Letter to the editor: Where is the conscience?

manzanarmonumentTo the Editor,
“As the nation’s largest public utility, we are held to a high level of review and scrutiny. We must be a transparent organization that is accountable to its customers and the communities it serves,” stated DWP General Manager Ron Nichols. “We must also be thoughtful and methodical as we balance our environmental responsibilities and the needs of our electric and water customers for reliable and affordable service. If given the opportunity to lead the organization, this balance, and this transparency will be my top priorities.”
  In this statement quoted from LADWP’s  Dec 20, 2010 news release announcing his appointment as General Manager of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, Ron Nichols should be reminded of his words and how they are void of any real expectation of a friendly expression, of any conciliatory empathetic recognition of the history of the DWP that would impact the job that he was taking on. This statement interestingly did not speak about the recognition of the coming Centennial of the Aqueduct , of the future challenges of 2 years of drought that have occurred. We have seen his management style, the way that he has dealt with Owens Lake Dust mitigation, Blackrock, as an example and now the current dysfunctional Solar Ranch Project. These problems and DWP’s management style of delay, lawyers , ignoring agreements and not working with the environment nor the community  are his solution to the DWP being “thoughtful and methodical as we balance our environmental responsibilities and the needs of our electric and water customers.”
Yesterday in Los Angeles there was another meeting for the Solar Ranch DEIR comment period thanks to Les Inafuku’s suggestion of a meeting in Los Angeles. Mr. Inafuku, the Mazanar Superintendent, made the request to allow the Japanese-American community the opportunity to be heard. Ron Nichols made an opening statement about DWP,  it’s efforts and needs to transition energy generation to renewable energy and he was in attendance, to his credit, during the entire public comment portion of the meeting.
The meeting was attended by about 75 people from both Los Angeles and the Owens Valley.  Chuck Holloway of the DWP gave an overview presentation of the project identical to his Sept 25th presentation in Bishop to begin the meeting. He also announced that the public comment period for the Project has been extended till November 26, 2013.
 The tone in the room became heartfelt and emotional with the very first pubic speaker , a young Japanese American woman who spoke of her Grandparents and her family being interned. Another Grand Daughter also spoke about her stories, that she had never heard or understood about her family, until she had come and spent time at Manzanar. The public statements, 29 in all, were all heartfelt and emotionally based, not a lot of anger, but stories of the pain.  Speakers from Owens Valley with also their heartfelt expressions of opposition were witness and contributors  to the message and the feeling that accompanies such shared stories.  There were some amazing succinct statements by wonderful speakers who were to use words that clearly expressed what the Manzanar  experience and  what the Owens Valley was all about . One person spoke of Manzanar as being a premiere American Civil Rights Historic Site, not just to honor those interned, but to remind us of who and what America is and really all about . This powerful characterization of the meaning of this Historic Site, it’s ongoing and evolving importance in our cultural bread basket nation of freedom lovers and defenders, really left an impression.  At the end of the meeting their were two more requests to speak. Both of these older Japanese American Men had been Internees at Manzanar. Their presence and words could not have been scripted better.
   The meeting closed and Ron Nichols had disappeared. He did not stay and speak to anyone. In afterthought, why I wondered would he not speak with a 90 year old former Internee, shake his hand, thank him for his words and sharing his story.  Mr. Nichols in his responsibility for an infrastructure of the nation’s largest public owned utility left the room and left an opportunity to humanize his bureaucracy. He left the meeting and left standing cold  the hard fact, that he has a DWP so large, so out of control that he had to get back to it  or  that he’s just plain insensitive to the community.  His job is water and power for millions and that dictates his sense of balance. Environmental responsibilities do not have a lot to do with the critters, the plants, the landscape ,the view shed, cultural Issues , social impacts and so on. Environmental responsibilities seem to be merely  the impediments and the laws that he is required to navigate his Organization through to merely keep the lights on and the water tap flowing . He’s tapped right in to being the man at the wheel of the perfect machine of peoples’ indifference to the environment, an ill informed  and unconscienable consumer mentality of our resources on our Earth and in Our Valley.
                                                                                                                                                 Philip Anaya
                                                                                                                                              Bishop, California

17 Responses to Letter to the editor: Where is the conscience?

  1. Waxlips November 17, 2013 at 4:29 pm #

    Sad, sad state of affaires. I wish we could make it stop.

  2. Dee November 18, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    One of the best letters to any editor I’ve ever read!! Excellent!!
    Bravo Philip Anaya!!

  3. Trouble November 18, 2013 at 8:14 am #

    Ron- please shut up!

  4. Joaquin Murrieta November 18, 2013 at 8:54 am #

    “thoughtful and methodical as we balance our environmental responsibilities and the needs of our electric and water customers.”
    Are You Joking???

    “The meeting closed and Ron Nichols had disappeared. He did not stay and speak to anyone. In afterthought, why I wondered would he not speak with a 90 year old former Internee, shake his hand, thank him for his words and sharing his story.”
    This is rude behavior that suggests you know how wrong you are in your actions.
    Please read this before you go out in public again…

    The irony of Manzanar is striking as the Federal government who perpetrated the racist witch hunt has now created a monument to their own injustice. Now ironically another branch of government wants to tarnish the history with an environmental and cultural slap in the face.

    This may have worked 15 years ago before the internet and real communication between citizens but not now. Now the e-waves are ripe with truth, dissent, and the real feelings of society.

    People are posting on this all over the internet and all over the world, every news source in LA as well as many around the country are featuring the 100 mule march.

  5. MJA November 18, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    I don’t understand. Is the proposed solar ranch going to be built on the Manzanar site? Thanks, =

    • Benett Kessler November 18, 2013 at 9:26 am #

      The site is across the highway and east of the river, visible from Manzanar and on the old Manzanar dump site.

  6. Ken Warner November 18, 2013 at 9:47 am #

    Looking at Manzanar with Google Maps, one can see that the main building there has solar panels on it — a lot of them.

    Also, to see the LADWP site, you have to look through the cars and motor homes in the parking lot directly in front.

    And the question came to mind, how do solar panels create dust and isn’t dust just part of the the environment of Owens Valley? I was reading about Manzanar and the internees of the period complained about the dust then.

    • Benett Kessler November 18, 2013 at 11:32 am #

      Inyo County is concerned about dust during the construction period.

      • Ken Warner November 18, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

        Most construction sites I’ve seen use water trucks to wet down the site to keep the dust down. They don’t want their guys to get sick breathing dust.

        It’s not clear how much more, if any more dust, would be caused by construction. Further, does that mean all construction in the Owens Valley has to stop?

        • Benett Kessler November 18, 2013 at 4:46 pm #

          No, it has to keep the dust down.

          • Desert Tortoise November 18, 2013 at 10:24 pm #

            This angst is based on uninformed emotion. Drive down Hwy 14 to Hwy 138 and head west past the western edge of Lancaster. You will see two solar sites, one on each side of Hwy 138 that are of the type the DWP proposes. They are not the eyesores they are being made out to be. This is nothing like the solar facility at Kramer Junction. it is much lower to the ground ( none of the arrays are visible behind a 6 foot chain link fence with fabric covering) and the panels are dark and non reflective. From three miles away you will not notice it.

            There is another similar solar array just south of Mojave along the west side of Hwy 14. It too is low profile and barely noticeable. The DWP is placing their site on disturbed land, the former landfill for the internment camp. It will never be a natural site and you can never build structures for human habitation or farm on it again. I think that is a good use of the site.

          • sugar magnolia November 19, 2013 at 10:23 am #

            Desert Tortoise, I was feeling like you are, until I heard something about lighting. I oppose any facility that will be lit at night. I have not had it confirmed that they propose lighting either during construction or permanently afterwords. Any lighting = no go!

            I can understand the need for emergency lighting, that would be employed only in the case of emergency, but there should be language that says ‘if the emergency lighting is deployed more then 2% of the time (night time) in a one year period, the facility must close down!

  7. MJA November 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm #

    Thanks B, But then as for visuals, the highway and the fuel burning carbon polluting traffic is not only visual, but noisy, and smelly too. Are the people against the solar ranch against the highway too? =

    • Joaquin Murrieta November 18, 2013 at 2:16 pm #

      That is a false argument MJA, I assume by your statement that you are pro-Manzanar solar project. the highway and cars are already there so we do not have a choice where they are concerned. Another reason your statement is faulty is because you are using a comparison that has absolutely no bearing on today’s decision; two wrongs will not make the situation better, it will make it worse. I find these types of statements offensive and insulting because they deceptively confuse people. I imagine you put this out there because you or someone in your family works for LADWP or another company who would benefit financially from a project.

  8. MJA November 18, 2013 at 7:55 pm #

    Offensive and insulting?
    I am simply pro alternative energy and do not think it will do the Owens Valley much harm.
    And as for the Manzanar people objecting, it doesn’t make sense to me. =

    • Philip Anaya November 19, 2013 at 7:09 am #

      DT , Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. How much and what we see is the a gift of vision. Our mental emotional responses are our humanity, the most important and biggest part of the whole of our existence, our egos including my own aside.
      MJA, I am also pro alternative energy. I also value human endeavors and inventiveness. That doesn’t mean however that I place the PV panels on the rooftop and never turn off lights or the baseboard heaters.
      K. Warner, This discussion of dust in the throats of internees is not even close to the apparent rudeness of the DWP Leadership and Management to the memory and the ancestors of the Internees and your flippant remarks are a unspeakable rash harsh justification for your opinion of the merits of a Manzanar Rewards Solar Ranch Project. DWP with all it’s experience with water and power, providing people subsistence and life surely can do better than this past Saturday Morning with Mr. Nichols. There is no excuse possible for the consistency of ill conceived notions and half baked solutions tied together with ribbons and bows and questionable best wishes for the Holiday season . “Here’s the Solar Raunch , Manzanar , We’ll just leave it on the doorstep because we are too good and too large to even dream our selves down your chimney.” If you don’t get it KW and you are in a hole, the best advise is to stop digging . When feel your the soul within you, and you will, most likely be lifted to your feet and your eyes will find the path. The rest will be up to you .

      • Ken Warner November 19, 2013 at 10:15 am #

        Just because I don’t see monsters in the closet doesn’t mean there really are monsters in the closet.

        You are investing a lot more fantasy and imagination than needs to be invested. After it’s built — and I hope it is built — you will have to tell visitors to Manzanar that there is a solar site 5 miles away.

        And if it’s not built — what will the Manzanar Committee replace it with?


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