May 25, 2008
I am running for Mayor to put the issue of sustainability at the top of the public agenda.
Most of us realize Mother Earth is running a fever that will get worse before it gets better. Once we inject a particular puff of CO2 up in that beautiful spacious sky, its effect on the planet's energy balance and on global weather doesn't even begin to decline for a century or so, while much of it lasts for a millennia.
And respected scientists keep shortening their best estimates of the time left to us for making the fundamental changes needed now to avoid climate changes which will threaten not just civilization but our children and grandchildren.
Yet even though many people would like to slash their contribution to the problem, our addiction to fossil fuels is harder to quit than even cigarettes. Almost everyone is locked in to existing technologies and infrastructure, and there's not much room to make major changes in the short term. So efforts to date tend to focus on "Phase 1 sustainability," relatively superficial changes such as hydrogen cars, plasma combustion of garbage, and other high-tech opportunities for consultants to make money. But while small, short-term changes like fluorescent lights or minimizing HVAC use are good steps, they're just the first step.
And the danger is that the money, energy, and other resources already in the pipeline for relatively cosmetic changes won't be available later on when more people realize that truly fundamental changes will be necessary, such as we ought to basically stop driving. Why are we building more roads instead of converting existing ones to gardens?
But enough bad news. The good news is that, if we do it right, "Phase 2 sustainability" offers us healthier and happier lives than many now experience. And to do it right, we need a much bigger concept of physical efficiency, where the goal is clean air and water, healthy food, and shelter from the elements, not just a trivial or intermediate goal like better mileage. And it's not like everyone needs to jump to Phase 2 right away or completely, but those who do want to should have our support, encouragement, and investment.
Consider the advantages and benefits of Eco-Villages. With small farms close to small towns and a revival of traditional crafts and trades, we can deflate fossil fuel consumption enough to just drown it in the bathtub. (And we won't need nuclear power either.) By living in harmony with nature - including human nature - we can enjoy life with a balance of physical and mental activity, plenty of fresh nutritious food, and a friendly community that is economically secure because it is relocalized and self-sufficient.
The myth of technology says that without modern gadgets we will face discomfort, deprivation, and disease. But modern technology is never going to change biology or human selfishness. There is also the myth of the boring mean small town, where youth drink and fight because there's nothing else to do. But modern technology can't solve cultural problems. Only people can choose to exercise our cooperative instincts more often than our competitive ones.
I hope you will join me, before and after the election, in advocating and building a truly sustainable Sacramento, designed and constructed by empowered Sacramentans. If you would like to discuss any of these ideas in more detail, you can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
As June 3 approaches, here is a road map to my website, to help visitors both new and old find the information that interests them.
Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones
Greyhound Riders Sent to the Back of the Bus
Going Negative & Mudwrestling
Talking Trash 2
Who Lacks Vision?
Natural Gas from Trash!
Green Investment Opportunity
Victim Contests: racism vs. sexism
Taxes & Investments: money & sustainability
Boomer Retirement & Youth Education: ditto
Leader-itis: why wait? be your own leader
Extinction: Salmon or Fishing?: when work doesn't work
"It's the Economy, Stupid"??: it's NOT the money
Education: GPA or skills?
Soaring Food Costs: kitchen tips
How To Ge Tough On Crime: Do unto others...
Do We Have a Right to Health Care?: a right to food and water, etc.
Separation of Church & State: Do Unto Others As You Would Like Them To Do Unto You
Sustainability, like God, is many things to many people
Are You Free Yet?
May 23, 2008
Develop and support (more) classes in traditional crafts & skills such as spinning, weaving, smithing, woodworking, etc.
Recalibrate city utility billing to effectively reward and motivate conservation and waste reduction.
Ban nonrecyclable plastic take-out food containers.
Match people wishing to trade houses and reduce their commutes.
Develop a low-cost community garden design option.
Actively support planting & use of tree crops such as pecans.
Tax lawns & plastic bags.
Develop a permitting process for composting toilets.
Develop a few standard designs & streamlined permitting process for passive solar construction & renovation.
Tax parking spaces.
Convert parking lots to urban farms.
Require traffic calming devices to be bicycle-friendly too.
Revise the vehicle code to give the right of way to bicycles
Require pedestrian walkways to be adjacent to buildings or residential gardens rather than adjacent to parking or streets.
Truly visible street addresses to reduce confusion & needless driving.
Ban leafblowers and other uncivilized machines.
Revise zoning codes to include inoffensive ways to keep chickens, rabbits & goats in residential neighborhoods.
Loans for graywater systems in residential & commercial buildings.
Redesign water treatment processes to compete with bottled water.
Convert parking pavement to water-permeable surfaces.
Invest in children - nursing, nutrition, skills - for elders' pensions.
Design & build a prototype manually-operated clothes washer.
Protect clotheslines, natural landscapes, and affordable housing from the "blight" label.
Recognize that when mothers are caring for their kids they ARE working.
Light-rail to the airport won't be needed when we can't afford to fly.
Delete oil subsidies.
Reduce the workweek to 24 hours so the same amount of work will yield more jobs.
May 21, 2008
It's not news that the N-word has a lot of baggage. It reminds black folks of huge amounts of pain and cruelty. It reminds white folks that they caused it, and that it continues in milder ways. Bonnie Pannell may also be upset because I was implying that as a councilperson she would be voting to treat poor people in a way akin to the way her people were abused.
KCRA also scolded me, saying the N-word should not be used in everyday conversation, let alone politics. But I can't help noticing that controversy is apparently what it takes to get semi-equal candidate media coverage these days. And I can't help noticing that the people who got upset about me were failing to talk about the plentiful evidence that racism and other hypocrisies are thriving.
The facts I referred to on KCRA footage, that they cut out, are as follows:
1. We are all Africans, since that's where the human race began. Some left and some stayed. Those who stayed retained the highest degree of genetic diversity, giving them the best chances of adapting to evolutionary challenges.
2. When some Africans were kidnapped and shipped across the Atlantic stacked like logs, many died. The ones who arrived were on the average stronger and smarter.
3. After they arrived they were subjected to more challenges to survival over many generations. Guess what? Those who survived were on the average stronger and smarter.
But the time KCRA had to talk to me wasn't long enough to mention some of the implications of these facts. If blacks are failing to succeed as well as white folks, on the average, there must be something else going on. Bonnie accused me of being racist. I am certain our culture is substantially more racist than I may be. Racist people rarely stick up for Greyhound passengers.
Moreover, the litany of wrongs and abuses that our government and our soldiers have inflicted is a very long one. Just ask the Native Americans. The Haitians. The Iraqis. The poor residents of New Orleans. The Nicaraguans. Waco. And there are plenty more. Do I have to say we don't need any of them to be our new niggers for citizens to get upset enough about all these abuses to actually stop doing it? Then so be it.
But I think few even on the left appreciate the tragedy of the Civil War, where the freeing of the slaves was sabotaged by evil means, namely the same violence which imprisoned them. And the loss of state's rights has led us toward extreme and unsustainable centralization, a sort of governmental slavery. I believe sustainability requires true local control. What if Sacramento County were a state itself, since it is as big as some states back east? What if most of our taxes went to the county instead of to Washington DC?
Anyway, I also couldn't help noticing that actual Greyhound passengers were not consulted about the new location for the terminal, but instead treated like mushrooms. So I went down there to talk to some. Most of the dozen or so who were Sacramento residents thought the terminal is just fine where it is. There were 2 security guards there. The older one said he thought the city council had **** for brains. He said that the Greyhound location is completely irrelevant to crime, because society causes crime. He expects Greyhound's departure won't make the slightest difference in the crime rate downtown.
Lastly, as a Sacramento taxpayer, I can't help feeling abused. Why is the city paying to get Greyhound and Benvenuti out of their own contract that they both already want to get out of? Do we or do we not have a budget deficit? Does the city need financial counseling?
May 17, 2008
The Business Journal reported yesterday that the city has cut a deal with Benvenuti to 'temporarily' exile the Greyhound station to Richards Blvd. about half a mile east of I5. Next Tuesday, the city council is expected to approve this boondoggle, which includes $2 million in city money for infrastructure improvements around the proposed location, plus a guaranteed 12% return to Benvenuti for his development of the new terminal.
Why? "Officials said the downtown location causes traffic congestion and the terminal's presence hampered investment in the area." But I can't help remembering that the city evicted a handful of viable tenants on K Street not long ago, and the consequences have not helped investment there one bit. It's also "rumored" that the city's dispute with Mohanna is near a settlement. How much more will that add to the city's deficit?
Moreover, the teens who come on lightrail to hang out downtown don't come there because of Greyhound, they come there in part, I hear, because Florin Mall where they used to hang out has been under reconstruction since about the time the Meadowview line opened. And I can't help noticing that money spent on moving the Greyhound terminal can't be invested in our youth.
I don't think Greyhound buses cause more traffic congestion downtown than does light-rail. Downtown happens to be Sacramento's existing intermodal location. And I can't help noticing that this will double the challenge of taking RT to connect with intercity bus service, inducing Greyhound riders to choose friends' cars or taxis, and slightly weakening RT's farebox revenues.
I have heard about an intermodal plan for the railyards, but it will take a lot longer than "several" years to appear, especially when it means getting $300 million from a federal government with a sinkhole in its own budget. The previous railyards plan that was blessed back in about 1990 never happened, so why should I think this one will? Where is the EIR on the negative environmental impact?
I keep hearing other rumors, that the city is experiencing an unprecedented, $58 million semi-structural deficit. Then why are we spending so much money creating market distortions? So Benvenuti can build a luxury hotel & condo for rich people? Where is the city's cut from this deal?
It's said that "the love of money is the root of all evil." (1Tim6) I think the reason this is true is because all desires for money in and of itself are misleading. Those desires lead us away from the reality that money can only reflect. Seeking a reflection leaves you at the mercy of smoke-and-mirrors. Like thinking the wine is better just because the bottle is more expensive.
People keep complaining about crime going up. But they rarely complain when other people, like poor people who ride Greyhound, get screwed. Well guess what - what goes around comes around. A wise friend once told me that the most dangerous people are those with nothing to lose. So if you want to reduce crime, stop taking things away from those who already have the least.
So if you are an ordinary middle-class person who wants to fight crime, tell the city council and the mayor that this is not the way to fix the sinkhole in the city budget. We don't need to make poor people our new niggers.
May 13, 2008
Does criticizing someone's character or track record during a political campaign equal "going negative?" Heck, that's almost as bad as gossip. It's kind of like the classic complaint that the media always focuses on bad news so much more than good news. Why to people like to read, hear, and watch disturbing, spiteful, or fearful things anyway?
But I think there may actually be a good reason for this. Often removing/improving some bad or painful reality can do more to improve your overall comfort than adding another comfortable thing. And you can't remove the bad thing unless you notice it.
For example, when you are trying to learn to do something new, you make a lot of mistakes. Mistakes are negative, because there is the pain of failure and frustration. But they also point to precisely where attention and analysis should be most intently focused in order to succeed.
Another example would be the crucial negativity of hunger and thirst, which make comforts seem pale and useless. Unfortunately, like other aspects of homelessness, they can also derail the attention and analysis that success may require.
But you are probably wondering about the mudwrestling. Does going negative always mean mud, such as an unfair criticism? No, I am sure constructive criticism is possible. But one might have to wrestle with figuring out what is constructive vs. what is trivial, mean, or expedient.
And the recipient's response to any criticism also determines how constructive it can become.
May 10, 2008
Why is everyone whining at Mayor Fargo rather than asking the Plumbers & Pipefitters Local 447 to apologize for their own trash? Where is the Labor Council? Can't they provide the kind of leadership that would keep things clean?
It's also possible this is just a scheme to help voters feel sorry for poor persecuted KJ. The Bee is cooperating by failing to discuss the issues which are more relevant to the city as a whole, such as Sac High, Oak Park re/development or lack thereof, and their financial relationships with KJ's corporate edifices. While the Bee did cover the federal investigation into Hood Corps operations, they have not been doing any basic research recently.
The News & Review, on the other hand, has scored a slam dunk on p.11 of this week's issue, doing the math and sharing their results of a financial-managerial comparison between KJ & Heather: "St. Hope's  budget was more than twice as whacked-out as the city's" proposed 2008-2009 budget.
Now we know that the city will combine cuts, new revenue, and reserves to stay in the black. But who paid for St. Hope's shortfall? Students? Teachers? Deferred building maintenance? Local donors? What about this year?
Why is it easier to talk about sex than money? Don't let the red flag of a hyperventilated sex mini-scandal distract you from boring and flaky accounting which is actually more hazardous to your health. Insist on straight answers about everything.
May 9, 2008
I still miss Sacramento's tradition of Annual Junk Day, when my whole neighborhood would become a free flea market for a few days. Residents and travelers could both be found wandering around picking over discarded stuff, and a lot of piles got smaller as many things which still had some use to them were reclaimed by economical Sacramentans.
I couldn't help noticing last week that a few households in my neighborhood had scheduled their new individual annual pick-up day, and that various things awaited a trip to that cemetery of stuff called the dump. One house in particular had 2 armchairs and a sofa that all looked practically new, but because there wasn't much time and only a few places for prospecting, I'm sure they ended up being unnecessarily trashed. What if city staff gave first dibs to the Salvation Army and Goodwill?
I've also noticed that only neighborhoods thought to be in danger of blight have been deprived of their annual garages sale. But this is not the only designated symptom of blight that is ecologically insane. The idea that perfect green lawns keep crime at bay by showing that residents care is trumped by the fact that such lawns require massive amounts of water, mowing and blowing by fossil-fuel machines, and usually various industrial fertilizers and biocides as well, and all of it just so yards don't look like true natural California. No wonder the bees are dying.
If we can't get over our hang-up about appearances, and find some commitment to underlying truth and reality, no amount of government services--police staffing, economic re/development, tax increases, tax cuts, whatever--will help us find a sustainable path to the future.
May 6, 2008
Local news media exhibit clinical signs of severe astigmatism in their distorted reporting about the field of mayoral candidates. The really bad part is that Sacramentans have little or no leverage for getting good unbiased coverage.
Here are some websites with information that could help local residents do the job that newspaper and TV reporters are skimping:
and www.sacbee.com/101/v-print/story/431260.html and www.sacbee.com/static/newsroom/maps/kjprop
I wonder why someone who is worth between $3.5 million and $20 million needs to borrow money to finance development in Oak Park? I wonder why there is a $5 million discrepancy between the value of real estate owned by KJ and/or his corporations as listed in his FPPC financial disclosure Form 700 (about $2.2M) versus the information listed in the Bee last fall (about $7.7M)? It is certainly true that his business affairs are numerous and complex, and data entry errors certainly happen. But why is it the St. Hope Academy and St. Hope Development Corp. properties which are mostly not listed in the FPPC Form 700 which shows mostly Kynship Development Corp. properties? Why does the St. Hope Development website list only a minority of the Oak Park real estate listed on the FPPC Form 700? And why is Sac High's enrollment so much lower than it was right after KJ took it over?
Does someone whose records provoke these kinds of questions really have what it would take to achieve the goals listed on www.kevinjohnsonformayor.com/issues and www.kevinjohnsonformayor.com/about/vision?
May 5, 2008
I guess we are sending some of Sacramento's energy resources to Nevada. The sustainable solution would be to use that energy here. But combustion is probably not the best approach. The "organic waste" decomposing at landfills is probably a combination of food waste, pet poop, paper, and plastic.
The fact that landfills generate CO2 as well as methane means that we can reduce greenhouse gases by throwing less stuff away. This is easier than capturing the landfill gas, separating and sequestering the CO2, and liquefying the methane. And it's a lot cheaper, because you save twice - once by not paying for the stuff you used to throw away, and again by not paying for all the landfill gas infrastructure.
Of course, you do still have to process biological wastes the old-fashioned way. But processing plastic is the real challenge.
Will Waste Management Inc. be able to reduce tipping fees by using recycled natural gas in their trucks? No, they just won't have to increase them as soon.
May 2, 2008
I read in the paper today about Greensburg Kansas, which was almost wiped off the map by a tornado last year. But the town they rebuilt is substantially more green than the old one. What if CalPERS and the CA Energy Commission got together and upgraded the energy efficiency and self-sufficiency of all those foreclosed forlorn houses while they are empty? What if the city of Sacramento organized a community revolving loan fund to do this here for ourselves?
The measures described in the article are probably all mentioned in the city's Sustainability Plan. Each year, the council approves an implementation plan for that year. This year's, the first, prescribes changes in city operations and infrastructure. Let's extend the changes to private citizens making private decisions. There is nothing stopping us from empowering ourselves as individuals to make positive change at any time.