naturalareafan excellently reported in blessed blog Relief from the Concrete:~:~:~:~:~
The yearlong debate surrounding the $11 billion water bond shined a bright light on what government officials like to call "water education facilities" -- a category that includes the proposed San Gabriel River Discovery Center.
What did that light reveal? That such projects are little more than government pork.
Democratic legislators, Republican legislators, political observers -- people from across the spectrum pointed out that these projects are the superfluous, costly ingredients intended to do nothing more than sweeten the deal to build political support for legislation.
But don't take my word for it:
The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 10, 2010:
"Sen. Lois Wolk (D-Davis) criticized the bond for including money for economic development projects, a water taxi service at Lake Tahoe and the construction of water education centers, saying that spending is not directly related to improving water quality.
"'It is fiscally irresponsible,' Wolk said. 'We need to repeal it, revise it and refocus it on the true needs of California.'"
The Los Angeles Times, Aug. 18, 2009:
"The bond proposal includes funding for bike paths, museums, visitor centers, tree planting, economic development and the purchase of property from land speculators and oil companies -- all in the districts of lawmakers whose key votes helped it pass the Legislature.
"'It's unfortunate that so many pet projects were put in that it has just created a Christmas tree out of this bond, and most of them don't produce one drop of water,' said Sen. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), who voted against the measure when it cleared the Legislature this month."
The Los Angeles Times' George Skelton, Aug. 19, 2009:
"No matter how clever and careful the writer, on occasion a work should be ripped up and retooled. That also goes for writers of legislation.
"A prime example: Sacramento's new state water bond proposal. Granted, this bloated $11.1-billion bond is laced with humor: A waterworks package that provides borrowed money -- at twice the ticket price, counting interest -- for building bike trails, buying open space and developing 'watershed education centers.'
"OK, it is not funny," Skelton writes. "It's politics. It's pork."
Skelton's right: It's not funny.
And the proposed Discovery Center is so not-funny -- government officials ignoring the will of the people, attempting to build a project that destroys what it supposedly is intended to interpret, lashing the taxpayer to a project that promises to waste tens of millions of dollars -- that you have to laugh to keep from crying.
To my mind, one of the least funny aspects is that while the county, the state and the two water districts behind the project are raising taxes and water rates, all while slashing budgets and services for things people actually need and use, the Discovery Center Authority would have us believe that a water museum and meeting hall is something other than the multimillion-dollar government boondoggle it so obviously is.
It's not funny. It's just sad.