Letters for December 30, 2010

Letter of the week

Arnold’s no ‘Jolly Green Giant’

Re “Arnold’s green legacy” by Greg Lucas (SN&R Green Days, December 16):

When it comes to water and fish, Gov. [Arnold] Schwarzenegger’s environmental legacy is not “mixed” at all—it’s an unprecedented disaster. Political leaders, organizations and corporate media have green-washed his deplorable environmental legacy over the past several months in a disgusting campaign by the governor and his collaborators to portray him as the “Jolly Green Giant.”

His real environmental legacy is very different. He allowed the Department of Water Resources to pump record levels of water out of the Delta from 2004 to 2006, resulting in the Central Valley salmon and California Delta pelagic species collapses. He attacked two 2009 federal biological opinions protecting Delta smelt, Central Valley steelhead, Sacramento River chinook salmon, green sturgeon and southern resident killer whales. His administration did nothing while tens of thousands of striped bass, Sacramento blackfish, Sacramento splittail and other species perished during a levee repair project at Prospect Island in November 2007. He’s vetoed numerous environmental bills, including a badly needed 2008 bill sponsored by Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) that would have provided emergency fish-rescue plans on the Delta. He’s consistently slashed funding for game wardens in the field, while California has the lowest ratio of wardens to residents of any state in the nation. He directed the Central Valley Regional Water [Quality] Control Board to grant waivers to agricultural polluters, in spite of the dire condition of Delta fisheries. His Department of Pesticide Regulation inexplicably approved methyl iodide to replace the soil fumigant methyl bromide, even though methyl iodide is even more toxic to animals, fish and people.

The “crown jewel” of Schwarzenegger’s water policies is his campaign to build a peripheral canal/tunnel and new dams through his Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan processes. In his zeal to build it, he tried to sabotage the campaign by the Klamath, Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley tribes, fishermen and environmentalists to remove four Klamath River dams by making $250 million for dam removal contingent upon the voters’ passage of an unpopular water bond that creates the infrastructure for a peripheral canal and new dams.

And that’s just part of his record on fishery and water issues, arguably the worst of any governor in California history. He’s also less an advocate for “clean energy” than the media has portrayed. We cannot allow Schwarzenegger’s deplorable environmental legacy to be green-washed. People who care about the restoration of collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, environmental justice and the truth must counter the myths being spread about the “Jolly Green Giant” every chance they get!

Dan Bacher

Unite and fight foreclosure

Re “Default!” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, December 16):

I want to thank—and applaud—Rachel Leibrock for her article on what I would call the seizure of massive numbers of American homes by the banking industry. This piece is an important first step in fighting back against this 21st-century land grab.

As a mediator for a county superior court, my colleagues and I mediate a number of default/foreclosure “unlawful detainers.” Sometimes we manage to get the defendants a few extra weeks to move out, but the human drama is heartbreaking for me, and the emerging pattern seems very clear.

I may be a cynic—and I am certainly a leftist one—but I think that what is going on across the country is at least partially intentional and that the supposed bailout has only been intended for the banks, not the people. It seems to have actually accelerated the seizure rate by making it much more interesting for the banks to just take the properties (in case any of you die-hards still think President [Barack] Obama is on our side, it’s long past time to think again).

In any case, my advice to Rachel, and to everyone in her situation, is to organize. There are millions of you out there. United, you have real power! Let go of your embarrassment or shame and unite to fight back. Make the banks prove title and chain of title. How can they be kicking you out of your house if they can’t prove that they own it? Don’t for a minute doubt that the vast majority of the people in the country are on your side! In the cases I see, even the lawyers who represent the banks are pulling for the would-be ex-homeowners.

I have no doubt that, if you unite and fight back with focus and determination, you can work miracles. I’m cheering for you!

Nevada City

Other options for homeowners

Re “Default!” by Rachel Leibrock (SN&R Feature, December 16):

Excellent article. More homeowners need to hear these stories. Unfortunately, loan modification rarely delivers what it promises. I hear stories like this every day from homeowners like Rachel Leibrock.

Hopes were high for [Home Affordable Modification Program] and for [Home Affordable Foreclosure Alternatives]. The idea was that a homeowner would get a definitive answer on the loan mod: “Yes,” the issue is settled; “no,” the bank will let you short-sale it. I think the jury’s back and the verdict is: It doesn’t work.

A lot of homeowners feel duped and used. As a real-estate professional, I feel I am doing a disservice to my clients by telling them to pursue a loan modification when this story is the rule and not the exception. I realize that people want to keep their homes, I realize people need a place to go after they lose a home, but HAMP is not working. And for those it did work for, they are still on the hook for the money. “Strategic default” seems to be a dirty word, but after dealing with these banks day in and day out, I can tell you this: The banks have a strategy. The people out there should not feel guilty for having a strategy.

In the article, Ms. Leibrock mentioned that she owes nearly twice what the home is worth. That being the case for many homeowners, I’d ask them to ponder these questions: Would you buy your home today for what you owe on it? How would you feel if you could buy it at today’s prices? Look at what the same home rents for; look at what [Federal Reserve Chairman] Ben Bernanke said about the economy over the next five to six years, and then think about this: With the right strategy, you could potentially buy the same home in two years at or close to today’s prices.

I’d encourage everyone to find out what the alternatives are before they commit to loan modification or walking away. Loan modification is often the worst option to foreclosure. Some other options are discussed on my blog, http://wesmoody.blogspot.com.

Wes Moody

Lost environmental chops

Re “Arnold’s green legacy” by Greg Lucas (SN&R Green Days, December 16):

Sunrise Powerlink is an environmental travesty. How can your pages mislead readers by promoting it? Follow its route. Report on how many square miles of the desert are being scraped bare in the name of renewable energy.

Michael Garabedian
via e-mail