By Diana Diamond
Gov. Newsom: Impose water use restrictions NOW. City Council: Vote on police encryption ASAPUploaded: May 25, 2021
Why hasn’t Gov. Gavin Newsom declared that we should immediately start cutting down our water usage because California will have a devastating drought this summer? Granted, he recently ordered drought emergency procedures for Sonoma and Mendocino counties, and a put money aside to provide drinking water for small towns, but the rest of the state, so far, has no gubernatorial restrictions to limit water usage.
Now is the time he must do it. Many scientific reports say the light snowfall onto parched land in the Sierras seeped into the ground but not enough to produce a downhill runoff, which is needed to fill our aqueducts and reservoirs.
I don’t like cutting back my water usage any more than you do – limiting my showers, totally filling up my dishwasher before using it, not flushing each time I use the toilet, etc. Most of all I worry about my garden, because if my many plants and flowers don’t get enough water, they die – even the perennials and some bushes.
But if we all start saving now, the restriction will be less harsh over the next critical months.
As the Mercury News reported on Monday, the drought conditions are worsening. After two extremely dry winters, reservoir waters are shrinking, fire dangers are increasing, and water supplies are deteriorating. The cause: “fewer atmospheric rivers. When big storms come sweeping in from the ocean (aka the “Pineapple Express”), they provide enough water for the state. If there are a lot of storms, we suffer from flooding; if too few, like the past two years, we get a drought. Research shows we will have a drought this year, so governor, please demand now that we use less water.
Our cities can also encourage us to limit our use – we don’t have to wait for the governor to tell us to cut down. The only warning I have to our local cities, including Palo Alto, is please don’t, as you did a couple of years, charge us more for our water usage because we are using less. And why did our water charges increase? Because our city was staffed for high water usage and employees kept their jobs. And when revenues dropped, their paychecks remained steady. I would hope we have a more flexible staffing approach – move employees around to other departments or temporarily lay unneeded employees off.
City council members, when are you going to discuss the police department’s policy on radio frequencies – live transmissions between police officers and dispatch. Police Chief Robert Jonsen ordered last February that live transmissions be suddenly stopped after 70 years because of a state Department of Justice memo to police chiefs that said private information about individuals should be protected, so either encrypt or find another way to keep that information private. Jonsen was one of the first chiefs in the state to order encryption, and then quickly announced he could find no other way. If the council or the press can find an alternate, he “would consider it,” suggesting to me he is the decider. I know the council is.
But it now turns out that the message to the chiefs was just a memo, and had no legal effect. The memo also warned that there are state policies on releasing private information, but policies are not laws, as the Daily Post reported.
So, council members, when are you going to take this up? On Monday’s council agenda, one item was a “colleagues” memo from Alison Cormack and Greer Stone asking council to appoint neighborhood “ambassadors” who would get frequent information from the city which could be distributed to people in his/her block “to “establish strong local connections (from people) who are plugged to the city’s information structure.”
We have three local newspapers in town, so I question the need for ambassadors. But my question is this enough of a priority to push an encryption agenda item to late June or August? M priority, obviously, is having the council review the encryption policy and determine an effective way to open up police activities to the public and press, as occurred before February. program could take months. At the next council meeting, council committee rules for comparable committee procedure. Is this a big issue?
NOTE: Am I the only one having trouble using the city’s redesigned web site? I tried looking for the May 24 agenda, and the first two tries I was told not available, and the third and fourth tries my screen said Safari connect I finally outsmarted it but it used to be so easy.