Phil Isenberg

I had the great good fortune some years ago, when on one of my “learning about water” escapades, this one a visit to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, to have been introduced to Phil Isenberg. Phil – former mayor of Sacramento, and member of the California legislature – devoted much of his life to the pursuit of solving environmental challenges. We stayed in touch over the years (this active blog is a great vehicle for such things), and I learned a great deal from him about the challenge of solving environmental problems in a world of real-world governance constraints.

Most policy-makers, even lesser ones like me, want to find popular solutions to complicated problems. That’s why we spend so much time talking about “win–win” solutions; the dream world where everyone gets whatever they want, and there is no need for taxes or fees to pay for the result! Sure, this is completely unrealistic. We know that.

However, we also know that public expectations— unrealistic or not—permit or block good policy changes.

Phil has been well eulogized – here is one of many. I am sad at the news of his passing.


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