If you think California should be an autonomous nation-state, you can sign the initiative now (Los Angeles Daily News link): Backers of an initiative to create an advisory group to explore establishing California’s autonomy from the United States have received permission to begin gathering signatures, Secretary of State Alex Padilla announced today.
Author Louis J. Marinelli told City News Service he and other backers of what they have dubbed “A New Hope for California” “want to see California become an autonomous region of the United States like Scotland in the” United Kingdom.
“If people are ready for California to be given the respect it deserves as a nation-state, yet remain part of the United States national system, this is the initiative for them,” Marinelli said.
“Otherwise, California can continue to be a donor state, paying more in federal taxes than we receive back in federal funding. This is the initiative for people to sign if they want California to be emancipated from federal control, regulation and taxation so that we can start putting California and Californians first.”
(Mod: Why would we want to do that? Aren't we funny enough already without being Scotland? Besides, I thought California was going to be broken up into six new states or something. This all does get kind of confusing after a while.)
City Councilman Forgets to Turn His Mic Off, So the Whole Chamber Hears Him Do Something ‘Disgusting’ Outside (The Blaze link): If you’re wearing a mic, it pays to check that it’s off before you take care of private business. And if you’re using the restroom, for the love of sanitation please wash your hands afterwards.
A city councilman in Georgetown, Texas, was caught with his pants down, so to speak, when he left his microphone on as he used the restroom. Video (link) from the mishap showed his fellow council members struggle to keep straight faces as they heard him unleash a personal deluge.
They soon gave up and started laughing out loud, making for a very awkward scene when he reentered the council chambers.
The best/worst part: Mayor Rachael Jonrowe was speaking on the topic of infectious diseases as the councilman emptied his bladder, and from the sounds of things, he failed to follow the No. 1 rule of bathroom hygiene.
“Oh god, he didn’t wash his hands,” read the top comment on YouTube Saturday. “Disgusting.”
(Mod: There go his re-election chances down the drain. Hopefully there will never be enough budget for wireless microphones here.)
Good Citizens Are ‘Inclusive’ and Take Shorter Showers, Colleges Say (The Federalist link): Are you a good citizen? If so, what do you do that makes you one? At many colleges and universities, good citizenship is now understood as requiring a personal commitment to “sustainability.”
Last fall, I traveled out west to visit universities the National Association of Scholars is studying for a project looking at civics education in colleges. “Civics” isn’t what it used to be: the study of how our system of self-government works. Instead the term has been appropriated by colleges that want citizens to repair “growing global economic inequalities, climate change and environmental degradation, lack of access to quality health care, [and] economic volatility,” says a White House-commissioned report, “A Crucible Moment,” which is the Bible of this campus movement.
On my trip, I found the University of Northern Colorado at Greeley bedecked with banners and posters announcing the school’s commitment to sustainability and ways for students to get involved. Someone on the quad at Colorado State University handed me a “Vote Climate” brochure. At CU-Boulder I sat down with a student government leader who is majoring in finance. When I asked him what values were most important at Boulder, he named sustainability first.
“For instance, here in the [student center], there are all these different trash and recycling bins, and one of them says landfill so you feel bad about sending things there that could be recycled. It takes an extra 15 seconds to figure out what goes where, but it’s worth it.” I asked him about the top quality Boulder hopes to instill in students, and he said the hope is for everyone to be more “inclusive.”
(Mod: Sometimes I think that my sense of inclusivity is not as sustainable as it ought to be. However, I do have the sensitivity to confess to things like this.)
LA’s Drought and Growth Built on Paper Water (City Watch link): LA’s recent drought has been going on far longer than the statewide drought. California’s last drought was declared in 2008 and it ended in 2011 and another declared in 2015. L.A’s drought was declared in 2008 and was never rescinded. So why has L.A.’s drought been so persistent and growing by the day? Another question we should ask is how does the city reconcile the endless approvals of new construction during a persistent drought?
The short answer to both is that in order to provide evidence of sufficient water supply for projected growth, the city’s UWMP (Urban Water Management Plan) has been reporting that is has available to it far more water than it can get. Every UWMP from 1990 till now has projected supplies that exceeded 700,000 AF but when we look back at DWP records from 1990 to 2004 we find that the city’s total supply averaged just 627,000 Af/y. Since 2005 the average has fallen even further to just 590,000 Af/y. Simply put, the DWP has never met their projections and that has steered us head-on into a drought.
When DWP officials are asked why haven’t met the projections cited in the UWMP, using a little spin they tell you that conservation efforts reduced demand and they didn't need to import as much as projected.
This answer however is disingenuous since the projections are supposed to include future growth and clearly the DWP hasn’t met that expectation given today’s restrictions on water.
(Mod: You know what? I think that they just make their water numbers up. Just ask Tom Love.)
Will Brown’s 40% Executive Order Squeeze Regions Via SB 375? (California Planning & Development Report link): This week, Gov. Jerry Brown announced an executive order to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 40% from 1990 levels by 2030. It’s being hailed as the most aggressive climate change policy pursued by any government in North America – but will it put the squeeze on California’s metropolitan planning organizations and their sustainable communities strategies?
Brown’s order has drawn attention for its combination of ambition and immediacy. But it does not come out of thin air. Brown’s 2030 targets fit, substantively and chronologically, between those of Fran Pavley’s 2006 law Assembly Bill 32, which mandates lowering GHG emissions to 1990 levels by 2010, and former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s goals of 80 percent reduction by 2050, also established by executive order. Meeting them means that, in relatively short order, California will look, drive, and power itself far differently than it does today — especially as its population continues to rise.
The order requires all state agencies with jurisdiction over sources of greenhouse gas emissions to participate. Agencies must prepare implementation plans by September 2015, with guidance from a technical advisory group that will be set up by the Governor’s Office of Planning and Research.
(Mod: So there you go. While Brown is telling us we need to cut water usage by 35%, we also need to start planning to build massive amounts high density redevelopment projects to supposedly save the world from global warming. No disconnect here.)
Public, private sector wage gap heavily favors many L.A. city workers (Los Angeles Times link): For almost a year, the labor groups representing roughly 20,000 Los Angeles city workers have battled at the bargaining table for people like Marshall Turner.
Turner supports his union. Yet when it comes to his job, he's not complaining. A 59-year-old garbage-truck driver, he made $95,696 last year including overtime. His three decades of city employment enabled him to buy a four-bedroom Rancho Cucamonga home and provide for five children. He recognizes his privileged place in an economy that has grown increasingly bleak for blue-collar workers.
"I feel blessed at the city of Los Angeles," he said recently over a ramen lunch during a break from collecting trash in South-Central.
That sense of satisfaction is not misplaced — at least not when it comes to his paycheck. Among the city workers who are currently threatening to strike amid contract negotiations that have stalled over pay and other issues, many collect salaries higher than those who do similar jobs in both the public and private sectors, a Los Angeles Times analysis has found.
For example, security guards employed by the city last year made a median base salary of $57,501, compared with $23,330 in the private sector. For city janitors, median annual wages were $46,694, compared with $22,750 in the private sector. City gardeners' median base salary was $55,173; for those doing similar jobs in the private sector, it was $23,250.
(Mod: Somehow my parents never told me to go to college, work hard and become a garbage man. I blame them.)
Norway’s ‘We’re Sorry’ Monument to 91 Dead Witches (The Daily Beast link): The town of Vardø, known as ‘the witch capital of Norway,’ has built a monument dedicated to the memory of the men and women who were burnt or tortured to death, accused of sorcery.
The site of one of Europe’s most brutal witch hunts has been transformed into a modernist memorial monument, perched above the Arctic Circle on the rugged coast of Norway’s most northeastern tip.
As Europe killed more than 40,000 people accused of sorcery in the 17th and 18th centuries, there were vicious witch trials taking place at the edge of the earth, in Norway’s tiny fishing villages.
Right off the crashing waves of the Barents Sea is the remote town of Vardø, known as the “witch capital of Norway.”
Four hundred years ago, Vardø embarked on a crusade to rid itself of witchcraft. For more than a century—between 1593 and 1692—there were more than 140 witch trials in the small village.
At least 91 people, both men and women, were found guilty of sorcery and burned at the stake or tortured to death.
(Mod: The latest in tourist traps. Just in case you ever needed a reason to travel to the far reaches of Norway, here is your ticket. I wonder what kind of souvenirs they sell?)