Category Archives: Uncategorized

The Ideological War Behind Poseidon’s Proposed Desalination Plant

By John Earl

Underlying the long-running battles between proponents and opponents of the proposed Poseidon Resources ocean desalination plant is an ideological war between two roughly defined factions: conservationists and free-marketeers.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD), which manages the Santa Ana River and the Orange County Groundwater Basin (a collection of aquifers containing 60 million acre-feet of water), is ground-zero in that war.

(The OCWD supplies 75 percent of the drinking water for 2.4 million residents of north Orange County) Continue reading The Ideological War Behind Poseidon’s Proposed Desalination Plant

Breaking: HB City Councilmember Will Replace Hoskinson Tonight

By John Earl

Huntington Beach Council-member Erik Peterson confirmed to the Surf City Voice by email this morning that Michael Hoskinson, his representative on the Planning Commission for the past two years, has resigned and will be replaced at tonight’s city council meeting.

Rumors of Hoskinson’s resignation have circulated since December 13 when he announced that he would not attend a Planning Commission meeting scheduled that night.

But Hoskinson told the Voice by Facebook Messenger that he did not resign. Continue reading Breaking: HB City Councilmember Will Replace Hoskinson Tonight

Agenda Alert: Recipients of Lush Shooting Gallery Contributions Push Water District Lease

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

There are several substantial items on the Orange County Water District agenda tonight which deserve full attention but, in the usual fashion of the the board, will be on the consent calendar which is designed as a rubber-stamp mechanism to avoid full public discussion.

The first is item #6 on the consent calendar, a recommendation from OCWD staff on what the format for further discussion of the proposed Poseidon Resources ocean desalination plant will be for a board meeting on Jan. 12, 2015.

This is despite that fact that at a recent joint meeting of OCWD’s producers and the OCWD board many important questions about project costs, better alternatives to be pursued first, and the legality of charging water agencies for much higher cost desalinated water that don’t want, were raised, along with a strong request for more time to study a financial analysis by a Poseidon preferred consultant that was supposed to answer those issues but did not—a request that was denied. Also, Poseidon project critics with long standing expertise or local standing are to be denied, as usual, an equal place in the discussion.

Item #15 is a recommendation by staff to approve a revised board policy manual that arbitrarily deletes the Executive Committee from the list of standing committees subject to the Brown Act, but, per a recent discussion at the committee level, allows it to exist and to operate as it always has, in likely violation of the Brown Act (California’s open meetings law), by assuming that the board’s president, Shawn Dewane, who presides over the that committee, and its other 3 to 4 members, understand the Brown Act well enough to distinguish between casual conversations amongst OCWD’s directors and its staff and holding illegal meetings, an assumption that past reporting by the Surf City Voice proves unwarranted.

But the most interesting of all, for tonight anyway, is item #18, a recommendation by the Property Management Committee to “Direct staff to enter into negotiations with Elaine Raahauge and to return to Board with information for Closed Session discussion.”

The quick take is that the Raahauge family, currently doing business as Mike Raahauge’s Shooting Enterprises, has leased almost 800 acres down to currently 135 acres of OCWD owned land in the Prado Dam Basin in Riverside County since 1971 to operate a shooting range that includes trap and skeet shooting, pheasant hunting, dog kennels, dog training, a clubhouse, and restaurant facilities, according to OCWD records. The Raahauges’ lease with OCWD is up in a year and they want to renew it, but for 20 years instead of the usual five.

The Raahauges are also facing a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) renewal for the land with the County of Riverside, which will require expensive building upgrades to meet current safety codes.

There is also a request, informal at this point, from the county that the family provide a letter from the OCWD stating that it has permission to use the District’s access road to the leased land, which sits on land owned by the Army Corps of Engineers.

The Corps granted an easement to the District but it doesn’t mention the shooting gallery, a “minor technicality”, according to Raahauge consultant Larry Buxton, who worked for OCWD and the Raahauge business when the original deal was struck 43 years ago.

Punting especially hard for the shooting gallery at a recent OCWD Property Management Committee meeting were committee chairman Stephen Sheldon and fellow committee member Denis Bilodeau, who, along with staff, put much effort and thought into directing staff to go full speed ahead negotiating the deal to the Raahauges’ specifications, with minor modifications, despite the minor technicality.

But, with the cooperation of committee members Harry Sidhu and alternate Cathy Green, Sheldon and Bilodeau also ran right over a strong request, relayed by staff, from absent member Jan Flory to open the lease up for Requests for Proposals (RFPs).

Flory also requested a complete history, to be made public, of the business relationship between OCWD and the Raahauge family, going all the way back when.

Oddly, Sheldon quickly asked to clarify if that history was to include the original owner, Linc Raahauge’s, grandson, Patrick.

The answer from staff seemed to be no.

That issue having been clarified, Bilodeau waxed on about how wonderful the Raahauge business has been for the OCWD and how and RFP would be a “disaster” and the District should continue the business relationship.

“This is a very unique operation,” Bilodeau said. “You’re dealing with firearms and obviously we want highly qualified people there that would operate this kind of an operation. The Raahauge family has, I consider, a stellar track record in terms of the safety of their patrons and indemnifying the District. Quite frankly, I wouldn’t feel comfortable with anybody else being there.”

What Bilodeau didn’t mention, and what Sheldon had earlier side stepped by the committee, was that Patrick Raahauge, Linc’s grandson and a twice convicted felon, had been arrested at the shooting range in August 2013 “on suspicion of possessing firearms and ammunition at the family range,” according to a report in the Orange County Register. He had been working at the range, in violation of the terms of his probation, according to the Department of Justice.

Another important fact left out of the discussion is that the Raahauge family and some of its employees have given thousands of dollars in campaign contributions to Bilodeau ($2,000), Sheldon ($3,500) and OCWD board president Shawn Dewane, who as president presides over all committees ($4,000).

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Caring for My 94-Year-Old Father as the Surf City Voice Resumes

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Note: My father will turn 94 on July 7.

May 16, 2013, was the last time that I published a self-written article for my investigative water-news blog, the Surf City Voice. As I prepare to reboot the Voice, I would first like to explain what happened, not just to excuse any absence, but also because many of you can relate to my story.

Five years ago my then 88-year-old father started to suffer from extreme back pain and was diagnosed with kidney failure, congestive heart failure and the slow onset of dementia. His health had always seemed as solid as the Rock of Gibraltar, but now it was frighteningly obvious that he was entering the final phases of his life, something that I had always almost thought would never happen.

My father's B-29 after a crash landing shortly after take off.
My father’s B-29 after a crash landing shortly after take off.

Prior to that day, my father took daily two-mile-long walks around our beach-side neighborhood, an activity that he took pride in as a symbol of his good health and exceptional longevity. Wearing his signature outfit—a straw hat and off-white coat—he would walk in short but brisk steps without a cane. And he always brought his snacks: a slice of whole-wheat bread held in his hand and several carefully cut cubes of Hershey’s milk-chocolate bar stuffed into his coat pocket.

Easy to recognize and always eager to talk to anyone, my father made lots of friends along his exercise route, some of whom regularly stopped by our house over the years to check up on him and to drop off cookies or baked bread. Continue reading Caring for My 94-Year-Old Father as the Surf City Voice Resumes

Book Review: ‘Slow Democracy’ Means Real Citizen Participation and Better Results

By Debbie Cook
Special to the Surf City Voice

Whether you are an aging activist, annoyed elected official, or aggrieved citizen, the recently published Slow Democracy is the elixir for returning citizens to their rightful role in self governance.

Our country was founded on participatory democracy.  It has largely devolved into a faux democracy where we elect others to “represent” us.  And when they don’t, we scream, march, blog, and organize in order to be heard.  Such blunt instruments may produce short term results but they also leave permanent scars that divide our communities.

Slow Democracy challenges us to implement real democracy at the local level through a prescription of deliberation.

The deliberation as defined by Authors Susan Clark and Woden Teachout is long, careful and inclusive.  Creative forums for communication and understanding are the foundation for better decisions.

The book beautifully demonstrates the sharp contrast between our fast food democracy with its mandatory “public” hearings, reliance on “experts,” and top down mandates, versus a deliberative process that allows all parties to be heard, encourages investigation, and empowers diverse groups of citizens to move forward on difficult issues like water, education, and planning.

Authors Clark and Teachout hail from Vermont.  My first thought was, sure, I can see it in small town Vermont, but not megalopolis California.  But their examples of deliberative processes stretch from coast to coast.

In Felton, California residents fighting dramatic water rate increases wanted to buy back their privatized water system.  They mobilized to pass a bond measure and, under threat of eminent domain, were able to regain control.  Along with lower water rates and increased transparency, they built a solar installation and preserved 250 acres of watershed.  Citizen participation added tremendous value to the results.

In Gloucester, Massachusetts, residents, armed with the success of the Felton experience, were determined to buy back their town’s drinking water from the private corporation that had let its quality deteriorate until it was no longer drinkable.

A diverse group of residents mobilized and wrote a mission statement:  “to accurately inform the public, to share in the civil discourse, and to participate in the decision making process.”

They conducted community meetings, targeted residents in every way possible, and empowered the local citizenry.  The city council unanimously approved a resolution declaring “local control of their water as a democratic right.”

Their deliberative approach guaranteed the community members a place in the decision making process.

The most satisfying experiences I have had in local government, as both an activist and an elected official, have been those rare deliberative processes that somehow snuck into our traditional “Roberts Rules” top down governance structures.  Where members of the public, along with city staff and elected officials, take the time to deliberate over an issue, the results can be magical.

By contrast, wounds become septic at public hearings where millions of dollars have been spent, decisions have already been made, the vote is just a formality, and where everyone speaks and no one listens.

Resilient communities happen where people listen together, investigate together, plan together and act together.

At a recent water meeting in my community, a group of residents who have been fighting a water project for the past ten years were almost bowled over when one of the board members suggested that perhaps they should conduct a workshop so that the project’s opponents would have an opportunity to explain their concerns.

It may be ten years too late or it may be a fresh start toward greater participation.

Either way, Slow Democracy provides a roadmap.  Slow Democracy:  buy it, share it, apply it.

 

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Occupy This Book: ECONOMICS UNMASKED – From power and greed to compassion and common good

By Sarah (Steve) Mosko
Special to the Surf City Voice

If you are looking for a passionless primer on modern economics spouting platitudes about how western style capitalism, unregulated markets and globalization are fail proof and good for all, this book is not for you.

If, instead, your guts tell you something is seriously amiss when the gulf between the rich and the poor is ever widening and the health of the planet is on a steady decline, all while politicians bicker over policy nuances that have nothing to do with solving these immense realities, then you will find this book vital and loaded with truths.

The authors are Philip B. Smith, a recently deceased physicist-turned-economist who recognized that the discipline of economics lacks the value-free pursuit of truth ideally embraced by hard sciences, like physics or chemistry, and Manfred Max-Neef, a very much alive academic economist who, when confronted with poverty in the flesh, became a dissident of mainstream economics upon realizing that everything he’d been taught left him bereft of any real understanding of poverty and its solutions.

They joined forces in this mostly easy to digest book (I have never had an economics course) to expose how the predominant economic paradigm driving the world’s economies today is based on far less-than-lofty values – greed, competition and accumulation – values so universally sanctioned that no apology is deemed necessary even though it can be shown that wealth accumulated through such a system leads to immeasurable human injustices and environmental ills.

This paradigm fosters rapid economic expansion “at any cost” to people or the planet, and it is fed by the uncontrolled consumption of fossil fuels and a belief that consumerism is the path to happiness. It also concentrates power and wealth in the hands of a small minority.

Several “myths” underlying the economic system which have successfully evaded scrutiny are brought to light. Most fundamental is the notion that perpetually increasing economic growth and production are a necessity, and even possible, on a finite planet.  A case is made that such magical thinking is the root cause of global warming and depletion of natural resources including oil and gas, fresh water and biodiversity. The authors warn of the inevitable environmental crash in our future if a more sustainable economic system is not adopted.

Other myths debunked include the views that globalization is inevitable and the only route to development (recall that the United States did not follow such a model) and that competition and integration into the world economy are necessarily good for poor nations. We are reminded, for example, that the natural resources of poorer nations are very often plundered and their local industries destroyed by rich nations under the pretext of globalization, and that jobs are lost at home when competition prompts corporations to outsource overseas.

Furthermore, democracy takes a back seat to corporate power when international institutions like the World Trade Organization dictate laws and regulations that nations need follow which effectively enable corporations to “rule the world.”

Who has gained

An over-arching theme of this book is the de-humanization of mainstream economics, where the GNP (gross national product) is revered as the ultimate indicator of a nation’s wealth, when in reality the GNP has become detached from the real measures of a nation’s success and well-being: the health and economic security of its peoples and their freedom to act in pursuit of their own best interests. The authors stress that a shift to a humanized economy will necessitate that culturally approved values of greed, competition and accumulation be replaced by solidarity, cooperation and compassion.

The key premises upon which a humanized economy would need to be based are laid out. Among them are realizations that the purpose of the economy is to serve the needs of people and not the reverse, that the economy takes place within the biosphere so permanent growth is impossible, and that reverence for life trumps all other economic interests.

Although “Economics Unmasked” reached bookstore shelves just months before the Occupy and 99 Percent movements had names or affiliates, it’s fair to say they seem drawn from the same wellspring of moral outrage over the social and environmental injustices attributable to the prevailing economic model. The fundamental difference perhaps is that the book authors’ academic backgrounds and access to real world facts about mainstream economics enabled them to lay out a forceful imperative for and roadmap to a more moral economic paradigm whereas, accurate or not, Occupy and 99 Percent have been criticized for lacking clear messages and solutions.

Activists within these movements, as well as sympathetic onlookers, would no doubt benefit from reading this book to help them better articulate both their grievances with the status quo and proposals for change. And to those who might take offense at any criticism of capitalism, know that this book is in no way a blanket indictment of capitalism, just of its recent incarnation.

“Economics Unmasked” was published in 2011 in the United Kingdom by Green Books.

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Author Will Discuss Warrantless Surveillance in Cyberspace

Award winning novelist Lois Tiller will discuss warrantless surveillance in cyberspace at the monthly meeting of the Green Party of Orange County this Sunday, April 3, at 2 p.m.
Tiller is a certified system engineer who advocates for electronic privacy protection and Net Neutrality. Her recently published suspense novel, “Fatal Exception,” explores the ethical ramifications of the possibly illegal partnerships between US security agencies, like the NSA and CIA, and private technology companies to mine used data and control Internet content.
Tiller’s presentation will include a simple overview of electronic snooping and she will identify important efforts underway to thwart warrantless surveillance in the USA. Her talk is intended to give a deeper understanding of the technical issues of the day, such as Facebook’s impact on democratization I the Middle, Google’s online censorship of content, as well as the ongoing battle in the US for Net Neutrality.
For more information about her novel see: http://www.fatalexceptionthriller.info . If you can share a ride of need a ride to the meeting, contact Bea Tiritilli: tiritilligreen@sbcglobal.net
The event will be held as part of the monthly meeting, which takes place at 15600 Sand Canyon Ave. in Irvine (about half-way between the 5 and 405 freeways).

UCI: Special Collection at Langson Library Chronicles Surfing’s Role in Local Culture

By Laura Rico
UCI Communications

Some of the world’s best surfing beaches are just minutes from UC Irvine. Closer still is a special collection at UCI’s Langson Library that documents the history of surfing and surf culture in Orange County.

Archive memorabilia includes books, magazines, vintage photos, movie posters – even the first published description of surfing. It goes on display Wednesday, Feb. 23, through the end of spring quarter. Photo: Michelle S. Kim / University Communications

“It’s a small collection but one that appeals to a growing number of our patrons – UCI undergraduates” says Steve MacLeod, public services coordinator in Special Collections & Archives. He started gathering materials for the collection five years ago.

It’s part of a much larger collection on Orange County history that encompasses environmental activism, Irvine Ranch, Mission San Juan Capistrano, the city of Irvine, ranchos, the Irvine Company, 19th century actress Helena Modjeska and local politics. 

It was a good fit for MacLeod, a Palo Alto native who learned to surf in Santa Cruz as a teenager. “This was before wet suits,” he says, recalling the chilly Northern California waters.

Starting Wednesday, Feb. 23, selected surfing collection materials – books, vintage photos, movie posters, etc. – will be on display in Langson Library, near the fifth-floor entrance to the newly renovated Special Collections & Archives department.

To read the rest of this story, please click this link.

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Obit: Donald J. Tyson, Chicken Choker

By Jim Earl
Contributor

Donald J. Tyson, visionary leader of Tyson Foods and instigator of the worst chicken holocaust since Kevin Smith’s last barbeque, is now on his way to processing.

The man who made eating chicken almost as safe as living under Chernobyl’s concrete containment dome, was found dead in his home, his legs grotesquely pulled apart and looped over his freakishly large breast muscles as if someone had made a cruel wish.

Donald J. Tyson
Donal J. Tyson, chick choker

The health department discovered his body buried beneath half a foot of fecal waste which apparently was scheduled to be cleaned out every 18 months.

As a young boy working on his father’s chicken ranch, Tyson knew there was something about poultry that he liked. But it wasn’t until he enrolled at the University of Arkansas that he truly embraced his love for cock.

Tyson later recalled he could never get enough cock. Though he was partial to white cock, Tyson soon grew to crave black cock as well. And the bigger the cock the better, he said.

In 1952, he married Twilla Womochil, which coincidentally is the sound a chicken makes when you crush its skull with a steel-toed boot.

Under his leadership, the company’s revenue increased from $51 million to more than $10 billion. And that’s more money than Jesus ever made with his stable of chickens.

In 2001 the company was charged with using illegal immigrants to work in its chicken processing plants. In his defense, Tyson claimed he was just using them for “nugget filler”.

Biographers note Tyson was often compared to fellow Arkansan Sam Walton, primarily because both were huge assholes.

Tyson requested bored employees stomp, kick, and slam his remains against a wall, but not before hanging him by his feet, cutting off his nose and mockingly playing baseball with his head.

Jim Earl has written for The Daily Show, numerous shows on Air America Radio, and is a recipient of the Emmy and Peabody Awards. You can read his satirical obituaries at MorningRemembrance.com, where he makes fun of dead people. You can listen to Jim’s band, The Clutter Family, on iTunes http://bit.ly/bhK9t3

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Update: Bomb investigation is over

Approximately 30 minutes ago HB police and fire investigators unblocked the intersection at 14th and Crest streets, drawing an investigation of a “suspicious” object that could theoretically have been a bomb. The Voice awaits more details of the investigation from the HBPD.

Update at 3:16 p.m:

Lt. Russell Reinhardt of the HBPD issued the following statement to the Voice:

“The device was a grenade brought to Dwyer school by a student. The bottom had been re-sealed making it appear to be active. The OCSD Bomb Squad removed the device from the school.”

And Jeri Moreau, Executive Assistant to the Superintendent of the Huntington Beach City School District, issued the following statement to the Voice:

“Want to inform you that the issue at Dwyer School has been resolved.  The Police investigation revealed that there was no danger to any students. Students have resumed their normal day at school and parents have been provided information throughout. Also please know that Smith School was never involved nor included in the investigation.  Please don’t hesitate to call the Superintendent, Kathy Kessler at (714) 378-2011 for any additional information.”