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Life out here by Bret Kofford: The importance of more golf courses

May 29, 2002

"We now have more than 100 golf courses in the Coachella Valley," my mom, a Coachella Valley retirement community resident, told her assembled family while we visited her on Mother's Day.

Less than two weeks later, one of California's U.S. senators, Dianne Feinstein, said we must fallow our farmland in the Imperial Valley so we can send more water to the Coachella Valley.

I reflected back on what Mom said. I smiled and shook my head.

In our rapidly growing state, and with a world population growing faster than ever, we are being told to fallow farmland in the Imperial Valley to send water to the Coachella Valley, at least partially so the good folks up there can build more golf courses.

We have four golf courses in the Imperial Valley. They have 100-plus golf courses in the Coachella Valley, according to a reliable source I love very much (and confirmed by a Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce official, who said actually there are 109 golf courses in the Coachella Valley). We produce cantaloupes, carrots, cattle, feed for cattle and much more. They produce double bogies and skin cancer. And our "leaders," from Gov. Gray Weasel to Dianne Feinstein to various state and federal officials, want us to send the Coachella Valley more of our water, at our collective expense?

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Why is it that the traditionally poorest county in the state of California must bear the economic brunt of funding the continuing economic development of some of the state's wealthiest areas?

Oh, hey, I think I just answered my own question.

Democrats such as Gray Weasel and Feinstein are supposed to be "for the poor people." We are seeing what a crock of manure that is. Simply, they are for the votes, and there are fewer than 50,000 votes in Imperial County as opposed to millions in other areas of the state that will benefit from stealing our water. Don't even worry about doing the math. It's been done by the big shots.

The truth, I'm afraid, is Davis and Feinstein and others in the state think we in the Imperial Valley are just a bunch of dumb Mexicans and Okies, with a few African-Americans and Asian-Americans thrown in, ignorant enough to try to "live" in a hot, dusty hellhole.

I recently told a national journalist who was working on a story about water matters in California that we may be a mostly Democratic county here, but we are not the wine and cheese Democrats courted by Davis, Feinstein and the like. They wouldn't want poor country folk like us coming to their private fund-raising soirees under tents on estates in Bel-Air or Hillsborough. They surely would fear we would get cheese stuck in the holes where our teeth should be and would bring our own flasks of Ripple instead of sipping the pricey Chablis served to the donors.

The truth is they don't care for our type. Do you think they would be trying to rape a more powerful and prominent and rich county, like, for example, Monterey County, if it had a resource they wanted? They are coming after us because we are poor and isolated and politically powerless and have something precious — water.

And the fact is we have property rights to that water. If these people want Colorado River water, they can pack up their counties and move ‘em right next to the Colorado River, like we are. We have a claim to the river's water because we are here next to it, with all of the pros and cons of being here next to it.

What the government bigwigs don't realize about us is being here has made us tough. You don't survive in Imperial County if you aren't. Sissies leave. Most of us who stay do so because we love this place.

And what Gray Weasel and Ms. Feinstein and the others will soon find out is we will fight. Heck, we like to fight. Frankly, we don't have much else to do.

In this case we are fighting for what is ours. We are fighting for our lives. We know what fallowing of our farmland will do to us. It will make us lose our jobs, make us fail on our mortgages, make us lose our businesses, all so nice places such as Palm Desert and San Diego can become more crowded and more polluted, while we, who produce food for human consumption, die economically.

Everyone I have talked to in the Imperial Valley wouldn't mind giving some water to Los Angeles, San Diego and the Coachella Valley if it were done the right way, with a program that will not tear our economy, and our people, to shreds. But now those in power are saying do it our way, and do it now, or you will pay.

It's the old story of the rich and powerful robbing the poor and powerless.

It doesn't make an iota of sense, unless you know about politics and human nature.

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