January 13 marks the first anniversary of two officers charged in the death of Kelly Thomas being found not guilty by a jury, and the announcement by the office of the District Attorney that charges against a third officer would be dropped. This anniversary will be observed at 6:30 tonight at Kelly’s Corner, 123 E. Santa Fe Avenue, near the spot where the schizophrenic homeless man was beaten so severely by Fullerton police officers that he never regained consciousness.
In the three and a half years since his death, Kelly’s final heartbreaking cries of “Dad! Help me. Help me. Help me, dad!” as officers pummeled him with blows have been echoed by gasps of “I can’t breathe” by a more recent victim of unjustified police violence. Others had no chance to speak before being gunned down. Although nationwide killings by police have been, with some justification, cited as acts of racism against people of color, the killing of Kelly Thomas, who was white, demonstrated that unprovoked and/or excessive acts of violence by police officers against civilians (and sometimes themselves) in the United States is an equal opportunity epidemic.
A year ago a police helicopter hovered overhead as an angry, but peaceful, crowd pondered the state of their society, where a man’s beating death could be captured on videotape, but the perpetrators could go completely unpunished by the law. On that night, it seemed that only those outraged by these circumstances would be subject to the force of the law.
Three and a half years after the killing of Mr. Thomas, the three officers originally charged in his death have been fired, but three more present at the scene are still on the force. There is still no public oversight of the Fullerton Police Department. Instead, the Office of Independent Review was contracted to periodically audit materials selected by the Chief of Police from it’s own internal affairs investigations. We await the public release of the first review…
In her capacity as Director representing the City of Fullerton, Councilmember Jan Flory was the lone vote against the Orange County Water District commencing negotiations to purchase 56,000 acre feet of water annually from Poseidon Resources’ planned desalination plant in Huntington Beach. As Vern Nelson reports on the Orange Juice Blog:
‘All ten directors EXCEPT JAN FLORY went ahead and voted to:
- “Direct staff to begin negotiating a term sheet with Poseidon Resources to purchase the 56,000 acre-feet per year of water created by the Huntington Beach Ocean Desalination project,” and
- “Report back to the Board no later than the March 18, 2015 Board meeting on the progress of the negotiations.’
Outvoted 9 to 1 by political hacks and others who make up the rest of the OCWD Board of Directors, Ms. Flory is reported to have asked why OCWD needed Poseidon Resources to build a desalination plant when the district had already built it’s own Groundwater Reclamation System without a private vendor. Good question, and The Rag thanks Jan Flory for asking it, and for opposing the purchase agreement with Poseidon’s yet unbuilt plant—an agreement that would require the OCWD to purchase the water each year whether it was needed or not.
“Too busy to be here myself…”
Mr. Nelson also reports that several local politicians, including our own State Senator Bob Huff, sent representatives to shill for the project. Senator Huff’s campaign was the recipient of $ 1,000.00 from Poseidon in the 2011-2012 election season.
The central tenant of the late Marc Reisner’s classic work about water in the American West, Cadillac Desert, is that “water flows uphill toward money.” Senator Bob Huff and others continue to prove this adage true.
The January 7, 2015 edition of the OC Register contains an editorial advocating purchase of 56,000 acre feet of desalinated water from Poseidon Resources by the Orange County Water District (OCWD). Of course, there is no desalinated water yet to purchase, because Poseidon, despite years of trying to sell OC cities on its enterprise, hasn’t yet managed to build it’s $1 billion desalination plant in Huntington Beach.
Tonight’s meeting of OCWD Directors to begin discussions about a possible purchase should be a perfect opportunity for Fullerton’s representative to the OCWD, Fullerton Councilmember Jan Flory, to point out all that is wrong with Poseidon’s plan to needlessly divert a public resource into private hands. Conservation is a far better strategy for meeting our freshwater needs than an energy-intensive and environmentally destructive desalination plant right in the middle of Southern California’s tourist-friendly coast.
The Register’s conclusion that conservation and reclamation are insufficient methods of meeting the region’s water needs reflects a shortsighted understanding of what is truly needed to address current and future deficiencies in our overall infrastructure. Water shortages should instead be understood as the natural result of our irresponsibly unlimited growth without the necessary resources to sustain our population and its concomitant development. Indeed, the Register’s perfunctory and wrong-headed reasoning that Poseidon’s desalinated water is necessary for future human population growth only underscores the need for a wholesale change in our relationship to our environment, rather than desperately seeking new ways to dominate it for our own unrestrained expansion.
As John Earl notes on the Surf City Voice website:
“The OCWD, which manages the Santa Ana River groundwater basin, provides about 65 percent of the drinking water for 19 municipal water agencies in central and northern Orange County. Until recently, the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), which retails imported water to 28 water agencies throughout the county, was the front agency for pushing the Poseidon project.”
Mr. Earl further notes that “Poseidon’s customers would be required to purchase all of its water every year, regardless of whether they need it or not—the kind of ocean desal contract that has brought extreme financial hardship for ratepayers in Australia.”
Since her appointment last year, Fullerton’s Jan Flory has been admirably outspoken in her objections to OCWD members discussing critical issues in subcommittee meetings instead of full board meetings and in her proposal that OCWD’s full meetings be live-streamed for remote viewers.
Ms. Flory should extend her concerns for responsibly representing the ratepayers of Orange County by opposing any deal with Poseidon Resources. We don’t need to be involved in a boondoggle scheme to purchase overpriced desalinated water from a private company when we should instead be focusing on learning to live with the water we have.