Who Killed Willard Pool?
After reading Stephanie Baer's story [in the Daily Californian] Who Killed Willard Pool, several questions crossed my mind.
Why did George Bier wait two months to tell his story about the council members who would have voted to save Willard Pool but wanted to hurt Kriss Worthington's chance of being re-elected? He knew that same evening that two council members voted to close Willard Pool, yet did nothing.
Had he done so, what would have been the outcome of keeping Willard Pool open? Did those two members break the oath that each of them took when being sworn into the city council?
But my real question is who would vote for George Beier who waited so long to tell his story? He has already shown he can't be trusted.
The very strong argument for maintaining clean water is the same as other proven environmental protection arguments including limiting deforestation, mountaintop mining, and preventing species extinctions.
Urban Gardens in Alameda County
On 10/10/10, small groups around the world gathered to revitalize their local communities. Here in Berkeley, one of these groups worked to create a community garden at the corner of Adeline and Alcatraz. The volunteers for this event, despite the wide range of age and experience, brought this great task to completion in a matter of hours, demonstrating some skill, but more passion.
This type of community action is not seen everyday. Our area has many clubs designed to care for distant trails and forests, that, while very important, do nothing for the declining state of our cities. The few amazing organizations that are in place for this purpose cannot possibly provide all the help our communities need. We need more of these local community-based organizations, and more importantly, we need more willing volunteers to make these projects possible.
In making these types of work parties more common, we would be making our community more beautiful and energy efficient. The plants used within the new garden were native, which require less water and external inputs than the lawns that might otherwise be there. These projects also allow members of the community the opportunity to create in their own neighborhood, thus instilling a sense of ownership and pride. The transformed land would be protected and nurtured by the hands that created it for years. Furthermore, this type of transformation does not need to be limited to ornamental gardens. With the willing participation of neighbors, vegetable gardens can be formed, allowing communities a cheap local source of nutritious food year-round. Almost one third of the people living in Alameda County are food insecure, with many relying on food from liquor stores, as they have no access to markets (UrbanFood.org). In creating these gardens, we would be supporting the nutritional needs of those in our neighborhood, as well as making our community a more beautiful, energy efficient place to live.
Party of what?
Newt Gingrich last week said that Democrats are the party of food stamps and Republicans are the party of pay checks. He should have said that the Republicans are the party of pink slips. The Republicans don't want more jobs. In George W. Bush's 8 years in office, less than a million jobs were created, the worst job record since the great depression. In the same way that Bertolt Brecht said, "the more they talk about peace, the more they are preparing for war," the more Republicans talk about wanting more jobs, the more they are applauding the shrinking number of jobs. High unemployment is good for them. The fewer jobs there are, the more working people have to compete for an ever-decreasing piece of the pie, and the lower wages get. Lower wages mean higher profits. And what happens when, like now, American wage earners earn so little that they can't afford to buy American products? The business interests who back the Republicans will invest their money overseas where wages are even lower. And if Americans want to buy something, it will just say Made in China on the back. Be grateful, American workers. You may be broke and in debt, but if the Republicans have their way, at least you're not on foodstamps.
Water is one of the most precious resources the earth has to offer. The topic of water is very controversial in California, especially since Southern California relies heavily on Northern California for water. In general there is an agreement that California is currently in danger of being in a serious water shortage if not that California has already reached that point.
As a new student in UC Berkeley, I’ve noticed how much easier it is to live “green” than in my hometown of Miami. Berkeley clearly encourages its students to promote the safety of the environment; recycling bins possibly outnumber the trashcans, containers, utensils, and cups in the dining halls are all biodegradable, and the recently constructed bathrooms only have hand dryers to conserve paper.
However, I have seen little encouragement to conserve water, at least in comparison to other environmental concerns. I even saw the lawn at Clark Kerr Campus being watered during the time of day when the sun is at its peak. In my dorm, I’ve seen posters informing students of various topics, like safe sex, drinking, the importance of recycling, etc.
I believe that especially in California, the issue of water conservation should be more thoroughly addressed, and the student populace more informed. Simple tips and tricks, like turning off the water when you brush your teeth and how much water that can save if done over time, could help conserve water on a fairly large scale.
Doing small things can leave lifestyles virtually the same but have a huge effect on water supply if done en masse, like by an entire college population. Then the state of California may not have to enforce as strict laws regarding how much water farms can use for irrigation, which could in turn help the agricultural economy.
It's Time to Admit that the Iraq War was a Hoax
Today, October 11 is the eight-year anniversary of the Oct. 11, 2002 Senate vote on the Iraq war resolution, which passed 77 to 33. The House had earlier passed the resolution. We should remember that Senator Barbara Boxer had the courage and common sense to vote "nay" on the resolution. Senator Boxer's vote was prescient because it was ultimately established that the Bush administration had intentionally built a case for war with Iraq without regard to factual evidence. No weapons of mass destruction were ever found in Iraq and Saddam Hussein had no links to al Qaeda. Remember when Secretary-General of the United Nations Kofi Annan, speaking about the invasion of Iraq, said, "I have indicated it was not in conformity with the UN Charter. From our point of view, from the charter point of view, it was illegal." Senator Boxer's vote on the Iraq war resolution is just one of the many reasons we voted for her re-election.
Ralph E. Stone
End the Annual Budget Madness: Yes on State Proposition 25
One hundred (100) days after the beginning of the fiscal year, California finally has a "balanced" budget. Again the balance is achieved by the usual gimmickry. How: by suspending Proposition 98, $1.7 billion of k-12 public education money will be deferred until July 2011;
$189 million in Community College funds will be deferred until next year; assuming that California will receive $5.4 billion from the federal government although only approved $1.3 billion to date; and $1 billion increase in spending under the dubious assumption that revenues will increase in this troubled economy. The bottom line is that California is once again deferring the deficit until next fiscal year.
Why do we have an annual budget crisis? Primarily because California is one of only three states – Arkansas and Rhode Island are the others – to require a supermajority to adopt a budget. Thus, each year at budget time, the Republican minority is able to exercise disproportionate control over the budget process because passing a budget requires a two-thirds vote in both houses.
I for one am tired of having to wait until October for the state to finally have a budget and then learn about all the political horse trading -- often at the public's expense -- that happened to obtain one.
That's why it is important that Proposition 25 pass so that a California budget needs only a majority in both the Senate and Assembly to pass.
Ralph E. Stone
Going green with local food
With about 50% of the world’s population living in cities, the need for more local food is increasing. It is unnecessary to ship peaches from all the way from Florida to California when we can grow our own fruit in our back yards. Food miles must be eliminated or at least diminished. The carbon footprint of trucks and industrial packing houses dealing with the delivering of fruits and vegetables is unnecessary. Also, the motives behind large companies selling mass quantities of food are purely economic.
Fruits are picked prematurely so that they can ripen during the time it takes to ship them to a grocery store. The result of this unfortunate process is cheap, low quality, high quantity food. There are three options for a city dweller who wants to keep their footprint small and their bellies full:
First, they can shop at a local farmer’s market. They usually run weekly in the same location. In Berkeley, there are numerous markets that are open on different days of the week. My personal favorite is the one on Saturday on the corner of MLK and Center Street. You can buy a week’s worth of food and be set until the next weekend rolls around.
The second option is to join a local community garden. If you don’t have a yard that can be used then the next best thing is a garden that is shared by others. These gardens are often organic which can reduce the pollutants that pesticides produce. The runoff in the area will be cleaner and better for the overall health of the city.
The last fun and rewarding option is to create your own garden in your front or back yard. There are many different foods you can grow to create a sustainable source that comes from your own house. These options eliminate premature picking of foods and the majority of the food miles. If more people choose one of these paths then their cities will become more environmentally friendly, healthy, and happy.