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Thursday, October 14, 2010

New Green Deal - Vital Change

Report from “Green New Deal” Commission
Urging Major Policy Changes in North Bay

After a year and a half of public hearings, research and deliberations, a report from the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay is calling for major changes in policies on the environment, healthcare and commerce.

The report from the independent commission -- “Vital Change: Reconsidering Water, Food, Conservation, Healthcare and Commerce” -- focuses on potential for transforming Marin and Sonoma counties “into a more resilient region guided by principles of environmental sustainability, economic equity and social justice.”

As part of groundwork for the report, set for release on October 14, the Green New Deal commission held more than a dozen public forums and hearings in urban, suburban and rural areas across the North Bay. The commission includes five members from Marin County and five from Sonoma County.

Among the report’s findings:
• “Fresh water needs to be preserved, conserved, reused, recycled, stored in aquifers, and allowed to flow in creeks, rivers and estuaries at seasonal natural levels.”

• “We now use about three to four times more water per capita than other residents of temperate climate zones. We need to plan our lives so we use less water to assure it will be available for all generations of animal and plant life.”

• With the help of monetary incentives, counties should be encouraged to “adopt building codes to allow for gray water residential plumbing and the use of composting toilets.”

• Rather than going ahead with a proposed water desalination plant, Marin County should devote the next several years to “implementing a wide range of water conservation measures, which can be both sustainable and fiscally sound. We recommend a moratorium on expenditures for a desalination plant during the next five years, in tandem with implementation of far-reaching long-term programs for water conservation.”

• “Green waste that is collected needs to be free of pesticides to facilitate composting and the creation of a marketable secondary product. . . . At the state government level, laws need to be enacted to prohibit the use of pesticides for cosmetic purposes, on both public and private property. These prohibitions are necessary to maintain compostable greens that are not contaminated for creation into a marketable secondary product.”

• Communities should establish a goal of “each county taking care of its own waste stream within its boundaries as much as possible.”

• “Permitting landfills must stop.”

• “Managements of medical facilities need to support the workforce, valuing all medical employees while providing them with the staffing ratios and break times that respect the arduous work of providing healthcare. Nurse staffing ratios must be low enough to assure quality care and respect the labors of employees.”

• “Broad coalitions of public and private organizations should work together to reverse budget cuts and sharply increase funding for an array of healthcare services and public health programs, including mental health.”

• “True living wage ordinances effective everywhere throughout the North Bay region would serve to eliminate most working poverty in our area, and we could use the savings in local welfare programs to ease the transition for burdened small businesses.”

• “We advise governmental support of local, private efforts to create local credit, debit, loyalty, or gift cards, perhaps by providing them to public employees.”

• Local agencies should “refrain from subsidizing firms unless they create local jobs and other benefits. . . . We recommend limiting public support to only those incubators which serve local businesses or which give special attention to green jobs and businesses.”

The full report will be posted on the Green New Deal for the North Bay website,

For further information:
Marin County co-chairs
• Norman Solomon, (415) 663-9674, (415) 309-4359,
• Ginger Souders-Mason, (415) 456-2849, (415) 459-1391,
Sonoma County co-chairs
• Lisa Maldonado, (707) 548-6033, (707) 545-6970,
• Will Pier, (707) 227-0047,

Members of the Commission on a Green New Deal for the North Bay
Caroline Bañuelos is an administrator for The Living Room, a daytime drop-in center for homeless women and children in Sonoma County. For 12 years, Caroline served as president of the Sonoma County Latino Democratic Club. She is a fellow of the Leadership Institute for the Ecology & the Economy and vice-chair of the Santa Rosa Planning Commission.

Stephen Burdo is advocacy and campaigns director for Kathleen Russell Consulting, a Marin County-based consulting firm serving nonprofit organizations, Native Tribes and progressive candidates and causes. He was previously director of Connecticut ACORN, organizing in low-income communities for living wages, adequate healthcare, affordable housing and community empowerment.

Jonathan Frieman is a social entrepreneur who co-founded several nonprofits and has served on several grant-making boards. He helped initiate Transition Towns in Marin County and is a board member of Marin City’s health clinic. He has a law degree and an MPA and is an autodidact in human prehistory.

Rue Furch is former executive director of the Sonoma County Business Education Roundtable and co-founder of Citizens for Responsible Water Use. She served as a county planning commissioner for 18 years. Furch was named “California Woman of the Year” by the State Assembly and “Environmentalist of the Year” by the Sonoma County Conservation Council.

Lisa Maldonado is executive director of the North Bay Labor Council, AFL-CIO where she directs the coordinated efforts of local unions in Marin, Sonoma, Mendocino and Lake counties to work collectively on issues that affect working families. She is an attorney and previously worked as field director of the ACLU of Northern California.

Judith Newton started Transition Cotati, the first initiative in the global Transition Movement to be officially recognized in California. She is also a founding member of the FrogSong cohousing community and a fellow of the Leadership Institute for Ecology and the Economy.

Will Pier
is a board member of the Salmonid Restoration Federation. A resident of Sonoma Valley for 21 years, he has served on the AB 939 Local Task Force to increase recycling for 11 years. He worked for the Sonoma Ecology Center for seven years doing salmonid research and habitat enhancement.

Peter Richardson is editorial director of PoliPointPress in Sausalito, a lecturer in humanities at San Francisco State University, and chair of the California Studies Association. His books include A Bomb in Every Issue: How the Short, Unruly Life of Ramparts Magazine Changed America and American Prophet: The Life and Work of Carey McWilliams.

Norman Solomon
is the founder and president of the Institute for Public Accuracy, a consortium of policy researchers and analysts. He is national co-chair of the Healthcare Not Warfare campaign and the author of a dozen books on media, political discourse and public policy.

Ginger Souders-Mason, a retired medical technologist, has participated in community-based health research and is a founder and director of Pesticide Free Zone, Inc.

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