Readers comments: May 27, 2022
Carnage in Texas
I know Tuesday, May 24, 2022 must have been a very sad and emotional day for you and all educators. I know it was for me as we have seen so many shootings in the past years and early 2022. It started over 20 years ago in Columbine, CO. I do not blame the NRA or having the second amendment; I blame the entertainment industry that believes to have exciting entertainment a gun must be in the scene and firearm use. This year the tables were turned on the entertainment industry when one of their own was murdered on set. Violence occurs every day but it need not be glorified.
Golden State Water quick to fine…
This drought is no doubt serious but I’m appalled that Claremont’s water agency, an investor owned utility, is being allowed to collect new fines on the water we use this year (starting next month). They will do so using 2020, a single year, as a water use as a baseline.
While the agency will argue that these fines will inspire and “price signal” conservation, the fines are more likely intended to offset conservation costs and protect the profits of their shareholders.
I keep an eye on the water conservation programs of most of our region’s water agencies and our for-profit water company has been one of a few that has done the bare minimum to share water conservation information.
I don’t mean to demonize their staff, there are undoubtedly good people there, but the profit driven motive cannot be overlooked. These planned water conservation efforts paid for by those who can’t meet this new mandate, will likely be window dressing at best.
Response to “Viewpoint: Expressing our condolences” (COURIER, May 20)
Sadly, last week’s essay in the COURIER, written by Pastor Thom Johnson on behalf of the Inland Valley Working Group for Mideast Peace, though seemingly well-intentioned, has sown the seeds of discord with its inherent disregard for evenhandedness. The piece extends condolences for the death of the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, killed by a stray bullet in the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank. Sadly, the pastor’s words are not a mere expression of grief, as he proceeds to characterize Abu Akleh’s death as a murder which has filled his group with “moral outrage.” Johnson goes on to condemn Israel for “a disproportionate response” to Palestinian grievances.
The Inland Valley group is not well positioned to express moral outrage. When, on May 5, two Palestinians, armed with axes, murdered three Israeli men, the fathers of 16 children, the group expressed neither grief nor outrage. Without evidence, they characterize Abu Akleh’s death as a murder, thereby demonizing the Israeli military. The group makes no mention of the indiscriminate launching of 4,000 rockets into Israel by Hamas since 2021. Where is the group’s moral outrage?
Through word choice and omission, the group has failed to beat swords into plow shares and spears into pruning hooks.
Marilyn E. Lubarsky
Stop presidential corruption
Republicans and Democrats should be able to agree that no president, regardless of party, should be able to obstruct and undermine the will of the American people or exploit weaknesses in our political system for personal gain.
That’s where the Protecting Our Democracy Act comes in. If passed, it would prevent future abuse of presidential power and corruption, increase transparency, and ensure presidents of either party can be held accountable.
Strengthening the guardrails on presidential power is just common sense. If the average person used their office for personal gain, they’d go to jail. If the average person could pardon themselves, there would be no rule of law.
No president should be above the law. That’s why I’m urging Congress to pass the Protecting Our Democracy Act. We must prevent future presidents of any party from abusing the power of their office.
Setting the city council record straight
At the May 24, 2022 city council meeting, former Mayor Jennifer Stark stated:
“I do think it is interesting that previous colleagues who decided to go the pathway of districts, are urging us to take on another project” (to form an ad hoc committee to lobby the state for an exemption from voting districts). “Truly, with all due respect, to former Mayor Larry Schroeder and former Mayor Joe Lyons, there is a lot of important items that are in front of us at any one time. And so, there is a list of priorities that we have to go by and so to create an ad hoc committee now to kind of relitigate this, I think, isn’t in our annual plan for this year. And so, I would just like to come forward and approve the recommendation” before the city council to adopt a resolution requiring collaboration and citywide consideration among the city council.
Since city council procedures do not allow time for someone from the public to refute these comments at the city council meeting, I have chosen to rebut them in this letter.
First, on February 12, 2019, I voted against districting map 124a. I did vote in favor of a procedural motion concerning the voting order of districts as well as a motion to introduce the first reading of the ordinance adopting, establishing, and implementing a by-district method of election. Since an ordinance needed two readings to pass, I knew that the process could be stopped at the time of the second reading. This would give the city council two more weeks to consider the implications of districting.
On February 26, 2019, I, along with Councilmember Ed Reece, voted against the ordinance establishing and implementing by-district elections, as well as the district voting map 124a, and the election sequence. To say that I have previously “decided to go the pathway of districts” is not true. I believe it is important for city council members to check their public statements for accuracy. You can confirm my votes by looking up the city council minutes of these meetings on the city’s website.
Also, to state that “there is a list of priorities that we have to go by” does not acknowledge that priorities may change over time and may have to be reordered.
I hope this clears up any misunderstanding of this situation. Additionally, I hope the city council considers what actions can be taken to change state mandates for districting, as districting clearly does not serve small cities such as Claremont well. In the short term, the city council can and should revisit the makeup of districts that have been established.
The Water Stasi
Water is the only natural force over which Californians have any control. Yet despite a long and recent history of droughts, our state is once again demanding that urban dwellers—who account for less than 6% of total water consumption—take shorter showers and turn off their sprinklers, as if a hoped-for 20% reduction of that 6% is going to make more than a de minimis difference.
Our goal should be to create an abundance of water, not ration a shortage of water.
Instead of building more reservoirs, aqueducts and desalination plants, Sacramento prefers to build a bullet train to nowhere. Instead of policies designed to store, capture, and generate enough water to meet a growing population’s needs, we continue to rely on conservation and rationing.
And we don’t even do rationing right. As any first-year economics student learns, a government rationing of things in short supply is fraught with difficulties and almost always unproductive. As Milton Friedman famously quipped, “If you put the federal government in charge of the Sahara Desert, in five years there would be a shortage of sand.” Economics is all about scarcity, and the most efficient way to ration scarce resources is through pricing. If water is scarce, we need to raise its price. That way, those who use less are rewarded and those who use more are punished. Yet what the Golden State Water Stasi is now demanding will do just the opposite. Those who were profligate users of water in 2020 (the baseline that will be used to judge how much we need to cut back today) will be rewarded if they just become a little less profligate. Those who made a big effort to cut water consumption before 2020 (e.g., by replacing grass with drought-efficient plants) will find it very difficult to make further cuts today.
California’s average annual rainfall is about 200 million acre-feet per year, according to the California Department of Water Resources. 50% of that goes to “environmental” uses (i.e., it flows freely out to sea), 40% for agriculture, 5.7% for residential users, and 4.3% for commercial, governmental and industrial uses.
Why are we urban dwellers cast as the culprit, when in fact we are simply bit players in the water drama? Instead of Golden Stasi threatening us with water cutoffs, our collective ire should be directed to Governor Newsom.