Index
Monday
Apr272015

POLITICS/WATER: California drought, conservation, economic divide, report/analysis: "Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians" ....

* New York Times:  "Drought Frames Economic Divide of Californians" - From the NYT:

COMPTON, Calif. — Alysia Thomas, a stay-at-home mother in this working-class city, tells her children to skip a bath on days when they do not play outside; that holds down the water bill. Lillian Barrera, a housekeeper who travels 25 miles to clean homes in Beverly Hills, serves dinner to her family on paper plates for much the same reason. In the fourth year of a severe drought, conservation is a fine thing, but in this Southern California community, saving water means saving money.

The challenge of California’s drought is starkly different in Cowan Heights, a lush oasis of wealth and comfort 30 miles east of here. That is where Peter L. Himber, a pediatric neurologist, has decided to stop watering the gently sloping hillside that he spent $100,000 to turn into a green California paradise, seeding it with a carpet of rich native grass and installing a sprinkler system fit for a golf course.

But that is also where homeowners like John Sears, a retired food-company executive, bristle with defiance at the prospect of mandatory cuts in water use. “This is a high fire-risk area,” Mr. Sears said. “If we cut back 35 percent and all these homes just let everything go, what’s green will turn brown. Tell me how the fire risk will increase.”

The fierce drought that is gripping the West — and the imminent prospect of rationing and steep water price increases in California — is sharpening the deep economic divide in this state, illustrating parallel worlds in which wealthy communities guzzle water as poorer neighbors conserve by necessity ........................

Monday
Apr272015

MORNING MEMOS: Orange County, "Speculation underway for possible Loretta Sanchez replacement"; state politics, editorial, "Time to put the brakes on add-on fees for minor traffic violations"; Bay Area, "Retirees get voter-OKd pension cut overturned"; environment, "Graffiti artists' move to national parks shocks nature community" .... 

***Various items this morning from across the spectrum of politics and/or public policy....

* Sacramento Bee (editorial):  "Time to put the brakes on add-on fees for minor traffic violations"

* Orange County Register:  "Speculation underway for possible Loretta Sanchez replacement"

* Los Angeles Times:  "Graffiti artists' move to national parks shocks nature community"

* Calpensions:  "Retirees get voter-OKd pension cut overturned"

Monday
Apr272015

POLITICS/WATER: California drought, State Water Resources Control Board, water rights: "California drought tests strength of Gold Rush-era water rights" ....  

* Sacramento Bee:  "Calfornia drought tests strength of Gold Rush-era water rights" - From the Bee:

MEADOW VALLEY -- High above a landscape parched by unremitting drought, Meadow Valley Creek courses through the northern Sierra Nevada and pools in a stand of alders behind a tiny, concrete dam. Robert Forbes draws water from the reservoir through an overturned smokestack and into a ditch that has run west of Quincy for more than 100 years. He adjusted a piece of plywood at its mouth to restrict the flow one recent morning. In dry years, Forbes said, “I start rationing people along the line.”

Forbes’ family’s access to this water derives from an 1870s claim in Plumas County; and his antiquated management of the ditch – breaking ice with a shovel in the winter, negotiating irrigation schedules among neighbors when the weather warms – has persisted for decades with little intervention.

With 12 customers, the utility Forbes manages is one of the smallest in the state. But as California stretches into a fourth year of drought, regulators are expanding their reach and running into resistance from holders of some of California’s oldest and strongest water rights ............................

Monday
Apr272015

POLITICS/BUSINESS (National, International): Multinational corporations, globalization, instability in global markets, report/analysis: "The great unraveling of globalization" ....

* Washington Post:  "The great unraveling of globalization" - From the WP:

In late 2013, Cisco chief executive John Chambers used a portentous phrase while telling analysts that sales in emerging markets were spiraling downward, forcing the networking equipment company to cut its three- to five-year revenue growth target: “We’re the canary in the coal mine.”

It was meant to be a candid assessment of the instability in global markets. But rather than being the harbinger of danger, Cisco was just the latest victim of globalization, the tantalizing but perilous business principle that has — quietly — counted among its casualties some of the world’s largest companies. Indeed, although multinational executives avoid talking about it publicly, profits in global markets are underwhelming — and doing business internationally is full of unanticipated risks.

“Even for the most successful multinationals, profit margins in international markets are on average lower than margins in the domestic market,” said Robert Salomon, a professor of international management at the NYU Stern School of Business. “It’s the liability of foreign markets. By virtue of the fact that you are foreign, you are at a disadvantage.”

That’s a far cry from the way globalization was pitched, as the strategic imperative du jour nearly two decades ago ...............................

Monday
Apr272015

POLITICS/TRANSPORTATION (Orange County): Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center (ARTIC), train boardings, ridership figures: "ARTIC Ridership Continues to Fall Far Below Projections" ....

* Voice of Orange County:  "ARTIC Ridership Continues to Fall Far Below Projections" - From Voice of OC:

Ridership at Anaheim’s expensive new transit hub, ARTIC, continues to fall far below the city's projections of up to 3,000 daily train boardings, with an average of just over 800 in the first two months of 2015, according to the latest figures from the Orange County Transportation Authority.

Meanwhile, ARTIC has run into a $2 million deficit this fiscal year, forcing city officials to consider transferring a general fund surplus toward costs associated with the transit hub. And unless city officials figure out how to bring in more revenue for the facility, that shortfall could double in the next fiscal year and drain the city's general fund of money that could be used for parks, libraries, infrastructure improvements, and other essential city services.

The city also dipped into funds designated for street maintenance to pay for buying the land for ARTIC while going into debt to initiate a $9.3 million street repairs project. Total payments over 30 years, with interest, will be double the original amount borrowed.

City and Transportation Authority officials point out that the figures only represent train boardings, which don’t count passengers that arrive at ARTIC and users of other transit services, like taxis and resort shuttles. Anaheim spokeswoman Ruth Ruiz said the city will hire a consultant to count the total number of people using the facility during its first six months . . . . . . . .

   ****

ARTIC was built on the premise that it would be the southernmost terminus for the state’s proposed high-speed rail line. Critics say the timing of the transit hub is dubious because high-speed rail by most estimates won’t reach Anaheim for a generation, and perhaps never. Meanwhile, a proposed city streetcar line is also looking increasingly unlikely, with federal officials cool to the idea of funding the project and open skepticism from several Transportation Authority board members ...................