23 December 2009

Something for everyone means nothing for anyone

Many of you have read the analysis, propaganda and celebration around the water bills that passed in California last month.

My last thought (for the moment) is that these bills represent the worst type of sausage making. The original idea was that each group would get its favorite idea adopted (a peripheral canal, fixing the Delta, monitoring groundwater, etc.) in exchange for allowing ideas that it disliked pass as well.

But instead of that "package deal" of strong reforms, we got a slew of watered-down "reforms" that do nothing at all. That's because negotiators accidentally (or purposefully) negotiated from a "what do we need to drop to get you to support this?" perspective instead of a "what do you want as a price for passing this?" perspective. As we all saw, the bastardized results are hardly worth the paper they are written on. (The optimists say "something happened!" Yeah. Great.)

Bottom Line: The water bills that passed need to be updated and replaced IMMEDIATELY. If they are all we have going into the bond ballot, then the bond will go down in flames, as a waste of money. (That's my view, and I promise to campaign against the bond.)

Addendum: Read Jerry Cadagan's brilliant op/ed [pdf] on the water bills.

6 comments:

  1. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  2. Watering down is what politicians do unless there is an immediate crisis.

    What steps would you take to make things different?

    It seems to me that lobbying against passage of the bond is far too late in the process to have any real effect.
    By the time the vote is being taken, the sausage is already made and spiced. It might be best to get in on the making of the sausage initially.

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  3. I tend to agree with David. There are those who got in on the deal, like Barry Nelson of NRDC. Sitting in the room did not deliver what we need, it only got Nelson wrapped in sausage casing, now defending the indefensible because it has his imprimatur.

    The biggest toy was the legislation on groundwater where the so called mandate is unenforceable. I mean that no one can go on private property to validate measurements and the only leverage is to not allow any state grant money to go to the water district. Then, after the fact, we get the NASA report on CA Groundwater and documentation of the historic subsidence of the San Joaquin Valley. Not a good picture.

    Thankfully, Assemblywoman Huber will re-introduce legislation to force a legislative vote on the peripheral canal. What the lobbyists shoot that one down too.

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  4. My take on the deal was a little different.

    I saw one legislator, who has wanted a PC for some time, probably railroad a freshman legislator with ties to NRDC, and probably without him realizing he'd been railroaded, and then I watched the President pro-tem (who, I've heard, is known in Sacramento for outlawing water meters) throw the Delta out of negotiations on the bill.

    They knew they wanted a peripheral canal, again probably, because they "knew" that our Gov. would start to build one without them, and they wanted to "control" it.

    Ultimately, they fear the Governor because he has no qualms about making decisions directly. I don't like his decisions, I think he's a bad governor, but the legislator would much, MUCH rather throw a new board, commission, or some such thing in front to make all the decisions.

    We are slowly leaving representative democracy for some other form of government.

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  5. Two additional points ---1. One of the biggest sins of the package is that many involved (Schwarzenegger, Steinberg & Cogdill included) issued press releases using words like “historic” and “landmark”. As others here have pointed out, it was neither; but using that kind of rhetoric raises expectations among the poor souls among us who are smart enough to not live water policy around the clock. So, they now think that all our water problems are solved; they are in for a rude awakening. And when they awaken we’ll be hearing louder cries for new dams and reservoirs to catch that water that doesn’t fall very much anymore.

    2. Why is virtually no one pointing out with alarm that the bond measure provides that the “deciders” on where the $3 billion for “water storage projects” goes will be the now defunct Water Commission and that Arnold will have the pleasure of appointing all 9 members to the now vacant seats on that body? See Water Code ¶150-166. Of course, the Senate has to confirm those appointments but we’ve seen how the current Senate and its leader deal with water issues. Temperance “Fat” and the Great Sites Evaporation Pond may be right around the corner.

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  6. As Kalyfornyaa, so the nation... the health-care "reform" debacle mirrors the water-bill debacle.

    Bottom line: We're becoming (have become?) ungovernable.

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