The Imperial Valley‘s people tend to be poor, and their wages and political clout are low. Farming is its only major industry. Taking the region’s irrigation water and making much of the land lie fallow could mean not only the end of the state‘s largest lake but also the end of regional farming in southeast California, the end of an extensive community, the end of an era. We don’t need water that badly. There are better, more responsible ways to get it. And most of all, we don‘t need another Owens Valley on our collective conscience. One of those is more than enough.
Want vs. Needs
Last week, I reported on the unwonted reserve with which the county Board of Supervisors presented its $196 million matching-fund bond issues for the proposed $420 million reconstructions of both of the big county museums. You could read the proposals through several times and still get the idea that all we were talking about was new fire escapes. Not Rem Koolhaas.
It doesn’t seem to be the best use of money. Particularly since LACMA‘s last costly rehab dates only to 1986. Many objected even last year to the new LACMA proposal’s $300 million ultimate cost. But since the new Koolhaas plan was proclaimed, a lot of bad things have happened to county finances in general and those of county health services in particular. The Department of Health Services‘ current nine-figure shortfall has become a state and even a national concern. Both Gray Davis and the folks in Washington say they are upset at county plans to close hospitals and clinics -- although so far, no one’s offered money to prevent this from happening.
Whether a state or federal agency does offer to help will depend, in large part, on how our county responds to its own most pressing. I‘m only guessing. But I think that picking up the paper, as I did last week, and seeing, on the same page, stories about the pending implosion of county health services and the county supervisors’ eager quest for several hundred millions‘ worth of fresh bonded indebtedness for new museums might not suggest the requisite responsiveness.