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Andy Pattantyus: A to-do list for leaders in Sacramento

Right Here, Right Now

Posted: June 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: June 1, 2012 1:55 a.m.
 

On June 5, we narrow our choices for representatives in the Legislature. What should we expect of our elected officials, our California assembly members and state senators?

This is my list of needed items:

1. Safe water. Our elected officials must assure the reliable delivery of safe water.

The task starts with risk mitigation; if we have an earthquake in the wrong place, the Sacramento Delta levees could collapse, putting hundreds of square miles of land under water and creating a Hurricane Katrina scale disaster.

Even worse, water could not be delivered from Northern California to Southern California for a period of several years. In a recent conversation, a water district official told me that such a disaster would take out one year of stored water supply.

Today, people are not getting sick from bacterial or viral infections from drinking quality tap water, but that could change in instant during a natural disaster.

Some chemical-water treatment are a more subtle concern, where long-term effects are not always known or proven.

2. Safe food. Our politicians must assure reliable production of safe food. Cutting off irrigation water in the San Joaquin Valley has taken out thousands of acres of extremely productive farmland.

When I go shopping for organic produce, most of it comes from Mexico, Chile and Peru. Malnutrition is a causal factor in many diseases and health disorders, including obesity, some forms of cancer, diabetes, autism and Alzheimer's just to name a few.

To some extent, a large number of health disorders respond to improved nutrition, eliminating processed foods from the diet and increasing plant-based organic whole food content.

3. Cheap power. Our politicians must assure the reliable delivery of cheap power. Despite the fact that California is sitting on top of massive recoverable gas and petroleum deposits, politics prevents California from tapping its own energy reserves.

We import natural gas from Australia. We cannot have a vibrant economy without low-cost power, the foundation for any growing economy. Growth is stifled, when low cost energy is not available.

Our neighboring states with lower energy costs generally win the competition for new jobs. When we think of energy-intensive industries, we immediately think of examples like steel mills.

But in our modern dot-com business environment, some of the most energy-intensive enterprises are the data centers. Data intensive businesses are busy setting up their server farms in our neighboring states, where energy is cheaper.

4. Education system that produces capable workers. Our politicians must assure an education system that will train the next generation of workers. California K-12 is not properly preparing our youth for college or vocational-tech.

California colleges are not preparing the sufficiently skilled workers that companies need. The dropout rate is horrendous. Teachers' retention rate is abysmal.

Education is being strangled by unfunded mandates from Sacramento. Because they have options, truly outstanding workers want to or can go to any other state to find jobs. People are willing to work for minimum wage, yet businesses have difficulty extracting $8 per hour worth of performance from many of them.

Small businesses like mine must actually pay a premium to attract motivated contract workers to help on tasks, such as bookkeeping, marketing and writing. Basic skills, which every high school graduate should possess, are truly hard to find.

Knowledge-based businesses like mine have no work and no jobs for unmotivated, unskilled or semiskilled workers. Our education system is producing too few capable knowledge-workers and too many unskilled graduates.

The first two points have to do with assuring our safety, and the last two points have are indispensable for the vitality and future of our economy. What will the candidates do for us on these issues?

I think our elected officials, both Democrat and Republican, have dropped the ball on all four counts. I want new representatives in Sacramento (and Washington, D.C., too), but I don't want the new legislators to just keep on doing the same things; rather, I want them to actually serve us by actually solving problems.

Above all, the duty of our elected officials is to protect our safety and to promote the economic future of our state and our country. If they can't do that, they are not much use to their constituents.

Andy Pattantyus lives and works in Santa Clarita and is the president of Strategic Modularity Inc. His column reflects his own views and not necessarily those of The Signal. He can be reached at ipattant@gmail.com

 

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