Monday, November 30, 2009

Climate Change E Mails

They continue to roil the thesis and as more of them are brought to our attention and analyzed, it becomes clearer that the arguments being proffered that they are not an indictment of the entire process that many have used to convince a large part of the world that human technology is causing planetary warming, are suspect.

This Wall Street Journal Editorial comments.

An excerpt.

“The climatologists at the center of the leaked email and document scandal have taken the line that it is all much ado about nothing. Yes, the wording of their messages was unfortunate, but they insist this in no way undermines the underlying science. They're ignoring the damage they've done to public confidence in the arbiters of climate science.

"What they've done is search through stolen personal emails—confidential between colleagues who often speak in a language they understand and is often foreign to the outside world," Penn State's Michael Mann told Reuters Wednesday. Mr. Mann added that this has made "something innocent into something nefarious."

“Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit, from which the emails were lifted, is singing from the same climate hymnal. "My colleagues and I accept that some of the published emails do not read well. I regret any upset or confusion caused as a result. Some were clearly written in the heat of the moment, others use colloquialisms frequently used between close colleagues," he said this week.

“We don't doubt that Mr. Jones would have phrased his emails differently if he expected them to end up in the newspaper. He's right that it doesn't look good that his May 2008 email to Mr. Mann regarding the U.N.'s Fourth Assessment Report said "Mike, Can you delete any emails you may have had with Keith re AR4?" Mr. Mann says he didn't delete any such emails, but the point is that Mr. Jones wanted them hidden.

“The furor over these documents is not about tone, colloquialisms or whether climatologists are nice people. The real issue is what the messages say about the way the much-ballyhooed scientific consensus on global warming was arrived at, and how a single view of warming and its causes is being enforced. The impression left by the correspondence among Messrs. Mann and Jones and others is that the climate-tracking game has been rigged from the start.

“According to this privileged group, only those whose work has been published in select scientific journals, after having gone through the "peer-review" process, can be relied on to critique the science. And sure enough, any challenges from critics outside this clique are dismissed and disparaged.

“This September, Mr. Mann told a New York Times reporter in one of the leaked emails that: "Those such as [Stephen] McIntyre who operate almost entirely outside of this system are not to be trusted." Mr. McIntyre is a retired Canadian businessman who checks the findings of climate scientists and often publishes the mistakes he finds on his Web site, He holds the rare distinction of having forced Mr. Mann to publish a correction to one of his more famous papers.”

Sunday, November 29, 2009

16 Ships Pollute as Much as All Cars in World?

Yes, that is what this article claims and it is another in many strange government actions around the whole issue of global warming.

An excerpt.

“We've all noticed it. The filthy black smoke kicked out by funnels on cross-Channel ferries, cruise liners, container ships, oil tankers and even tugboats.

“It looks foul, and leaves a brown haze across ports and shipping lanes. But what hasn’t been clear until now is that it is also a major killer, probably causing thousands of deaths in Britain alone.

“As ships get bigger, the pollution is getting worse. The most staggering statistic of all is that just 16 of the world’s largest ships can produce as much lung-clogging sulphur pollution as all the world’s cars.

“Because of their colossal engines, each as heavy as a small ship, these super-vessels use as much fuel as small power stations.

“But, unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel: the thick residues left behind in refineries after the lighter liquids have been taken. The stuff nobody on land is allowed to use.

“Thanks to decisions taken in London by the body that polices world shipping, this pollution could kill as many as a million more people in the coming decade – even though a simple change in the rules could stop it.

“There are now an estimated 100,000 ships on the seas, and the fleet is growing fast as goods are ferried in vast quantities from Asian industrial powerhouses to consumers in Europe and North America.”

Saturday, November 28, 2009

California & Texas, Part Two

I posted on California and Texas a few days ago, and now this blog post from New Geography adds further insight.

An excerpt.

“I know there have been a lot of articles and references to Texas vs. California recently in this blog, but, well, there's a new one with some genuinely new contributions to the argument ("America's Future: California vs. Texas", Trends magazine, hat tip to Jeff). And it says some nice things about Houston too, so how can I pass on it? The beginning of the article is here - including an overview of both states' situations - but here are some key additional excerpts:

“...Both the Brookings Institution and Forbes Magazine studied America’s cities and rated them for how well they create new jobs. All of America’s top five job-creating cities were in Texas. It's more than purely economics and regulation can explain, though. Texas – and Houston in particular – has a broad mix of Hispanics, whites, Asians, and blacks with virtually no racial problems. Texas welcomes new people and exemplifies genuine tolerance. When Hurricane Katrina hit, Houston took in 100,000 people. Not surprisingly, Houston has more foreign consulates than any American city other than New York and Los Angeles.

“But, how did this happen? What’s wrong with California, and what’s right with Texas?

"It really comes down to four fundamental differences in the value systems embodied in these states:

“First, Texans on average believe in laissez-faire markets with an emphasis on individual responsibility. Since the '80s, California’s policy-makers have favored central planning solutions and a reliance on a government social safety net. This unrelenting commitment to big government has led to a huge tax burden and triggered a mass exodus of jobs. The Trends Editors examined the resulting migration in “Voting with Our Feet,” in the April 2008 issue of Trends.

“Second, Californians have largely treated environmentalism as a “religious sacrament” rather than as one component among many in maximizing people's quality of life. As we explained in “The Road Ahead for Housing,” in the June 2009 issue of Trends, environmentally-based land-use restriction centered in California played a huge role in inflating the recent housing bubble. Similarly, an unwillingness to manage ecology proactively for man’s benefit has been behind the recent epidemic of wildfires.

“Third, California has placed “ethnic diversity” above “assimilation,” while Texas has done the opposite. “Identity politics” has created psychological ghettos that have prevented many of California’s diverse ethnic groups and subcultures from integrating fully into the mainstream. Texas, on the other hand, has proactively encouraged all the state’s residents to join the mainstream.

“Fourth, beyond taxes, diversity, and the environment, Texas has focused on streamlining the regulatory and litigation burden on its residents. Meanwhile, California’s government has attempted to use regulation and litigation to transfer wealth from its creators to various special-interest constituencies.”

Friday, November 27, 2009

Protecting the Salmon

The Sacramento Bee reports on an excellent new—and very common sense—program for helping salmon spawn in streams.

An excerpt.

“BROWNSVILLE – Little-known Honcut Creek is the one place where imperiled California salmon might be able to make a comeback.

“It's also where new logging rules soon will restrict how many trees can be cut on private land along this Feather River tributary, even though there aren't any salmon in its forested reaches.

“The goal is to protect potential salmon habitat by preserving shade along the creek – to keep the water cool – and to prevent erosion that could destroy spawning gravels downstream.

“The new logging rules were approved last month by the California Board of Forestry in a rare unanimous vote.

"The rules are full of new language asserting the duty of landowners to protect salmon and their habitat at all times – a major difference from old rules in which lumber production was the primary concern.

"This is a sea change," said George Gentry, executive officer of the Board of Forestry. "We are absolutely putting forward stewardship as a primary principle."

“Starting Jan. 1, private landowners in the Sierra Nevada will not be allowed to cut down trees within 30 feet of streams known to provide habitat for salmon and steelhead.

“In a second zone, 30 to 70 feet from streams, only 30 percent of the tree canopy can be removed. The seven largest trees on every acre must also be left standing. Slightly different buffer zones apply in coastal forests.

“It's a major change from old rules, which allowed landowners to remove half the tree canopy right to the waterline.”

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Hacked Emails & Global Warming

The Wall Street Journal continues to produce the best follow up on the hacked emails from a human-caused global warming science group that appears to show methods being utilized to hinder, rather than further, full scientific review of the issue.

An excerpt from the editorial.

“'The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the U.K., I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. . . . We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind."

“So apparently wrote Phil Jones, director of the University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) and one of the world's leading climate scientists, in a 2005 email to "Mike." Judging by the email thread, this refers to Michael Mann, director of the Pennsylvania State University's Earth System Science Center. We found this nugget among the more than 3,000 emails and documents released last week after CRU's servers were hacked and messages among some of the world's most influential climatologists were published on the Internet.

“The "two MMs" are almost certainly Stephen McIntyre and Ross McKitrick, two Canadians who have devoted years to seeking the raw data and codes used in climate graphs and models, then fact-checking the published conclusions—a painstaking task that strikes us as a public and scientific service. Mr. Jones did not return requests for comment and the university said it could not confirm that all the emails were authentic, though it acknowledged its servers were hacked.

“Yet even a partial review of the emails is highly illuminating. In them, scientists appear to urge each other to present a "unified" view on the theory of man-made climate change while discussing the importance of the "common cause"; to advise each other on how to smooth over data so as not to compromise the favored hypothesis; to discuss ways to keep opposing views out of leading journals; and to give tips on how to "hide the decline" of temperature in certain inconvenient data.”

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Hacked Emails & Global Warming

This Wall Street Journal article really hones in on the implications of the information being uncovered on these emails we posted on the other day.

An excerpt.

“This is downright Orwellian. What the Post describes is not a vigorous debate but an attempt to suppress debate--to politicize the process of scientific inquiry so that it yields a predetermined result. This does not, in itself, prove the global warmists wrong. But it raises a glaring question: If they have the facts on their side, why do they need to resort to tactics of suppression and intimidation?

“It is hard to see how this is anything less than a definitive refutation of the popular press's contention that global warmism is settled science--a contention that both the Times and the Post repeat in their articles on the revelations: "The evidence pointing to a growing human contribution to global warming is so widely accepted that the hacked material is unlikely to erode the overall argument," the Times claims. The Post leads its story by observing that "few U.S. politicians bother to question whether humans are changing the world's climate," and that "nearly three years ago the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change concluded the evidence was unequivocal." (As blogger Tom Maguire notes, this actually overstates even the IPCC's conclusions.)

“The press's view on global warming rests on an appeal to authority: the consensus among scientists that it is real, dangerous and man-caused. But the authority of scientists rests on the integrity of the scientific process, and a "consensus" based on the suppression of alternative hypotheses is, quite simply, a fraudulent one.”

Monday, November 23, 2009

Global Warming E Mails

Now that the hacked emails have been available for awhile, the content is beginning to be explored and analyzed, and the results appear to be damming, with the major one being that there has apparently been a policy of not allowing contrary views to the narrative of human caused global warming—even though the contrary views are based on sound science—to be published in scientific journals, completely against scientific ethics.

An excerpt from today’s article in the Wall Street Journal.

“The scientific community is buzzing over thousands of emails and documents -- posted on the Internet last week after being hacked from a prominent climate-change research center -- that some say raise ethical questions about a group of scientists who contend humans are responsible for global warming.

“The correspondence between dozens of climate-change researchers, including many in the U.S., illustrates bitter feelings among those who believe human activities cause global warming toward rivals who argue that the link between humans and climate change remains uncertain.

“Some emails also refer to efforts by scientists who believe man is causing global warming to exclude contrary views from important scientific publications.

"This is horrible," said Pat Michaels, a climate scientist at the Cato Institute in Washington who is mentioned negatively in the emails. "This is what everyone feared. Over the years, it has become increasingly difficult for anyone who does not view global warming as an end-of-the-world issue to publish papers. This isn't questionable practice, this is unethical."

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Hackers & Global Warming

A significant event in the skepticism about the human-caused global warming narrative occurred recently that—if true—indicates doctoring of information to ensure the narrative kept on course, even when the science contradicted the narrative.

This will certainly stir up the debate once again.

Here are a couple of excerpts from today's news.

1) An excerpt from a con article in the Washington Post.

“Hackers broke into the electronic files of one of the world's foremost climate research centers this week and posted an array of e-mails in which prominent scientists engaged in a blunt discussion of global warming research and disparaged climate-change skeptics.

“The skeptics have seized upon e-mails stolen from the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in Britain as evidence that scientific data have been rigged to make it appear as if humans are causing global warming. The researchers, however, say the e-mails have been taken out of context and merely reflect an honest exchange of ideas.

2) There is also a much more in depth pro article, with several links, at the American Thinker.

An excerpt.

“A folder containing documents, data and, e-mails purportedly "hacked" from Britain's Climate Research Unit (CRU) may be smoking-gun proof of a worldwide conspiracy to exaggerate the existence, causation, and threat of global warming. And the list of apparent conspirators includes many of the world's leading climate alarmists -- the very scientists on whose work the entire anthropogenic global warming theory is based.

“In a Friday interview with Investigative Magazine's TGIF Edition, CRU director Phillip Jones confirmed [PDF] that the incriminating documents, which have been widely disseminated online, are in fact genuine. Accordingly, whether indeed the labor of hackers, or instead that of a CRU whistleblower, the contents of the FOI2009 folder are now public record -- and that's nothing short of dynamite.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Global Warming McCarthyism

There is a remarkable series of articles currently on the website of the Breakthrough Institute—an environmental organization—which lays out the efforts made by some of the most famous names in the debate around climate change, to squash dissent using any methods they can, and it is a revealing read.

It began in 2008 with an article about the politics of personal destruction being used by the environmentalist movement against anyone opposed to the global warming arguments, and continues with the four part series from this month; part one earlier this month and part four just released yesterday.

An excerpt from the 2008 article.

“Back in the 90's and early part of the current decade, the environmental movement embarked upon a well documented campaign to convince the news media and the American public to stop taking those who questioned the existence of climate change seriously. Environmentalists went to great lengths to demonstrate that those who doubted the existence of climate change were crackpots, paid flaks of the fossil fuels industry, or otherwise lacking in credibility. They urged media reporters to stop covering "both sides" of the debate about climate, pointing out that on one side of that debate was an overwhelming consensus within the scientific community while on the other was a motley collection of ideologues and marginal academics, most with connections to the fossil fuel industry. And they started labeling them "deniers," explicitly referencing those who deny that the Holocaust ever occurred.

“The strategy worked. News coverage today rarely, if ever, cites sources who question the existence of climate change or its anthropogenic origins. And few policymakers continue to publicly question climate change. The assumption among environmental leaders was that once the scientific consensus that anthropogenic climate change was occurring was established, this consensus would translate into a consensus as to what to do about it -- a consensus that would embrace the policies long advocated by the national environmental movement, namely the Kyoto framework at the international level and cap and trade legislation at the domestic level.

“But a funny thing has happened over the last several years, as opinion about the reality and urgency of the climate crisis has "tipped." The consensus that would allegedly result once broad public acceptance of anthropogenic climate change was achieved has fractured. Efforts to negotiate a successor to the Kyoto Accord at the international level have stalled, as developing economies, led by China and India, have balked at any framework that would constrain carbon emissions and slow economic development in the developing world, where most of the growth of carbon emissions over the next century will come from. The fragile coalition of businesses, some segments of the energy industry, and environmentalists that appeared ready to support a domestic cap and trade system has frayed, as the environmental movement has demanded that all carbon allowances be auctioned and business interests have balked at the increasing costs of the regulations.

“And a variety of scientific and economic analysis has come out, not from opponents of action to address climate change but from supporters, suggesting that the policy framework developed by environmentalists in the early 1990's to address climate change will not be capable of achieving its objectives. These include a recent Nature commentary suggesting that the IPCC may have vastly underestimated the likely growth of carbon emissions over the next century, and thus underestimated the scale of the technology challenge necessary to stabilize carbon levels in the atmosphere, and a raft of studies and other analysis suggesting that carbon caps, regulations, and pricing, the primary policy mechanisms proposed by the environmental movement to address climate change, will not drive rapid and large scale transition from conventional energy sources to zero and low carbon energy sources.

“Unfortunately, the response to these developments from some environmentalists has been to attempt to tar those who have challenged the efficacy of the dominant environmental policy framework to address climate change with the same brush that they used to discredit those who denied the existence of anthropogenic climate change back in the 90's, only this time they are attacking respected climate scientists, energy experts, and activists who have no connection to the fossil fuel industry and have long and well documented track records of advocating for strong action to address climate change.”

Thursday, November 19, 2009

California & Texas

In this very revealing article from City Journal, comparing public expenditures, revenue, and what the public actually realizes from it all, we see, in excruciating detail, what we already know about our own state’s long-term difficulty governing itself effectively, and how another does the job, better and cheaper.

An excerpt.

“One out of every five Americans is either a Californian or a Texan. California became the nation’s most populous state in 1962; Texas climbed into second place in 1994. They are broadly similar: populous Sunbelt states with large metropolitan areas, diverse economies, and borders with Mexico producing comparable demographic mixes. Both are “majority-minority” states, where non-Hispanic whites make up just under half of the population and Latinos just over a third.

“According to the most recent data available from the Census Bureau, for the fiscal year ending in 2006, Americans paid an average of $4,001 per person in state and local taxes. But Californians paid $4,517 per person, well above that national average, while Texans paid $3,235. It’s worth noting, by the way, that while state and local governments in both California and Texas get most of their revenue from taxes, the revenue is augmented by subsidies from the federal government and by fees charged for governmental services and facilities, such as trash collection, airports, public university tuition, and mass transit. California had total revenues of $11,160 per capita, more than every state but Alaska, Wyoming, and New York, while Texas placed a distant 44th on this scale, with revenues of all governmental entities totaling $7,558 per person.

“What might interest Tiebout is that while California and Texas are comparable in terms of sheer numbers, their demographic paths are diverging. Before 1990, both states grew much faster than the rest of the country. Since then, only Texas has continued to do so. While its share of the nation’s population has steadily increased, from 6.8 percent in 1990 to 7.9 percent in 2007, California’s has barely budged, from 12 percent to 12.1 percent.

“Unpacking the numbers is even more revealing—and, for California, disturbing. The biggest contrast between the two states shows up in “net internal migration,” the demographer’s term for the difference between the number of Americans who move into a state from another and the number who move out of it to another. Between April 1, 2000, and June 30, 2007, an average of 3,247 more Americans moved out of California than into it every week, according to the Census Bureau. Over the same period, Texas saw a net gain, in an average week, of 1,544 people. Aside from Louisiana and Mississippi, which lost population to other states because of Hurricane Katrina, California is the only Sunbelt state that had negative net internal migration after 2000. All the other states that lost population to internal migration were Rust Belt basket cases, including New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Michigan, and Ohio.”

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Parkway & Public Safety

As this story from the Sacramento Press notes, the lack of adequate law enforcement within and adjacent to the Parkway, especially during the evening, is causing problems to adjacent neighborhoods.

This has been a long term problem and will only be resolved—in our view—when the Parkway has adequate funding to ensure a 24 hour access to Parkway Rangers, and the idea we have put forth to address this is explained on our website.

An excerpt from the Sacramento Press article:

“The American River is surely one of Sacramento’s most precious resources and access to the river beaches and trails is under attack. The River Park Neighborhood Association is trying to slip through a proposal to construct a fence along the levee at Glenn Hall Park, designed to shut off access to the river from dusk to sunrise.

“The plan to construct a tubular steel fence with an “exit only” turnstile (similar to the one at the Sacramento Zoo) is part of a proposal to spend money set aside for capital improvements for the River Park, East Sacramento, and Campus Commons neighborhoods.

“Opponents call the fence proposal an extreme, over-reaction to problems that occurred during the summer months, such as noise, drinking, littering, and unsafe driving on Carlson Drive. In the warm weather, Paradise Beach becomes a popular spot for sun bathers, swimmers and partiers.

“The River Park Review printed some letters from River Park residents. Here are some quotes that exemplify some of the concerns:

“For years the Paradise Beach area has been a trouble spot for River Park. The activities at the beach have caused an increase in crime, vandalism and drunk driving in our neighborhood … By building a fence across the entire levee there is the opportunity to curb reckless behavior”

“For those that don’t live in close proximity to the park, you may not have experienced people driving across your lawn, urinating in your front yard, gunshots outside your window, or a gang fight across the street, but these activities are par for the course in Glenn Hall Park. These issues are directly related to the lack of lighting and security in the park.”

“Opponents charge that the “crime problems” have been greatly exaggerated and that the proposed fence will not do little to address the few problems that do exist.”

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Parkway Rangers Report

October’s report has been posted and it was a relatively quite month, with no major violent attacks being reported, though there was a domestic violence report between a couple illegally camping in the Parkway in the Woodlake area, a woman drinking beer cut, with a knife, the man she was drinking beer with in Discovery Park, and a report of a suspect—since arrested—who was obstructing bicyclists by jumping in front of them and screaming at them in the William Pond area of the Parkway.

Reports from previous months can be accessed at the Parkway Rangers site.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Preserving & Protecting

This article from the New York Times reports on a wonderful tool and project that can be used to preserve and protect the images of special places to ensure any future damage and necessary subsequent repairs can remain true to the original vision.

An excerpt.

“EDINBURGH — Come April a small team of experts from the Glasgow School of Art and the government heritage entity Historic Scotland will fly to South Dakota at the behest of an organization called CyArk and the United States National Park Service. They will make laser scans and computer models of Mount Rushmore.

“Aside from the wee bit of Scottish blood in three of the four enshrined presidents (Lincoln’s the odd man out, in case you’re wondering), there is of course nothing whatsoever Scottish about this most all-American of sites. But cultural expertise transcends national borders. The Scottish team of four or five will spend a few days setting up and moving around their various scanners to capture all of Mount Rushmore’s nooks and crannies, collecting billions of bits of digital information, which will then be brought back here, to be crunched and sorted out by computer.

“What results should be the most complete and precise three-dimensional models ever of the site, millions of times more detailed and accurate than the best photographs or films, precise down to the tiniest fraction of a millimeter.

“In an era of computer animation, with gamers navigating virtual universes at the click of a mouse, making laser scans of old monuments may not sound special, but the Scottish team has achieved some unprecedented levels of sophistication with their models.

“Through scanning, the experts can conjure up what objects looked like ages ago, in effect turning the clock back on ancient sites. They can simulate the effects of climate change, urban encroachment or other natural or man-made disasters on those same sites, peering into the future.”

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Business & Government

Yesterday I posted on the value business chambers bring to public policy issues, and this article from Governing looks at the value of collaboration between government and business, (including park conservancies) especially relevant to our call for an American River Parkway Conservancy to mange the Parkway.

An excerpt.

“The future success of American public management hinges on the relative tempos of two conflicting trends. One involves collaboration between business and government; the other involves competition.

“By "collaboration" I mean something looser than fee-for-service contracting and tighter than voluntary charity. It refers to private institutions signing up to work with government to advance agreed-upon public missions on terms of shared discretion — that is, neither the public nor the private party monopolizes control. No tailored statistical series tracks public-private collaboration, so it would be silly to make precise claims about its current scale or rate of growth. But there is a lot of indirect and anecdotal evidence to suggest that collaboration is surging in absolute terms, and relative, both to direct governmental action and to other forms of joint work with private actors.

“Multiple forces propel this growth. One is incremental improvements to various enablers of collaboration — from information and communications technology to sophisticated contracts — over the past several decades. Another is a gradual shift toward complex tasks that invite or demand private involvement. Examples abound, including the charter-school movement, park conservancies, the post-9/11 port-security regime, occupational training and myriad aspects of the American health care system. The record presents many success stories and no shortage of failures. Some regrettable examples of collaboration are due to the misguided application of the collaborative approach, some to ham-handed implementation and some to a combination of misguidance and malfeasance. But the picture is improving. We are getting better at structuring and managing cross-sectoral collaborations.

“And none too soon, because a more traditional model for collective action — building public agencies and staffing them with public workers under the direction of governmental managers — is becoming ever more fragile, due in large part to competition between business and government.”

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chambers of Commerce & Water

I am a strong advocate of business chambers and have been a member of most of the local chambers at one time or another and still serve on the board of the North Sacramento Chamber, and chair their Parkway Task Force.

It is through the chambers of commerce, locally, statewide, and nationally, that the interests of business are best represented, especially the small local business, and the emergence of good public policy is enhanced.

This year one such was recognized for their work with water issues, as reported in this news release from the California Chamber of Commerce.

An excerpt.

“(November 13, 2009) Dave Penry and his company, Pacific Landscapes Inc., rely on water. “It affects my business; without water we don’t have anything,” Penry said.

“This reliance pushes Penry, a 2009 recipient of the California Chamber of Commerce Small Business Advocate of the Year Award, to work at the local and state levels on water policy issues in the Northern California communities his company and chamber serve.

“Pacific Landscapes, a 75-employee operation headquartered in Sebastopol with a satellite office in Napa, serves Napa, Solano, Marin and Sonoma counties.

"The company provides high-end commercial landscaping, and Penry has spent the last several years establishing himself in the community and throughout the state as a leader in the water arena.

“I’d rather be at the table than on the menu,” Penry said.

"With water issues front and center in California politics, Penry works as a diligent water advocate through the Santa Rosa Chamber of Commerce Environmental Resources Committee and Advocacy Council.

"Water Advocacy

"Penry, along with co-owner Darryl Orr, opened Pacific Landscapes Inc. in 2000 and soon joined the Santa Rosa Chamber. After attending a few chamber breakfast meetings, Penry asked if he could get involved in the chamber’s Environmental Resources Committee.

“I saw the water issue coming down the road and wanted to be involved in the political side of the community,” he said.

“In 2007, in coordination with the Environmental Resources Committee, he helped put on a water summit that included the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) and the Sonoma County Water Agency.

“Over the last few years, Penry and other businesses in the Sonoma County area struggled against a summer ban on turf irrigation by the SWRCB.

“The reasoning behind the ban: three endangered fish species in the Russian River. This in turn would affect the amount of water being released out of Lake Mendocino and Lake Sonoma.

“In April 2009, the SWRCB allowed parks and their facilities to use the irrigation, but all other commercial turf was restricted from the water.

“Penry moved into action by joining a business alliance group with several business park owners and contacted a fellow representative in water from the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) of which he is a longtime member and a past president.

“The alliance began working on an industry response.

“The entire group, along with a water rights attorney, went to the SWRCB and persuaded the board to loosen the regulations. Penry and his associates marked it as a victory.”

Friday, November 13, 2009

Salmon Fishing

Here is one place locally that salmon fishing is good, as reported by the Sacramento Bee.

An excerpt.

“Beginning Monday, anglers get a limited shot at catching king salmon fresh from the ocean on the Sacramento River.

“Fishing for late-fall king salmon will run through Dec. 31. The stretch of river open to fishing extends from 150 feet below the Lower Red Bluff (Sycamore) Boat Ramp to the Highway 113 bridge at Knights Landing.

“But why make this exemption for the second year in a row when there's been a general two-year ban on river and ocean fishing? Why this stretch of river? Why this specific time frame?

“Well, one salmon population - the late-fall run - has remained healthy even as the early fall, spring and winter runs have collapsed amid drastic modifications to their Delta and river environments. This stretch of river was chosen because the California Department of Fish and Game is confident that the salmon here will be from the late-fall run.

“Officials studied more than 1,000 marked fish here during this period last year and found only one that was not from the late fall run.

“If you go out, don't expect fast fishing. While the run is stable and healthy, anglers are targeting a population of fish less than one-tenth the size of the fall king salmon run - at least in the not-so-long-ago "good old days."

“Bob Boucke, owner of Johnson's Bait and Tackle in Yuba City, points out that late-fall salmon are fast- moving, seldom settling into one spot for very long.

"We have to sit there until more fish come through," he said. "Fishing one day might be fabulous and the next be lousy. We're at their mercy."

Thursday, November 12, 2009

National Parks Funding

The national parks are suffering the same type of funding problems facing the American River Parkway, and while realizing that the ideal funding vehicle for both would be to create an endowment which could spin off the amount needed for annual budgets, the capability to raise the amount needed soley from government is not very politically attractive.

With the type of nonprofit structure we have been proposing for the Parkway, the capability of the managing nonprofit could include endowment building at some point, once it has developed credibility within the philanthropic community.

The Parkway is loved to a level that endowment creation is a very real possibility and would potentially solve core budgeting problems in perpetuity, which is certainly something to aspire to.

An excerpt from an article about the national parks.

“The number of park law-enforcement officials has been drastically slashed in an effort to deal with funding shortfalls. The 469-mile-long Blue Ridge Parkway National Park in North Carolina and Virginia, for instance, has had to cut back 40 percent of its staff. It now has only about 35 law-enforcement rangers to deal with 16 million annual visitors to its 300 miles of trails, and the reduced number of rangers has a direct effect on park visitors. Phil Francis, superintendant of the park, says that one of his rangers recently had to decide whether to respond first to a potentially deadly car crash or to a person who was having a heart attack: "Imagine if you have to wait for someone to drive 40 or 50 miles to respond to a medical emergency."

“In 2008, there were a record total of 136,186 reported criminal offenses in national parks, including homicide, rape, assault, kidnapping, and robbery. "At one point, the park ranger job was the most dangerous law-enforcement job," says Denis Galvin, a retired deputy director of the National Park Service. "One reason being is that you're in such remote, hard-to-reach places."

“Park infrastructure is suffering as well—visitor centers, many of which were created under President Eisenhower, are falling apart. The Dinosaur National Park's visitor center in Utah, which won an award for its design in the 1960s, has been closed for more than three years, since July 2006. It was condemned for structural safety hazards because it has gone without any upkeep for close to 50 years.

"The construction budget right now is a joke," Galvin says. "Nine hundred million dollars to cover over 20,000 buildings, some of which are the most historic, and over 6,000 miles of road? The Washington Mall itself needs $200 million for construction maintenance. Independence National Park, where the Liberty Bell is in Philadelphia, needs $10 million just to fix Independence Hall's tower."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Entrepreneurship & Bar Codes

This is surely one of those, why-didn’t-I-think-of-that moments, when you realize how much money these very smart folks will be making who figured out how to make bar codes look really cool—the photos at the jump are great—reported by Fast Company.

An excerpt.

“Barcodes grace almost every product for sale. Given how much package real estate they command, why shouldn't they look cool?

“Since 2005, D-Barcode has been creating custom barcodes for a mostly Japanese clientele. They've even begun selling their wares to anyone who wants to license them, starting at $1,500 for the design, and $200 a year for licensing. A custom or exclusive use code will run upwards of $4,000--but given that companies spend millions on designing a single package, why don't we see more detailed thinking like this? Middle managers spend weeks arguing about kerning--it'd be better if they spent more time rethinking every inch of such highly prized real estate.”

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sacramento’s Net Migration

Did you know that the net migration of our fair city outpaces that of many of the cool places—like Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, etc.—making us pretty cool after all, as the great graph at the jump reveals.

An excerpt.

“For the past decade a large coterie of pundits, prognosticators and their media camp followers have insisted that growth in America would be concentrated in places hip and cool, largely the bluish regions of the country.

“Since the onset of the recession, which has hit many once-thriving Sun Belt hot spots, this chorus has grown bolder. The Wall Street Journal, for example, recently identified the "Next Youth-Magnet Cities" as drawn from the old "hip and cool" collection of yore: Seattle, Portland, Washington, New York and Austin, Texas.

“It's not just the young who will flock to the blue meccas, but money and business as well, according to the narrative. The future, the Atlantic assured its readers, did not belong to the rubes in the suburbs or Sun Belt, but to high-density, high-end places like New York, San Francisco and Boston.

“This narrative, which has not changed much over the past decade, is misleading and largely misstated. Net migration, both before and after the Great Recession, according to analysis by the Praxis Strategy Group, has continued to be strongest to the predominately red states of the South and Intermountain West.

“This seems true even for those seeking high-end jobs. Between 2006 and 2008, the metropolitan areas that enjoyed the fastest percentage shift toward educated and professional workers and industries included nominally "unhip" places like Indianapolis, Charlotte, N.C., Memphis, Tenn., Salt Lake City, Jacksonville, Fla., Tampa, Fla., and Kansas City, Mo.”

Monday, November 09, 2009

Other Options

In this recent editorial from the Sacramento Bee the call for Sacramento County to consider other options to bring its governance and finance in line with current realities is well said, and could just as well be applied to other local governments struggling with current issues.

Fortunately, three of our new local governments, Citrus Heights, Elk Grove, and Rancho Cordova, seem to be doing just fine and perhaps are models to be considered.

An excerpt.

“Sacramento County cannot continue to supply municipal-level services, primarily garbage collection and police protection, to the 40 percent or so of county residents who don't live in cities. Densely populated urban neighborhoods in the unincorporated county, such as Arden Arcade, Carmichael, North Highlands and parts of south Sacramento, should either incorporate – that is, form their own cities – or be annexed to existing cities that they border.

“In the past, supervisors have resisted such action. That's no longer a wise or even viable position. Given the high cost of government and falling property values, many of these communities no longer generate sufficient property tax to pay for the kinds of municipal services residents expect and need. The new county executive should actively encourage incorporations or annexations where that makes fiscal and governmental sense.

“In addition, the county needs a new executive willing to emulate some of the innovative service delivery models the county's recently incorporated cities have adopted. For example, he or she should consider partnering with private entities to reduce direct county delivery of services.”

Sunday, November 08, 2009

ARPPS Article Published

Another View: A nonprofit should run the parkway

Special to The Bee

Published Sunday, Nov. 08, 2009

Two recent articles in The Bee tell us that funds for the American River Parkway will be reduced again, continuing the funding shortage the parkway has been dealing with for several years.

One is the The Bee's editorial: "Buy a yearly pass to help river parkway" from Oct. 28, and the other is the Public Eye column: "Bumpy trails ahead on American River Parkway" from Oct. 30.

The editorial's call to buy a pass isn't realistic considering most people feel they have already paid taxes to use the parkway, nor is the other article's reliance on public funding, given the recent drop in available money.

We support the proposed strategy under discussion by local leadership – also mentioned in the editorial – to form a "joint powers authority" of local governments to provide base funding, though we do not support the idea of creating a benefit assessment district to raise taxes on parkway-adjacent property, which is coupled with the plan.

Instead, we would prefer that the joint powers authority create a nonprofit organization for daily management, and develop and sustain substantial philanthropic funding for the parkway.

The separateness is crucial, as management and fundraising have to be solely dedicated to the parkway and be as accountable to donors and parkway users as they are to the public and local government.

The best example of this is the Central Park Conservancy, which raises 85 percent of the funding needed for Central Park in New York City.

While there may be little to compare between Sacramento and New York City, we can compare the significance of Central Park to New York City to the significance of the parkway to the Sacramento region.

A parkway-dedicated nonprofit would need to raise substantial amounts of money, requiring that the executive director be a nonprofit management professional adept at raising significant funding.

In the trying economic times our region has been dealing with, any discussion of increasing taxes or fees to help our parkway is counterproductive. However, philanthropy is still significant, with more than $307 billion raised nationally in 2008.

With the love our community has for the parkway, plus professional leadership, a parkway-dedicated nonprofit could be relied on to rally that love around preserving, protecting and strengthening the parkway long into the future.

David H. Lukenbill was the founding president and is currently the senior policy director of the American River Parkway Preservation Society.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Detroit Dying

In this article from City Journal, the tragic dying of the once great city of Detroit is chronicled through the reverting to nature of many of its homes and buildings.

The photos at the Sweet Juniper jump in the story are a powerful pictorial of the narrative.

An excerpt.

“We usually apply the word “feral,” which means “reverting to a wild state,” to domesticated animals that are abandoned and must survive on their own. But in rapidly shrinking Detroit, where tens of thousands of structures have sat empty for years, people are starting to describe houses and neighborhoods as feral—that is, as places where human activity ceased so long ago that nature has reclaimed them.

“Two Detroit residents writing for the blog Sweet Juniper describe these feral houses as places that “for a few beautiful months during the summer . . . disappear behind ivy or the untended shrubs and trees planted generations ago to decorate their yards. The wood that frames the rooms gets crushed by trees. . . . The burnt lime, sand, gravel and plaster slowly erode into dust.” The bloggers’ striking photos show long-neglected houses completely enclosed in vegetation; only the outline of the architect’s design suggests something created by man buried beneath.

“Feral houses are perhaps the most visible sign of Detroit’s long decline, and their troubling numbers are starting to create talk within the administration of Mayor Dave Bing, who is running for reelection in November, that the city must shrink to survive. Bing, the former National Basketball Association great who first won the mayor’s office in a special May election to replace the disgraced Kwame Kilpatrick, recalls how, during the campaign, he would travel through neighborhoods where only a house or two remained occupied on each block, where weeds had reclaimed abandoned lots, and where storefronts sat empty. Today, officials estimate, the city contains an astonishing 70,000 abandoned structures—many of them houses, but also some commercial properties. In downtown Detroit alone, a local newspaper identified 48 office buildings with “no outward sign of life.”

“That’s not surprising, considering how many people have fled Detroit over the decades. Over the last half-century, the city’s population has shrunk by 50 percent, from about 1.8 million people to fewer than 900,000. Since 2000, the city has lost 35,000 residents. Detroit officials acknowledge that they see little prospect for a population turnaround soon.”

Friday, November 06, 2009

Safe Cities List

Sacramento comes in 24th out of 40…not too good, just above San Francisco.

The list, at the jump, is from Forbes Magazine.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Drunk Bike Riders

In a story that seems counter-intuitive, USA Today reports that seven bicyclists were arrested recently in Sacramento for riding drunk.

An excerpt.

“LOS ANGELES — Law enforcement's battle against drunken driving has a new target: bicyclists.

"We were having some issues with fatal bicycle collisions in the area," California Highway Patrol (CHP) officer Adrian Quintero says. "A lot of the issues we were having were bicyclists under the influence crossing over the center (line) and being struck."

“CHP officers last week charged seven bicyclists with riding under the influence during a one-night crackdown in Sacramento. But California is not the only state watching for wobbly bicyclists.

“Most states require bike riders to follow the rules of the road same as car drivers, according to the League of American Bicyclists, which supports enforcement.

"My first thought would be, 'I'm sure glad they're riding a bike and not driving a car,' " says K.C. Butler, executive director of the California Bicycle Coalition.

“Butler wonders whether police need to mount an intense effort to snare drunken riders as in California, where drunken riding is considered so significant that the highway patrol received a state-federal grant to enforce traffic laws for bicyclists in the Sacramento area.”

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Parkway Trail Problems

As the Public Eye column from the Sacramento Bee notes, there is not enough money to maintain the trail and one area is especially bad.

An excerpt.

“The problem: Sacramento County cut the American River Parkway's maintenance budget by about $380,000. While there are numerous areas within the parkway in need of repair, one particular trouble spot is the trail surface between mile markers 3 and 4.

“Root buckling has made the trail there unsafe for cyclists and runners. With less daylight, the potential for injury only gets worse.

“In 2000, the cost of catching up on a 12-mile backlog of parkway resurfacing was estimated at $1 million. In today's costs, the repair tab reaches $3 million.

“The solution: Measure A funds have restored maintenance workers for the trail. Meanwhile, parkway advocates would like the county to join forces with the other municipalities along the parkway to boost funding.

“County officials said repairs between miles 3 and 4 are "delayed indefinitely" because of pending levee work that will require relocating the trail segment.

"It did not make sense to spend a lot of public money fixing something that is going to be completely ripped out," said Liz Bellas, a county administrator. "We've been told that is going to happen soon."

“She said she didn't know how long that would be.”

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

State Parks Money

After indicating that the state parks would be saved—earlier reports had many of them being closed— the details indicate they will still take quite a hit, in this story from the San Francisco Chronicle.

An excerpt.

“(10-27) 15:25 PDT San Francisco -- The California State Parks won't be closed, except during the week and in certain seasons and, really, most of the time, according to a list of cutbacks released Tuesday.

“Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger decreed last month that no parks would be shuttered, but the $14.2 million he cut out of the state parks budget means many of the 278 parks in California will be open only on weekends and almost all will have to endure partial closures. Most of the closures begin next week.

“The list prepared by park superintendents throughout California indicates that park visitors should also be advised not to expect many lifeguards or interpretive programs or parking spots or, for that matter, public restrooms, even in a pinch.

"The headlines last month were: 'The Governor Saves State Parks.' Uh, wait a minute. There is still a $14.2 million hit to the state budget," said Jerry Emory, spokesman for the California State Parks Foundation. "In fact, these service cuts might impact more parks systemwide. Before, we were looking at a list of 100 parks, including partial, full and seasonal closures. Now the plan is just to do that across the entire system."

“There will be major cutbacks in the Bay Area, including campground, picnic and parking lot closures on Mount Tamalpais, Angel Island, Mount Diablo, Samuel P. Taylor, Tomales Bay and China Camp state parks. Facilities at Olompali State Historic Park, Candlestick Point State Recreation Area and the Benicia Capital State Historic Park will be closed.

“The cuts were part of a deal Schwarzenegger signed in July to erase a $24 billion budget gap. The deal also chopped $22.2 million out of the 2010-11 parks budget.”

Monday, November 02, 2009

Staying Home

As one who moved from home for many years, trying out various places around the country—Seattle, Madison, Wisconsin, & Santa Cruz—before returning home because no place I tried met the criteria I felt important (climate, beauty, close to water, economical, cosmopolitan in a traditional way) this story from Newsweek makes sense.

An excerpt.

“On almost any night of the week, Churchill's Restaurant is hopping. The 10-year-old hot spot in Rockville Centre, Long Island, is packed with locals drinking beer and eating burgers, with some customers spilling over onto the street. "We have lots of regulars—people who are recognized when they come in," says co-owner Kevin Culhane.

"In fact, regulars make up more than 80 percent of the restaurant's customers. "People feel comfortable and safe here," Culhane says. "This is their place."

“Thriving neighborhood restaurants are one small data point in a larger trend I call the new localism. The basic premise: the longer people stay in their homes and communities, the more they identify with those places, and the greater their commitment to helping local businesses and institutions thrive, even in a downturn.

“Several factors are driving this process, including an aging population, suburbanization, the Internet, and an increased focus on family life. And even as the recession has begun to yield to recovery, our commitment to our local roots is only going to grow more profound. Evident before the recession, the new localism will shape how we live and work in the coming decades, and may even influence the course of our future politics.

“Perhaps nothing will be as surprising about 21st-century America as its settledness. For more than a generation Americans have believed that "spatial mobility" would increase, and, as it did, feed an inexorable trend toward rootlessness and anomie. This vision of social disintegration was perhaps best epitomized in Vance Packard's 1972 bestseller A Nation of Strangers, with its vision of America becoming "a society coming apart at the seams." In 2000, Harvard's Robert Putnam made a similar point, albeit less hyperbolically, in Bowling Alone, in which he wrote about the "civic malaise" he saw gripping the country. In Putnam's view, society was being undermined, largely due to suburbanization and what he called "the growth of mobility."

“Yet in reality Americans actually are becoming less nomadic. As recently as the 1970s as many as one in five people moved annually; by 2006, long before the current recession took hold, that number was 14 percent, the lowest rate since the census starting following movement in 1940. Since then tougher times have accelerated these trends, in large part because opportunities to sell houses and find new employment have dried up. In 2008, the total number of people changing residences was less than those who did so in 1962, when the country had 120 million fewer people. The stay-at-home trend appears particularly strong among aging boomers, who are largely eschewing Sunbelt retirement condos to stay tethered to their suburban homes—close to family, friends, clubs, churches, and familiar surroundings.”

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Sacramento in New York Times

A very nice portrait of Sacramento from a New York Times reporter who visited recently and wrote of her 36 hours in town.

An excerpt.

“DESPITE California’s fiscal crisis, Sacramento has no deficit of quirky cultural offerings. Situated at the confluence of the Sacramento and American Rivers, this capital city has a gentle, small-town charm, with a strong theater tradition, delightful new restaurants and a vibrant art scene. It also has a wealth of greenery — residents proudly claim more trees per capita than any city in the world besides Paris. It’s enough to make you forget about the state’s yawning budget gap.

4 p.m.
Who says California’s capital is a mess? A stroll through the California State Capitol (10th and L Streets; 916-324-0333; — a neo-Classical confection of Corinthian and other classic columns, parget plasterwork and mosaic floors — makes everything feel like it’s in grand order. Painstakingly restored in the 1970s, the interior is graced with numerous artworks, including presidential portraits, WPA murals and a stunning marble statue of Columbus and Queen Isabella by Larkin Goldsmith Mead. There’s also a lush park and a 250-pound bronze statue of a grizzly bear guarding the door to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s office. Wander at a leisurely pace while government employees rush by.

"6:30 p.m.
To dine in modern elegance head a few blocks to the Ella Dining Room and Bar (1131 K Street; 916-443-3772;, which is draped with dramatic scrims of white linen and which emphasizes local produce. Dishes include pappardelle, poached egg and prosciutto in preserved lemon butter sauce ($15), and grilled flat iron steak with caramelized salsify and braised celery root ($29). You could also have a soothing elderflower gimlet ($11) and chocolate crème caramel for dessert ($9).

"8 p.m.
Sacramento has a vibrant theater scene, judging by the well-chosen productions at the intimate B Street Theatre (2711 B Street; 916-443-5300; A current production is “The Maintenance Man,” a comedy about divorce by Richard Harris, a prolific British playwright. “Entertaining Mr. Sloane,” a tale of seduction and sibling rivalry by Joe Orton, opens Nov. 15. Draw out the drama with a nightcap at Harlows (2708 J Street; 916-441-4693;, where you’ll find live rock or jazz downstairs and purple backlighting and plush and inviting seats in the Momo Lounge upstairs.”