Life as a Gold

All in the family -- Jonathan at work.

Thanks to my spontaneous retort to the L.A. Weekly’s article on whale-meat  consumption in Seoul, the word is on the street.  Jonathan Gold is indeed my brother. The Pulitzer Prize-winning foodie — who coined the slogan “Tacos Forever!” long before the food truck battles began — has spent most of his adult life chowing down on the marine critters I’ve spent over 20 years trying to protect.

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A Green Giant – Sharing Our Remembrances of Dorothy

I delivered these remarks at Thursday’s memorial service for Heal the Bay founding president Dorothy Green, who passed away this week. We are encouraging others whose lives were touched by Dorothy to share their thoughts and remembrances by submitting comments to this blog entry.

Dorothy was so much to so many. Wife, mother, grandmother, environmental icon, friend, philanthropist, and activist.  For me, she was my mentor and she was my closest friend.  When I think of Dorothy and her unparalleled success as an environmental leader, there are so many amazing traits that made up the woman. 

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The Passing of an Environmental Legend

More photos of Dorothy at (new window)My closest friend and mentor passed away today. Words you never want to express. After six years of redefining courage in her fight against cancer, Dorothy Green died peacefully in her Westwood home. The same home that spawned Heal the Bay, the Los Angeles/San Gabriel River Watershed Council, the POWER (Public Officials for Water and Environmental Reform) conference, and the California Water Impact Network.

I first met Dorothy when I was a grad student at UCLA. In 1986, she came to speak in a class taught by Stephanie Pincetl in Urban Planning. I was so moved by her talk about the new environmental group Heal the Bay that I went up to her after class and asked to volunteer. That was the first time I ever volunteered for an environmental group.

Two years later, I became Heal the Bay’s first hire, as its staff scientist. Dorothy, as a volunteer, taught me all about work ethic by routinely putting in 80 hours a week. Also, Dorothy taught me that you can’t be successful in any field of advocacy without passion for the cause. No one had more passion for water quality protection and sensible water supply policy than Dorothy.

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County Greening

Xeriscaping – a beautiful thing

I’m very tempted to write an extremely positive post on Los Angeles’ proposed trio of far-reaching environmental ordinances on green building, drought tolerant landscaping and low-impact development (LID).  After all, if the L.A. County Board of Supervisors approves the three ordinances at its meeting Tuesday, it will be the singularly most progressive environmental action ever taken by the county and will set an impressive precedent for the entire region.

Pardon me for my skepticism, but the enviro community’s past history with the supes, in conjunction with strong opposition from the Building Industry Assn. and general economic jitters, leads me to worry that a potentially resounding victory could be watered down into a defeat.

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Parasite Cove

As a high schooler in the late ‘70s, I was lucky enough to live in Point Dume , spending time at local beaches like Zuma, Westward, Big and Little Dume and Paradise Cove.  The area from Big Dume to Paradise Cove has always been my favorite stretch of beach along the Bay because of its sandstone cliffs, great tidepools, kelp beds and great waves. The beach includes a small fishing pier, the Paradise Cove Café, and a view of some of the most spectacular and expensive homes in Malibu. The resident  celeb contingent is well known, with surf icon Laird Hamilton and actor Matthew McConaughey often seen in the water.

Unfortunately, Paradise Cove has become Paradise Lost because of ongoing fecal bacteria problems at the beach.  For years, the beach has routinely received a failing grade on the Heal the Bay Beach Report Card (see Historical Data). Families pay at least 20 bucks for parking to frolic in the calm surf at the Cove, little knowing that they may be coming home with great memories and a bad case of gastroenteritis.

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Dereliction of Duty

Memo to Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and state Sen. Don Perata: The ocean didn’t get us into the state budget mess, but you’re using the debacle to make a mess of the ocean.  Citing cost or politics as the rationale for killing strong ocean protection legislation and programs, as both of these men have recently done, is short sighted and devastating to marine life and human health. 

Money was the Guv’s recent excuse to eliminate state funding for beach water quality monitoring, and yesterday, state finances were cited in his veto of SB 899, a negligible cost bill that would have required the commercial fishing industry to report lost fishing gear.  The data for the gear locations would then be mapped so volunteer pickups could be more effective. The state’s Ocean Protection Council, which is not in dire financial straits, would have worked with UC Davis to manage the bulk of reporting and data management responsibilities. 

The horrendous consequences of derelict fishing gear on marine, from sharks to sea turtles and porpoises to pinnipeds, have been well documented. Yet this bipartisan bill, supported by marine conservation groups and the fishing industry, fell victim to the severely mismanaged budget crisis.

What’s more galling is that the governor recently joined with other Western state governors to sign a progressive agreement on the oceans that included marine debris reduction recommendations. And guess what? He vetoes his first chance at enacting that part of the agreement.

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