Starmer, Elanor


Elanor Starmer is the Western Region Director of Food & Water Watch (www.foodandwaterwatch.org), a consumer advocacy group in San Francisco, and part of the statewide coalition to oppose Proposition 18.

"Fracking": One Risk We Don’t Have to Take

By Elanor Starmer
Food and Water Watch

As Californians, we’ve had to come to terms with the fact that we’re at the whim of nature – and nature is not always very friendly. Each day when I cross the Bay Bridge on a bus, a tiny voice asks if this might be the day the Big One shakes up my commute. The scars of wildfires past mark the hills around Los Angeles, up the Central Coast, and throughout the North Country. The winters inevitably bring stories of skiers lost in avalanches somewhere in the Sierra.

With all these natural risks sitting uneasily on our conscience, it stands to reason that we’d do everything we could to avoid taking risks we don’t have to. Perhaps this is why California has always been a leader in risk mitigation – banning harmful substances that contaminate other states, taking action on global warming ahead of the curve. So why are we not taking the lead in banning the practice of fracking?

Big Beef With California’s Congressional Delegation

By Elanor Starmer
Food and Water Watch

Today, I’ve been thinking about beef.

Not just any beef: Beef from hardworking independent family ranchers in California. Local beef raised on the grass of our fine state. Beef that’s sought after by many a restaurateur in the Bay Area, San Diego and Los Angeles.

As those restaurateurs would readily admit, we don’t have enough of it. That’s in part because we don’t have enough people to raise the animals: in the last 20 years, California has lost half of its small and midsized independent ranchers.

It would be good for pretty much everyone if the trend were reversed. Urban eaters want these ranchers’ products, and rural communities could certainly use the jobs. So why are Representatives Costa, Cardoza and Baca – all Democrats who sit on the House Agriculture Committee – selling out California’s remaining family ranchers as a favor to big national meatpackers like Cargill and Tyson? And why is Senator Feinstein refusing to defend her ranching constituency?

Water Bond Delay: When A Loss Is Still A Victory

By Elanor Starmer
Food&Water Watch

On Monday night, the California legislature voted on a proposal to postpone Proposition 18, the $11 billion water bond, to the 2012 ballot. For bond opponents, there were moments of celebration, as when Assemblymember Jared Huffman (D-Santa Rosa), a bond supporter last year, spoke in favor of pulling the bond from the ballot indefinitely. There were also moments of frustration, as when bond opponent Sandre Swanson (D- Alameda/Oakland) flipped his vote last minute and opted to keep the bond afloat for another two years.

In the end, the push to postpone the bond to 2012 passed by the smallest of margins. It’s not what bond opponents wanted. Ideally, the legislature would have seen the light and scrapped it altogether, or let the voters pull the plug this November so we could get to work on better approaches.

The Big Con: New Report Exposes The Real Beneficiaries Of Proposition 18

By Elanor Starmer
Food&Water Watch

The legislature reconvened on Monday with a hefty set of tasks ahead of it. Passing a budget will clearly be the most painful, but let’s not underestimate the intensity of the battle over the fate of Proposition 18, the massive water bond currently on this November’s ballot. The legislature’s decision – widely believed to be forthcoming before August 20th – on whether to postpone, scrap or leave untouched this controversial measure is actually a referendum on who should control water in California. Legislators have an opportunity to weigh in in favor of the public by voting to permanently remove the bond from the ballot.

Fool Me Once: The Perils of Supporting Prop 18

By Elanor Starmer
Food&Water Watch

A Field poll released last week on California’s November ballot measures turned up an interesting finding: Proposition 18, the $11 billion water bond, is backed by Democrats and self-identified liberals by a margin of greater than two to one.

Guess these voters hadn’t checked the endorsement list. Backers of the bond include major agribusiness industry associations, Southern California developers, and Meg Whitman. In contrast, opponents of the bond include the Sierra Club, Clean Water Action, Food&Water Watch, California Teachers Association and many others. State legislators Tom Ammiano, Mark Leno and Leland Yee also oppose it.