Thursday, November 1, 2001
This vote is a judgment on whether the water district will continue to push for the New Los Padres dam, or be forced to find other solutions to the water issues facing the Monterey Peninsula.
The district has viewed a new dam as an answer to its prayers since its inception 23 years ago. This obsession has led to a number of public votes. In the mid ''80s there was an advisory vote to determine the feasibility of building a new, bigger dam at the San Clemente Dam site. That passed, but the US Environmental Protection Agency killed the project.
A new dam was proposed for the Los Padres site, downstream. That dam would require flooding wilderness, which could not occur without an act of God. Or at least an act of Congress.
Sure enough, then-U.S. Rep. Leon Panetta managed to get a law passed to allow a land-swap, shifting the property out of wilderness designation.
The new Los Padres Dam seemed to have legs. In 1993, there was a district-wide vote to consider another water solution, a desalination plant on the Monterey Bay. That vote failed, increasing pressure to build a new dam.
That led to the mother of all votes, in November 1995, when another district-wide election determined whether the district could build the new dam--and float bonds to build it. That vote failed, decisively.
The dam seemed dead. And since then, a successful lawsuit was brought by vintners in Cachagua challenging the EIR of the dam on the basis that it didn''t consider impacts on the vintners from construction and operation of the dam. With growing opposition (including from the National Marine Fisheries Service, which must approve the project for it to be built), the dam has stalled. And two years ago, voters elected three dam opponents--Molly Erickson, Kris Lindstrom and Zan Hansen.
Judi Lehman would join these three to create an anti-dam majority for the first time in the district''s history.
Lehman sees the complexity of issues and possible solutions, whereas her opponent, Ron Chesshire, sees a stark choice: obtain water for growth via a dam, or create a country-club community. Chesshire''s motives, we believe, are honorable. But Lehman sees a way out of the dilemma.
Lehman believes water can be found elsewhere. As an example, she proposes a solution that would make future golf courses easier on water consumption. "They should have a ''rain basin''--an area that is gently sloped down," she says. "In the winter it becomes a wetlands, and the water seeps down and replenishes the aquifer. When it''s dry you can bounce balls across it."
That''s just one inventive conservation measure, but it''s indicative of the kind of forward thinking we like to see.
Most critical, we think Lehman''s presence on the board will provide a wel- come break from the gridlock that has plagued this intensely polarized body.
Some worry that Lehman will be a toady for fellow dam opponents. We don''t believe that will prove true. Lehman''s insistence that additional bathrooms in residences don''t intensify water use, just increase convenience, assures us somewhat--though we hardly expect her to become a maverick. We hope that nine years of experience on the Monterey Historic Preservation Commission and seven years on the Monterey Peninsula Regional Park District Board have engendered in Lehman an ability to think independently.
Ron Chesshire, the incumbent, has many points in his favor: his political astuteness and what we believe is his earnest desire to represent the interests of working people. But we find his tenacious pro-dam position, as well as his position on individual rights versus the common good (his opposition to district regulation of wells on the Peninsula is a good example) to be backward.
We recommend Judi Lehman.
Monterey Peninsula College District
The Weekly endorses: Heidi Hunter and Sam Karas (two seats)
The MPC Board of Trustees needs to home-in on two things in the next four years: money and marketing. State funding cuts are imminent and the sagging economy means less local money for the school. Faculty salaries are up from four years ago, but considering the high cost of living on the Peninsula, there''s still room for improvement. In order to attract new students and staff to campus, the school must build new facilities and refurbish existing ones. At the same time, MPC could work harder to bring the community onto campus.
The Board needs proactive members right now, which is why the Weekly endorses Heidi Hunter and Sam Karas. Together, they have the vision and the know-how to bring in the money and get things done.
We''re impressed with Hunter''s vision for the MPC. She sees the school becoming a focal point for the community, a key venue for art, theater, speakers and sports. And her vision is matched by her ability.
Karas calls himself a "doer," and, after two decades of community service, he has the track record to prove it. That''s exactly what MPC needs.
After years of serving in public office, founding countless local organizations and institutions, actively supporting environmental and hospitality groups and advocating for affordable housing, Karas has connections countywide and statewide.
Jim Tunney''s proven himself to be a strong leader and a great uniter on the board. He has also demonstrated the ability to follow through. Donald Curley''s obvious commitment to students and to networking is also commendable, as is Kathrina Ognyanovich''s.
But in this vote, we think Hunter and Karas stand out.
Monterey Peninsula Unified School District Board of Trustees
The Weekly endorses: Carlos Noriega (Dist 1) Shanda LeBoeuf (Dist 2) Don Summers (Dist 3)
The Monterey Peninsula Unified School District''s troubles are well documented: the district is $9 million in the red after a decade of overspending and many of the school facilities are in dire need of repair. The Board of Trustees needs people with a combination of business savvy and awareness of the value of education. Carlos Noriega, Shanda LeBoeuf and Don Summers are our choices. Noriega has a degree in Juvenile Justice and experience on youth parole boards that set him apart. Shanda LeBoeuf easily outshines the competition in District 2 with her levelhead- edness, her history on the Peninsula (she''s a Seaside High grad) and her background in accounting. Don Summers'' business background is complemented by his personal experience with education--he teaches at NPS and his wife is an educator as well.
We reccommend Noriega, LeBoeuf and Summers.