Politics for Grown-ups
“If we’re not careful, people will be running this town.”
-Quote by former Pacific Grove Mayor Robert Quinn, which launched me, and later the fabulous Bud Nunn, into politics with Quinn’s shameless disgust for the public and public interests.
Welcome to David Dilworth’s sometimes humorous Personal Web-Log or “blog” covering Politics of our Environment, Democracy, Consumer Issues, Personal Privacy, Decision making and well, anything else I feel is important to protecting our lives and even making them better – for our greater Monterey Peninsula and sometimes way beyond. These articles are my personal research and opinions – and are independent of all the organizations I am affiliated with. Any satire you detect is a bonus.
Political Life Guard
Worried about me drowning in my outdoor forays during summertime visits to her ranch in California’s Central Valley, my fabulous, energetic, charming maternal Grandmother, enrolled me in intensive, daily swimming lessons soon after my 7th birthday. My only alternative was trying to find something else to do in the intellectually barren, blazing 110 degree Fahrenheit heat. Going swimming was an easy choice.
Never a fast swimmer, I soon had a comfortable, competent grasp of how to swim. Having rather enjoyed summertime swimming, by my ninth birthday I found myself the youngest (and smallest at around 60 pounds) child enrolled in lifeguard training at Kerman pool.
Lifeguard training required me to “save” my 150 pound thrashing, thoroughly uncooperative instructor from the deep end of the pool. At first awkward (60 pounds verses 150 pounds), with instruction and practice it soon became easy and even an interesting challenge. One much older (teenage) and larger girl lifeguard observed my efforts as David and Goliath. (Later, and larger, I served a summer as a lifeguard for the Pacific Grove High School pool.)
Once trained as a lifeguard it had become ethically impossible (and possibly illegal) for me to walk past a struggling swimmer.
Fast forward 20 years to a potluck invitation where some friends were fighting a grotesque Freeway that “experts” wanted to go past the semi-sleepy town of Carmel. Comfortably interspersed with the world-class appetizers were lessons in how to stop the road agency, California Department of Transportation, from building that freeway in lovely Hatton Canyon.
Without really noticing it, we all got extremely well trained in the whole spectrum of politics, law and science of how road-building works; or doesn’t. It took a few years, but we not only stopped the freeway, we surprisingly fundamentally changed the way road-building decisions were made in California — out of the hands of the secretive bureaucrats and into the hands of locally accountable elected officials.
Now trained as a political lifeguard it had become nearly impossible for me to ignore struggling politics. Hence, a local paper soon nicknamed me a “Hyperactivist.”
This website has been called “Politics for Grown-ups.” I consider that a meaningful, worthwhile compliment.
Far, far too many people avoid politics because of the conflict. That is a shame. Unfortunately Politics is inherently about conflict. If we all agreed about everything – there would be no politics. But I have yet to find any two people who totally agree on every political issue. That’s not a problem with people who can practice “Respectful Disagreement.”
The problem is that some people make politics gratuitously nasty to intentionally keep nice people away (I won’t mention any names – like Robert Quinn and Bill Kampfe). Nice people are rarely greedy, can’t say the same for the few others.
Like so many others I started out believing that politics was about honest and ethical disputes in values and honorable ways to resolve differences. (Its not.) I thought – just let the officials know what is wrong and how to fix it and they would immediately realize the wisdom of ideas that are successful elsewhere and put them right into place.
Well . . . I have since learned that “place” they put any ideas invariably turns out to be the trash can. I’ve learned the hard way — in politics no good idea is ever adopted without a Titanic struggle. And no good deed goes unpunished.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter” -Martin Luther King Jr.
Once you are trained as a lifeguard, you can never stand by and let a struggling swimmer drown. My grandmother was determined that I was trained as a lifeguard by the time I was 10 years old.
Similarly, I learned how to successfully protect ecosystems from developers, resource extractors and governments (DREGs). Which now makes it nearly impossible for me to ignore destruction of vital ecosystems for “progress.”
If you want a government decision in your favor and you aren’t making money from it – well good luck ! Yet for for those who make money from government decisions, lots of money, their paths are paved with red carpet.
Smells funny doesn’t it ? That’s because politics is all about money and ego. If you aren’t prepared to suck up to electeds or give them campaign cash – you’re swimming up a waterfall.
How to Make Our Community Better – While Avoiding Conflict
We can and must do better. Somewhat before Rodney King made “Can’t we all get along” famous I coined the phrase “Respectful Disagreement” to inspire people that we can disagree and still work together.
So the aim of this website is to inform nice folks like you about what is really going on, what is wrong – and what you can do to EASILY fix it.
The Motto for this website is “If Monterey Peninsula media competently covered important news – we’d be out of business.” Yes, our local media is sadly stunningly superficial, and often viscerally driven in amazingly malignant directions. So that’s a challenge to our local currently superficial “media.” Go ahead – I invite you, I implore you, I beg you — Make this website irrelevant – report the public interest point of view – so I can do other things.
Hardball Politics – I’ve Earned Enemies Honestly
President Harry Truman said “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell.”
When you “play” hardball politics, you will step on a few tails.
In the course of stopping more than a Billion dollars worth (really, with a “B”) of horrible development and advocating for public interests, investigating and publicly telling the truth and naming names about dirty deeds in Monterey Peninsula politics – I have made a few greedy people mad.
Well, Peninsula politics is not a softball game – its “played” with bulldozers, chainsaws, millions of dollars and sometimes extremely vicious ink – and I’ve earned my enemies honestly.
In addition to Greedmonsters, I’ve been frivously SLAPP sued by County Supervisor Barbara Shipnuck, falsely called a liar by the notorious developer’s attorney Tony Lombardo and Herald writer Joe Livernois, attacked by the Pine Cone’s Paul Miller and Weak Coastly’s Bradly Zeve and the Herald’s mentally unstable Royal Calkins who Blacklisted (total censorship of) all my letters and commentaries since 2004. (Blacklist is apparently lifted after Calkins was fired in 2014.)
In spite of that I still give everyone at least one chance to do good.
I’ve called the Pine Cone’s notorious environment hater Publisher Paul Miller to ask him to lunch, but he never returned my phone calls.
Along with others who ran the Recall Campaign, I gave Mayor / developer and Eco-Fraud Dan Cort two chances to gracefully resign and avoid the Recall campaign started on him.
Instead he paid for a publicity campaign to personally attack me – rather than the people who organized the Recall. Then he resigned, absurdly claiming it had nothing to do with the recall campaign.
To cap it off Cort corrupted the Ballotpedia report about his recall by eliminating his name from the article and then Cort put my name all over it (hmmm, a Recall with no named elected official – how does that work? Cort needs more than a little work on his integrity and reasoning).
I’ve been offered bribes by some mighty powerful developers; one even sent a check with my name on it after I said no. It was easy to turn them down, fun too.
I’m tempted to offer all those who are doing wrong with political power the same deal as Adlai Stevenson offered —
The reason I could offer that is my work is about political actions – not personalities.
Sincerity Most Important
Oddly enough, I get along remarkably well personally with many whose politics and projects I oppose.
One event might stun a few folks. I once called the notorious land mis-use lawyer Tony Lombardo (who once falsely accused me of lying) for his take on a project. He returned my call immediately and we had a friendly chat.
That might be because I respect sincerity, more than I even knew myself until recently. It turns out I have tons more respect for a political opponent who is sincere, even the greedy ones — than superficial allies who have no values but falsely claim them for political or personal reasons. One County Supervisor, Potter, and three recent Pacific Grove Mayors jump right to mind (Koffman, Dan Cort and now Bill Kampf).
Outlasted all Government and Media
My decades of public interest work here has outlasted every Monterey Peninsula elected official; every politician (except Sand City Mayor David Pendergrass – who does an amazing amount of harm considering he gets elected with only about 70 votes – total).
My work has outlasted every “Planning” Director, planner, City Manager, every reporter (my list is over 100), editor, newspaper letter editor/censor, and publisher. (Though there are two agency attorneys that have been around longer.)
Serious hit and run damage is done to our Peninsula politics by many carpetbagger politicians, so-called “planners” and “reporters” (and even a few who fashion themselves as activists). Their biased incompetence finds all of them talking only to the Electeds, the developers, PR flacks and the Chamber of Commerce and ignoring the public.
Why do so many curry favor from money and power – and ignore the obvious public sentiment to protect our community from developers?
The good news is how I’ve found a wonderful few, a handful, in all these professions with caring values, stellar integrity and competence. Those few help make enduring the rest of them worthwhile.
Almost every newly arrived reporter, elected official, and government staffer arrogantly thinks they know more than anyone else here. Not just more, but massively more than the “ignorant rubes” in this backwater set of Monterey Peninsula towns they have to put up with while waiting for a ticket out of here to a big city job.
The funny thing is – the reverse is usually true: Those who are the most arrogant (e.g. carpetbagging City Managers, agency lawyers, far too often Herald Letter Censors, and yes, even some self-proclaimed activists) – usually know the least — and exhibit the worst judgment.
Most of them never learn how people in every facet of our Peninsula politics are a long shot smarter, wiser and know a whole heck of a lot more than our national “leaders” in DC and Sacramento. More importantly, our local “backwater rubes” have made some genuine first class legislation locally that are models for the rest of the world.
You rarely hear of those wonderful people who have been doing good public interest protection longer than I including : Janice O’Brien, Darby Worth, Corky Matthews, Neil Agron, Mike Weaver, and Steve Brooks to name just a few local living breathing successful heros for our Peninsula Public Interests.
Sadly, we’ve lost some world class fabulous people along the way: Visionary Gunnar Norberg (Carmel Mayor), the fearless Jane Mayer and Ann Woolworth (who along with Carmel Pine Cone publisher Al Eisner regularly exposed Mayor Eastwood’s awful acts), World Class Carmel Councilman Jim Wright, Robert Greenwood (Carmel Valley’s Water wizard), Rosemary Matson, Elizabeth Leeper and Barbara Bass Evans of Monterey.
Others have served well and moved on: Bud Nunn, and Mark Worth (Coast Weekly Editor) – to name just a few.
In any case – this blog is for amusement – mine and yours, and perhaps best of all it is interactive – you are encouraged to add your respectful thoughts or ask questions like a Letter to the editor of a newspaper.
If you have any questions about commenting, you might take a look at this set of commenting principles by Sean Carrol and Eugene Volokh describing a blog as a party. If you want to stay at the party – key themes are respectful, constructive and actually paying attention to other’s ideas.
If you have an article or a commentary you wish to publish or believe needs investigating – let me know.
In sharp contrast to the Carmel Pine Cone’s Paul Miller, the Herald’s Royal Calkins and Joe Livernois (recently moved to the Pine Cone and writing signed articles) and the anonymous hit and run anti-public interest commenter hiding behind the name “Skeptico” (who sadly suffers from an debilitating case of Dunning-Kruger effect), I always sign my opinions and take full responsibility for them.