about Delta issues in a three part interview (1, 2, 3) in the Davis Vanguard:

We’ve asked the Delta to do many things and many of them are incompatible with each other. We want it to supply an unending or increasing supply of water to Southern California and to the Bay Area. We want it to be an extraordinary estuary to breed and facilitate fisheries. We want it to be the repository of agricultural and urban runoff. We want it to, I don’t, but it has become an area of increasing urbanization. We’ve asked it to do far too many things and it is dying, it is absolutely dying. Of course it is surrounded by levies that are basically 19th century piles of dirt, and they are failing. And it is seismically at risk. You can’t imagine an area that is of more significance and at risk.

What can we do? We can do a number of things. The people of the state of California voted for a bond in 2006 to repair the levies and to begin the process of improving the water quality in the Delta, and the fisheries, the habitat, and the agriculture. What we can do is to try to raise the profile of the delta. Most people know where the coast is and know why it’s important to protect it. Most people know about the Sierra Nevada, and they will protect it. They know about Yosemite and they will protect it. They know about their local parks and they want to protect those. But the Delta has very few people in it and very little political clout. So we need to be able to raise the profile of the Delta so that it takes its place as the key water and environmental issue for California.

Then we need to put in place structures that will protect it. It needs are steward. There is no steward-no body, no agency-whose sole purpose is to protect the delta. And if I’m elected to the Senate, that’s what I’ll spend many years trying to accomplish. It won’t be easy, but there has to be a body like the Coastal Commission that focuses exclusively on the Delta and has responsibility for all water decisions and all environmental decisions that affect it. That won’t be easy to do, but I am convinced that has to occur.

Of course, the Delta has to be preserved long enough to get such a commission to – ironically – preserve it, so it’s great news to see this bill killed in committee. Gov. Schwarzeneggar and San Joaquin vallley agribusiness were pushing to get this on the November ballot along with a $4 billion bond, as part of that whole extra special emergency session intended to ram through a bunch of dams funded with public bond money. Having this off the ballot may make the High Speed Rail Ballot measure, which also stands to be a boon for the Central Valley (even if the Altamont Pass route that was rejected would have been even better for the Delta commuter cities), more likely to pass, so this is good all around.

The Delta is dying, for a host of reasons, ranging from So Cal and the San Joaquin Valley stealing too much of its water, to a network of static 19th century levees that work at direct cross-purposes with the innately dynamic hydrological structure of a river delta, to cities and farms dumping all manner of pollutants into the water, to sprawl in the floodplain, (and that’s just the beginning), but the way to save the Delta isn’t draining it. The Delta is a stark example of the way that modern society ignores the hidden values of things just because they don’t overtly cost money to use. Until the state learns to see that incredibly complex ecosystem and hydrological system as something more than just a channel where a valuable commodity flows to the sea, and thus wasted, the Delta will continue to be in danger from hare-brained ideas like peripheral canals.

But for this year, it’s safe. And that’s worth remembering in November, when Wolk runs against San Joaquin Republican  Greg Aghazarian to represent the Delta.

(h/t to Aquafornia for the link to the Bee story)

originally at surf putah

Winning Friends And Influencing People

Cross posted at The Progressive Connection.

In a diary posted at both Calitics and the California Progress Report last week, Josh Grossman of Progressive Punch put forth a treatise on the importance of Bay Area progressives working to spread their message throughout more conservative Democratic enclaves in California’s Central Valley. In particular, he was focused on Stockton:

The fact of the matter is that Blue California is mostly quite blue and Red California is quite red. But there is a thin strip of politically semi-arid but not yet desert land, like the Sahel region just to the south of the Sahara in Africa, which we can call Purple California. This land could be fertile terrain for political progressives, as long as it received a modest irrigation flow of money and political expertise. This land is called Stockton.

With a working class population bolstered by some ancestrally Democratic Okies (though not as many as settled in the southern Valley) during the Dust Bowl years of the 1930s, San Joaquin County was traditionally Democratic – though quite conservative.

Grossman goes on to explain his strategy for spreading the progressive agenda throughout San Joaquin County.

Bay Area progressives need to scour Stockton and link up with indigenous activist groups who A) have their act together, B) are progressive & C) are angry with the right wing pro-developer, pro-big-agribusiness, pro-corporate mentality that’s resulted in the San Joaquin Valley (including San Joaquin County) having a variety of negative social indices more like those of a third world country than those of the Bay Area.

After laying out his proposal for Bay Area progressives to proselytize their less fortunate brethren in the Central Valley, Grossman offers his conclusion:

California’s coastal progressives ignore the Valley at their peril.

To which I say —

No, Josh, you’ve got it dead wrong. California’s coastal progressives patronize the Valley at their peril.

You see, our neighbors to the east are not indigenous sub-Saharan Okies who inhabit a third world setting — to the contrary, they are regular people who are REMARKABLY LIKE YOU AND ME.

In San Joaquin County, the Democratic Party currently enjoys a 2% registration advantage, 42.44%-40.45%.  In 2006, Jerry McNerney ran and won handily with a clear progressive message. Dedicated progressive activists who live in San Joaquin County are hard at work as you read this trying to build organization and infrastructure to recruit and support Democratic candidates at every level of local government. But they don’t need your condescension; they need your physical help. They don’t need Josh Grossman sitting in his study playing Battleship with their county; they need him out walking a freaken precinct (well, actually, given his attitude, maybe not). The point is that Grossman’s kind of haughty approach to progressive Democratic party-building does nothing to help spread our message of inclusion and empowerment; it serves no one but cynical newspaper reporters looking for an angle to exploit.

And none other than Hank Shaw of the Stockton Record pounced on this one:

I knew it had to happen. Jerry McNerney’s win in CD 11 last year has the Berzerkley crowd feeling frisky… Today Berkeley’s Joshua Grossman of Progressive Punch penned his plan for the Bay Area progs to oust the Valleycrats in San Joaquin and remake the local Democratic Party in their own image. […]

Does Grossman think we’re some sort of Banana Republic whose politics can be dictated by Bay Area sophisticates? Wait. Apparently he does, because he’s calling our local Democratic clubs “indigenous,” much like the head-hunters of Borneo no doubt. And don’t forget that kind reference to us being a Third World country.

Ya gotta love inter-regional political fights. It ain’t new, and it ain’t pretty.

Been there, seen this. Only before it was the Christian fundamentalists who attacked the Chamber-of-Commerce Republicans in the 1980s and 1990s. The jihadists won and swung the GOP to the right. That swing of the pendulum appears ready to change direction.

To see it on the Democratic side is, well, interesting from a political observer’s point of view.

As appalling as Josh Grossman’s condescension is, Shaw’s eagerness to label the entire Bay Area progressive community based on the writing of one person isn’t much better. After all, if Josh Grossman speaks for all Bay Area progressives based on a shared zip code and party registration, isn’t it fair to assume that, say, Don Imus speaks for all other white, middle-aged males… like Hank Shaw?

Stupid, stupid, stupid.

UPDATE:  In a comment that he left at The Progressive Connection, Hank Shaw was very gracious:

Me-n-Imus? Ouch. 

Hey Babaloo — thought I’d give you the heads up. I got lots of responses to my last blog post (from all sides, BTW), so I reckon I oughta send you this one.

To speak to the point, did I over-emphasize Grossman’s place in the prog pantheon? Apparently so. It was not intentional, however. Glad to see his views, which, as your other commenter noted are not alien to us in the Valley, are not quite as pervasive as I’d feared.