You know what really grinds our gears at the Weekly? When people think they’re justified to speak on behalf of entire communities—especially when it comes to Latinos and the Poseidon desalination project. Especially when said spokespeople are onetime legit leaders who now come off as lame, out-of-tune dinosaurs.
The latest such bout of vendidismo happened earlier this week, when Antonio Gonzalez, the president of the once-prestigious William C. Velasquez Institute, and longtime OC warrior Nativo Lopez wrote an editorial for the Voice of OC saying that an online survey of 404 Latinos (who had to get via email in order to participate) showed 80 percent of Latino voters in OC support Poseidon and want it approved now. Um, what? This feels like déjà vu all over again.
The article starts by explaining that the findings of an online survey—conveniently funded by the William C. Velasquez Institute—proves that Latinos are "absent from water governance" and "want to [have] a more active role" in these affairs, something that Latino apologists for Poseidon have said again and again. I don't know how many times we have to point this out, but saying that Latinos aren't involved in water governance is utter bullshit. On a local level, SanTana councilmember Roman Reyna is on the OC Water District Board of Directors; before him, colleague Vincent—pardon me, Vicente—Sarmiento served on the board. On the grander scale Roberto Uranga, Mark Vargas and Mary Luevano are Latino members on the California Coastal Commission who'll have a direct say on the fate of Poseidon, while Nidia Garcia, Olga Diaz and Maricela Morales are alternates. Lopez and Gonzalez should just be upfront and say it's not their Latinos who are involved.
Lopez and Gonzalez go on to claim that their survey found 80 percent of Latino voters in Orange County "want[ing] prompt new policies from local and state government to solve the drought like the Huntington Beach Desalination plant…" In the same breath, they say Latinos also favor capturing storm water and water recycling. This is just silly. If all the information was presented in the survey—a point Oscar Rodriguez and Victor Valladares, the co-founders of Oak View ComUNIDAD, bring up in a brilliant rebuttal against Gonzalez and Lopez—anyone would likely find that it's illogical to support Poseidon desal, and storm water capturing and water recycling. Here's why: The Orange County Water District and OC Sanitation District just approved the expansion of the Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS), which will cost $350 million to build and is projected to produce 130 million gallons of water per day (MGD). The Poseidon desalination plant, on the other hand, will cost $1 billion dollars to build (of taxpayer money) and is only expected to produce 50 MGD. So, for a fraction of the cost of Poseidon water, the GWRS (which is recycled water) will provide 80 MGD more than the Poseidon plant. Having both would be a waste of money and resources— and Latinos are the furthest thing from wasteful.
Since Gonzalez and Lopez want to play the raza card, let's indulge them. Poseidon's water would have high boron levels, which would affect overall soil and plant growth and health—not good news for the chingo of Mexicans who love to garden. Try explaining wilted milpas to Mexicans in SanTana, Nativo, you pendejo.
The editorial by Gonzalez and Lopez is as stupid as Dave Rodriguez and LULAC's endorsement of the Poseidon project earlier this year, for which he got named to our Scariest People list this year. But this isn't the first time Nativo has sold out to multibillion-dollar groups. Back in 2002, he infamously shilled for Gigante, the Mexican supermarket chain that only stayed open a couple of years. He aligned himself with the Dark Lord of OC politics, Curt Pringle, and took campaign money from high-powered PR firm Waters & Faubel, who was representing Gigante at the time. Hey, Larry: you on the take again?