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Fish Gotta Swim

Sep
22
2004

So the Sacramento Bee editorial series was just the beginning of the media campaign to unflood Hetch Hetchy, the valley that holds San Francisco’s water. You were warned, weren’t you?
If SFWeekly’s Matt Smith is any guide, we’re about to see a classic Big Media roll-out of a campaign designed to make poor, environmentally conscious San Francisco look bad. You’d think it would be tough. This is, after all, the home of the Sierra Club.


But from what Smith is reporting it looks like the Environmental Defense Fund has a strategy and it’s sticking to it: dust off the John Muir photos, embarrass city fathers and mothers, gin up state sentiment against the city (not hard, out here in our little island of Blue on Red) throughout the state and raise hell until someone caves. If I thought the state Democratic Party was uniformly a bunch of touchy feely environmentalist, I’d say the Hetch Hetchy restoration project would be a slam dunk.
But not so fast, H2O man.
We’ve got a business-minded Republican governor. And well, L.A. ain’t exactly on the side of the angels here, either. The idea of undoing all of the complicated water rights agreements that have been worked out in California over the past 100 years ought to send a chill down anyone’s spine. More and much more detailed info about the deals that were cut — not just for San Francisco but for almost all of the Central Valley and, of course, L.A. — to get us where were are today is readily available in Carey McWilliam’s “California: The Great Exception.”
This is going to be a good fight. These sort of campaigns can be ruthlessly effective and this one — The Bee editorials were just the beginning — is going to say that San Francisco isn’t as Liberal as it thinks it is; it may let gay folks get married but it’s run by a bunch water-hogging hypocrites. The timing is a bit dicey, of course, coming right at the end of a heated presidential election season, people might be distracted. And EDF is taking on – ultimately – Rep. Nancy Pelosi who’s got an outside shot at being the next Speaker of the House of Representatives (San Franciscans rejoice!). But I’m not so sure San Francisco isn’t ready to be seen as a little less Liberal than everyone thinks it is. I mean, look, these days rhetorical Lefty Matt Gonzalez is hanging out with dot.com millionaires. And in a well-done and critical piece San Francisco’s Lefty house organ took a hard look at how Residential Builders Association President Joe O’Donoghue plays his politics. That’s a clear sign of dissatisfaction with “Progressive” Daddy Warbucks. Times, my friends, are changing.
Mayor Gavin Newsom has positioned himself as a reasonable Liberal, reasonable meaning fiscally responsible. And fiscally responsible people don’t go around unbuilding dams ‘cause a bunch of tree-huggers think it’s a good idea. Given some of the shifts going on in city politics – this election is, as the Chron pointed out yesterday an important one for him – Newsom might be wise to feint to the right on Hetch Hetchy.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 6:07 PM | Permalink

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