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Can the California Coastal Conservancy Assist in Recovery from The State’s Recent Wildfires?

There are many problems and hardships faced by the State, local governments and individuals as they seek to recover from the damage caused by the recent disastrous wildfires that have rocked California.

Those subdivisions destroyed by the fires are meeting a number of impediments as they seek to rebuild. In addition to the costs entailed and uneven insurance coverage, building construction technologies, planning and environmental planning and design have evolved since these subdivisions were developed. For example, the simple matter of diameter of water pipes in homes and subdivisions may have changed and could cause significant cost increases and delays and communities and individuals seek to rebuild. In addition, more significant matters such as designs to protect the rebuilt homes, buildings and infrastructure from future calamities of this type must be considered.

Over 40 years ago as part of the massive legislative program to preserve California’s Coast and its irreplaceable resources an innovative agency, the California Coastal Conservancy, was created. I had a significant role in designing that agency in the California Coastal Plan, the various legislative initiatives to enact that plan and in becoming the Conservancy’s first executive officer. Included within the legislation creating the Conservancy was the authority to purchase, redesign and return to the market pre-existing subdivisions that no longer met the requirements of the State’s coastal protection laws.

In addition, the Conservancy is authorized to grant funds to local non-profits to carry out the projects. This could place the project into the hands of the community and reduce the inevitable delays associated with governmental projects.

I suggest that the economic and social needs of the communities affected by the fires are so great that the Coastal Conservancy should be authorized to use money from the state bond acts to go into the affected communities and working with local entities and property owners redesign and return to the marked or the landowners the developable properties.


1948 — 1973 a golden age like no other.


“The second half of the 20th century divides neatly in two. The divide did not come with the rise of Ronald Reagan or the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is not discernible in a particular event, but rather in a shift in the world economy, and the change continues to shape politics and society in much of the world today.”

“The shift came at the end of 1973. The quarter-century before then, starting around 1948, saw the most remarkable period of economic growth in human history. In the Golden Age between the end of the Second World War and 1973, people in what was then known as the ‘industrialized world’ – Western Europe, North America, and Japan – saw their living standards improve year after year. They looked forward to even greater prosperity for their children. Culturally, the first half of the Golden Age was a time of conformity, dominated by hard work to recover from the disaster of the war. The second half of the age was culturally very different, marked by protest and artistic and political experimentation. Behind that fermentation lay the confidence of people raised in a white-hot economy: if their adventures turned out badly, they knew, they could still find a job.”

“The year 1973 changed everything. High unemployment and a deep recession made experimentation and protest much riskier, effectively putting an end to much of it. A far more conservative age came with the economic changes, shaped by fears of failing and concerns that one’s children might have it worse, not better. Across the industrialized world, politics moved to the Right – a turn that did not avert wage stagnation, the loss of social benefits such as employer-sponsored pensions and health insurance, and the secure, stable employment that had proved instrumental to the rise of a new middle class and which workers had come to take for granted. At the time, an oil crisis took the blame for what seemed to be a sharp but temporary downturn. Only gradually did it become clear that the underlying cause was not costly oil but rather lagging productivity growth — a problem that would defeat a wide variety of government policies put forth to correct it.”

“The great boom began in the aftermath of the Second World War. The peace treaties of 1945 did not bring prosperity; on the contrary, the post-war world was an economic basket case. Tens of millions of people had been killed, and in some countries, a large proportion of productive capacity had been laid to waste. Across Europe and Asia, tens of millions of refugees wandered the roads. Many countries lacked the foreign currency to import food and fuel to keep people alive, much less to buy equipment and raw material for reconstruction. Railroads barely ran; farm tractors stood still for want of fuel. Everywhere, producing enough coal to provide heat through the winter was a challenge. As shoppers mobbed stores seeking basic foodstuffs, much less luxuries such as coffee and cotton underwear, prices soared. Inflation set off waves of strikes in the United States and Canada as workers demanded higher pay to keep up with rising prices. The world’s economic outlook seemed dim. It did not look like the beginning of a golden age.”

“As late as 1948, incomes per person in much of Europe and Asia were lower than they had been 10 or even 20 years earlier. But 1948 brought a change for the better. In January, the US military government in Japan announced it would seek to rebuild the economy rather than exacting reparations from a country on the verge of starvation. In April, the US Congress approved the economic aid program that would be known as the Marshall Plan, providing Western Europe with desperately needed dollars to import machinery, transport equipment, fertilizer, and food. In June, the three occupying powers – France, the United Kingdom, and the US – rolled out the Deutsche mark, a new currency for the western zones of Germany. A new central bank committed to keeping inflation low and the exchange rate steady would oversee the Deutsche mark.”

“Postwar chaos gave way to stability, and the war-torn economies began to grow. In many countries, they grew so fast for so long that people began to speak of the ‘economic miracle’ (West Germany), the ‘era of high economic growth’ (Japan) and the 30 glorious years (France). In the English-speaking world, this extraordinary period became known as the Golden Age.”
Marc Levinson, End of a golden age, Aeon

Why would anyone choose the wealthy to govern us simply because they made a lot of money?


We would not expect someone to have the talent to pitch for the New York Yankees simply because he is wealthy, so why would we give to the wealthy, solely because they have been successful in making money, the right to tell us how we live, how our money invested in government is to be spent and a host of other things of common interest. After all, their expertise is limited to making money, usually in a very narrow field of endeavor. Why would we not expect their advice to be biased to favor them making more money?

We would; we do. Except, of course, when we choose a snake oil salesman to Make America Great Again.

Memories of The Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative (TIHDI).



While rooting through the bowels of my computer for something or other I came across the following notice. It mentions one of the few things in my life of which I am truly proud.


Sheppard Mullin and Joseph Petrillo to Be Recognized for Work to Benefit the Homeless; San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown to Honor Firm’s Efforts.


Business Editors & Legal Writers


The Treasure Island Homeless Development Initiative (TIHDI) has announced it will honor the law firm of Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton LLP and partner Joseph Petrillo at TIHDI’s annual fundraising dinner this Thursday night, April 25. On TIHDI’s behalf, San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown will honor Petrillo, TIHDI’s Fundraising Chair, “for his extraordinary dedication and commitment to building a new San Francisco neighborhood from the ground up.”

“I am deeply honored that Sheppard Mullin is being recognized for its commitment to the community,” Petrillo said, “but I am even more proud of TIHDI’s success.”

Through Petrillo and Sheppard Mullin, TIHDI has benefited from pro bono legal services including work that has resulted in subleases for housing and service spaces. Sheppard Mullin has also provided important assistance in the development of memorandums of understanding between member agencies and the TIHDI Board of Directors.

Petrillo practices in the Real Estate, Land Use and Natural Resources practice group in Sheppard Mullin’s San Francisco office. One of California’s pre-eminent land use lawyers, he was principal author and administrator of California’s monumental coastal program. He has represented public and private clients throughout the United States in resolving urban development, natural resources, environmental and land use conflicts. Petrillo was recently appointed to the High-Speed Rail Authority Board by Governor Gray Davis. Petrillo served as chief counsel to the California Coastal Commission from 1973-1975, chief counsel to the California State Senate Select Committee on Land Use Management from 1975-1977, and executive officer of the California State Coastal Conservancy from 1977 to 1985.


Wake Up America: Charlottesville, the American Kristallnacht.


The title of this post may appear over broad. I am sure some people will be happy to point out the many differences between the two events. But, look at it this way:

We have a group of heavily armed men attacking mostly innocent civilians. In this case breaking bodies instead of glass, but the message is all too similar. The response of progressives or right thinking citizens and social media express shock and outrage but also urge calm. Meanwhile, the evil buffoon heading the nation at first supports the thugs and then realizing they may be becoming politically dangerous and not under control issues a tepid criticism of them.

Imagine then — what if the Nation’s leader and his cronies create an anti-terrorism entity to subdue these Alt-right terrorists and all other groups or individuals they or the entity decides are terrorists? Sounds Familiar doesn’t it? Did that not happen not too long after Kristallnacht with the suppression of Brown Shirts and their replacement with the SS. Could it happen here in America? No, well think again.

Just a few weeks after Charlottesville, the Leader of the Nation reversed an order of the prior President and permitted the release the Nation’s stockpile of military hardware to local police departments in order combat terrorism.

Meanwhile, the Progressives and others will probably still call for a reasoned careful response that will not place their supporters in harm’s way, or to wait for the hoped for return of the rule of law and reason.

This is madness. Shouldn’t we now rather think about what the German Progressives, liberals and people of good sense the very morning following Kristallnacht could have done to prevent the catastrophe that ultimately occurred?

Like then, this is no time for tepid hopes and half steps. Like it or not, the war has already begun and we either confront it now or we certainly will suffer its consequences later.

Fascism and the politics of hate have no place in any just society. It is time for Americans to throw back at these evil gangsters their own slogan and say, “No more, Not in our Country and Not on our Soil.” It is time to act massively. And if it comes to millions of citizens surrounding the White House and dragging these criminals out by their heels so be it.

ECONOMIC DEMOCRACY: The right to advisors committed to fair distribution of wealth income and power.



We would not expect someone to have the talent to pitch for the New York Yankees simply because he is wealthy, so why would we give to the wealthy, solely because they have been successful in making money, the right to tell us how we live, how our money invested in government is to be spent and a host of other things of common interest. After all their expertise is limited to making money, usually in a very narrow field of endeavor. Why would we not expect their advice to be biased to favor them making more money? Yet for the past 80 years, that is what we have done. That is one of the things that must change if we want to travel the road to Economic Democracy.

Our current President, an often failed business man and entertainer, not only is an example of exactly the type of person who should not be leading this nation, but he has insisted on appointing the unqualified and irresponsible to manage important governmental entities.

One would think, as their professional economist toadies promised us, that by putting our money into the pockets of modern masters of the universe, productivity, wealth, and happiness would burst forth forever. What happened? In the early 2000s it took only a few years of mismanagement to distort the entire world’s economy? How could people we thought were so smart be so wrong? Why didn’t these brilliant minds see it coming? Of course, there is not a lot one can see coming while he is kissing Mammon’s a**. Yet we still ask these same people who were paid to advocate on behalf of their paymaster’s interest, what it is we should do to solve the economic problems that they caused.

It is absurd, in the case of Wall Street, whose denizens sole expertise is in how to game a system given to them by others, to advise us on how to keep that system from harming all of us. It would be like asking the Taliban how to wage the war in Afghanistan or hiring Osama Bin Laden as Secretary of Defense. Nevertheless, out last twelve presidential administrations have done just that when it comes to Wall Street.

We would not use a general who had just suffered a disastrous defeat due to his own ineptitude to lead us into the next battle, why do we do so here?

The Roman Republic after suffering a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Hannibal that left the Italian peninsula open to the victorious general’s depredations for twenty or so years ordered their own generals to never again take the field with their army unless they were absolutely assured of victory. The result was almost 700 years of marital success.

The entire classical economic system is wrong and is a fraud. It is based on taking some arcane transactions that occurred in a few coffee houses in London in the sixteenth century and extrapolating it as a metaphor for all transactions of any kind everywhere.

What is even more amazing to me is that it did not even have adequate predictive value for those rudimentary sixteenth century London coffee house transactions and still does not do so today.

It never ceases to surprise me that we optimistic Americans, who so pride ourselves on our ability to solve any problems that we as individuals may meet, are so willing to accept this deterministic drivel.

Yet for the past 80 years, we have followed the nostrums of this academic arrogant class of agents of the rich and powerful as though we were still living in caves and falling down in terror before the ravings of the local shaman.

Keynes, Galbreath and others like them are right, so called economic problems require practical solutions that fit the situation at hand and not some vague academically popular theory that never worked anyway. Economics follows the goal we set for it. Economics does not set the goal.

The right to an equitable sharing of contributions to the common good.

Wake up America

Economic Democracy — basic rights fundamental to a society committed to a fair distribution of wealth, income, and power:


Because there are so many sensible fixes for the tax system discussed in the progressive blog-o-sphere and elsewhere that are readily available to anyone, it would be unnecessary for me to discuss them here. It is sufficient to mention that whatever the tax if it is not truly progressive and if it encourages capital accumulation at the expense of labor or consumption of practical necessities, it is not consistent with Economic Democracy. Dealing with the deficit hysteria is of greater immediate concern.

The deficit hysteria a fraud. The Republicans knew it when they ran up the deficit to pay for their tax cuts to the wealthy. Contrary to the conventional wisdom that the masters of the Republican Party would have you believe, the wealthy are not, I repeat they are not, the productive element of society but are the primary beneficiaries of that productivity. In fact the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, statistics show the percentage of value added to our society from manufacturing since 1950 has steadily dropped until now it is less than the both the financial sector and the professional services (lawyers and accountants) sectors.

Even though anguish at the size of the deficit is a phony tactic used to scare the public into transferring more of their wealth into the hands of the fortunate few, the principles implied by Economic Democracy require the deficit, if it is going to be reduced, be reduced first from funds transferred from those that can most afford it and who have benefited the most from society’s largess. After all, what kind of a society have we become when we will give untold amount of wealth to our wealthiest and often least socially productive citizens and stand strangely quiet when our public deficit balloons, and then turn and blame the teachers of our children for increasing the deficit by their asking for a few dollars raise in pay and then demanding that they give back raises they had already received to help reduce the defect that under no rational analysis could they conceivably had a hand in causing? Where has been the cry for them who received the public benefits that caused whatever deficit crisis we now face to give back the money? A fair and just society would not just cancel the gift of public funds at some time in the future, but demand that what they received be paid back with interest.

Obviously, a necessary and essential step is to allow tax cuts for the wealthy to lapse and they get back to paying a fairer share of the costs of the society that so greatly benefited them. The Republican Party also managed a twofer with the tax cuts during the Bush administration, not only did the already wealthy benefit, but Wall Street also made billions in commissions for transacting the loans the government required to pay for the tax cut.

The two wars that we are waging must be ended sooner rather than later. There is no reason in the world why the most powerful country in the world would or should allow itself get bogged down in a war of attrition. Either the enemy is a real threat to our existence and freedom, like the Soviet Union may have been, in which case we may need to use whatever means we have available to deal with it or we should not place American lives and treasure at risk. The wars themselves take our tax dollars and spend them all too often on war profiteers and in foreign countries on goods and services that do not benefit the American worker or small business.

Although the defense budget may be grossly inflated and need of pruning an even more fundamental question needs to be addressed. Why is it we allow the defense industries to make a profit on our common defense needs and then permit them use these profits to lobby our government to purchase more equipment? Why do we ask our sons and daughters to put themselves in harms way to fight and die for the rest of us while the owners of the companies supplying their equipment reap huge profits? War profiteering is wrong. The profits should be going instead of into the pockets of the profiteers, into the hands of the men and women doing the fighting and dying and their families. The argument is, of course, that if we don’t pay them their unconscionable profits, they will not supply us the goods we need and our defense will suffer. And that threat apparently, according to the Republican Party, represents the highest form of patriotism

If the defense of our country requires giving bribes to those unwilling to bear the risks that the defense of democracy entails, we will not long be the strongest country in the world nor long be free. During WWII under some of the greatest threats and economic stresses this country had ever faced, stringent war profiteering controls were imposed. We need independent auditors and investigators to prevent the continuing waste of the countries defense budget by the defense industry, probably more so than a review of the defense budget itself.

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