Jerry Brown, our governor, has been scandalizing California adults for years now with his scathing critiques of environmental law, particularly the California Environmental Quality Act, which he calls “the blob” from which any exemption for development is good, of which any enforcement bad.
He has chosen several instruments not of his making to make his dark vision of CEQA real for his entire, gigantic parish of eligible votes. With his tool in the Legislature, Senate pro tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, he has crafted legislation to “streamline” i.e. gut CEQA. But this craft seems to have broken up on the shoals of sensible opposition, at least for the current session of the Legislature.
His enthusiasm for – zoom zoom! – the state high speed railroad project has been blocked in the courts, stonewalled in Kings County, and faces the determined opposition of three Valley congressmen, reps. Denham, Nunes, and McCarthy, each an ardent and fundamentalist apostle of the Grand Old Negation. These cats are GON, GON, GON …
Back in the early Eighties of the last century, when a younger, smaller, parish was more tolerant of Jerry’s ambivalence – at almost looked as if he, like the rest of us, was learning on the job – after wobbling on it has he wobbling on Prop. 13 a few years earlier, he settled on support for the Peripheral Canal. And got his clock cleaned when the referendum on the project failed massively and he lost his election for US Senate to Pete Wilson. Years later he returned as governor to put his political capital (sic) on the project to convey fresh Sacramento River water under the Delta through tunnels to connect directly with the giant north-south canals that carry water to the feudal plutocracy of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley and to southern California. One of the canals, the inscrutably corrupt and over-subscribed State Water Project, is named for its principle author, Jerry’s father, Gov. Edmund G. “Pat” Brown. Pat’s spiritual guide through the morass of California water politics was Ralph Brody, attorney and manager of Westlands Water District, as Jerry’s mentor is Tom Birmingham, presently attorney and manager of Westlands Water District.
However, alas – Cometh from the North the Dreaded Garamendi, and it was as if .
‘Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe,
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Garamendi, now congressman for the Delta and parts north, 30-year resident of the Delta with his large family, a man of much more extensive political experience than the Great Reflector: as assemblyman, four-term state senator and majority leader, twice nationally acclaimed state insurance commissioner, deputy secretary of the federal Department of the Interior, state lieutenant governor, three-time candidate for governor and one-time candidate for state controller and for president. A highly ranked collegiate footballer and heavyweight wrestler. A man who has not lost his moral compass to corporate executive pulchritude, lately he has with bipartisan support in the House depfended state laws on humane livestock treatment and urged the president not to bomb Syria before a full congressional debate.
The Dreaded Garamendi has put himself squarely between Brown and his tunnels. Garamendi is the man to say that Brown’s Delta attack dog Gerald Meral, who claims the project will produce “one million new jobs” is full of the well-known substance.
Garamendi is supporting and is supported by his neighbors on the Delta and a great many people throughout Northern California and some even in Southern California. He grasps the essential economic nonsense of these “conveyance” plans: trading the irrigation of 100,000 acres of the more prime farmland in California for the irrigation of west side alkali flats discharging mounting loads of salts and heavy metals into the San Joaquin River watershed to further pollute Valley groundwater and the Delta.
However, there is something that ought to make people nervous about his plan to create water by turning the Delta into a national heritage region. It sounds sort of like the Mesa Verde of water ways. Maybe there will be a great alabaster sculpture of the entire Garamendi Family in Walnut Grove – the parents, six children and more than 10 grandchildren, their mouths open gushing new water.
But these are just matters of taste that have no business in a discussion of politics, of course.
Lest people with environmental concerns believe they have found an immaculate champion for the Delta, let us recall the politician Garamendi has feet of mud after all, when it comes to an issue that is going to be of grave consequence to the Valley – fracking. On July 6, 2011, he offered this sage comment to the Delta Times in Rio Vista: “Hopefully the gas industry, which controls Congress, will support an environmental study where fracking occurs,” said Garamendi.
Not that the frackers are getting any opposition from Gov. Brown, but perhaps Garamendi’s imaginary environmentally concerned (oil and) gas industry will wait for Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, the Gettys’ man, to ascend before handing out green tinted glasses to every Californian of voting age not in prison.
Let us also recall with professional Democrats of long and dark memory, the events in the autumn of 1990, when Garamendi quit his state Senate seat, long assumed to be filled by his top former staffer, Pat Johnston, then an assemblyman. Instead of honoring what most considered a firm political commitment, Garamendi forced a special election and threw his support to his wife, Patti, a sand and gravel heiress from Watsonville, and left Johnston appearing rather peculiar on the ballot for running for two offices at once – another term in the state Assembly plus the Senate seat.
…"It's clever for them. But ultimately it will be enlightening for the voters because (the Garamendis) crossed the border of fair play,” Johnston told the LA Times.
Johnston defeated Mrs. Garamendi. Some that from this and other political mishaps through his long career, Garamendi has learned something. If so, we hope it will help stop the peripheral tunnels project.