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Aug-31-2010 20:17printcomments

Governor Schwarzenegger: Environmental Buzz Kill

California's Eco-Future: "Hasta la vista, baby!"

Photos courtesy: Wikipedia, IMB & photobucket; Marco Gonzalez and the San Diego Union-Tribune Archives.

(LAGUNA BEACH, Calif.) - Our "no problemo" Governor’s most recent failure, lost in an avalanched multitudinous legion of many, is an admitted refusal to properly seat our Regional Water Quality Control Boards to their fullest compliment and potential. It reveals how truly ecologically hypocritical and phony he was when sworn in and still is. Pushing his wife Maria Shriver out front, parading his relatives from the Kennedy clan from her side of the family as stage props, there was an implied imminent California Camelot and sacred compact with the people never fulfilled.

'Today's Los Angeles' by Bonnie King

Now we see it for what it is, he turned California into a false dawn of positive change, now all we see is a broken drippy sunset, sadly and disgustingly over, and we’re in some ways worse off than in 2003. Many of us, Dems, Libertarians and Republicans alike hold ourselves in self-contempt for being bamboozled, snookered by the glitter and the glue. This column will focus on, but not be limited to one of his biggest bonehead ploys, our State Water Quality Control Boards (SWQCB).

We have 9 such Cal/EPA committees, called Regional Water Quality Control Boards (RWQCB), 9 seats for each one, their efficiency primarily based upon his timely appointments and attendant expedited State Senate confirmation to function properly. The SWQCB have been chronically under-seated on his watch. They use a formulaic kind of  “Doctor, Lawyer, Indian Chief” constituency, and the fewer seated members the less thorough and slower the review process.

They are now in unacceptable and dysfunctional disarray, ours in Region 9 (San Diego) in a catastrophic, bureaucratic, spiraling death dive. As Sean Penn would say in the Spicolli-speak, Valley-Guy surfing world, “Dude, you’re, like, harshing my buzz. I’m SO not going to the prom with you.”  

Hopefully, as we shuffle the gubernatorial card deck, spin the Russian Roulette pistol chamber one mo’ time in 2010, we’ll remember what he’s done to cripple them, eventually experience a modicum of resolution and closure if our core value indigenous voters haven’t totally migrated. As his name sentimentally or nostalgically gets dredged some day up from the sludgy mess he’s made of our state, years from now we’ll just utter that quintessentially dismissive, So Cal frisson-lacking phrase: “Like, Who Was He? Hmmmm. What-Ev-Er.”

Not only has he failed to live up to his campaign promises regarding the restoration, protection and preservation of California’s dwindling natural resources under siege when he came into power, he places our values and optimistic attitudes about precious regional efforts in jeopardy for posterity.

Yes, he’s a lot like his revisionist Republican idol Ronald Reagan when he uttered these words as California’s Governor:"A tree is a tree. How many more do you have to look at?" -- 1966, opposing expansion of Redwood National Park……..or this gem while a candidate for the US Presidency in 1979: “If you've seen one redwood tree, you've seen them all.”  It was hard for native Californian’s to keep from laughing aloud while watching the Republican candidates for President debate amongst themselves: I kept waiting for Reagan’s ghost to drift across the screen with a tree axe or perhaps his disinterred mummy to be wheeled out for gawking. slobbering veneration like Hannibal Lecter.

In a sense, by coldly applying cost-benefit analyses and business assessments (net fiscal gain, jobs, stimulating our economy, trickle down voodoo economics et al) Arnie pits the intrinsic vs. extrinsic as Reagan did. At least you KNEW that Rum-Dumb Ronnie represented big business, Arnie, for once in his career, ACTED the part well and fooled us all. Valuing variations of human monetary (extrinsic) needs over all other species of plants and animals is intrinsically dumb, claiming there are populations aplenty still left is biologically stupid.

 This has been an age-old argumentative riddle for not only philosophers but even small families: Which should prevail if in conflict, how do you resolve them as integral parts of flexible, adaptive management strategies? Looking at our natural resources as enviros, we see they have intrinsic (spiritual) value, ones that lie at the heart of our ethos. We see our ecosystems as having value in and of themselves, in their own right, for their own sake.

It’s as if the Republican Party has intentionally polarized the topic: “Let’s not save our preciously unique resources, let’s spend our heritage’s intrinsic worth, let’s cut regulatory corners or just circumvent them entirely. We’ll re-stock all of the plants and animals from the nurseries and pet stores.  Hey, maybe the Chinese have a few at Wal-Mart! ”  

Monetary gain or value has become the extrinsic measuring tool and it has become a significant wedge issue, a divisive plank embraced as part of the Republican platform rightists like whiney Saran Palin that results in conservationists being pilloried, being depicted as lunatic fringe whackos. Democratic politicos embrace “Wilderness for it’s own sake” (DEEP ECOLOGY) not necessarily because they are true believers but because it’s one of the few items that give degrees of separation, that resonates at our deepest psycho-spiritual levels.

Remembering that Republican President Teddy Roosevelt initiated our National Park System (circa 1916), that left-wing commie pinko President Richard (Tricky Dicky) Nixon signed a lot of the early federal enviro-protection legislation 50 years later, this neocon quandary would be funny if not so pitifully, painfully vacuous and self-contradictory.

Arnie boasted of “earning” a B.A. by correspondence from the University of Wisconsin-Superior where he graduated Business and International Economics, in 1979. There’s a laugh, EARNING. Judging by his inept handling of our state’s economy, perhaps Maria, his more cerebral wife with bigger genital stones than him, read the test questions, dictated the answers while he wrote using his children’s crayon before shipping. Many legitimate scholars are now openly criticizing these types of online or correspondence school degrees as totally bogus, without merit. Arnie, ever the Hollywood celebrity, is certainly a “stellar” example of that lapse, a poster child for airhead athletes as credible and efficient political leaders.

Ronald (Bedtime for Bonzo) Reagan wasn’t very bright either, supposedly read comic books at night in his White House bed while Nancy read tea leaves and sat at a Ouija Board with her psychic downstairs in the kitchen, but at least he surrounded himself with the right stuff and though having barely triple digit IQ, took their advise. Maybe those steroids Arnie took not only shrunk his testicles but also the centers in the brain dedicated to higher thought and planning processes? Or perhaps diminished his conscience, his SUPER-ego? He’s certainly made monkeys out of Californians.

One need only read of his proposal in December of 2008 that would allow state transportation projects to be Categorically Exempt (CE) from the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to get his de-regulation drift. [1]

He didn’t stop there, no, our pinnacle, apex eco-predator a year later, to our collective exasperation, signed a bill that would make private corporate projects CE too. This is another example of his betrayal and breach of campaign ethics. He always was, as the Kinks would sing, “A Celluloid Hero,” a CGI ersatz warrior, and unlike his populist counterpart Jesse Ventura, Arnie is a walking language-challenged canard, a simulacrum, and like a Hollywood set on a back lot, a worshipped façade on the screen but not the real deal, all hat and no cattle as they say of rhinestone cowboys in Texas. [2]

He was elected as the de facto “Terminator” of California’s stagnant fiscal mess, now seen more as the EX-terminator of aquatic species, including humans. He’s accomplished little, and all he seems focused on now is terminating what’s left of our healthy environs by ripping up or undermining our precious ecological oversight mechanisms. Anyone who thinks jobs are more important than natural resource protection needs a psychiatric examination. His concept might appear to work in the short term, but in the long haul will jeopardize, even extirpate those resources, thus reversing the job increase projections. Environmentally sound strategies create jobs too, long term sustainable ones, not band-aids.

If there’s nothing to harvest, no biota left, everything paved over, if we end up with nothing to enjoy recreationally, we will have sold our state’s and children’s future on the bet of a lummox. And we’ll be the less for it, more miserable than before. De-regulation has already been shown to be very destabilizing and at times unwise to say the least.

And as for the accolades given regarding carbon credit trading, that’s the old “bait and switch” routine. The same amount of carbon dioxide goes into the atmosphere where it can circulate globally, and like the BP Gulf oil dispersants “spreads the wealth.” The illusion that anything’s been reduced much is just that, legerdemain.  Magically, only his usual special interest cronies have been accommodated.

The basis for a great deal of intense NGO and public agency protection planning is focused upon our state’s watersheds. These watersheds, whether the drier, more desert-like or Mediterranean ones in the South, or the more verdant and riverine ones in the North, hold many of our indigenous threatened and endangered species, the critters and plants that before the migration of humans WERE California. Healthy watersheds have vibrant habitats and viable water quality. I would go further and say that “Healthy Watersheds and Coastal Eco-Systems = Healthy Tourist Economies.”

Lost in Arnie’s blather and steroid-fueled frontal lobes is a simple fact: Kill our watersheds and near-tidal zones, kill the diverse biota that fill them and you kill the Golden Goose that provides jobs to not only residents but brings droves of American and foreign tourist dollars-----Billions of them each year. Maybe those anabolic additives gave him myopia too.

Baruch Spinoza warned us about 350 years ago that we as a species were already becoming increasingly distant and disconnected from Nature. To paraphrase, as we become voyeurs we are looking from the outside in, whereas before we were fully immersed within. This kept us literally grounded. Now everyone sits at home in their cocoon and watches Nature Planet or some such on TV.

Watching the movie AVITAR doesn’t count, whilst living and surviving on that planet would.  Many of the major high-end excursion groups promise to shelter their travelers from the elements instead of providing the real experience our ancestors endured, enjoying the adrenal rush, the risky stuff, the tooth fang and claw up close and personal. The Earth’s ecological varieties, if experienced the armored way, are of limited appreciative value.  [3]

Recently, Arnie’s spokesman admitted that many of the State Water Resource Control Regional Boards are intentionally short-handed (under-appointed), and this only adds insult to our flummoxed injury. Here in Laguna Beach, we’re under the jurisdictional wing of Cal/EPA, Region 9, San Diego Regional Water Quality Control Board (SDRWQCB). This board had to cancel 3 of the last 5 meetings due to lack of a quorum. The savings? They pay a paltry $100 per meeting to adjudicate complex issues, they usually hold about 11 hearings per year---Until Arnie came around. So the Big Guy (actually he’s only about 6’ foot in his shoe lifts) saved California a whopping few grand while the San Diego region’s water quality slipped further into abuse.

Violations that deserve punishment have become stalled, and unfortunately so are the welcomed improvement projects that require certification to progress as well. Required National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) and 401 Certification Board approved permits that co-exist with US Army Corps of Engineer Dredge and Fill 404 Permits are pro forma, necessary to keep the ball moving jurisdictionally along with our Coastal Commission prescriptions (Coastal Development Permits).

So the good, the bad and the ugly stand in a lengthening matrix, a combined conga, hokey-pokey and bunny hop line going around in circles. Add Furlough Friday’s (3 mandated unpaid days per month for ALL state employees), strong arm attempts by Arnie to force our State Treasurer to pay them minimum wage indefinitely and why then is it any surprise that we’re in a watery quandary? Any surprise that our local Board staff, expected to function the same with less, is becoming demoralized, flaccid, intransigent and lethargic regarding enforcement actions? 

Mike Lee, San Diego Union-Tribune

Many on staff are highly educated, self-motivated, ethical and yet are getting less and less money to work in a field they love. They’ve been reduced to slaves, apprehensive and uncertain about layoffs and internal budget commitments that result in restraint.

Those of us trying to stem the tide of aquatic pollution know that California’s receiving waters (streams, lakes and coastal discharge zones) have been sliding into irreversible entropy for quite a while. Back in the 80’s, USEPA began formulating plans to reverse the degradation being experienced across the country: The NPDES permitting mechanism. The primary goal remains the reversal of decades of impairment and abuse, to return national waters to their original safe and healthy state: “Fishable and swimmable.”

The NPDES was intended to restore, preserve and protect our watery eco-systems, to include aquatic and riparian species habitat, potable drinking water, reclaimed landscape water, and beneficial recreational use objectives.

Mike Lee, a highly respected enviro-beat reporter for the San Diego Union-Tribune, posted an interesting article on August 13, 2010 at the online edition of SignOnSanDiego that confirms many of our reservations. Our worst fears and suspicions about Schwarzenegger’s shortcomings, this cretinous governor that promised much and delivered little, have come to fruition as he sits there, truly a “lame duck.”

This quote from the “der Gropingführer’s” PR hatchet-wielding flack Aaron McLear is disturbing. And for those who believe Arnie’s a RINO (Republican In Name Only), check out McLear’s RNA history as a spin doctor, a henchman.

Revelations from Mike Lee’s column, combined with those that many of us have observed, are particularly alarming because our streams, lakes and near-tidal zones are degrading exponentially. Here’s a few nuggets about Mr. McLear when he came aboard back on December 22, 2006: “Aaron McLear will come to the administration after being on the defensive for the past year as a spokesperson for the Republican National Committee, where he was spokesperson for the Northeast region. He spent most of his career in the scandal-plagued administration of Ohio Governor Bob Taft, and then moved on as the communications director for the Bush re-election in Ohio (hmmm...I wonder if he met Arnold when the governor stumped for Bush during the critical final days of the 2004 campaign).”  [4]

“Deterrence drives compliance”, and a peek under Uncle Arnie’s pitifully small Eco-Tent by Mike Lee is informative and provides at least partial insight into why we’re regressing, actually backsliding vis-à-vis water quality impairments, I quote:   “Schwarzenegger’s spokesman Aaron McLear said this summer that the governor tries to provide each panel with at least enough members to manage a quorum. But, McLear said, Schwarzenegger prefers to keep boards trim to save money. The regional boards pay members a stipend of $100 for every meeting day. “We’re really in a situation where every $100 counts,” McLear said.”  [5] 

Also provided by Mike in his column was this simple bullet point explanation of the structure:


• Nine boards monitor water quality statewide.

• They work with the State Water Resources Control Board, a five-member panel created by the Legislature in 1967.

• Boundaries are based on major watersheds.

• Boards are designed to each have nine part-time board members appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate.

• They set water quality standards, issue waste discharge permits, determine compliance with targets and take enforcement actions.” [5]

Terry Tamminen:
Why is he laughing?

Aaron McLear: Arnie's Pet Flack
Under A Microphone Attack

Environmental protectionista NGOs have good reason to feel betrayed, to feel seduced and abandoned ecologically by the Governor who hasn’t done much to protect our resource heritage. In 2003, he appointed a major player and respected enviro from Santa Monica Bay Keeper, Terry Tamminen, as California’s Secretary of the Environmental Protection Agency (Cal/EPA).  Terry T. was labeled as THE guy who was back then helping to reverse water impairments in South Bay via litigation and public education, Arnie’s promoting him to a state role could supposedly save Planet California too. [6]

His annointment had the implied cachet, the value-add and support of Water Quality über-Warrior Robert Kennedy Jr., he of the renowned Keeper’s Alliance through the Kennedy/Shriver familial connection. [7]  

Back in those early salad days of the administration that supplanted Gray (“Beige/Bland”) Davis, we gave Arnie some slack, chalking up his inadequacies and mistakes to inexperience.

Attorney Marco Gonzales

We were optimistic AND enthusiastic, then we foolishly got led down an idealistic primrose path by this new paradigm. Arnie would terminate the chronic toxic soup of urban runoff that was killing our state-wide aquatic environs. That’s where naîvely trusting any politician gets you. Now, Arnie has done the impossible, made the oatmeal Davis look like a charismatic PR wet dream.

So what happened? Like Moby Dick, Terry T. went down for long periods and came up infrequently except for smiling photo ops. Terry T. basically disappeared for all practical purposes, mushroomed by the administration regarding water quality, did get some marginal improvements in other areas. He stepped down in 2006, supposedly to help with der Gropingführer’s re-election, but dropped off of THAT radar screen too.

He has re-surfaced and now works in the private sector but still serves on SMBK Board of Directors.

For this column, I interviewed one of my personal heroes, a take-no-prisoners attorney from San Diego County named Marco Gonzalez. I first met Marco when he was representing the San Diego Chapter of Surfrider, before he went over to San Diego Bay Keepers. He’s now co-founder and partner in a nascent advocacy firm, Coastal Law Group.  My personal gut feeling (I've never discussed it with him) is that as a maverick he'd outgrown the other NGOs, and then too they're reliant on warm and fuzzy donations. Both CoastKeepers and Surfrider have more of a "go along to get along" image. 

BREAKING NEWS ALERT: I haven't had a chance to talk with Marco today (8/31/2010), but another piece of the water quality impairment puzzle fell into place:Tony Barboza of the LA Times has reported that even though California Assembly Bill AB 411 (October 1997) requires weekly water quality sampling at numerous sites to assure public safety, Arnie in his infinite wisdom gutted out the program via a loophole. The testing and posting of warnings alerting the public if contaminated would take place IF funded. So he stopped funding them beginning in 2008. Now local agencies pressed for bucks have rolled back the monitoring, it's basically cut in half. Half of the same previous sites, half of the frequency. This the guy is a joke, the gift that just keeps on giving, now we have what I typified in previous columns as "Don't Test, Don't Tell." [8]

Toxic Soup Tour Gang, March 21, 2000 (At Del Lago Elem. School,
Mission Viejo) From Left to Right: Mike Hazzard, Steve Fuller (Field
Investigator, USEPA), Roger von Butow, Mike Emory (President, Doheny
Longboard Surfing Associate), Scott Tenney (Water Quality Manager,
Exxon/Mobil---Torrance CA Refinery)

Marco came on the now infamous Clean Water Now! “Toxic Soup Tour” of South Orange County watersheds back around 2000.  My best bro’ Southern Steelhead fishery expert Mike Hazzard helped me develop the TST. Mike’s still serving as a founding CWN! board member, did a lot of the advanced field reconn work that led to our identification of toxic hot spots never revealed to the public.  Many public officials we took didn’t realize their own community back yards looked this bad. The OC Grand Jury loved us in friendly depositions, the South County public officials winced as we outed them for what they were: Ass-covering overpaid planners and managers. In South OC eco-planning is an oxymoron.

In Laguna Hills, Mike and I found parts of the Aliso Creek Watershed near US Housing and Urban Development (HUD: Low income/minority) zones where uneducated kids were taking non-indigenous crawdads out of highly contaminated tributaries, intended for their family’s table! We interviewed kids in Mission Viejo near Del Lago Elementary School (English Canyon Creek) that rode the rogue standing waves created from peak rainy flows filled with carcinogenic urban runoff, rode those waves in place or drifted pell-mell downstream on boogie boards. [9]

Both public and attractive nuisances by law, these hot spots were readily identifiable via the OC Enviro-Health Department’s own water quality monitoring posted online. I admit it, they were easy to find for us and the mildly adventurous Huck Finn/Tom Sawyer kids, yet the County refused to prohibit or inhibit the unknowing public from wading, swimming or harvesting. As local feature journalist Matt Coker (OC WEEKLY) noted after one or two TSTs, they were alarming in their proximity being immediately adjacent and accessible to schoolchildren. A true scandal, and these watershed hot spots remain unchanged today. Just as Arnie is selling California down the drain so too our elected public officials did so years ago. Categorically they were propped up by, beholding to developer cartel funds. The communities of Mission Viejo and Aliso Viejo are William Morris money----Hey, tobacco, the gift that keeps on giving!  [10]

Photo of Robert Kennedy Jr. and writer Roger Butow
was taken when they first met in the late 1990's.

Though a threatened, reduced or dying species, there remain real heroes who at times risk physical harm to themselves, their co-workers and supporters because a lot of money and political power is threatened by his aggressive, all-pervading investigative style. I give you Marco Gonzalez, kind of a thinking man’s Bruce Willis or Steven Seagal: Definitely an eco-warrior, not some lime-light seeking metrosexual working the trendoid blue water star system, and I’m proud, a better environmentalist myself, as a result of meeting him. Only Robert F. Kennedy Jr. stands as tall in my protectionist pantheon.

From the first time I saw him busting metaphorical cojones in a SDRWQCB meeting over chronic sewage spills and general Tijuana River pollution along the border I was entranced by Marco’s consuming fire, his passion and unselfish commitment.  In fact, years later I think he’s still signed on in the endless litigation this Mexico/American border dispute entails. It makes solving the immigration problem look butt simple.

When I found out that he could walk out his office door to surf, it became a lot clearer. Once you’ve been in the “Green Room,” that cosmic conscientiousness, inner tubular, timeless churning vortex of a clean wave, you’ll get it too. As I wrote earlier, people who don’t immerse themselves in our wilderness or waters are disconnected, so they just don’t understand. Many unfortunately are alienated from their own history and simian DNA. 

Marco gets an inordinate and to me undeserved amount of openly hostile and threatening crap, mostly from ignorant citizens and those ubiquitous “Swiftboating”, “Astroturf” shills for the bad guys. Sorry folks, but many of those not-for-profits are fronts for chronic violators of federal and state water quality laws, not to mention CEQA and the parent National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). [11]

Whether you know it or not, the Building Industry of America, probably your Chamber of Commerce, many of your elected public officials and most of your water and sanitation district good old boyz boards could care less about your water. They are not your friends---They believe as power-mongering elitists that economics overrules, even vetoes you and your family’s natural resource heritage every time. They always wave the budget trump card, and in the case of water/sanitation districts hoard your money as their own till.

And let’s dispel a myth:  Yes, doing it environmentally correct may take more money on the front end, but the back end, the resulting exponential costs of not doing so can be economically crippling. One need not look further than Brownfield Sites. [12]

The decay and inevitable extinction of previously pristine watery wildernesses like our coastal water ecosystems is real. It should be understood that installing environmentally protective infrastructure, implementing and progressing ecological improvements is a form of putting money into your community’s future health and safety account.

This is why the feds came up with the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), commonly known as “Superfund”, enacted by Congress on December 11, 1980. [13]

Unfortunately, with so many sites across the country in extreme distress and requiring hundreds of millions to remediate, the gobbling up of staff time and therefore available funds has put this program into a state of limbo, at minimum slowed down the original expeditious intent and aggressive goals. Our stagnant economy and intransigent elected government has exacerbated the failed process.

“It is patently absurd to suggest that saving a few hundred or even a few thousand dollars will do anything whatsoever to affect our state’s multi-billion dollar budget issues. Using the argument of cost savings as any sort of justification to stall the enforcement of California’s clean water rules should be criminal. The Governor simply doesn’t seem to care enough about the environment to take the time to appoint candidates to these critical environmental positions.”   Marco Gonzalez 

I’m not a Democrat, not necessarily a Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown fan either, but once you peel back a thin layer of Arnie’s administration, you see that he’s already demythologized and deconstructed the superficial political image. Brought to us by the same country that produced Hitler (sorry Austria, sad but true), Arnie inhaled one too many times and should have come with a WARNING label---Maybe he thought all of we baby boomers smoked too much whacky weed and were still comatose. His choice of McLear and the burying of Terry T. lend support to our perceived intent.

If voters were dumb, thought we’d be better off with Arnie than with milquetoast, non-charismatic Gray Davis, wait’ll you see how fast we go from the veritable frying pan into the fire with corporate thug and big business shill Meg Whitman. Her campaign ads proudly exclaim that she’ll fast track or streamline permitting processes, then ventures further out on a limb by imperiously declaring that’ll she has a plan to create jobs. From what, from nothing? From the ashes of a broken economy by putting lipstick on a pig in a poke, another crap shoot leader, emphasis on the crap? Ah, yes, our own Queen Margaret, ever the oligarchist.

Translation: Like Arnie, she’ll circumvent and attempt to obliterate over 40 years of federal and state oversight regulatory departments and the legal mechanisms intended to reverse entropic natural resources. Just as Arnie deceived the electorate, we may get more private sector jobs that keep the corporate Wall Street Greedhead Moguls capital venture projects ka-chinging, but it’ll be to the lessening, to the diminishment of the state’s most valuable and irrevocable, irreplaceable resources.

Meg Whitman Schwarzenegger in a skirt

We may get to see the unthinkable: What DOES it profit one of the most biologically diverse places on the globe if it gains the world and loses its soul? We got the who profits part down, that would be Meg’s Best Friends Forever, her Biz Buddies. God knows though, she’s probably got bigger balls than Arnie at this point. Arnie vowed that as an outsider, as someone who’d never served the people he could get more done than a career politician. Meg W., in a fit of sociopathic echolalia, is murmuring the same drivel on TV and in online ads.

Arnie made us believe he was the savior terminator, turns out he was the destructive one that sought to exterminate all living life forms. If California’s voters choose the lesser of evils, Mega-Bucks Meg, then to paraphrase Ross Perot, that sucking sound you will hear is California’s ecologies and our quality of life state pride going down the toilet. We didn’t have the litmus test for Arnie as a political unknown, and there’s no ingredient label or scratch and sniff for the Meg Meister either---her bona fides are non-elected office ones like his, corporate world accomplishments we can’t measure equitably or on par.

We were already at the eco-event horizon, on the enviro-precipice when Arnie rotated in back in 2003. He’s done the impossible, made Gray Davis look refreshing. To steal from Bob Dylan, The Who, Led Zeppelin and the Four Tops (Motown): Californians considering Whitman need to have a trembling voice clearly startle their sleeping ears, a new boss not like the old boss, not get fooled again, or else the song remains the same: Our Wicked Uncle Arnie, as he fiddled about (Was it good for you?), then molested our environment physically and metaphorically.

Queen Meg is just the same old song, a redux, with a different meaning once he’s been gone. Arrogantly, she too thinks we're rubes and schlubs: She didn't pay attention to California's political system and admitted that she didn't vote for 28 years. Now, like Arnie, she thinks that WE should be gullible and vote for her now! Now is that disconnected or what? She claims Jerry Brown is removed from the common people, folks she sees every day out her window---Right outside of the back of her limousine. Being a multi-millionaire with her funds in offshore banks, she's sheltered to avoid rightful taxes too.

That meaning is cryptic given California’s fuzzy and muddled eco-future, and well, let’s end my therapeutic diatribe with what Hunter (Gonzo) Thompson was so fond of writing in conclusion to his innumerable personal communications: Res Ipsa Loquitor (The thing speaks for, explains itself).

Or should I be writing an epitaph for the tombstone over the place I love most, “Here lies California, In Pace Requiescat?













FYI: If a project near you has some interesting enviro-aspect(s) that you think is/are worthy of coverage and our readers attention, feel free to contact me with a very brief synopsis. Water-related “Blue Interventions” are my specialty!

Launched in 2010, Odd Man Out is the creation of Roger von Bütow and his OMO columns are written exclusively for Salem-News-com. Born and raised in the LA Harbor area, son of a German immigrant father, he's been in Orange County for 45 years and is a 38-year resident of Laguna Beach, Ca. In 1998, he began his professional career in environmental review processes (CEQA, NEPA, MND, MND and EIR/EIS). He's a rare mix of cross-trained builder, writer and consultant as he brings his extensive construction experiences dating back to 1972 into his eco-endeavors. He has tremendous field and technical expertise in successful watershed restorations, plus wastewater, urban runoff, water quality monitoring/improvements and hydrologic mechanisms. He's built everything from commercial spas to award-winning private residences, and provided peer review and consultant analyses for single homes, subdivisions and upscale resorts.

View articles written by Roger Butow Read Roger's full biography on the Staff Page

His resumé is extensive, try an online GOOGLE search of his personal journey and historical accomplishments. His consultation fees are reasonable and if you've got a major project that alarms you, that needs creative intervention, then he's your man. His credentials and "CV" can be provided upon request.

Contact him at his office: (949) 715.1912 (949) 715.1912 or drop him an email:

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