The Culver City Democratic Club SUPPORTS AB 356, Groundwater Protection and Underground Injection Control Program Reform, which protects groundwater from oil and gas operations and reforms the underground injection control program.
Groundwater resources play a vital role in maintaining California's economic and environmental sustainability. California's 515 alluvial groundwater basins and sub-basins provide close to 40 percent of the state’s water supply in an average year. And in dry or drought years, groundwater accounts for as much as 60 percent of the state's water supply. Many disadvantaged communities rely on groundwater for 100% of their water supply.
The recent revelation that over 2,500 oil and gas wells were permitted by the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources to inject wastewater and other fluids into federally protected aquifers shows that action must be taken to protect California’s groundwater. These injections violate the federal Safe Drinking Water Act and fail to protect groundwater that potentially could be used for drinking water, irrigation or other beneficial uses. Considering we are currently in our fourth year of extreme drought, the time to act is now.
AB 356 enhances oversight and accountability within the Underground Injection Control (UIC) Class II program for the long-term protection of aquifers. AB 356 will ensure that aquifer exemptions are thoroughly vetted, require injection projects to be regularly reviewed, and mandate groundwater monitoring plans for injection well projects. This will make sure oil and gas operators’ injection projects are injecting into appropriate aquifers and that underground injection does not pollute water that could be used for drinking water or other beneficial uses.
The requirements of AB 356 are a small yet crucial step in protecting our groundwater resources, and for these reasons the Culver City Democratic Club strongly supports AB 356 and invite you to support it as well.
When most people think of ways to improve public safety, the idea that typically comes to mind is increasing the number of police in our communities.
But as policing as an institution is coming under increased scrutiny in light of widespread media coverage of controversial police shootings of unarmed people, many are questioning the wisdom of hiring more police as the preferred solution to fighting crime. I agree.
In fact, the best crime fighting weapon is to decrease inequality and increase trust in our society. The most equal societies have the least social ills and have the most trust among their citizens, according to a book I have read and recommend, The Spirit Level: Why Greater Equality is Better for Everyone by British researchers Kate Pickett and Richard G. Wilkinson. It makes a ton of sense. Give marginalized people access to high quality education, good jobs, better pay, and a generous social safety net, and they won’t be so desperate that they turn to crime to survive.
So, a more equal society is a safer society. The more people feel economically safe and secure, the less likely they are to fear their neighbors and want to buy guns for protection. It’s no wonder that the United States is the most unequal of the advanced democracies and has the most guns per capita and the highest level of gun violence.
A culture that prizes profits over the well-being of people is ultimately self-defeating. A society that views certain of its members with suspicion and treats them as less than human, rather than as full citizens, is self- defeating. And a country that allows a small number of its population hoard a disproportionate share of the wealth at the expense of the majority population, is self- defeating. These are the ingredients that contribute to a less safe society.
How do we end inequality and make the U.S. a safer country? Changing attitudes and culture is key. First, we should view all our fellow citizens as human beings, with the same right to a dignified well-being as we would have for ourselves. Next, we should regard all work as having value and deserving of a just compensation; the labor of the domestic worker is as important as that of the CEO. Then, we should value the public sphere as much as we do the private; our public institutions and our public spaces deserve our support and enough resources to thrive. Next, we must end draconian punishments for petty offenses; leave the quality of life issues for civilians to deal with creatively, and leave our police to handle the truly violent elements. Finally, we must break down the barriers to political participation that keep the less affluent and the less connected away from influencing public policy. America has to practice real democracy, not simply preach about it. We have come at a crossroads and we have a choice. If we pay attention to world history, a widening divide between the haves and have-nots only ends in one way, and it’s not pretty. Instead, let’s take the other path, the one toward broad societal prosperity, healthier and safer communities.
Culver City Democratic Club
General Membership Meeting- Veterans Auditorium Rotunda
Wednesday, April 8, 2015
Presidential election season is officially underway, and the next Chief Executive - hopefully, a Democrat - will have to deal with an economy that, while recovering, is still less than stellar. March‟s jobs report was underwhelming: the federal government stated only 126,000 jobs were created after a year- long streak of monthly job figures north of 200,000. Meanwhile, the situation of the long-term unemployed - people out of work 27 weeks or more - has only slightly improved. Although the numbers in that group have dropped, 2.6 million people are still long-term unemployed, far higher than before the Great Recession began. That‟s a lot of wasted potential.
Despite all the rhetoric coming from the media and politicians asserting that the U.S. economy is on the upswing, many of our citizens are not feeling it. Wages are still stagnant for those who are working. Most of the gains made from the recovery have gone to the very richest. And the official employment numbers don‟t tell the whole story. For instance, the labor force participation rate is 62.7% - the lowest figure in nearly 40 years. Many people are either working part-time and want a full-time job, or have simply given up trying to find a job at all. They are not counted in the official unemployment rate of 5.5%. (Neither are people in prison, for that matter).
I can certainly attest to the problem of long-term unemployment, because I have been suffering bouts of unemployment for years, even before the 2008 financial crash (remember George W. Bush‟s “jobless recovery?”). For four blissful months last year, I had a full-time job on a state Senate campaign. Since that campaign ended last June, I have yet to land another job, despite continuing to send out resumes and leveraging my network of friends and acquaintances. There are others I know in the same situation. Unfortunately, the stigma of being unemployed for so long runs so deep in our society that some employers are openly discriminating against people who show long gaps in their employment histories. Then add to that difficulty, the unique challenges that certain groups - women, people of color, the disabled, people over 50 - have when trying to land jobs. For example, blacks, who still face rampant employment discrimination, don‟t have the same access as whites to the kinds of social networks that connect people to the best and highest paying jobs within the “hidden job market.” Decades of institutionalized racism and residential segregation have limited blacks‟ access to good employment opportunities.
Despite these challenges within American employment, the problem of long-term unemployment is getting little attention, aside from political fights over the length of time for unemployment benefits. I feel that those of us who are still unemployed and want to work are being left to twist in the wind. “Fighting for $15” minimum wage and talking up the “plight of working families” are great issues, but what about the folks who can only dream of getting a wage at all? This is where the government must come in. When the market fails, it is the government that must become “the employer of last resort.”
Democrats once trumpeted that principle from the days of President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who established the famed Works Progress Administration that put thousands to work during the Great Depression. But, today, our party seems too timid to promote “muscular government,” and won‟t effectively push back against the ridiculous idea that “government doesn‟t create jobs (tell any civil servant that they aren‟t actually doing a „job‟).” That timidity is the result of 40 years of American society being bombarded with bad right-wing economic theories and policies. The WPA was a successful program, and so was another federal jobs program in the 1970s, called the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act. CETA trained unemployed people and provided them with jobs in civil service. Other countries have similar programs. CCDC member Darryl Cherness told me about CETA. Eventually, CETA and a subsequent successor were repealed in the 1990s. But we need such a program again. The recalcitrant Republican Congress likely won‟t implement it, so our California state Legislature should.