Ninety-three percent of California is now in a severe drought. Yet Gov. Gavin Newsom has refused so far to impose mandatory use restrictions on urban and suburban residents, as former Gov. Jerry Brown once issued, which includes a mandate for a 25 percent water reduction on urban and suburban usage. Newsom is not Brown.
That was then, this is now. Newsom is not Brown.
Instead, the current governor is leaving water reductions up to the 420 local water districts to allocate water use in their individual districts – if they want to make any cuts. They serve 90 percent of Californians.
Why would they want to curtail water use? They are in the water-selling business, so to speak, so if they crackdown on use, it will cost them millions of dollars in revenues.
Or the districts could raise water rates, as Palo Alto did several years ago – ironically, the less we used the more our monthly water bills increased.
The water use of residents in this state mounts to about 10 percent of the water available. Bay Area residents are among the highest consumers. Agriculture uses 75 percent, while environmental uses come to about 25 percent (figures vary among water agencies). Some 5.6 million acres are used for farming.
So limiting our personal use won’t really solve the water shortage, even if we take only a shower a week or let our lawns go brown again. Plus, only about 4 percent of the water in this state goes to direct household consumption.
Actually, meat and dairy products account for 47 percent of California water use. But it’s not because cows have insatiable water appetites and drink all day long, but because they like to eat alfalfa, which is the biggest plant consumer of water, outdistancing almonds and pistachios.
Politically correct Californians say we have to stop eating beef because it’s bad for our bodies and the climate (because cows belch methane), thus we need to get rid of the cows. But remember cows are suppliers of meat and milk -- which is turned into butter and cheese, whipped cream and ICE CREAM!
I say don’t get rid of the cows – just ship them to the green grasses of Wisconsin and Minnesota, where water is available and cows are welcome!
Saving water and finding ways to conserve more water in this state is a complex problem, but the savings have to come from all users especially agriculture, not just individuals. We all need to cut our water usage. Gov. Newsom must be a leader in this effort, not a wimp.
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No, no, a thousand times no. That’s what Palo Alto City Manager Ed Shikada and Police Chief Robert Jonsen are telling the council in their recent report about the impossibility of eliminating encryption – a 70-year-old practice that used to allow the public to hear routine radio conversations between police on duty and the dispatchers. The chief’s new rule of protecting information from the public is an effective way of keeping information secret, and it has been enforced now for 14 months
And the chief has stuck his heels into the ground this time, saying it is impossible to stop this practice of hiding information from the public, and implies there is no way to go back to the old practice letting the public and the press know about police activities and things like arrests, crimes on our streets, neighborhood burglaries, flooded streets and big accidents.
The entire report to the council is a very well-written – and deceptive in many parts – in its description of why eliminating encryption can’t happen. It is also a report that puts this police department in the best shining light possible – in other words, the report is filled with great PR spin.
Jonsen imposed a new rule several months ago that said reporters can’t talk directly with police but must submit a question on a departmental form and transmit it directly to the police department, adding the question will be answered within 24 hours.
In this annual report, police proudly report that in February, under this new rule, press inquiries to the police were answered quickly – 91 percent the same day, with an average response time of 90 minutes. But that statement is misleading – what were the responses? Were they something like “this matter is under study” or “we have no further details at this time” or “we have not gathered all the details yet of what happened.”
Those responses are conjecture on my part, but they are non-answers.
I am very uncomfortable with police silence and delays – this is not what should happen in a democracy. Autocratic countries (think Russia) can act this way, but it should not happen here, or as author Sinclair Lewis once said, “it Can’t Happen Here.”
Or can it?
(The city council will be discussing this Monday night, April 4. If you have strong feelings on this topic, please send your council members an email in advance.)