Wednesday, May 13, 2015

California Has a Water Crisis, but Los Angeles Doesn't Care

California's water crisis is severe, but the people of  Los Angeles aren't taking it seriously. And while places like Beverly Hills had their water use cut over 30%, the water allocation for Los Angeles (through the Department of Water and Power) was only cut 16%.
Why you wonder did this come about. It's simple. While the people in Compton (who are served by the Department of Water and Power) can't afford to water their lawns, the people on the Westside of Los Angeles can use as much water as they want, as long as they're willing to pay for it.
In my neighborhood, called Little Persia on the Rand McNally maps of Los Angeles, people don't care about controlling their water use. The area, not far from Westwood, has seen property values increase dramatically. The people who can buy the houses in this area have a lot of money.
For the last seven months I've watched one house that's on a corner lot. The people there run their sprinklers even during our occasional rainy days. Every day there is standing water on the corner until late in the afternoon. The Department of Water and Power didn't care.
I called the public relations people for the department and told them if they didn't deal with the amount of water used by this house, I was going to put the address on my blog site. After a week of no change, the last few mornings there has been no stationary water at this corner. I guess they took my threat seriously. But why did it have to come to that.
If you've seen "Chinatown" you've seen a fictionalized version of what happened in Los Angeles. Here's what happened in fact. William Mulholland and his associates went to the Owens Valley, then a beautiful area which was blessed with runoff from the mountains. Lying to the farmers, who owned the water rights, they purchased all the water rights in the Valley. They then built an aqueduct to the San Fernando Valley. The San Fernando Valley, at that time, was an ugly area with no water. In 1913, when the aqueduct was completed, Mulholland said, "here it is. Take it." The Valley had recently been added to the City of Los Angeles.
The Department of Water and Power is an incredibly rich  and influential organization. They have the money to pay inspectors  to stop the rich people of Los Angeles from watering as much as they want. But they don't want to bother. Their philosophy is based on the thought of William Mulholland. And they don't care if California has a water crisis.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Whites Don't Want to Know

To some people, the situation probably looks normal. After all, you don't expect an Armenian to feel sad because a Turk is in pain. A Protestant Irishman shouldn't be expected to feel for his Catholic neighbors. But, wait a minute. There never was a war between Black and White Americans.
The history shows White people treating African American people as if the latter were inferior. So now that some of us know that Black people are being targeted by our police it's having little impact. Most white people don't want to know that the fiction of racial harmony is a lie.
When I was a college professor, 30% of my students were African-American. They would tell me about DWB (driving while black) where you might have a nice car, nicer than the Sheriff's deputy, and you'd be pulled over just for driving something that new.
The experience which reified this involved an all American girl who was in one of my classes. The daughter of a preacher, and a Navy lifer, she was someone who had all the qualities you look for in a young woman, and her boyfriend was an upwardly mobile guy who went to church with her. It was irrelevant to me that her skin was darker than mine.
She told me she'd been pulled over by a member of the Inglewood Police Department, and when she asked why she was pulled over, the officer said: "you were driving a new car and you're Black." I quickly called the Inglewood Police Department and called a friend who was on the monitoring committee for the Department.
A week late later, the young woman came to see me during office hours. She said, "my father would like it if you stopped pushing on this issue. He's afraid they'll come after me." I of course pulled back from my activism and never tried to right this wrong.
I've got a million stories my students have told me, and I know White people are hearing what they want to hear. They want to believe there's racial equality in America, even though it's a myth.