Karen Lewis knows about water problems. The 67-year-old lives in Compton, where the water coming out of her tap is tinged brown by manganese, a metal similar to iron, from old pipes. The water is supplied by the troubled Sativa Los Angeles County Water District. The district has been plagued by administrative scandal and charges of mismanagement, and it hasn’t been able to generate the money needed to fix the brown water. Lewis has sat through innumerable community meetings and heard years’ worth of explanations, and she’s had enough. “Nothing’s been changed,” she said. “They’re not going to change.”
During Jerry Brown’s first stint as governor four decades ago, he was openly disdainful of big public works projects, often citing British economist E.F. Schumacher’s 1973 book, “Small is Beautiful: A Study of Economics As If People Mattered.” Brown’s attitude manifested itself in a virtual halt to highway construction, which led to constant bickering with his fellow Democrats in the Legislature who wanted projects in their districts.