Rollbacks and moonshots

On Saturday, SN&R joined a media panel hosted by the Sacramento League of Women Voters for Sacramento City Council candidates in District 5 and District 7.

Too often in these forums the candidates give boilerplate answers, and it’s sometimes hard to discern where they really disagree with each other on policy.

But one issue, Measure B, seemed to bring out some real differences in the field.

Patrick Kennedy, running in District 5, has voiced the strongest opposition to Measure B, which would roll back city utility rates, saying it would be “devastating” to city services. But he was also the strongest in condemning the city’s illegal diversion of utility rates into the city’s general fund—which prompted the ratepayer revolt in the first place.

Kennedy also said the city needs to charge higher rates for big water users like Nestlé. “It’s not fair that large users make thousands-of-percent profit off of our water, which is a scarce resource, while paying the same rate as small users.”

Kennedy’s opponent, Jay Schenirer, hasn’t taken an official position on Measure B, but says he’s generally opposed to “ballot-box budgeting.” At the same time, he said the city council needs to do more to keep rates low. “I’ve talked to people who are close to losing their houses because they can’t afford the utility rates.”

In District 7, candidate Darrell Fong stopped just short of saying he was opposed, but said the rollback “would hurt Sacramento’s budget tremendously.”

“I’m sure you’ve been downtown and noticed a smell; that’s collapsing sewer pipes.”

Fong’s opponent, Ryan Chin, is the only candidate who’s fully embraced Measure B, saying the city’s “lack of transparency” has made it necessary. (Cosmo Garvin)

Sign of the apocalypse

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman spoke at Mayor Kevin Johnson’s monthly Greenwise Sacramento event this last week, appearing at both the Crest Theatre (with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger) and at The Citizen Hotel.

In a Q-and-A with audience members, Friedman slammed Proposition 23, calling it a “travesty” and its existence a “sign of the apocalypse.”

The writer also urged U.S. leaders to find a “balance between security and prosperity.” Specifically, he looked to China, which is making innovations in the green technology and transportation fields as America spends billions upon billions to rebuild Afghanistan, he reminded.

“We need our moonshot project,” urged Friedman—although it’s worth noting that in the past he championed the Bush administration’s hunt for weapons of mass destruction during the months preceding the Iraq war.

Find out more about Mayor Johnson’s Greenwise project at (Nick Miller)