Leader needed

Sometimes there are no easy answers, no compromises that are acceptable to all sides. Sometimes, being a leader means taking decisive action, even if it means hurting your supporters to help the public.

Now is one of those times, as California wrestles with how to emerge from our energy woes. Unfortunately, Gov. Gray Davis has not shown himself to be that kind of leader.

As Bill Bradley chronicles in this week’s cover story, Davis was caught off-guard when the problem began to manifest itself last year, and then failed to respond to it in any meaningful way until this year when it was a full-blown crisis.

“California’s deregulation scheme is a colossal and dangerous failure,” Davis declared in his State of the State speech, before embarking on policies designed to prop up that scheme with public funds given away under secret agreements.

At this pivotal point in history, California has the opportunity to lead the country in some fundamentally new directions. We could lead the way out of the Oil Age with a massive investment in renewable technologies. We could question self-serving “free market” fallacies. We could seize back corporate assets plundered from the people.

Or we can continue to play it safe, hoping that we can get through this mess without much short-term damage, even if it comes at the price of our long-term independence and prosperity.