California’s Majority Party Has a Scary Vision for the Central Valley
California’s Democratic leadership — from Gov. Jerry Brown to the majority-party-controlled Legislature — has a vision for California that, if implemented, would modify the character and historical role of California’s Central Valley.
The Central Valley, stretching from Red Bluff on the Sacramento River to Bakersfield in the south, is a century-old cornucopia of agricultural bounty. It produces fruit, rice and vegetables along with grapes, cattle, cotton and a host of other crops. Thousands of orchards, fields and ranches combine to produce a very significant portion of a $46 billion-dollar harvest that feeds our state, nation and world.
Poor immigrant groups from Mexico, Central America, East Asia and the Caribbean also find the Valley a job magnet, a place where the reward for hard work in the fields or processors is the ability to place one’s foot on the first rung of the ladder of the American Dream.
The governor, Assembly speaker Anthony Rendon, Senate president pro tem Kevin De Leon, other legislators, and appointed leaders for various state commissions and boards, have a different vision. They dream of huge unionized corporate farms, commuter bedrooms and sprawling urban blight comprising a new Central Valley that has more in common with the San Fernando Valley than it does California’s chief food growing region.
If they have their way, Californians can forget about sustaining our state’s broad base of multigenerational family farms, our healthy production-based community economies or playing host to new immigrants seeking a fresh start and a living wage for their honest day’s work.
California High-Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales recently described the carbon reduction opportunity his $64-billion rail link between San Jose and Shafter in glowing terms: Silicon Valley commuters will zip to and from their new homes in Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield and the heart of California’s high-tech center. Carbon will be saved because orchards will be bulldozed and farmland will be razed to build dense urban cores and business parks the length of the bullet train’s right-of-way.
Chair Felicia Marcus of the State Water Resources Control Board took the necessary actions to implement Gov. Brown’s emergency drought declaration order and choked off surface water supply deliveries for the past five years to cities and farms scattered south of the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, the latest in a long line of hard blows to farms and local economies pertaining to water resources.
The Legislature passed laws governing how much water farms can pump from the ground, curtailed workers’ hours, imposed a slate of punishing workplace regulations and is now seeks — for the second time this legislative session — to boost farmworkers’ minimum wage and eliminate overtime critical to the worker’s livelihoods. A final Assembly vote on the measure is scheduled for today, even as this is being written.
But legislation and executive orders are not the only afflictions plaguing the Central Valley at the hand of California’s majority.
Mary Nichols and the Air Resources Board forced independent truckers, transportation fleet operators and farmers to scrap perfectly good diesel trucks and tractors years before their useful lives were over in a quest for better air quality. Some of this equipment operates just a few weeks a year, during the harvest.
Piling mandates one on another like this is madness. Ordinary Californians celebrate our state’s regional differences even as utopian urban planners actively work behind the scenes in Sacramento to still the beating heart of California’s character.
Why must our state sacrifice its rural core to fulfill the dreams of coast-dwelling urban social planners unable to demonstrate how spending taxpayer’s trillions will improve our state or better our ordinary citizen’s lives?
What Central American migrant will come equipped with sufficient education to step into a job in Silicon Valley requiring engineering and coding experience? How will day laborers get their start, put food on the table or give their children an education? Will their American dreams go up in smoke with the politicians’ and bureaucrats’ empty promises?
Something is seriously wrong when one party’s leadership — barely representing a majority of Californians and proudly proclaiming it exists to protect the little guy — works tirelessly to impose its will on everyone behind a smokescreen of climate change/carbon-reduction rhetoric, soothing words about fast commutes on bullet trains, or other grand but unlikely visions.
There is scarcely enough time left to save our California and our Central Valley for our children, and for our children’s children.
If you see California’s future as sunlight, soil and water turning rich land into ripening fruit, grain and vegetables while providing an engine of opportunity for entry-level jobs to our poorest workers, it’s time to speak out.
Raise your voice against the deluge of new laws and regulations, state-enforced resource rationing and betrayal of the hardworking immigrant poor hidden in the malicious and dangerous visions of California’s Democratic majority and its leadership.