A Wave of Memories, Part 2
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Editor’s Note: Mark shares some more of his more memorable moments at Heal the Bay. Read the first installment A Wave of Memories.
The Ahmanson Ranch campaign. I remember: touring the watershed with Board President Tony Pritzker and former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt, representing Washington Mutual. Flying up to a WaMu shareholders meeting with Rob Reiner and Alfre Woodard on a private jet to protest the development. The coalition of Hollywood (Chris Albrecht and Reiner), electeds, Native Americans, Mary Weisbrock and Save Open Space, Heal the Bay (Mark Abramson’s covert maps of Ahmanson Ranch riparian habitat were key), and the brilliant campaign work of Chad Griffin and Steve Barkan. Getting screamed at by Reiner at a meeting. The only other person that ever yelled at me like that was my dad. I can only imagine what would have happened if we lost! The anti-climactic press event celebration when the state purchased the land (Governor Davis was being recalled). The joy of taking my kids, Zack, Jake and Natalie, to the Ranch just days after it opened to the public.
Litigation I’ve always been a “sue as a last resort” kind of advocate, but sometimes litigation is the only solution. NRDC’s Joel Reynolds and I spent countless hours with former L.A. County Sanitation Districts’ GM Jim Stahl to settle the full secondary treatment lawsuit about the Carson plant. Once we got through the “sewage is good for the fish arguments” (thank you Willard Bascom of the Southern California Coastal Waters Research Project in the late 1980s) and the “sewage solids are needed to cover up the DDT and PCB contaminated sediments” or “two wrongs make a right” argument, we were able to negotiate a resolution quickly. In fact, it only took the Sanitation Districts four years to build its full secondary facilities. Also, we partnered with NRDC on some industrial waste litigation and an industrial stormwater lawsuit against the Port of Long Beach (led by current criminal court judge Gail Ruderman Feuer). I still remember all the inspections of pretty nasty Port facilities.