Poseidon Plays the Race Card, LULAC Dances to Their Tune! (and Weekend Open Thread)


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LULAC is "the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S." When those strings were added, I do not know.

LULAC is “the oldest Hispanic civil rights organization in the U.S.” When those strings were added, I do not know.

[Ed. Note: Originally posted July 20, but worth a second look.]

We saw this editorial coming, those of us who attend OCWD meetings and have suffered through early versions of it recited by Latino spokesmen Benny Diaz and Arte Montez in their public comments, and now we see it printed out in its full obscenity, in the Register, in a piece “written” by statewide LULAC chief Dave Rodriguez. (below, right)

dave rogriguezIn short, the usual uninformed kindergarten argument for Poseidon (“We need water DUH”) has now been ennobled and given a great racial urgency:  

  • the need to build Poseidon is now a question of “ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE,”  
  • the right to overpriced desalinated water is now a CIVIL RIGHT for central-county Latinos,
  • and any argument against the boondoggle is a luxury enjoyed by spoiled rich white people near the coast.

In how many ways is this obscene?  Let us count them:

1. “Environmental Justice??”

“Environmental justice” is defined as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.”  It’s an acknowledgement that less-politically-powerful dark people and poor people tend to get stuck next to polluters more often than others.  A perfect local example that’s been in the news lately is the unenclosed odiferous Rainbow Dump right across the street from the Oak View Neighborhood and school – something LULAC has never spoken out about.

poseidon aesSo for the writer of this piece (whom I suspect to be neither Dave Rodriguez nor Latino) to use that phrase while shilling for something as environmentally destructive as the Poseidon plant is UTTERLY ORWELLIAN.  Unless!  Unless by “justice” they mean “revenge,” and their notion is to take revenge on what they might consider the spoiled white people of Southeast Huntington Beach by sticking this nuisance in THEIR back yard.

Nah, even that doesn’t make sense.  Take a look at the beach some day – the coastline which Poseidon would pollute with a hyper-salinated dead zone is enjoyed by Latinos as much as anyone else.  The billions of sealife larvae set to be slaughtered by Poseidon’s open intakes could easily be making their way into ceviche.   And all of us of EVERY race have to live in an atmosphere into which Poseidon would be pumping epic amounts of greenhouse gases.

2. ¡Tenemos Sed!

In my life I have known so many Latin-Americans, MANY of them in Santa Ana and Anaheim – probably hundreds by now.  And I have NEVER noticed them to drink more water, to need more water, than the average white, black or Asian person.  So how does desal water become a “Civil Right” unique to Latin-Americans?

Sulnick jokes, after someone else answers a tricky question, "I was just gonna make something up!" much to the mirth of some.

Sulnick jokes, after someone else answers a tricky question, “I was just gonna make something up!” much to the mirth of some. (Click for larger view. Pic John Earl.)

The fact is, low-income people from central OC are not suffering from a LACK of water, but, if anything, from increasingly EXPENSIVE water – and the Poseidon boondoggle would raise their water bills considerably.  So the thoughtless and uninformed prescription coming from LULAC would actually HURT central-OC Latinos:  Epic Fail.

On that note, who writes corny sentimental sentences like, “The Latino community knows that water is life; there is no life without it”?  Ah, the “simple people of God” who live “close to the earth,” if only the White Man would Heed their Wisdom!  This is one of several clues that makes me think no actual Latino wrote this piece, but a white fake-liberal – specifically Poseidon propagandist and environmentalist-for-hire Robert Sulnick, who heads up OC WISE, a Poseidon-lobbying astroturf group which “partners” with LULAC.  (Just my extremely-informed guess.)

A Few Other Things…

  • I really take offense to the “reverse racism” in the notion that our ability to debate, criticize, and fight against Poseidon’s proposal is some kind of luxury we enjoy because of our “white privilege.”  No, we are doing this for everybody.  If anything, this boondoggle will hurt low-income people the worst.
  • For LULAC to abuse the terms “environmental justice” and “civil rights” for this kleptocratic project is a real corruption of noble and important concepts which have saved and improved lives for decades … just as this whole LULAC endorsement is a sad corruption of what once was an important and credible civil rights group, founded after WWI in Texas to help “assimilate” hispanic veterans into American society.
  • When Rodriguez or Sulnick or whoever writes “We are mindful that Latino voices have been conspicuously absent from the dialog over the need to build this plant,” he’s wrong or lying:  As Surfrider’s Joe Geever tells me, “Latino communities HAVE been engaged in water issues: there is a long-standing Environmental Justice Coalition for Water (EJCW) that represents those concerns, which … LULAC just hasn’t been a part of as far as I know.”  Also, Santa Ana has been represented on the OCWD first by Vince Sarmiento, now by Roman Reyes;  not to mention the constant shilling at meetings and behind the scenes by political figures like Lou Correa, José Solorio, and Benny Diaz.  But go ahead, “work the refs” for more attention…
  • Bringing up parched, agricultural, Latino Porterville, way up north of Bakerfield, is a real non sequitur:  Nothing we do here water-wise in the OC, involving Poseidon or not, is going to change their situation for better or worse, no matter WHAT Rube-Goldberg case for that you dream up.  Porterville’s problems could be discussed elsewhere, but there doesn’t seem much point here.

Wherefore LULAC?

Yes, I know, “Wherefore” means “Why.”  As in “WHY is this Hispanic civil rights group involved in water infrastructure debates of all things, on demonstrably the wrong side?”

There is usually a cash nexus when Poseidon shilling is involved.  At last count the Boston-based corporation had spent nearly a quarter-million dollars ($233,779.00) “donating” to politicians and water officials who could make a difference in them getting this prize.  The enthusiasm of trade union and Teamster officials is easily explained by their desire for quick, albeit temporary jobs.  (2000 construction jobs over two years although not all at the same time, then only 25 permanent ones.)  But what would motivate “the oldest Hispanic civil rights group in the US” to get dirty with these Northeastern hedge fund pirates?

benny diazI immediately “tagged” Garden Grove LULAC’s irrepressible president Benny Diaz (that’s Facebook talk) and asked if his organization had received any contributions from Poseidon, which he vehemently denied several times.   Then, when journalist John Earl made the “official legally binding request” to see Benny’s organization’s 990 forms, Benny responded by “blocking” John – on Facebook that means erasing each other so that neither of you can see anything the other one writes again.  Hmmm!

Within minutes John was looking at the available 990 forms online, for both Benny’s local LULAC and the organization statewide, and if we’re to believe LULAC, they have had NO REVENUE, NO ASSETS, AND NO CONTRIBUTIONS – EVER.  Hmmmm … the plot sickens.

Lu-Lack. Click for larger image.

Lu-Lack. Click for larger image.

Well – next step, John or I – whoever has the time first – needs to go by Garden Grove LULAC’s office (if there is one) to request the paper forms.  Next step after that is the Attorney General.

I’m a little sensitive to the question of LULAC and whether or not they get contributions.  Back in 2012, just a few days after my wife’s son Joel Acevedo was killed by the police, LULAC asked her for permission to fundraise “in his name” – out of whatever they raised they would pay for Joel’s funeral expenses, and keep the rest for their further “good work.”  Donna declined:  Joel already had enough family and friends to help with expenses, and she didn’t care to be used by an organization she had no time or energy to vet.

Pretty hard to imagine such quick opportunists having no income, no assets, and no contributions, these past 16 years.

Oh well, if we keep looking MAYBE we’ll find out the root motivation of a propaganda piece like we just saw in the Register.  Meanwhile, keep up the good fight, friends.  It is we Poseidon foes who are looking out for the interests of OC’s low-income residents, Latino and otherwise.

[PS. The Weekly’s Mary Carreon got her response piece out
two days before THIS slowpoke writer,
and thought of a few things I didn’t.
]

Just SOME of our Previous Coverage of Poseidon:

[Ed. Note: This is now our belated Weekend Open Thread.  You know what to do.]


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist in Orange County, and official troubador of both Anaheim and Huntington Beach (the two ends of the Santa Ana Aquifer.) Performs regularly both solo, and with his savage-jazz quintet The Vern Nelson Problem. Reach at vernpnelson@gmail.com, or 714-235-VERN.