Activist at its finest

NOT many people give a rats patootie about making sure local water districts dont rip off ratepayers. Barbara Mee did.

When I covered water, landfills, air quality and other environmental issues during the far-more polluted 1980s and 1990s, the Glendora environmental activist was often spotted in the meeting halls of these obscure local agencies, ferreting out waste and corruption. She was quite tall, classy, and she always greeted you with a smile and a wad of documents.

We call these people gadflies. But that doesnt do them justice. They are the shoe leather of democracy, helping wear an enlightened path to the darkened cubby holes of government. Mee was one of the best at working the Public Records Act, open meeting laws and the media. Shell be missed.

Mee passed away Christmas Eve after losing a battle with cancer. She and others tree-huggers of her day gave us, our children and grandchildren a cleaner and greener San Gabriel Valley, even if government waste is still with us.

. . .
Can governments work together?
Just getting city governments and school district governments to acknowledge each others existence is a feat. Its usually town vs. gown. The battle for funding.

Seems like every 12 years when the pendulum swings, we hear more about Democrats and Republicans working together. The president advocated it during his State of the Union address. Gov. Schwarzenegger began this year the same way, laying out an array of more moderate programs both Dems and the GOP can support.

But before we settle into a group hug, Americans in the middle must exercise their voices. With apologies to Paul Revere: The moderates are coming! The moderates are coming! At least, thats what Gary A. Butts, the founder of, says.

I like their recruitment pitch: If youre tired of the Far Right and the Far Left, join us. I hear ye. We moderates, and I consider myself one, are in the majority. We should act like one.

On Thursday the site offered a host of commentaries and blogs that dont scream fringe positions but analyze issues and come down closer to the center. For instance, one column looked at winners and losers under President Bushs health care plan. I give moderate kudos to NPR commentator Robert Reich who gave it one cheer because it attempts to separate health insurance from employment, a needed step. However, the blog said it doesnt do anything for the 47 million Americans without insurance now. And the Bush plan may hurt those covered by generous employer-driven plans.

Another commentary reported that Bushs much ballyhooed troop surge into Iraq may have brought out some militia groups waving the white flag. An article from The New York Times (thats right!) quoted Rahim al-Daraji, the elected mayor of the Sadr City district, as negotiating peace with a British general in Iraq.

I can guarantee you this wont make the screaming left-vs.-right TV political talk shows.

…Does government learn from its mistakes?
Charles Krauthammer wrote that he counted 24 references to foreign oil independence from the last 34 State of the Union addresses. Yet were still here, kissing OPECs feet. And GM killed the electric car.And what about learning from natural disasters?

Kim Bishop, geology associate professor at Cal State Los Angeles, will give a talk: Shake, Rattle, and Roll Some Lessons from the 1971 San Fernando and 1994 Northridge Earthquakes, on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 8 p.m., in the Physical Sciences Building, room 158.
What a concept. Learning from the past. I like it.

…Learning, the hard way.Thats what a lot of us do this time of year when confronting credit card and department store bills from holiday overspending.

Thats why the Independent Community Bankers of America (ICBA) advise consumers set up a holiday savings account now, for Christmas 2007.These accounts can be added to throughout the year but withdrawals are restricted until October.

I wish I was as organized as these banker types. They sent out this press release Dec. 12, 2006. Heres wishing you a debt-free 2007 Christmas holiday. And a longer memory.

This entry was posted in environment, land use, Pasadena by Steve Scauzillo. Bookmark the permalink.

About Steve Scauzillo

I love journalism. I've been working in journalism for 32 years. I love communicating and now, that includes writing about environment, transportation and the foothill/Puente Hills communities of Hacienda Heights, Rowland Heights, Walnut and Diamond Bar. I write a couple of columns, one on fridays in Opinion and the other, The Green Way, in the main news section. Send me ideas for stories. Or comments. I was opinion page editor for 12 years so I enjoy a good opinion now and then.

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