Clarity Blog

Clarity Blog


I had the honor today to deliver the invocation – the opening prayer – at the board of directors meeting of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California.

Oddly, I was nervous at the podium, something that almost never happens with me.  It must have been the responsibility of praying for others, the room’s amazing (and slightly intimidating!) architecture, and all those water leaders tiered around me!

There were no bolts of lighting or wafting smells of brimstone, so all in all it went well. Here it is:

Chairman Foley, members of the Board, thank you for extending this honor to me today. You have allowed me to check off one more box on my life’s to-do list.

Let me preface this invocation with a little background on why Director Dick invited me to be here today. After three decades at the helm of a public affairs firm that specializes in leading clients through California’s regulatory jungles, I wrote a book, Crazifornia, Tales from the Tarnished State. In it, I tell a lot of stories about the foibles and failures that have dulled the shine of California.

There’s plenty in the book about bureaucratic mismanagement, questionable policies, misguided legislation and outlandish ideas, but you can read Crazifornia from cover to cover and you won’t find a chapter titled “California’s Crazy Water System.”

In fact, it’s the opposite.  I present California’s water delivery system as a shining example of what California can accomplish when it does things right. Consider the grand visions of the State Water Project, Hoover Dam and the Colorado River Aqueduct. Look at the great successes your member agencies have achieved in promoting water conservation. These are modern miracles.

As with anything, we could do better, but we have accomplished things here in California that would stop others hobbled by smaller visions and constrained by narrower commitments.

The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California’s Board of Directors and its staff have always been asked to make the hard decisions and drive the challenging policies that support the California water system. This great undertaking, I believe, is the one of the greatest examples the world has ever seen of God’s gift of intelligence to mankind.

So, with that background, let us pray.

Our Father and Creator, we thank you for the bounty and freedoms we enjoy as Californians and Americans.

We have read how You gave to King Solomon very great wisdom and insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as all the sands on the seashore. We thank You, Father, that you have not forgotten us in Your gifts, but have also planted in us an intelligence sufficient to envision great undertakings, and then to build them, and finally to manage the resources they deliver using the principles of stewardship you have laid down for us.

We ask your guidance on this group of so few people selected from among all of Southern California’s multitudes to direct the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California. Help them today to apply their wisdom, just as Solomon once did, to the careful stewardship of the treasures entrusted to them, so that your children from Ventura to the Mexican border can awake in the morning and go to sleep at night comfortable in the knowledge that the clean, healthy water they need to live will always be there for them.


As is usually the case nowadays, MWD’s invocation policy asks that no references be made to “Jesus,” out of deference to those whose religious beliefs He offends, and those who become uncomfortable upon hearing His name. I’m OK with that, but know that in my heart I read the last paragraph as, “In Jesus’ name, Amen.”

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