What’s the best way to suspend civil law and human rights, while maintaining the fiction of lawful government? Why – declare a State of Emergency, of course. What better way for an ambitious Rethug governor facing term-out to sacrifice voters – and their health – to convince the Rethug donors he’ll follow the GOP program of selling our health and safety to the usual corporate suspects?
Hey – and if you can effectively overthrow public participation and the pesky health and safety codes – such a deal. Literally. The very deal California’s deeply anti-environmental Governor Schwarzengroper and his hand-picked Ag Secretary have made to sell off Californians’ health to AgroBiz and the serial poisoners, Big AgChem.
But wait – there’s more. For Ahhnuld, anyway….and the usual bottom-feeders who form the Rethug’s base.
First: invent the "crisis".
The light brown apple moth may not be the voracious crop threat portrayed by state and federal agricultural officials, according to some scientists who also warn that the aerial spraying of a pesticide over California’s cities may turn out to be an expensive, unnecessary public relations nightmare doomed to fail.
U.S. and state agricultural departments support a $74.5 million program to spray the pesticide over hundreds of square miles from Monterey County north to Solano County as early as this summer, but several of the state’s top insect and plant scientists say the decision to do so should be reconsidered.
"It’s not such a nasty pest. You’re not going to see a plant succumbing to the light brown apple moth," said botanist Daniel Harder, executive director of the Arboretum at UC Santa Cruz. Harder visited New Zealand to research the moth’s behavior there.
Second: A nation of laws is for sissies, not steroid-addled action heroes: declare a State of Emergency. After all, suspending the Constitution’s what GOP chief executives do best, right?
Third: Constituent service. That’s why the GOP chose you: to Feed The Hands That
Bribe Buy You.
The company that makes one of the pesticides state officials are considering spraying over the Bay Area to fight the light brown apple moth is owned by a wealthy California agribusinessman who has been a generous contributor to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and other state officials.
Among the business owners whose agricultural operations in California could be affected by the insect is Stewart Resnick of Los Angeles, who owns nut and citrus tracts in the Central Valley.
His Roll International Corp. owns Paramount Farms, the world’s largest grower of almonds and pistachios, and Paramount Citrus, one of the biggest citrus fruit producers in the United States.
Roll International’s holdings also include Suterra LLC, a fledgling pesticide company in Bend, Ore., that makes CheckMate, a pheromone pesticide that is one of four chemicals being considered for aerial spraying by officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the California Department of Food and Agriculture.
[Checkmate] was sprayed over Santa Cruz and Monterey counties in the fall in an attempt to disrupt the moth’s mating.
Resnick has been a longtime donor to politicians, giving hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Democratic Party and its candidates for state and federal offices. In recent years, he’s also given nearly $150,000 to Schwarzenegger’s campaign, records show.
Hey – why not spread the wealth? At least far enough so your PR firm, your closest advisers, and your wife’s former chief of staff can slurp from the taxpayers’ wallets:
State officials struggling to convince critics about the safety of aerial spraying to control an invasive moth awarded a $500,000 no-bid contract to a prominent public relations firm with ties to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture invoked emergency powers to award the contract without competition. Typically, the government would advertise such contracts and allow firms to bid for the job.
"I can see how spraying would be an emergency. But I am having some difficulty with why CDFA could not get bids or go through (a national competitive bidding) process for the public relations work being undertaken by Porter (Novelli)," Henry D. Nanjo, a senior counsel with the Department of General Services, wrote in an internal e-mail to a state contracting analyst and an acquisition manager. "In addition, I don’t have anything by which I can judge the reasonableness of PN’s rate."
Nanjo told the AP it was the first time he had been asked to approve a no-bid contract for public affairs work.
Hey – if it’s for Maria’s BFF, it must be reasonable, right? Who better to determine value than a faux-enivro hubby who commutes to work every day in a Gulfstream jet?
Under the deal, Jeff Randle, a frequent campaign and political adviser to Schwarzenegger, was promised a share of the work. Mitch Zak, Randle’s partner, said the firm wanted to win the full contract but lost to Porter Novelli. The firm later was contacted by Porter Novelli to do subcontracting work, as state officials promised in internal e-mails.
Donna Lucas, former chief of staff to first lady Maria Shriver and a member of Schwarzenegger’s inner circle during his first years in office, also was contacted to submit a proposal for a public relations campaign, the e-mails show.
Her name originally appeared alongside Porter Novelli in a summary of the contract but was scratched off.
Lucas also is affiliated with Porter Novelli, which lists her as counsel for strategic communications. She said she declined offers to work on the contract and does not know why her name appeared on the original agreement. Lucas said she has not done any work on the apple moth campaign.
A Department of Food and Agriculture spokeswoman defended the contract earlier Wednesday.
Nancy Lungren, the deputy secretary for public affairs who first solicited proposals for the work from Randle and Lucas, said it was necessary for the state to begin communicating quickly with the public amid a growing wave of concern over the spraying.
"I am very familiar with Donna and her work," Lungren said. "It’s all word-of-mouth when you’re in PR. You know who the good other people are. That’s how it works. … People probably think there’s some political thing here, but there’s really not."
Gosh. Kinda restores your faith in democracy, right?
She said the U.S. Department of Agriculture is reimbursing California for much of the cost of the Porter Novelli contract but could not say how much has been spent or how much the state has sought in reimbursement.
Ahhh – that’s so noble of the Rethugs: letting two-job Americans have a hand in celebrity government – by filling the hands of Ahhnuld and Maria’s bosom
The e-mails obtained by the AP showed Lungren solicited proposals from Randle, Lucas and others for the work after residents complained to officials in Monterey and Santa Cruz counties, prompting local governments to question the spraying.
Well of course – now I understand. For the California GOP and their owners in BigAg, civic democracy is always an emergency.
Want to learn more about Schwazengroper’s suspension of California’s strict health and safety laws has already left hundreds complaining of illness – all for a sham "emergency" to "eradicate" a pest that’s been in the state so long and spread so widely that it can never be eliminated? The good folks at CASS and LBAMspray have lots of resources and ways to get involved.
You can also watch this space. Schwarzengroper’s Anschluss against California’s Constitution is to public organizers on pesticide issues what Beijing’s Great Torch March Forward for the Blood Olympics is to those fighting for human rights in Tibet and Darfur: a desecration that spotlights public attention on hideous abuses of power. I’ll be following the campaign to protect Californians from Arnold’s toxic goo for Firedoglake – more to come.