Saturday, October 10, 2009

gov. muadib....,

LATimes | Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is threatening to kill hundreds of bills unless the Legislature delivers one bill on water. Is that heavy-handed? No question.

Is it bullying? Sure.

Hostage-taking? Political terrorism? Of course.

Misuse of power? Definitely not.

It is a proper use of power.

It's ugly. But it's an available political tool that the governor would be derelict not to use when an issue as critical as water is at stake.

This isn't about some narrow scheme important only to a narrow interest. Nor is it merely about a governor's pet project -- other than his legacy-building, which should be encouraged as long as it helps the state. It's about finally resolving an acute, decades-old problem that is worsening and affects practically all Californians.

The state water system is clogged and rusting. It's a matter of time before the California aqueduct, which funnels Sierra snow runoff from the Sacramento Valley into the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, is shut off. The principal water tank, the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, is threatened with potential levee collapses, earthquakes, floods and global warming. And the ecology already is crumbling.

The estuary's fishery is fast disappearing. The endangered delta smelt is a red herring -- a pet target of San Joaquin farmers and the governor who resent federal judges holding back water to save the tiny critter. The real economic tragedy is the decline of the once-abundant king salmon. Their plight has caused a two-year cancellation of commercial fishing for the popular fish, idling boats and shuttering processing plants all along the North Coast.

Nobody argues that the waterworks don't need major repairs and remodeling. But there is a delicate balance that Capitol negotiators have yet to find. It's the balance between investing in a reliable, environmentally friendly water supply and trying to achieve what really must be the state's No. 1 priority: living within its means.