Tuesday, August 30, 2005
Monday, August 29, 2005
Alex Minshew is a shiny new Capitol intern. Capitol readers should track him down and buy him lunch. Minshew is also a sagehen, but we don't hold it against him. Much.
As a brand new intern at the Capitol, I went to the annual Legislative Softball game with all the hope and excitement that I'm told is onlypossible because I'm a young pup. Walking in through the hallowed gates at Raley Field, I thought to myself, "Legislators playing softball? How could that fail to be entertaining, especially considering they'll be serving beer?" The lamentable tale that follows will tell you exactly how.
The softball game started only about an hour and a half late, so things seemed to be going well. But tragedy struck in the bottom ofthe first inning, with the Republicans at bat. After a few batters, the Republicans commenced with their diabolical plan for softball game domination when they cunningly stopped swinging at any pitch. This might not seem quite so diabolical, except for two things. First, the umpire behind home plate took his job extremely seriously, and had quite possibly the smallest strike zone known in the history of softball. Either that or his lips were temporarily incapable offorming the word 'strike.' Second, the Republicans must have cast some strange spell on the Democrats, because I swear I watched twelve consecutive pitches bounce in front of the plate. The Democrats couldn't have thrown a strike of Social Security itself had depended on it. It was a perfect storm, and the Republicans walked in about thirteen runs that inning.
An hour later, the Democrats had gotten two outs, and the fans were gettting pretty vocal. Bipartisan chants of "Swing the bat!" rang through the stadium, and finally the Democrats managed to get the third out. As the top of the second inning began and the first Democrat came to the plate, the fans held their breath. We all wondered: would the Democrats sacrifice fan enjoyment for a chance towin by boldly not swinging the bat, or would they bow to the pressure and swing away?
One thing was clear: it was time for another beer.
Well, this report shouldn't go on as long as that first inning did, so I'll end the suspense: the Democrats tried theDon't-Swing-at-Anything strategy, and it worked all right -- I think they came up with four or so runs. But it didn't work quite as well because the Republican pitcher was actually able to get the umpire to call strikes, perhaps because his pitches didn't bounce three feet infront of the plate. I waited in vain to see if the leadership of either team would try to barter some back-dugout deal (maybe pitchers could pitch to their own team, and only five pitches per batter?) but, alas, the legislators had traded in their bargaining hats for baseball caps.
At about this time, my friends and I decided to leave, so I unfortunately cannot describe the dramatic 312-6 Republican victory, but I'm told it was quite a sight. This may just be a rumor, but there are whispers in the halls around the Capitol that the Democrats are already planning stratgey sessions for next year's game. Will they come up with something so bold and effective as the Republicanso-called "Stand and Watch" strategy? Only time will tell.
Friday, August 26, 2005
I have yet to see any article not mention the thousands of numbers held by phone companies for . . . . for . . . well, what for, actually?
The outer limits of my policy knowledge end before the PUC, but isn't the state's utility agency responsible for checking into stuff like this and forcing companies not to force us into bullshit extra dialing? And not to threaten our favored area codes?
Anyone with insight is welcome to comment or email . . . .
I suppose it's better than a split. And those of us who live solely on cell phones have long ago ceased knowing anyone's number (we just dial through our contacts list, right?). Still, seems off.
Rolling Blackouts From our "Just What the Governor Needed" Files... "A disruption along a major transmission line and higher than predicted temperatures prompted utility officials to order rolling blackouts throughout Southern California on Thursday, leaving between 250,000 and 500,000 homes and businesses without electricity for 30 minutes or more, utility officials said."It's funny, isn't it? Schwarzenegger may have "inherited" yet another albatross, but Gray Davis had the same problem and "inherited" a particularly hot summer. Schwarzengger has now also inherited his predecessor's lousy approval ratings. I can only hope in inherits Davis's eventual loss as well.
Proposition 80 proponents were seen giving offerings to Apollo on the Capitol's west lawn.
"Despite lasting only a brief period, the event was one of the largest electrical shortages to hit the region since the power crisis of 2000-01 and prompted Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to make an emergency stop at Cal-ISO's headquarters in Folsom for a briefing. Eager to stem fears of a renewed energy shortage, officials stressed that Thursday's outage involved power transmission and not supply."
"'We need to upgrade the system - I've inherited an outdated system,' [Schwarzenegger] said. 'This is the system that caused the problem four years ago - we want to upgrade the system and reform it.'"
Haven't we heard that line before?
Are Californians still going to buy what this guy is selling? I haven't heard "it's not my fault" this much since the last summer I had a cabin full of seven-year-olds. We've been "going to" fix a lot of stuff in this state since he showed up. Can anyone make me a list of what's actually been accomplished, because little springs to mind. Except that budget he got last year along with those propositions. Of course, those pulled exactly the same kind of numerical jiggering and borrowing for which Schwarzengger slammed Davis - but hey, who's counting?
Thursday, August 25, 2005
This could be a good thing, since plain language is generally the way to go.
However, in a system where the definition of "is" absolutely causes close investigation and fervent argument, changing words can be dangerous. Stupidly dangerous, true, but dangerous nonetheless. Keeps more lawyers employed, though. That's always nice. Sorta.
Even if they sink and manage to walk across the ocean floor and climb out again, they should probably be stoned anyway since, as we know from creation, nothing crawled out of the water. Damn Darwin, damn him!
However, it is the first day of my Maritime Law class. Yes, Maritime Law. I grew up in San Pedro. You may have heard we have a port there.
Last year when I went around to my professors to tell them I wouldn't be attending their classes anymore and why, most all of them - likely because of our location - offered positive thoughts, wished me good luck and godspeed and seemed kind when presented with a wide-eyed, white-faced 3L about to toss it all away on an ultimately doomed cause.
That would be my Maritime Law professor who said, "I don't think it's a good idea."
So today before class started, I approached him to ask if this year's reader had changed at all from last year (it hasn't, wohoo, there's $20 badly needed bucks still in my pocket), starting with "I don't know if you remember me, but . . . ."
He did, in fact, remember me. Asked if I'd had fun. "Too bad we lost," he said. I agreed. I sat back in my seat and proceeded to start class.
But not before confirming that this year's book was the same as last year's. again, this time, to the general audience. And then he said, "see, this young lady was in my class last year and she left to work on the Kerry campaign. I didn't think it was a good idea, but she says she had fun."
It's great to be back.
A Follow-up: I usually save the "scene from" type commentary - in which I poke mild, yet artistically presented, fun at people I run into in day to day life for the other blog. However, since this scene is in Maritime Law, and I've already done mostly a scene post, it seems a waste not to share a few entertaining bits from someone I've just decided I don't like. He doesn't know who I am and the chances of him googling this up are slim. I don't even know his name. But I've seen him on campus before, so he must be a 2 or 3L. Probably a 2L because he's got that cocky, hey-look-I survived-my-first-year air about him.
He's notable because he wears, and I'm not exaggerating, the same t-shirt everyday. Perhaps he owns several of the same shirt, I don't know, or care - but it says "I'm the Boss" and features a surly duck. Today it's paired with an orange zip hoodie and a flag-motifed bandana.
Though his fashion sense is disconcerting at best, it's his comments thus far that make me want to poke him in the nose.
First, before class starts, he says "Is this anyone's first day in this class." A girl across from me raises her hand. "Well, there's a quiz today," he says, absent any degree of concern and barely masking a slight joy owing either to pure shitty law-student-ism, or the faulty belief that he just made a good funny like a big boy.
Second, when the professor poses a rhetorical question, he answered. This is a prototypical law student move - generally, each section has an "answerer" who can't just let the "was everyone okay with the reading assignment" professorial query escape without answering on all our behalves.
Third, when the professor pauses in his lecture to remind the class that if we ever need him to define any terms particular to the course that we might not know, to just ask him. Terms like dock, buoy, wharf, dolphin, whatever. Surly duck boy snorts at "dolphin" in a manner clearly indicating he thinks the professor has made a hyperbolic funny to empahsize we can ask about any and all terms. The idiot duck boy clearly thinks dolphin = sea mammal known for its intelligence and ability to retrieve explosives for the Navy when the sea lions are otherwise engaged.
He is wrong, however. The professor was refering to another kind of dolphin.
This is confirmed a few minutes later when we reach the case in which the latter form of dolphins are discussed. I check out his face and read the "oh" written in 18pt. font across his face.
Save your unique, off-the-wall dress and poorly executed snark for the MUNI platform, buddy. This is law school - it's about conformity. Deal with it and remain quiet for the remainder of the semester.
The article linked above says the Southwestern Herpetologists Society has been helping with the hunt. Amatuer herpetologists have been watching from the shore.
You didn't need to know that, I just wanted to say Herpetologist.
Speaking of which, where is Animal Planet? Someone get Jeff Corwin and that Croc Hunter crazy Aussie out here. It's like battle of the Cable Network Stars. See who can catch Reggie first. Seriously - this is a golden opportunity.
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
Davenport says SEIU has not officially called for a boycott of the game, but it was something they were considering. "At the moment, we are not. But we are having discussions with legislators. We are concerned that Sutter is attempting to build up a good name in the community by attaching its name to charitable events. We fully understand Sutter's strategy and we feel legislators have been unwitting accomplices in this."So, let's see here - Sutter, who has messed up plenty, according to the SEIU, now has the gall, the unmitigated tenacity, to do something beneficial like sponsor a charity ball game between a two-sides who have no business running in public to being with (except maybe Torlekson, is he playing - he's fiddle-fit)? Thank god for the SEIU for seeking to prevent them from doing anything not-wrong!
The proceeds from the game go to the construction of a south Sacramento field for disabled children and adults.
Those Sutter bastards.
By the way, when I make reference to this blog as a way for me to play frogger with my political career, this would be what I'm talking about. But lunacy is lunacy.
When unions expressed concern about the YDA convention patronizing a hotel owned by Sutter Health - that was a reasonable concern (despite the logistical nightmare of moving the convention yet again). But threatening a charitable event? Makes me think of those idiotic charities that won't accept donations from North Beach strip clubs. Take the money! Let them raise the money!
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
I'm trying to get back on track, really I am. But oddly enough, I've been paying attention in class the past few days, sorting out scheduling issues, and generally just getting back in the groove. It's not fair to the blog to make it suffer, but what can you do.
Hey look, here's a picture of a puppy. Does that make it better? Her name is Hope (not my choice - I mean, it's endearing and all, but dogs shouldn't have people names, should they? Unless it's like "Horace" or something inherently funny), she's 11 days or so old in this photo, she weighs nearly two pounds now, and she's the newest member of the family down on the L.A. homestead. All together now: awwwww. See you don't miss the news, do you. No, you don't. There, see, look at the puppy. Anyone want to place bets on what the hell kinda dog it is? She's half English Setter and half whatever-the-hell-was-roaming-the-trailer-park-that-night, apparently. But she's cute!
Monday, August 22, 2005
And Phoblog Phun Phact: my high school was (and still is) located on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. You may recognize that name from such films as Bring It On and Class of '97: The Movie. And yeah, all the notebooks were personalized. And no, that joke isn't old. Wait, yeah it is.
Anyway, as soon as I can figure it out, I'm taking back Palos Verdes. Sounds like those damn Sepulvedas snatched it before we could anyway. Pffft. Just 'cause they have a big 'ol' street named after them. We almost had Carson. Almost . . . . .
Today is my last first day of school ever. I hope. I thought I might have said that already last August, but a quick search reveals I ditched any commentary on it in favor of campaign posts. What a difference a year makes.
Last August I was very angry, very frustrated to be in school when I should've been somewhere else. It took me until September to make that leap, but I'm glad I did. Even as I pack my bag to head to campus this morning, knowing my friends aren't there anymore, and already hip-deep in nonsense issues with financial aid and the records office.
So this is the last first day. Or the first of many last days - last days of class, last days of exams, last days of not having to worry about not having anything concrete planned past February or so.
And, natch, it's back to the regular blogging soon.
Sunday, August 21, 2005
01001110 01100101 01110010 01100100 01110011 00100001 00100000 01001110 01000101 01010010 01000100 01010011 00100001
01000101 01100001 01110100 00100000 01110100 01101000 01100001 01110100 00101100 00100000 01000010 01100001 01100010 01100101 01101100 00100000 01000110 01101001 01110011 01101000 00101110
Saturday, August 20, 2005
I've said it before, but let's repeat: with gas at $3/gallon and long waiting lists at dealerships for the cars, hybridophiles don't need anymore incentive to purchase the egg-shaped wonders. They certainly don't need access to carpool lanes which were designed to ease congestion with the secondary benefit of helping the environment - NOT vice versa.
Dumb dumb dumb.
Thursday, August 18, 2005
Why? Well, because there's no federal offices on the November 8 ballot.
Ain't the law great?
Now for the disclaimers: I'm still not in love with the Costa proposal. I still think this special election is an unholy event called for by a grandstanding, political rookie who doesn't get it and doesn't seem to care to. I still think it should've been kept off the ballot based on sound public policy reasons. But if it's going to be there - and if it's going to be our best shot at fixing a badly run system, then by all means, let's just go with it, k? And I hate, hate, hate when elected officials live up to their negative press, tossing integrity to the wind and acting solely in their own self-interests.
Of course, Congressman Berman has a point when he says that since Schwarzenegger can raise unlimited amounts for the proposal, the opposition should get the same shot.
Yeah, sorta - but let's not get started on Schwarzenegger's questionable fundraising ability. Berman says both sides should be governed by the same rules. Yes, but that's not exactly what's happening here. It's close, but each side doesn't have mirroring rights here.
The circus continues . . . .
Sunday, August 14, 2005
Rose Redistricting Ruling Reaction
First there's the obvious key reaction: California voters have another chance to decide whether to fix our severely out-of-whack system that lets incumbents choose which voters they want, instead of vice versa.
But there are many complications to the Court's decision. First is the tangent, which I will leave to others to discuss: what does this ruling mean for future initiatives? Are new maneuvers and shenanigans allowed under this precedent? Is a ruling in this form a precedent?
On the redistricting front, an interesting twist that impacts California's debate occurred in Ohio on August 10th. On that day, the "Reform Ohio Now" (RON) coalition turned in signatures on a redistricting reform proposal (along with two other reform proposals). The RON proposal is a mid-decade redistricting. If passed, it would redraw Ohio's districts before the 2008 elections. The twist? Common Cause is one of the backers of RON, as is the Ohio Federation of Teachers. Will Common Cause and the Teachers' Union support mid-decade redistricting in Republican-controlled Ohio but oppose mid-decade reform in Democrat-controlled California? And will MALDEF file a lawsuit in Ohio seeking to block mid-decade redistrictings, as they have done in California and Texas? All three organizations face difficult decisions and some soul-searching on the mid-decade question.
Redistricting reform supporters face an even larger challenge: The Governor and other supporters face a difficult twelve weeks to election day. Polls show the initiative trailing in the polls, though among people who are aware of the initiative it has a narrow lead (http://field.com/fieldpollonline/subscribers/RLS2159.pdf). Our own Rose Institute poll (http://rose.research.claremontmckenna.edu/redistricting/redistricting.asp) found that voters overwhelmingly believe redistricting by legislators is a conflict of interest and redistricting is better done by independent bodies than by the legislature. Even 70 percent of registered Democrats agree on both those points. But voters remain hesitant to embrace the current redistricting reform proposal. Its supporters face the challenging task of convincing voters to support it.
There remains, of course, one other option: a deal between legislators and the Governor. There is debate about whether the deadline for a deal is Monday or Thursday, though Thursday is more likely. Will the Court's ruling finally lead to an agreement, at least on this one issue? It is doubtful, but not as doubtful as it was before the ruling.
Redistricting reform has been a roller coaster of an issue, both this year and for the last 50 years. This week's events are par for the course.
Friday, August 12, 2005
AP State Wire News - Supreme Court allows redistricting initiative on November ballot
Hey, though, no worries. I thought compliance with clearly delineated rules was overrated anyway.
Remember - I think the policy change is necessary. I don't think Prop. 77 is as good as it could've been. But look, I'm a Parliamentarian. I like rules and procedure. And though I also like that rules and procedures can - and should be - fiddled with to serve a purpose - the fiddling can't be arbitrary and the fiddling itself has to follow some rules.
This just upends things. And let me tell you how glad I am to be in Ogallala, Nebraska right now: far from the sounds of Schwarzenegger, et al, shrieking victory for the people and turning blind eyes to the institutional costs of this administration.
Thursday, August 11, 2005
CYD President Crystal Strait listens intently to a Convention Keynote Speaker. CYD Parliamentarian Christiana Dominguez is far too enamored with her headwear to be bothered. Both hats, incidentally, were made by CYD Vice President of Membership John Alford. He can also make a balloon bicycle, or so we're told. By the way - the little love birds lit up. It was amazing. Photo by Devin Lavelle
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
Uh-huh. As they should.
But if [third year is] an extended vacation, it's pricey: $30,000 or more at top private schools. And at many law schools, grads can't count on the six-figure salaries awaiting many at the most prestigious programs, so an extra year of debt is a big burden.
Some educators want to see the third year beefed up, arguing the law is more complex than ever and future lawyers need more preparation, both for the bar and exam and for their careers. But others want it dropped.
Critics say there's so much law that students will learn most of it on the job, anyway. They see the third year as a revenue racket, a full-employment scheme for faculty that comes at the expense of non-elite school students and discourages them from taking public service jobs.
The third year, and frankly, probably most of second year, are a waste of time. It's not that there isn't plenty left to learn - it's just that you aren't going to learn it in law school. Your clients would be better served by 2 years of apprenticeships or clinical program participation. Sadly, your professors and the nice folks at the ABA wouldn't. So screw progress and efficiency, let's keep things the way they are - by all means, continue treating law school like a bastardized liberal arts college and not the trade school it should be.
[Ed.'s note: Yeah, classes start again a week from Thursday. I'm taking 12 units including Negotiation and a Film & the Law class. For the bargain basement price of around $18k. Could I be taking more substantive classes? No. Because even the ones you think will be meaty never are. Foo on American legal education.]
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
Anyway - so you want to know about YDA by the Bay, eh?
Well, on a scale of 1 to 10, I give it a B+. Seriously, I don't even know how to evaluate it for a general readership. For my fellow CYDers - at least those who've been around a few years, all I have to say is "how 'bout that Secretary race? I mean, c'mon, why are those always SO contentious?" Great people must get their start in that position.
For the uninitiated, all I have to say is, if you liked it - welcome, if you didn't, don't let it dissuade you from participating. There was a lot of politicking this weekend - much of which was, at best, meaningless, and at worst, distracting. Leadership is, of course, vital to any organization. But the fights fought this weekend involved layers of intrigue to which few other than Tom Perrotta or Alexander Payne could do justice. Nothing in the YDs is trivial. And yet, it all is, at the end of the day, if we can't get past it, get our party on track, and win.
The centerpiece of the weekend was either the extensive schedule of trainings put on by Democratic GAIN or the celebrity death match between incumbent YDA President Chris Gallaway and former CYD President and challenger Alex DeOcampo.
It's strange attending a convention in your hometown. Staying at home saves money and adds a bit of perspective to the event not available to those hundreds of delegates sleeping short elevator rides apart from the action and each other. The detachment was healthy but difficult. It's easier to keep calm when you know you're $1.25 from the rest of your life - but frustrating to become embroiled in minutiae of unartfully conceived and executed parliamentary jockeying at a credentials committee meeting.
Speaking of which - here's the two things I'll say about credentials committee:
1.) Rules are absolutely supposed to be manipulated to the benefit of whoever can figure out to work 'em.
2.) If, however, you're going to do that, there are methods more ethical - and more effective - than others. You can have your cake and eat it too when it comes to procedure: get your way and stand your ground.
Oh wait - for the benefit of the gentleman from Illinois, allow me to add a third item:
3.) Regardless of whatever else - if you are offered the opportunity to take advantage of the same rules changes advocated by those you would otherwise oppose - TAKE IT.
Back to the overall evaluation.
Saturday afternoon's elections were the emotional center of the convention for most California delegates and attendees. To give away the ending at the start - our guy lost. Chris Gallaway did not have the unanimous support of his home delegation - Kansas, apparent. But neither did Alex.
But because my relationships with several people whom I respect very much, and whom I consider friends, are important to me than YDA, I did not vote against Alex, nor did I abstain. YDA prohibits secret balloting, so my actions can't really be that masked. Even after years of publicly and privately acknowledged disagreements about leadership style and YD priority setting, there were some who still could not understand my reluctance to support our past president. I discussed the issue with several people over the course of the convention, but I know it's likely my position was discussed more frequently without me around. Such is politics.
For the second time this year, I faced a difficult YD related vote. This was less difficult than the CYD elections - but the long-term fallout is less certain. Or more uncertain. I think there's a difference there.
Perhaps I should pause here and give Illinois a bit of a reprieve from my previous reprimand. The way I see it, when we're all still in the YD paddling pool, we get to be a little less pragmatic and a little more idealistic (or at least idealistically pragmatic, depending on the situation). While I can, I'll make the decision I think is best and most in keeping with my ethics and record because someday, I'll absolutely need to make a few political compromises. They won't necessarily compromise my deeper ethics, but they will involve some nose-holding, I'm sure.
So I took a walk on Saturday because when it came down to it, I couldn't go against a fellow Californian. I wasn't alone in that walk, but the only story I tell here is my own. Others did what they had to do and cast their votes for the non-Californian. Many people cast votes they didn't necessarily love. But I respect each Californian who attended the convention, and will defend to the death the decision of each. I ask, and hope, others feel the same.
I have little doubt that somewhere out there in the 'sphere, convention delegates or YD critics will use the election as another example of how the Democrats are screwing up. How we can't keep it together.
But even if you agree with them that our strategy is broken and our goals fuzzy, the convention showed one thing clearly: we got passion.
Contested races are the hallmark of a healthy organization. It proves there's an interest in forward movement. A call for dialogue and action. A reason to pay attention.
Part pep rally, part study hall, part wrestling match, part comfort food, YDA by the Bay exemplified what's right about Young Democrats. There were dark moments - particularly distasteful, shameful hit pieces left anonymously on delegate chairs that unfairly maligned the CYD Executive Director for little reason other than she happens to be a woman. But there were great moments too, like when a candidate for office withdrew from the race when she was down in the vote count, even though the other guy hadn't reached the requisite majority yet. She was a class act and by her actions prevented what would've surely been an ugly, lengthy, and procedurally nasty recount.
So there's my indulgence in passive-voiced, convention introspection. It's not my best work. It has virtually no links. It's candid yet cagey. It is what it is.
I admire greatly those who gave their time, hearts, and likely big chunks of their stomach lining to pull this convention together through labor disputes, leadership changes, and personal trials. If nothing else, the week gave us stories enough to last until the next one. But more likely, it also gave us at least a small, very necessary foothold for 2008.
Today is the first day of the rest of our campaign. Let's get to it.
I saw neither hide nor hair . . . . Angelides, however, was out in full force with volunteers and one very well-written and delivered speech.
We'll see if the Westly Blog picks up on this and answers . . . . I, for one, can't figure out why he'd miss it.
And yes, the full review is coming. Along with the marathon coverage. Believe me? I'm not sure I do either. But here's hoping . . . .
Monday, August 08, 2005
Also - belated birthday wishes to Hastings 1L - who is now, I suppose, Hastings 2L. I ain't mad-atcha.
Which brings up a random aside that we can file under "Top Things Learned at YDA by The Bay:"
Apparently, I scare people. I suppose that's a slightly useful skill, but it's also a little sad. I guess were my life made into a movie today, the title would be: Dem Trek II: The Wrath of CD.
More convo reports will be filed later, but since I'm still technically on a blog vacation, they'll be emblogoed for a wee bit longer . . . .
"This (evolution controversy) is a very, very weird situation that we're in," she said. "It's a game that we (science teachers) don't know how to play. It's 'he said, she said,' and we're used to proving things scientifically.This is an excellent example of something that has been discussed in CYD lately, and was part of this past weekend's YDA by the Bay focus: there needs to be a Democrat in every race, for every office, at every level, in every jurisdiction and political subdivision in the country.
UC Berkeley biology Professor David Lindberg tells the story of a Christian pastor who appeared at the classroom of a Contra Costa County teacher on the first day of school.
The pastor had a simple question for the teacher: "How do you plan to teach biology this year?"
The implication of such visits to teachers, according to Lindberg and other evolutionary theory defenders: You'd better at least mention intelligent design or some other critique of evolution or you'll have to answer to some angry parents or other clergy. Or possibly the school board. Or a court.
Which is why organizations such as the 2nd Century Project are so important. But more on them soon . . . .
Friday, August 05, 2005
In turn, I was picked on for defending San Pedro's air quality.
In response, Noel Park commented that a New York Times article indicates that San Pedro's air is, in fact, crap. Sort of.
The article says, in short, that LA's air used to be almost completely unbreathable - in the 50s - and thanks to cutting-edge legislation and regulation, became vastly better. In San Pedro, however, the daily requirements of operating the country's largest port complex leave the district vulnerable to dangerous levels of air pollution.
This is true. However, it also oversimplifies the situation - at least as it is interpreted by some.
A disclaimer: I'm not saying any air pollution is ever really acceptable.
What I am saying is that the type of pollution addressed in this article - particulates from diesel emissions from trucks and ships - is a very geographically limited form of pollution. This means that the people living within certain distances from major trucking routes or terminals face increased risk of health problems as a result of particulate pollution.
Really, I had an op-ed published on this - if I weren't all YD-ed in the head from the convention, I'd dig it - and its supporting research - up for you. But you'll have to wait.
I point this out because I think when dealing with this kind of policy problem, accurately describing and talking about the situation helps develop the most effective response. In this case, if we talk about port-related air pollution in the same terms as vehicle emission pollution we may actually be disserving the communities most at risk from particulate pollution.
Trucks queuing up on Channel don't directly - or even likely measurably - effect my parents on the other side of town. Particles - the soot that causes health problem - are heavy. They don't float far. That stuff is different from ozone - which the article makes clear, but the resulting rhetoric won't.
But who lives by truck routes and busy ports? Not our most enfranchised or economically advantaged neighbors. And when more organized NIMBYs push truck traffic out of their neighborhoods, where does it go? So besides pollution, the problem becomes discrimination.
This is a social justice issue with environmental aspects and an environmental issue with social justice aspects. If port pollution become a pan-San Pedro problem instead of a area-specific problem - that should absolutely be of concern to the whole town because something done to one of us is an affront to all of us - our ability to combat the problem diminishes.
So - though it may be nuanced - I'm not incorrect when I defend most of San Pedro's air.
But that should make us even more concerned about the problem, because it makes sick those already less able to fight back - economically, politically, or medically.
Thursday, August 04, 2005
I'm here at the 2005 YDA National Convention. It is sort of bloggable and sort of something about which many of you won't care. So the decision becomes: engage in minor sh*t talking or remain a dark blog for the next few days. The latter seems wiser, though there may be some updates on who came to speak and who spoke especially well.
I introduced Sen. Jackie Speier last night and assure you I was not one of the ones who spoke especially well. But there goes another 3 of my 15 minutes, I suppose.
For now, it's back to the action downstairs - where the politicking and political training continues through Sunday. It's not too late to join us.
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
This article is weird because at times it seems the writer is making San Pedro out to be both a pampered favorite of Former Mayor Jim Hahn and the usual "dingy" southern cousin of an otherwise world-class city.
For example, contrast these two grafs:
Under former Mayor James K. Hahn's administration, San Pedro, on the port's western flank, received most of the port's community funds. Indeed, part of the high-profile $800-million San Pedro waterfront development may include moving two shipping facilities from that waterfront to Wilmington, making room in San Pedro for parks and treesand
San Pedro wraps around the southeast corner of the Palos Verdes Peninsula, an eclectic mix of wood-frame bungalows, apartment buildings and hillside homes, some with panoramic views of the ocean. Its waterfront remains dingy, but the downtown is seeing a modest rebirth with new shops and restaurants.Well, alright, which is it? Either we've been spoiled by the ousted Hahn at the expense of Wilmington - which, for the record, has absolutely been screwed by everyone (several local governments, ports, and Sacramento, I'm sure) - or we're still a scruffy little boot-strap town with not much to offer but gee-whiz ain't we got spunk. Dingy spunk.
And exactly where is San Pedro "blight[ed]" by industry. Yes, we have a refinery. But it's not like it's in the middle of residential areas.
Speaking of alleged Pedro-biased Hahn actions:
His centerpiece initiative became the planned eight-mile, 418-acre From Bridge to Breakwater project, an array of parkland, shops, restaurants, hotels, condos and cruise ship facilities between the Vincent Thomas Bridge and the breakwater at Cabrillo Beach. The entire project, however, is in San Pedro.What, like we're supposed to feel bad about it now? Plus, check out a map - we have more waterfront and differently zoned waterfront.
But already I'm falling into the trap set by - well, who knows - either local activists, Hahn-haters (who should be satisfied by now), or the article's author. I'm not going to fight with Wilmington over who got the "fair share." San Pedro is absolutely getting what it deserves, but don't make it seem like it's at someone else's expense. If Villaraigosa can make Wilmington better too - great, more power to him. But for Pete’s sake, don't dare paint us out as spoiled children. At least not if you're going to call us "dingy" in the same breath.
Don't be baited, Wilmington. Because if they slow down our waterfront projects, it won't magically make yours appear. And if San Pedro is recognized as more attractive, the benefits will likely spread to you as well. This kind of article makes it more likely for Los Angeles to end up with two incomplete waterfront projects.
Detecting a Trend:
It's no secret what the Times's Deborah Schoch's word-of-the-month is:
The Logicon building, one of the tallest in San Pedro, sits empty, its garish black "Available" sign visible across the harbor. Residents closest to the waterfront live in a dingy public housing project with barred windows. Rail tankers bearing chemicals rumble past in the shadow of looming harbor cranes.
The shoreline of San Pedro remains shabby. But this summer, orange-vested workers have been laying pavement, and backhoes are carving out flower beds. Newly planted palms parade down Harbor Boulevard, some with their fronds still tied like straight-up ponytails.
That's not the San Pedro in which I live. It hasn't been for quite awhile. And no, I'm not blind to its lesser sights - for one thing that garish "Welcome To San Pedro" sign unhelpfully painted across the freeway pedestrian crossing coming into town - looking like someone with a can of old yellow paint got lost on the way to the high school gym - is disliked by many, including City Councilwoman Janice Hahn. And I know tank farms aren't on anyone's scenic route.
But the Harbor Boulevard gateway to San Pedro is lovely and growing lovelier. There have always been stately palms, maritime monuments, and parks. Yes, there is public housing as well, but it hasn't been dingy in several years. If anything it's willfully bright these days. Bars on the windows? Yes, but you find those on privately owned homes as well.
All good journalism, of course, comes with a dose of the sinister, and this is no exception:
The project was the centerpiece of an effort by former Mayor James K. Hahn to improve his home region. His successor, Antonio Villaraigosa, has not yet revealed his plans for it. Even so, work has begun on parts of the project, at a cost of millions in public money. And even as the work progresses, some port and city officials have questioned whether some of the proposed projects are financially sound and whether others are legal.Millions in public money. Folks that begins with P and that rhymes with T . . .
What's most aggravating about Ms. Schoch's San Pedro coverage is that what would be accurate observations or analogies are submerged in a tide of none-too-subtle hints at possible San Pedro favoritism by former Mayor Hahn.
The waterfront development is great. And no, we probably wouldn't have had any attention from City Hall under another Mayor. But again, it's not like he relocated all city assets to San Pedro. We're still not the city's tax base. We're still not the city's power base. Many in the city don't even know a) where we are, or b) that we are, in fact, a district of the City of Los Angeles.
So, dear Los Angeles Times - stop baiting, intentionally or otherwise - and stop making it seem like San Pedro, by turns, can't get out of its own way, can't move up in the world since it's weighed down with working-class, brawny, sea-goers, or doesn't deserve the financial attention it is receiving. We can destroy our own projects fine, please stop feeding the fire. Or if you do, at least can the damn dingy diction.
As my junior high English teacher used to say: FBW.