Tag Archives: os Angeles Times

Drought Declaration

Thirsty?

 

I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week:

Noting that 2013 went down as the driest year since California began keeping rainfall records, Gov. Jerry Brown has officially declared a drought emergency that asks Californians to reduce their water usage by 20%.

Times columnist George Skelton predicts: “Next comes serious flooding.” Skelton says it’s a familiar pattern: “A drought proclamation, as issued by Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday, changes the political climate. It focuses public attention on the need for costly new waterworks. Therefore governors and water officials are always reluctant to declare a drought over, even when rivers again leap their banks, fill reservoirs and send torrents of muddy snowmelt, uprooted trees and drowned livestock cascading into the Pacific.”

But some state pols say the guv waited too long to unleash the flow of aid to drought-stricken counties. “Today’s drought declaration is better late than never,” said Assembly Republican leader Connie Conway.

Which got me thinking about the concept of disaster declarations. Whether a hurricane destroys the Gulf Coast or an earthquake levels a city or a drought deprives farms and rivers of water, it’s obvious to everyone — the victims, the governor, headline writers — that a disaster has occurred. There’s something inherently silly about having to issue a formal proclamation. (I know, it’s a formality designed to free up state funds and perhaps federal aid as well. Still.) Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a society where everyone could look outside, see that it hasn’t rained for a long time, and say: “Lo! A drought”?

On the other hand — for a cartoonist, nuance is a major intellectual hurdle — should an event that occurs at regular intervals be considered a disaster? When you live along a fault line, for example, you can’t really be shocked shocked shocked when the earth starts moving (unless you’re a state official). As Skelton notes, major sections of California’s climate are subject to the desert’s drought-flood-drought cycle.

Finally, what of whim? Should one man, even the governor, be able to determine, Solomon-like, whether or not Drought is occurring or not? These things keep me up at night, especially when I’m only allowed to drink 80% of my previously allotted water ration. Whatever that amounts to.

 

LOS ANGELES TIMES CARTOON: Easy Financing for Trains

Alternative Funding for Jerry's Train

 

I draw cartoons for The Los Angeles Times about issues related to California and the Southland (metro Los Angeles).

This week:

Gov. Jerry Brown has a dream, a dream that would serve as his greatest legacy — a high-speed train that would slash the six-hour drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco to a relaxing ride a smidge over two hours.

It may seem like a pipe dream now, but similar links have transformed other countries. When I visited Paris as a kid, the eastern city of Strasbourg was a weird, remote border town where people spoke German and claimed to like black blood sausages. Thanks to France’s TGV trains, an all-day schlep is a quick day trip — two hours each way — which paved the way for Strasbourg to become an important headquarters for EU bureaucrats and Eurozone business types. Moreover, two hours on the train are not like two hours behind the wheel of a car. You can get a lot of work done on a train.

It doesn’t take a big stretch of imagination to see why Silicon Valley and Hollywood might want to work together more closely.

Unfortunately, Brown is having trouble scaring up the $68 billion estimated total cost of the project.

Fortunately, money seems to be easy to find these days.

California’s parks department, for example, used to be in the habit of squirreling away tens of millions of dollars for a rainy day — in the middle of a budgetary typhoon. Maybe they have a few bucks under the cushions now?

Geeks are willing to fund just about anything on Kickstarter. Sure, people are starving, but how about $67,000 for a statue of the fictional character Robocop?

Then there are like 70 “alternative” cybercurrencies, all based on, well, nothing. If catcoins and dogecoins and sexcoins can convince people to part with real (“fiat”) money, why not traincoin?