Based on the number of emails I received last week, it would appear that many readers have definitive thoughts as to the most pressing issue in California that is not receiving adequate coverage in the news media.
Some readers "cheated" by providing more than one issue, others either misread or ignored that the emphasis was on California be it local, regional or statewide. Still others listed subjects that have been covered extensively.
I was somewhat surprised by those who made guns and the Second Amendment the most pressing issue facing the state, especially since matters of the U.S. Constitution are under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
The most amusing responses came from those who felt California's issues were solvable, but it needed only to rid itself of the liberal media, however defined.
Although I did expressly state in last week's column I wasn't interested in prefabricated talking points, I could not resist being entertained by how removing the liberal media would solve our problems.
Some felt that California that has underreported issues of race in its myriad forms. One reader wrote:
"California has unique experience concerning the impact of race and skin color in the U.S., from Oakland's first black middle class to the imprisoning of our Japanese citizens during World War II to the treatment of Chinese men who came here to work on the railroads."
But quite a few readers raised issues they feel have been underreported, at least in this column.
One reader offered cutbacks in adult education:
"The vast majority of adult education programs were closed across the state as funding for adult education was made "flexible" (i.e., school districts were newly allowed to reallocate those funds, to soften the blow of education cuts to K-12, so they closed the adult education programs to free up the money to do so).
This year, after Proposition 30 passed, Gov. Jerry Brown proposed creating a new fund that would be exclusively for adult education, $300 million. However, his proposal was to run adult education out of the community colleges rather than out of the school districts."
The next email reflected the feelings of several readers:
"An issue that I feel needs more public exposure and legislative action is California's water conundrum. If we Californians are serious about protecting our environment, it's time to put our technology and money to work on a very real solution. Desalination. California has an endless supply of water off our coast. The San Joaquin Delta has been ravaged by water rights issues and is under continued saltwater intrusion from the San Francisco Bay. Many years ago, fresh Delta water used to flow well into the Bay, whereas today, nature's cleansing action and fresh water ecosystems that once inhabited the Bay shores have been destroyed. Aquifers are drying up. Mother Nature has the capability to heal herself, but it will take years to undo the damage the California water wars have brought about."
But of all the emails I received the following was my favorite:
"What about the train to nowhere, the threat of collapsing levees, and the red-ink pension system?"
Though the reader also "cheated" by providing more than one concern, by raising the issue that I believe falls into the illustrious category of being California's most pressing that's underreported, makes this reader the de facto winner.
A major earthquake could result in the simultaneous failure of many levees in Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. Nearly 28 million residents depend on the Delta for water and irrigation.
Moreover, it does not appear that California has the resources necessary to conduct adequate levee repair.
This week, I was in direct correspondence with readers as young as 92, sharing their concerns. I wish to thank those who responded to my request.
It served as a healthy reminder that people, despite rumors to the contrary, are not ready to join the Apathetic Party.
Contact Byron Williams at 510-208-6417 or firstname.lastname@example.org.