They tell me to stop wishing he was somebody else and that I’m dreaming if I think he’s ever going to change into the dynamo that I fantasize about.
Yet still… I couldn’t stop thinking about it Wednesday night at St. Rocke’s in Hermosa Beach where I had gone to get away from it all and rock out to Jimmy Vaughan and his band. Luckily that totally did the trick as I downed one quadruple The Reverend after another, locking into the groove.
That night I slept like Rip Van Winkle himself, dead to the world and dreaming the vivid-as-life dreams that The Reverend, and the music, and the moment made possible.
And it all suddenly became clear to me. Suddenly we were at The Crossroads as Ted Lieu runs for Henry Waxman’s seat in the United States Congress. Waxman has been our heroic climate champion for many years now and is retiring. New, fresh, young, energetic blood is needed from a new champion at this special spot on the climate timeline – and Ted Lieu has now seized his moment and become that champion.
Everything he’s done in life has led to this unique time and place. And I could see Ted, bigger than life, looking strong, and determined and unstoppable. He was downright dynamic.
And the issue that Ted grabbed and commanded and was using to transform himself into a climate legend was Community Choice Aggregation. It was a natural for Ted and he knew it.
And right before my eyes Ted was making it his own and becoming positively evangelical about it. Ted was speaking to the South Bay Cities Council of Governments environmental group on Wednesday, June 18, right after the UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability students presented their report recommending that the City of Hermosa Beach partner with other South Bay cities to form a CCA that eventually leads to a South Bay Municipal Utility District.
“Power to the people!” Ted shouted into the microphone at the podium as he bounded up from his seat to address the room while the audience full of staff and elected officials from the 15 cities that make up the South Bay started to applaud the presenters for their work.
“Let’s hear it again for these brilliant and perceptive students!” Ted said, encouraging even louder applause in the room. Several people stood up to applaud.
“These amazing young people are absolutely right, too,” continued Ted enthusiastically. “Community Choice Aggregation is just about the best idea we’ve ever had in California about how we should deliver electricity to our communities. All of you in this room would probably agree with the notion of Community Choice. ”
Ted now had a twinkle in his eyes. “And if you knew what I know about the successful experiences of Marin Clean Energy and Sonoma Clean Power you’d know that their aggregation programs are saving the participating cities real money on electricity. It’s giving them local control and significantly cutting their greenhouse gas emissions – at a much faster and less expensive rate than staying with the investor owned utility.”
Ted quickly ditched his suit coat and rolled up his sleeves, continuing without missing a beat,
“Not a one of you here ever opted into buying your energy from Southern California Edison and they’ve had 100 years of advantage as a monopoly. So it’s only fair that communities like yours, that play by the rules and decide to work together to form a CCA should have that right.”
And I want to do everything I can while I am still this District’s State Senator to help you make that happen. Because the proof is in the pudding and we already know that this works on so many levels – economically, geographically, environmentally and especially jurisdictionally.
Ted had now stepped out from behind the podium, and started to work the room as he got real serious.
“And let me say this most strongly. It is not fair and it is not the American Way to try to change the rules when you don’t like the outcome when people get to choose. That’s exactly what AB 2145 is trying to do, by changing the rules of Community Choice to deliberately handicap the abilities of communities to launch them. That’s why AB 2145 is correctly called the CCA Killer.”
“I want to thank my good friend your State Assemblyman, Al Muratsuchi, for so forcefully bringing this bad bill to my attention. He showed real courage admitting that he had been mislead and mistakenly voted for this bill in the state assembly before all the facts were made clear.”
Ted stopped pacing and spoke most sincerely and softly. “Assemblyman Muratsuchi has become an expert on Community Choice Aggregation in his own rite and when you reelect him in November you will have him working to help you launch your own South Bay CCA.” That brought applause and a smile from Ted but he wasn’t finished. Not by a long shot.
“One of the biggest reasons for you to take the first step in forming a CCA, are the cost savings your sister cities, who are participating in the Marin Clean Energy program are experiencing, After you hear these numbers I’d like you to raise your hand if your City wants to join the ad hoc working group that I am forming. I plan to ask the Governor for his help, too.” Ted quickly moved to the big white board in the front of the room and started writing numbers as he called them out from memory, “Under the Marin Clean Energy community choice program – San Rafael saved $30,000 by choosing Marin Clean Energy’s Light Green 50% renewable energy in 2013. San Rafael projects an even larger savings of $47,000 in 2014. The City of Richmond Saved $54,000. Richmond expects to save almost $60,000 on its energy bills this year. West Contra Costa Unified School District expects an even greater savings, approximately $66,000.
Ted paused dramatically before spinning around to face the room as he had them all eating out of his hand, “That’s 5.9 million dollars that local community customers kept right there in the community instead of sending it off to enhance shareholder value for the utility!“
Even before Ted had a chance to say, “So, who wants to raise their hands for their city’s interest in a CCA?” hands from representatives of every city shot up into the air, first among them was the representative from the Inglewood City staff, home of Assemblyman Steven Bradford who had introduced the CCA Killing AB 2145 on behalf of the utilities. It was a magical moment beyond description and I couldn’t believe I was actually seeing it happen.
The rest of the meeting’s agenda was tossed out the window and for the next three hours Ted led a high energy discussion on what a South Bay CCA might look like, how much money could be saved, and how much money could be generated by local property owners being paid to produce solar energy.
I was so caught up in the joy and surreal nature of it all I began to cry. And then the most remarkable thing of all happened.
Ted saw me and immediately put the grease pen down and walked away from the whiteboard. He quickly moved to my side and put his arms around me hugging me and patting my back in a surprisingly soothing way.
“It’s okay, Joe,” said Ted. “It’s okay. We’re going to work together on this and we’re going to make this happen. You can count on that and you can count on me to get this done and to also—
That’s when my alarm clock went off and the sound of NPR’s Morning Edition host, Renee Montagne, interrupted and vanquished Ted from my head to be replaced by an immediately pounding headache and other unpleasant hangover gifts.
Yeah, I know that none of this really happened.
But it will.
Cause after all, I had a dream.