YES TO BIG GREEN
California is a state blessed by nature but cursed by man, who has given it filthy beaches, bespoiled farmland and skies clouded with smog. Now some Californians are attempting to undo the damage. On Nov. 6, the state's electorate will vote on Proposition 128, the Environmental Protection Act of 1990, popularly known as Big Green, a sweeping 39-page, 16,000-word initiative that has been the subject of fierce campaigning on both sides.
By combining disparate stipulations that would limit pesticides and off-shore drilling and protect redwoods and beaches, Big Green attempts to redress what proponents claim are years of ecological irresponsibility by California lawmakers. Prop 128 would, among other things, phase out pesticides known to cause cancer or harm to reproductive systems, sharply reduce carbon-dioxide emissions, eventually ban chlorofluorocarbons, issue $300 million in bonds for reforestation and impose tough measures for cleaning up oil spills and preventing them. It would also create a powerful elected official to oversee environmental enforcement. In addition to weighing all that, California voters must consider three other environmental bills, including Proposition 135, an agribusiness-backed alternative to the antipesticide provisions of Big Greer that calls for closer monitoring rather than bans.
To help voters make up their minds opponents of Big Green have spent some big green—$16 million—on TV commercials proclaiming that the initiative would cost tens of thousands of job; and billions of dollars to businesses and taxpayers. Environmental groups that support Big Green have far less money but have enlisted a legion of such show biz luminaries as Madonna, Stevie Wonder and Neil Simon to plead for passage. The pro-Prop 128 forces contend that it is far cheaper to clean up the environment now than it will be later.
Scientists and other experts are at odds too. Contending that the elimination of many pesticides will make fruits and vegetables scarcer and thus more expensive, Aaron Wildavsky, a professor of public policy at the University of California at Berkeley, sarcastically says that Prop 128 "is a remarkable accomplishment. It will make people poorer and sicker all in the name of better health." But Al Meyerhoff, a senior attorney for the National Resources Defense Council and one of the authors of Big Green, replies, "Industry people just want to manage cancer. This will help prevent it. If it's so bad for consumers, why is it supported by Ralph Nader? If it's so bad for workers, why is it supported by the AFL-CIO?"
As recently as August, polls indicated that Big Green would pass with ease. But fears of a recession and higher energy prices caused by the Persian Gulf crisis have contributed to voter skittishness about the legislation, and the outcome is now considered a toss-up.
Unwieldy and fine-print-laden though Big Green may be, there are incontestable arguments in its favor. Los Angeles's average daily temperature is a troubling 6% warmer than it was in 1940. Huntington Beach is still recovering from the 349,000 gallons of crude a tanker spilled into its surf last February. The gaping hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica surely has not been helped by California, which, were it a country, would rank 12th in the world in carbon-dioxide emissions. And it seems only reasonable to expect a state that grows half of the U.S.'s fruits and vegetables to exercise greater control over chemicals that cause cancer.
By approving Prop 128, the most populous state would be sending a signal message to the rest of the country. "The linchpin of Big Green is prevention rather than cleanup," says Meyerhoff. Big Green may not be perfect, but prevention's time has surely come.
AND NO NEED TO TIP THEM
Tonia Angel and her boyfriend, Mark Payne, are co-owners of a farm in Prineville, Ore., where they are raising 10 South American pack llamas as breeding stock. Payne is an energetic sort who holds a second job as the golf pro at the Prineville Golf and Country Club. Now Payne has found a way to merge his two vocations. Any golfer willing to spend $200 for 18 holes at Prineville, where the greens fees are usually $20, may hire a llama to do his caddying for him.
"Llamas are low-impact animals, docile by nature and tolerant of weird-shaped packs and strange noises," says Angel. They also won't mock your slice, and they look forward to forays into the rough.
Because llamas are related to camels and are usually found in the mountains of Peru or Bolivia, it's easy to conclude that they don't belong on the links. But Payne discovered otherwise. He knew they were sturdy pack animals, and one day in 1988, on a whim he and Angel took one of his llamas to Eagle Crest golf course in Redmond, Ore., where he was teaching at the time. During the day the llama got away once and dashed across a practice green. Angel and Payne were surprised to find that the surface was left unscathed. But then a llama's foot is about the size of a man's hand and as soft as a dog's padded paw. If its toenails are trimmed, a llama's feet are kinder to a course than golf shoes.
Besides walking softly, llamas can carry a lot of clubs—as much as 100 pounds' worth. About their only disadvantage as caddies is that golfers who hire them are asked kindly to use the pooper scoopers they are obliged to carry in their bags. So far only a few golfers have used the llamas, which Angel and Payne believe is too bad.
"The llamas watch the ball intently," Angel says. "They enjoy following small things and they see much farther than humans do. In fact, you could probably even teach a llama to take you to where your ball has landed."
While his teammates savored their stunning World Series sweep of the Oakland Athletics, Cincinnati Reds leftfielder Eric Davis was in agony. In the first inning of Game 4, the 28-year-old Davis dived for a sinking liner off the bat of Willie McGee. The ball fell for a double, and Davis landed violently on his right side and elbowed himself below the ribs. At first the injury was not considered serious, but after Davis lost several units of blood to internal bleeding, a CAT scan revealed that he had suffered a laceration of his right kidney. "It's a very, very, very painful injury," says Robert Smith, a urologist at Oakland's Merritt-Peralta Hospital, who treated Davis. "He was in critical shape for a while."
After Davis had spent five days in intensive care, his condition improved dramatically. Smith told him he could resume exercising in a month or two, and that by spring training he should be "as good as new." He gave Davis permission to return to Cincinnati, provided that Davis took a private jet to avoid undue jostling. So Davis hired a plane at a cost of $15,000.
By this time Davis was bruised in other ways. Before leaving Oakland, he tried several times to phone Reds owner Marge Schott to discuss who should pay for the flight, but she didn't return his calls.
Upon returning to Cincinnati, Davis complained, "If I were a dog, I would have gotten more care, and that's the truth." "I have stuck by this guy for five years," Schott said on Monday. "You would think this guy would have been rejoicing.... It has ruined [winning a World Series] for me." She has yet to pick up the tab.
TELL THEM, TASHA
Ten-year-old goalkeeper Natasha Dennis is one of the stars of a 12-and-under girls' soccer league in Lewisville, Texas, having given up only seven goals in as many games this season. In fact, the 4'5" fourth-grader is so skilled that some fathers of rival players began grumbling that she must be a boy. Natasha's coach produced her birth certificate, but this failed to satisfy the doubting dads, who requested that Natasha be required to go to a changing room and undress before a witness. To which Natasha, a tomboy who freely admits she hates skirts, replied, "I think they should go somewhere and check and see if they have anything between their ears."
To celebrity backers like Simon, Prop 128 is good for trees, people and other living things.
DEWITT JONES/WOODFIN CAMP & ASSOC. INC.
Among its myriad provisions, Big Green would halt all logging in ancient redwood groves.
For $200 you, too, can play 18 holes abetted by Payne's pet caddy.
THEY SAID IT
•Yogi Berra, reminiscing during a TV interview about New York Yankee battery mate Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series: "It's never happened in the World Series competition, and it still hasn't."
•Danny Ainge, Portland Trail Blazer guard, claiming that his reputation as a complainer is undeserved: "Actually, I'm not a complainer. I'm a whiner."