Watery business


This evening the Council will once again consider the Mayor's reappointment of Jim Cameron and Lou Reynolds to the Tulsa Metropolitan Utility Authority, the quango that controls Tulsa's water. It's been amazing to see how much anger has been directed at the Council majority for refusing to approve the reappointment, and how much energy has been spent trying to change their decision.

A passing mention in today's "Bleat" by James Lileks may help to explain why it matters so much to some people. He's writing about the historical novel Pompeii, by Robert Harris.

The hero is the local official in charge of the water supply for the cities around Pompeii, and most of the book concerns his efforts to fix a break in the aqueduct. ... Of course, water is a commodity, so there’s corruption of the “Chinatown” variety.

That's a reference to the 1974 film starring Jack Nicholson, set in Los Angeles in the early 20th century, and loosely based on controversies surrounding the Los Angeles Aqueduct, which carried water from the Owens River valley to the San Fernando Valley, making it possible to develop the valley, and making some land speculators very, very rich.

Here's the plot summary from IMDb:

Hollis Mulwray is a chief engineer of the water department. Ida Sessions, pretending to be his wife Evelyn, asks P.I. JJ Jake Gittes to investigate his adulterous ways. Jake takes photos of Hollis with a young lady. Hollis then turns up murdered, which Jake decides to investigate. Jake finds more than he was looking for. He discovers a plot to buy cheap, unwatered land for low prices, water the land, and sell it for millions of dollars. The plot is masterminded by one Noah Cross, who is Evelyn's father and Hollis' one-time business partner. His investigation leads him to an affair with Evelyn and a discussion with Noah Cross, both of whom seem curiously interested in the girl Hollis was seen with.

Subtract the murder and adultery subplots, and what you have left is a plot to direct public resources to help certain connected developers become very wealthy. The vehemence of the effort to keep Cameron and Reynolds on the water board make some folks wonder if something like that could happen here.

If you care about this issue, tonight is the time to show up and be heard -- 6 p.m. at City Hall.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Michael Bates published on December 16, 2004 12:18 PM.

Why the library tax hike failed and why the city bond issue won't was the previous entry in this blog.

Libraries to rid themselves of "flammable dust-magnets" is the next entry in this blog.

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