Indigenous Peoples Day and Tuesday’s Desal Townhall: Poseidon as Columbus.


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Poseidon VP Scott Maloni, portrayed with fleet the Niña, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria.

Is it a coincidence that Tuesday Oct. 15’s Townhall on how to fight the Poseidon desal scam, 7-9 pm at Southeast Huntington Beach’s Eader School, comes the day after what we used to call “Columbus Day?”  Well, as those who obsess over things too much and/or overindulge in certain drugs will vouch, “THERE ARE NO COINCIDENCES.”  With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the parallels between Columbus’ conquest of the New World and Poseidon’s attempt to saddle Orange County with an unneeded, publicly subsidized, billion-dollar desal plant, parallels which have fascinated scholars and historians for … nearly minutes.

First let’s be clear – nothing Poseidon is attempting is on the scale or gravity of the genocide, slavery, and death of cultures that followed directly and indirectly from Columbus’ four trips to this hemisphere.  But putting that aside the parallels are startling – unprincipled adventurers, driven thousands of miles westward by their greed, to loot and pillage what they perceived rightly or wrongly as a gullible, helpless population. 

When the Italian Columbus arrived in the West Indies 527 years ago with his fleet of three ships (for the first of four such trips) he’d traveled about 4000 miles aiming to make untold fortunes for not only himself but his financiers and patrons in the Spanish royal government.  16 years ago when Sicilian-American Poseidon Vice-President Scott Maloni traveled about 3000 miles from Boston to Huntington Beach, his goal was to make hundreds of millions for his northeastern hedge-fund, off a credulous local population in possession of an archaic electrical plant where he could “collocate.” 

But they say that Scott and HIS crew arrived in a Lear Jet.

Both pirates were encouraged by what they saw as the lack of sophistication of their chosen victims.  Columbus famously wrote home of the natives he encountered in the West Indies:

“They do not bear arms, and do not know them, for I showed them a sword, they took it by the edge and cut themselves out of ignorance…. They would make fine servants…. With 50 men we could subjugate them all and make them do whatever we want.”

In Orange County, especially Huntington Beach, our least intelligent people often seem to be the ones we elect to positions of political power – of both Parties.  Hence the Poseidon pirates quickly took to dispensing trinkets to these “decision makers” – well over a million by now in campaign contributions and lobbying – while filling their little heads with propaganda about how we really NEED their project. 

Many Republicans just felt a natural synergy with a rapacious corporation that won’t let environmental concerns get in its way.  Democrats were bought off by promises of (short-term) construction jobs, and several influential Democrats were hired outright:  faux-environmentalist Robert Sulnick to pull a Full Orwell painting the project as an environmental benefit;  the tragically avaricious Benny Diaz‘ local chapter of LULAC to absurdly present desalination as a Latino civil rights issue;  and most outrageously the hiring of just-out-of-the-Senate Barbara Boxer.  (Read my LA Times takedown of Barbara here.)

But Orange County – EVEN HUNTINGTON BEACH! – is also blessed with a lot of smart and pugnacious people who would not stand for this boondoggle, and you can meet a lot of them at this Tuesday night’s townhall.  Just as Columbus dropped his destructive anchor on four different islands of the West Indies, so Poseidon has already pillaged at least two gullible and thirsty communities before us – Tampa and Carlsbad.  But fortunately we have the communications and media in this century to learn from those towns’ mistakes!

Some of us are against this project because it’s a ripoff of ratepayers and taxpayers, and we don’t need to enrich this out-of-state hedge fund by paying jacked-up water rates (all over northern and central OC) as well as the taxpayer subsidies they demand.  Some of us are against the massacre of sea-life in Poseidon’s intakes, the hyper-salinated brine they’ll be pumping into our beautiful ocean, and the staggering greenhouse gas emissions.  Some of us just hate to see a company like this get away with lying, cheating, and buying off politicians for 16 years and still making a killing.  OCWD Poseidon shill Steve Sheldon snaps at us, “You-all just like to take whatever complaints you want and throw them at the wall to see what’ll stick!”  Yes, it’s sad, but we can do that.

But make good use of your Day-After-Columbus-Day, and come see how you can help us fight this nightmare off once and for all.  Or don’t take my word for it, listen to these guys:

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Just SOME of our Previous Coverage of Poseidon:


About Vern Nelson

Greatest pianist/composer 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.