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FRIENDS OF THE RIVER POSTS BDCP COMMENTS SUPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 18:02:53 PM PDT

CONTACT:
Bob Wright, Senior Counsel, Friends of the River
BWright@friendsoftheriver.org 916- 442-3155 X207

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 10, 2014

FRIENDS OF THE RIVER POSTS BDCP COMMENTS SUPPRESSED BY THE GOVERNMENT

Sacramento, CA - Friends of the River announced today that it is posting all comments made on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Water Tunnels project on its website, www.friendsoftheriver.org  , under the heading  Bay Delta Conservation Plan Public Comment Library. The federal and state agencies in charge of the project now refuse to post any correspondence other than project proponent material touting the Water Tunnels. It is imperative that public interest organizations, public agencies, and California citizens, taxpayers and ratepayers have access to comments made as they come in to assist them in spotting issues and formulating their own comments on the 40,000 pages of advocacy--the Plan and draft EIR/EIS-- touting the BDCP Water Tunnels. The government agencies declare they will not make the comments "available to the public" until "the release of the Final EIR/EIS." That concealment of the comments until after the public review period has ended will be of no help to the public in formulating comments during the review period.  

Friends of the River has been demanding copies of the comments from the government agencies under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Friends of the River (FOR) is posting the comments it has obtained regardless of whether the particular comment agrees or disagrees with FOR's support for saving the Sacramento River and San Francisco Bay-Delta and opposition to the Water Tunnels. FOR is now doing what the government of a free country should be-- but is not-- doing. That is, FOR is insuring that all sides of this important and controversial issue can be heard during this critical public review period.

The proposed BDCP Water Tunnels project that is the subject of the BDCP draft Plan and draft EIR/EIS is one of the most controversial and expensive public works projects in the history of the State of California. Back in June of 1982 a statewide referendum blocked development of the project (then called the "peripheral canal") by a 2 to 1 vote. The Water Tunnels raise profound environmental issues under several laws including the Endangered Species Act, National Environmental Policy Act, Clean Water Act, and California Environmental Quality Act. With respect to economic issues, the only true statewide cost-benefit study of the project concluded that the costs would exceed the benefits by 2.5 to 1, so that the project does not make economic or financial sense.

Bob Wright, Senior Counsel for Friends of the River, said "The BDCP Water Tunnels project is in reality a dagger aimed at the hearts of the Sacramento River and the San Francisco Bay-Delta as well as a pickpocket after the wallets of California taxpayers and ratepayers. That is why the BDCP agencies are afraid to post the comments. They are afraid of the truth."

According to often repeated statements by Resources Agency Secretary John Laird and others, the BDCP development process would be fair, open, and transparent. Now the truth is even clearer than before that special interests--not the public-- will decide the important issues behind closed doors and the public will only see what the BDCP proponents want it to see.  

Serious questions have been raised about the financial feasibility and environmental consequences of the BDCP Water Tunnels. The project would re-route a large portion of the Sacramento River into massive underground tunnels, to the detriment of fish, wildlife and local uses of the River and the Delta.   Public debate over such a destructive and expensive public works project is essential.  

Informed public debate is the hallmark of our democracy.  The modern equivalent of the venerable town hall/public park assembly is the ability to view comments from the public via the internet regarding proposed major governmental actions.  Friends of the River will continue to post the comments on its website that it is obtaining from the government agencies with regular updates in mid - April, mid - May, and early June through the end of the public comment period, now scheduled to end June 13, 2014. Unlike the BDCP proponents, Friends of the River and other protectors of our rivers and the San Francisco Bay-Delta are not afraid of the truth or contrary points of view.
###

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California Senate Committee approves fracking moratorium bill

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Apr 10, 2014 at 18:02:46 PM PDT

The California Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Water on April 8 passed SB 1132, legislation that will place a moratorium on fracking (hydraulic fracturing) and well stimulation until the state fully studies the impact of the oil extraction on California's air and water quality, public health and economy.

The bill, authored by Senator Holly Mitchell and Senator Mark Leno, will next be considered by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee on April 30, 2014.

The legislation, approved by a 5 to 2 vote as anti-fracking activists packed the State Capitol hearing room, would expand the current study focused on the environmental and public health effects of fracking to include the economic costs and harms, effects on private property and land use, and risks to worker safety, according to a statement from a coalition of groups.

The Committee vote took place as California reels from a big drought and Governor Jerry Brown continues to support the expansion of fracking in California and the construction of the fish-killing peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP).

"A moratorium on fracking is especially critical as California faces a severe drought with water resources at an all-time low," said Senator Mark Leno. "We are currently allowing fracking operations to expand despite the potential consequences on our water supply, including availability and price of water, the potential for drinking water contamination and the generation of billions of barrels of polluted water.''

"There are a million Angelenos that live within a 5-mile radius of the largest urban oil field in the country," said Senator Holly Mitchell, whose predominantly minority district includes the Inglewood Oil Field. "In my district vulnerable neighborhoods lie adjacent to drilling operations whose practices go largely unregulated."

A broad coalition of environmental, labor, public health, and business groups applauded the Committee's vote, noting that the body of research around correlations between fracking and public health concerns, water pollution and increased seismic activity is "growing."

"The bill indicates that California should take a pause on all fracking activity until the threats it presents are better understood and we can ensure the safety of our air, water and climate," they said in a joint statement.

Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Sierra Club, CREDO Action, the Physicians for Social Responsibility and many other groups praised the passage of the bill.

"A moratorium on fracking is a crucial and necessary measure towards protecting California's water and family farmers," said Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch. "We applaud the Senate Committee's passage of SB 1132 to stop the oil industry's irresponsible and harmful pollution of our water, air, and soil."

"Fracking and well stimulation are not California's solution to a safe secure energy future," said Kathryn Phillips, Director, Sierra Club California. "The latest science shows that fracking and well stimulation create air pollution, water pollution and other impacts that jeopardize public health, the environment and economic sustainability. Californians have said repeatedly, in so many ways, that they want a state where they can breathe clean air and drink clean water. The committee's vote today brings us a step closer to achieving that."

"The California Senate's advancement of this moratorium legislation is a crucial step toward protecting our air and water from fracking pollution," said Brian Nowicki, California Climate Policy Director, Center for Biological Diversity. "Fracking is a toxic technique that threatens our health, our climate, and our precious water supply. Sacramento lawmakers should move quickly to pass this bill and halt fracking before irreparable damage is done to our state."

Zack Malitz, CREDO Campaign Manager, said, "This vote is a wakeup call for Governor Brown. Every day more elected officials in California go on the record in support of a moratorium on fracking, putting enormous pressure on Governor Brown to split with Big Oil and return to the climate leadership he showed earlier in his political career."

"Physicians and other health professionals throughout California recognize the significant potential public and environmental health impacts of fracking because of increased threats posed by associated air pollution, groundwater contamination, and seismic activity," said Robert M. Gould, President, San Francisco Bay Area Chapter, Physicians for Social Responsibility. "California should ensure that it is strongly protected against these impacts before allowing fracking to continue here."

On the other hand, Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association, the most powerful corporate lobbying group in Sacramento, is strongly opposing the legislation. She claimed that expanded fracking operations could result in up to 200,000 new jobs in the Central Valley.

"It brings the opportunity to turn around the domestic (petroleum) production from on a slight decline to stable to increase," said Reheis-Boyd, the former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create fake, oil industry-friendly "marine protected areas" in southern Calfornia, as quoted by KCRA TV in Sacramento. "And so the job potential -- let's say in the Central Valley -- is 200,000 jobs."

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, says fracking, a form of "extreme mining" that uses large quantities of water, is closely linked with the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels and the federal proposal to raise Shasta Dam, since these projects will supply the water to expand fracking in Kern County and coastal areas. The dam raise and tunnel plan will flood many of the Tribe's remaining sacred sites not already inundated by Shasta Dam - and will result in the extermination of wild Chinook salmon, a fish that is sacred to the Tribe.

"We call to Olebis to look down on us and send down the good blessings," said Sisk. "We call on sacred Mt. Shasta to help bless us with this sacred water, so it will continue to bring us and our children's, children and so on in to the future with good health and long life for all our relations. We are calling on the water and fire spirits to help bring back the balance in our world, as wild salmon, wolves, beavers and giant trees make their way back.

We sing to the water that flows from the sacred spring on Buliyum Puyuk (Mt. Shasta) to the ocean and back again.....waters from Mauna Kea come back and answer the call and the lakes of fire send their blessings. We ask the fires inside of Mt Shasta and all the sacred fires inside the mountains of the world to help us bring understanding and balance to our way of life and change our lives to the good again.

Bring back the original taste of water to guide the people and all relatives back to healthy thinking and acting. For nothing will be here with out fresh clean healthy WATER. No air can be produced without waters to grow the trees, the Kelp, ......this world was created in the most perfect functioning way.....but now so much destruction and toxic waste ....for mega money for a few. We pray that our words will be heard and the August Fire and Water Ceremony be good in sending our prayers up the Creator!!!"

Background on fracking and oil industry money

For those not familiar with the practice, fracking blasts massive amounts of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock formations in order to extract oil and natural gas, according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The process routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene and trimethylbenzene.

Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells over 200 times in the ocean near California's coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a Freedom of Information Act Request and media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org last year. WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces during much of the time that this fracking of our marine waters was taking place.

The Center cited two studies documenting the harm fracking poses to human health. Birth defects are more common in babies born to mothers living near fracked wells, according to a new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health. In California, a recent Center report found that oil companies used 12 dangerous "air toxic" chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over a period of a few months.

Besides posing a big threat to human health, the pollution to California groundwater supplies, rivers and the Delta that will result from fracking and acidization will devastate already imperiled populations of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...
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California DMV's Autonomous Vehicle Regulations Must Protect Users' Privacy

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Mar 11, 2014 at 12:17:05 PM PDT

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Map reveals tunnels will supply water for agribusiness, fracking

by: Dan Bacher

Wed Mar 05, 2014 at 09:41:35 AM PST

Much of the area that the oil industry could frack for oil and natural gas in California is located in and near toxic, drainage-impaired land farmed by corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch revealed on March 4.

The groups, who oppose Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels, released a new map that shows that 35-mile long twin tunnels would mainly supply water to the largest agribusiness users of Delta water exports, land impaired by toxic selenium concentrations that make farming unsustainable, and the oil and gas basins where the energy industry could expand the environmentally destructive practice of fracking (hydraulic fracturing).

The maps were released at a time when Governor Brown is fast-tracking the construction of the peripheral tunnels and backing the fracking of California. In September, Brown signed Senate Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, legislation that anti-fracking opponents say gives the green light to fracking in California.

Before Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 4, Brown accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State's Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission. (http://www.eastbayexpress.com/oakland/fracking-jerry-brown/Content?oid=3726533)

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta (RTD), told reporters in a teleconference the significance behind the map. (http://restorethedelta.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/Restore-the-Delta-Fracking-Selenium-Soils-Valley-Agriculture-Irrigators-BDCP-Map-Table-rd.pdf).

"This map shows a remarkable overlay of where our water is going, how the public subsidizes unsustainable crops on drainage-impaired lands, selenium concentrations that pose a threat to the public, and underlying oil deposits that could be fracked with water from the governor's tunnels," she said. "Unsustainable farming has damaged these lands. And the taxpayers have been subsidizing it."

"The fracking sites line up perfectly in the Valley with where the governor wants to export this water," added Steve Hopcraft, a spokesman for Restore the Delta.

Barrigan-Parrilla said fracking is another "water intensive industry" in the San Joaquin Valley that will further contaminate groundwater supplies already impaired by selenium, nitrates, pesticides and other pollutants.

"The governor's plan describes water for fracking via the proposed peripheral tunnels as a beneficial use," she stated, referring to the BDCP website. "Beneficial for whom? The peripheral tunnels would benefit unsustainable corporate agribusiness in one region and potentially the energy industry - at the expense of everyday Californians."

Barrigan-Parrilla said the map shows the largest agricultural users of water exported from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta "all are irrigating land impaired by concentrations of selenium that will make farming increasingly unsustainable. These drainage-impaired lands, however, sit on top of oil and gas basins that underlie the San Joaquin Valley."

"The $60 billion tunnel project will not benefit the SF-Bay Delta estuary, or its surrounding communities and urban areas. It will not benefit San Joaquin farming communities that do not have access to clean drinking water. And it will not benefit urban ratepayers within the Metropolitan Water District or the Santa Clara Water District, as they will pay for a disproportionate share of the tunnels project," she stated.

She also said methods of energy extraction, including fracking and steam extraction, require "significant quantities of water and produce contaminated water, which would further render San Joaquin Valley groundwater basins unusable for farm community residents who already do not have access to clean drinking water."

Oil industry claims little water used for fracking

The oil industry minimizes the amount of water used for fracking, contending that fracking uses relatively little water. The Western States Petroleum Association, the largest corporate lobby in Sacramento, also claims that fracking is safe and environmentally friendly.

"Hydraulic fracturing does not use large volumes of water, at least not in California," claimed Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) and former chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force to created so-called "marine protected areas" in Southern California.

"All of the hydraulic fracturing that occurred last year used less than 300 acre feet of water, according to the California Department of Conservation. That's about the same amount of water needed to keep two West Coast golf courses green," said Reheis-Boyd, in her latest piece on the WSPA website, entitled, "Oil Production and the Drought: We Get It," (http://www.wspa.org/blog/post/moratorium-legislation-does-not-make-sense-california)

Reheis Boyd also claimed, "The Department of Conservation also found that California uses 'much less water' and fluid than other states where hydraulic fracturing is currently underway. Strict standards ensure that proper well casings are in place to protect surface and fresh water."

However, fracking and peripheral tunnels opponents point out that reporting of water used for fracking is voluntary, so the California Department of Conservation's figure is virtually meaningless.

Adam Scow, California Campaigns Director for Food and Water Watch, revealed that Kern County, where 70 percent of California's oil reserves are located, used 150,000 acre feet of water in 2008 alone. Most of this water comes from the State Water Project and federal Central Valley Project that obtain their water from the Delta.

"When you consider that 8 barrels of water are used for every barrel of oil extracted, you could be getting into millions of acre feet used for fracking oil wells," he noted.

Barrigan-Parrilla said that if 30,000 potential fracking sites were utilized, that could result in an additional 450,000 acre feet of water used, considering that each fracking operation uses 15 acre feet of water.

She also noted that the industry has used four times the amount of water that it has claimed it employs in Colorado and other states where fracking has been used to extract oil and natural gas.

Scow emphasized, "It's unfair for the Governor to make Californians subsidize water use and abuse by corporate agribusiness and oil companies, especially in a drought and in a bad economy."

Westlands and Kern County receive bulk of Delta water exports

In addition to showing the overlay of drainage impaired land and oil and gas basins in the San Joaquin Valley, the map also demonstrated that just two of the water export contractors, Westlands Water District and Kern County Water Agency, used a larger percentage of water, 55 percent, than the urban districts serving Los Angeles (Metropolitan Water District) and Santa Clara Valley (Santa Clara Valley Water District) combined, who used 45 percent.

"From 2000 to 2009, Westlands and Kern County Water Agency received an average 1,788,000 acre feet of exported water from the Delta, whereas Metropolitan Water District and the Santa Clara Valley Water District (home to tens of millions of Californians) received on average 1,400,000 acre feet of exported water from the Delta," she stated. "Total Delta exports for this period were 5.2 million-acre feet on average, with over 3 million acre-feet of water on average going to these agribusiness districts."

During the 2010 State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) hearings, participating scientists from fishery agencies and NGOs reached consensus that the Delta needed additional flows for fisheries to be restored. Delta exports would need to be cut to 3 to 3.5 million acre-feet to achieve those additional needed flows.

The Environmental Water Caucus Responsible Exports Plan, backed by Restore the Delta and Food and Water Watch, sets a cap of 3 million acre feet per year for Delta exports, while ensuring the meeting of California's water needs through increased conservation, recycling, the retirement of drainage impaired land and other measures.

Barrigan-Parrilla said the continuing irrigation of drainage impaired lands will set the stage for environmental disaster by imperiling wildlife and fish populations, including Central Valley salmon and steelhead and Delta fish populations.

"Selenium contamination from unsustainable farming in Westlands and Kern threatens farming in neighboring areas, water quality and wildlife, and a repeat of the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge disaster is possible," Barrigan-Parrilla said. "The majority of lands with the highest selenium concentration fall within the boundaries of the Westlands Water District and the Kern County Water agency. Selenium-laden land that drained polluted water into wildlife areas caused the tragedy in Kesterson 25 years ago - birds in the wildlife refuge born with deformities."

"The drainage-impaired lands within Westlands drain back into neighboring water districts, and then back into the San Joaquin River. This polluted water makes its way back down the San Joaquin River, draining into the South Delta, loading the Delta with additional salt concentrations and pollutants that are extremely harmful to fisheries," Barrigan-Parrilla observed.

It's time to change direction

Meanwhile, the Governor continues to push the peripheral tunnels and the expansion of fracking in California. The two organizations called upon Governor Brown to "change direction and instead of subsidizing unsustainable agriculture and fracking, invest in policies that create regional water independence."

In an action backing up the two groups' opposition to the peripheral tunnels, a state advisory panel including scientists, Tribal leaders, commercial fishermen and recreational anglers on February 26 slammed the Bay Delta Delta Conservation Plan for leading to the decline of imperiled stocks of Central Valley salmon.

The California Advisory Committee on Salmon and Steelhead Trout has recommended that Director of Fish and Wildlife Chuck Bonham deny the incidental take permit for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan Alternative 4, claiming that the plan does not meet the requirements of a Natural Communities Conservation Plan and therefore cannot be approved because it will contribute to the further decline of Sacramento River winter run and spring run Chinook salmon. (http://mavensnotebook.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CACSST-to-Bonham-CDFW-on-BDCP-NCCP_022614.pdf)

The letter states, "BDCP promotes the unproven scientific hypothesis that habitat restoration can substitute for flows. However, the State Water Resources Control Board has already indicated that Delta inflows and outflows are presently insufficient to help listed species recover their former abundance. BDCP would reduce Delta outflow, which contributes to the decreases in salmon smolt survival rates modeled by BDCP."

The Restore the Delta map can be viewed here: http://restorethedelta.org/wp-...

The Food and Water Watch map can be viewed here: http://yx17.us/p/?_1723-722/1S...

Background on fracking and oil industry money

For those not familiar with the practice, fracking blasts massive amounts of chemical-laced water into the ground to crack rock formations in order to extract oil and natural gas. according to the Center for Biological Diversity. The process routinely employs numerous toxic chemicals, including methanol, benzene and trimethylbenzene. Fracking has been documented in 10 California counties.

Oil companies have also fracked offshore wells over 200 times in the ocean near California's coast, from Seal Beach to the Santa Barbara Channel, according to a Freedom of Information Act Request and media investigation by the Associated Press and truthout.org last year. WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd served on the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Forces during much of the time that this fracking of our marine waters was taking place.

The Center cited two studies documenting the harm fracking poses to human health. Birth defects are more common in babies born to mothers living near fracked wells, according to a new study by researchers at the Colorado School of Public Health. In California, a recent Center report found that oil companies used 12 dangerous "air toxic" chemicals more than 300 times in the Los Angeles Basin over a period of a few months.

Besides posing a big threat to human health, the pollution to California groundwater supplies, rivers and the Delta that will result from fracking and acidization will devastate already imperiled populations of Central Valley Chinook salmon, steelhead, Delta smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species.

The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA), the most powerful corporate lobbying organization in Sacramento, spent over $4.67 million, more than any other interest group, while lobbying state government in 2013, according to data released by the Secretary State's Office and compiled by the Capitol Morning Report.

Another oil company giant, Chevron Corporation and its subsidiaries, spent $3.95 million, the third most spent by any group on lobbying state government in 2013. Chevron also spent much of its money on lobbying against bills that would ban or regulate fracking in California.

Since it is the most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, the oil industry is able to wield enormous influence over state and federal regulators and environmental processes. The result of this inordinate money and influence is the effective evisceration of the Marine Life Protection Act of 1999 during the MLPA Initiative process and the signing of Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4.

A report recently released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby spent $45.4 million in the state between January 1 2009 and June 30, 2013. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009 to lobby legislators. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)

For more information on oil industry power and money, go to: http://www.counterpunch.org/20...  

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California AG Takes Lead In Cybersecurity

by: Consumer Watchdog

Thu Feb 27, 2014 at 16:51:53 PM PST

Kamala HarrisData breaches at major retailers Target and Neiman Marcus during last year's holiday shopping season affected more than 100 million people and focused new attention on the need to protect person information stored online.

While it's clear that tough data breach legislation must be enacted, California Attorney General Kamala Harris is taking action to improve cybersecurity in the state before new laws are passed.  Today she released recommendations to California businesses to help protect against and respond to the increasing threat of malware, data breaches and other cyber risks.

In addition Harris is leading an investigation by state attorneys general into the Target and Neiman Marcus breaches, Don Thompson of The Associated Press reported:

Harris' office also disclosed that California is leading a multistate investigation into the massive holiday season consumer data theft at discount retailer Target Corp. and luxury retailer Neiman Marcus, breaches that left tens of millions of customers at risk. More than 7 million Californians were affected by the Target breach alone, Special Assistant Attorney General for Law and Technology Jeff Rabkin said.

The U.S. Justice Department is taking the lead in trying to identify the culprits, who are suspected to be based overseas, while the multistate investigation focuses on whether the retailers share blame because they lacked the necessary precautions to prevent the thefts. The state investigation also will explore whether Target and Neiman Marcus acted properly as soon as they learned of the problem, Rabkin said in a telephone interview.

The guide, Cybersecurity in the Golden State, offers suggestions focused on small to mid-sized businesses, which are particularly vulnerable to cybercrime and often lack the resources to hire cybersecurity personnel. In 2012, 50 percent of all cyber attacks were aimed at businesses with fewer than 2,500 employees and 31 percent were aimed at those with less than 250 employees, Harris said.

Key recommendations for small business owners include:

  • Assume you are a target and develop an incident response plan now.
  • Review the data your business stores and shares with third parties including backup storage and cloud computing. Once you know what data you have and where it is, get rid of what is not necessary.
  • Encrypt the data you need to keep. Strong encryption technology is now commonly available for free, and it is easy to use.
  • Follow safe online practices such as regularly updating firewall and antivirus software on all devices, using strong passwords, avoiding downloading software from unknown sources and practicing safe online banking by only using a secure browser connection.

In 2003 California was the first state to pass a data breach notification.  In 2012 the law was amended to require any breach that involved more than 500 Californians be reported to the attorney general.

>The 170 breaches reported to the attorney general's office in 2013 represent a 30 percent increase over the 131 identified the year before,  according to figures provided to The Associated Press. Among entities reporting breaches in 2012 were American Express Travel Related Services Co., Kaiser Permanente and several state government agencies, including the departments of Public Health and Social Services.

Given the current data breach laws Harris is taking meaningful action.  But, what's ultimately needed is a law that would make her best practice recommendations legal mandates.  We need a California Financial Information Privacy Act that would:

  • Change breach notification standards to be immediate.
  • Set limits on the time data can be retained. And limits on what information can be collected and retained.
  • Write minimum-security standards into the law so that they are no longer voluntary.
  • Most importantly: create a private right of action. Put a price tag on retailers' mistreatment of our private financial information.
John Simpson
Until there is a real price to pay, Target, Neiman Marcus and other retailers will continue to make us targets.


Posted by John M. Simpson, Consumer Watchdog's Privacy Project Director.
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Target Needs to Pay for Targeting Our Privacy

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 17:05:26 PM PST

Target ShirtTarget is targeting our privacy. There's a big red bullseye, a target - like the one on the shirt I'm wearing today - that Target and Neiman Marcus, who chose not to show up to answer questions today, have put on us because they haven't done enough to protect our private financial data. And the reason is that there's no financial incentive to do so.

110 million Americans had their personal financial information breached. That 's one out of two adult Americans. I was in Sacramento today to testify in front of a joint California Assembly committee hearing investigating the breach. And yet Target did not send a single representative to Sacramento today to answer questions about the largest data breach in American history?

The fact that Target didn't show up today tells us all we need to know about how sorry Target is and how committed it is to our privacy.

If you are as offended by this as I am, I have a t-shirt for you to wear too.

The reason Target won't face legislative questions today is the same reason that our personal financial information and data is at such grave risk: there is no price to pay. There are few financial penalties to companies like Target when our personal data is taken.  

Beyond public embarrassment, Target has little financial incentive to care.

We, the consumers, pay the consequences but we have no remedies.

According to the Committees' own staff research, 1 in 4 consumers whose personal information that is taken becomes a victim of identity theft. 1 in 4 victims of a data breach is also a victim of identity theft. If these numbers apply to Target, that would potentially create more than 25 million identity theft victims.  

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AAA Gets an "F" For Dumping Agents, Leaving Customers in the Lurch

by: Consumer Watchdog

Tue Feb 18, 2014 at 10:48:33 AM PST

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The Emptying of Northern California Reservoirs

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Feb 07, 2014 at 11:06:27 AM PST

State and feds shipped massive amounts of water south during drought

The dry bed of Folsom Lake has become an unlikely tourist attraction for visitors to the Sacramento area this year. On any given day this winter, large numbers of people can be seen wandering around the mud flats, granite boulders and rock formations of the lake bed to view ruins of Mormon Island and other communities that were inundated when the lake was formed by the construction of Folsom Dam in the 1950s.

The lake is its lowest level ever, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average, since the Bureau of Reclamation filled the reservoir with the clear waters of the North, Middle and South Forks of the American River that drain the Sierra Nevada Range. Because of the record low level of the lake, the cities of Sacramento, Folsom and other communities face dramatic water shortages this year.

The impact on the American River and its unique urban steelhead and salmon fisheries is just as alarming. The Bureau in early January dropped flows to only 500 cubic feet per second (cfs), compared to winter flows ranging from 2000 to 5,000 cfs that anglers are used to fishing in- and much higher flows during wet years.

Because of the threat to steelhead and Chinook salmon posed by the low water conditions, the Department of Fish and Wildlife voted for an emergency fishing closure on the upper section of the lower American on Wednesday, February 5, along with closures on the Russian River and coastal streams threatened by drought.

Stafford Lehr, Fisheries Branch Chief of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, explained to the Commission the dire situation that steelhead, salmon and other fish face in the low flows.

"The snowpack is only 12 percent of normal and Folsom Lake is only 17 percent of capacity," said Lehr. "We are trying to maximize the protection of as many wild salmon and steelhead in the American and other rivers as possible. We are implementing the emergency closures on some waters to reduce mortality caused by angling."

Lerh stated, "We are fully aware of the impacts these closures will have on anglers and related businesses. However, anglers have overwhelmingly supported the decision to close fisheries because they are the original conservationists. They understand the severity of this drought."

Southern California reservoirs are 96 and 86 percent of capacity

While the drought has received major national and regional mainstream and alternative media attention, most media outlets have failed to explain how the Bureau of Reclamation and Department of Water Resources systematically drained northern California reservoirs last summer, resulting in low flows and endangering salmon and steelhead in the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers while supplying corporate agribusiness interests with subsidized water and filling Southern California water banks and reservoirs.

Last summer, high water releases down the Sacramento, Feather and American rivers left Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at dangerously low levels. Shasta is at 36 percent of capacity and 53 percent of average; Oroville, 36 percent of capacity and 54 percent of average; and Folsom, 17 percent of capacity and 32 percent of average. (http://cdec.water.ca.gov/cgi-progs/reservoirs/RES)

Yet Pyramid Lake in Los Angeles County is 96 percent of capacity and 101 percent of average, while Castaic Reservoir is 86 percent of capacity and 102 percent of average. Both are State Water Project reservoirs that receive their water from the Delta through the California Aqueduct.

The state and federal water agencies exported massive quantities of water to agribusiness interests and Southern California water agencies, endangering local water supplies and fish populations as the ecosystem continues to collapse. (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/22/6090426/northern-california-reservoirs.html)

Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, explained how the water was mismanaged.

"We entered 2013 with Shasta, Oroville and Folsom reservoirs at 115 percent, 113 percent, and 121 percent of historical average storage. In April, they were still at 101 percent, 108 percent and 96 percent of average," said Jennings.

"With no rainfall and little snowpack, the Department of Water Resources and the Bureau (of Reclamation) notified their contractors that water deliveries would be reduced. But they didn't reduce deliveries. Instead, they actually exported 835,000 acre-feet more water than they said they would be able to deliver," said Jennings. (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/26/6097073/viewpoints-better-solutions-for.html)

Ironically, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California will have enough water in 2014, 2015 and 2016 to supply its users while Sacramento, Folsom and other cities have been forced to cut water use by 20 percent.

"We'll have plenty of water in 2015," Jeffrey Kightlinger, Metropolitan's general manager, told the Sacramento Bee. "And even if it's still a drought, we'll still have enough water in 2016." (http://www.sacbee.com/2014/01/12/6063205/california-drought-will-test-jerry.html#storylink=cpy)

Jennings said the present crisis could have been avoided, and is a "direct result of egregious mismanagement of the state's water supply system by the state and federal water projects."

"Excessive water exports and the failure to prepare for inevitable drought have created a decades-long disaster for fisheries, and placed the people and economic prosperity of northern California at grave risk. The State's obsession with tunneling under the Delta does nothing to address drought, or put us on a path to correct the misuse of limited water supplies," he added.

There is no doubt that California's fish populations are in unprecedented crisis, due to massive water exports south of the Delta by the state and federal water projects.

The Department of Fish and Wildlife's fall midwater trawl surveys, initiated in 1967, the same year the State Water Project began exporting water from the Delta, document the steep decline of Delta fish species. They reveal that the population abundance of Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, threadfin shad and American shad declined 95.6%, 99.6%, 99.8%, 97.8%, 90.9%, respectively, between 1967 and 2013, according to Jennings. The 2013 abundance estimates for Sacramento splittail, a native minnow, were not released, but results from 2012 reveal that splittail abundance indices have dropped 98.5% from 1967 levels.

Jennings noted that 2013 was also a bad year for salmon. As many as half of this year's up-migrating winter-run Chinook salmon were stranded in the Yolo Bypass and Colusa Basin in April-June and Sacramento River temperature requirements to protect spawning winter-run were relaxed in June.

In November, abrupt reductions in Sacramento River flow exposed spawning redds, killed up to 40% of Sacramento River fall-run Chinook salmon eggs and stranded newly emerged fry. "And low reservoir levels will likely lead to inadequate flows for young salmon out-migration this coming spring," said Jennings.

Failure to plan ahead contributed to water shortage

John Herrick, Restore the Delta board member and Counsel and Manager of the South Delta Water Agency, said the failure of the state and federal water projects to plan ahead contributed to the current water shortage - and a looming disaster for salmon, steelhead and other fish species.

"Last winter and spring the projects were concerned about not having enough water to meet fishery or agricultural standards, and so sought changes in their permits to allow for the relaxation of those standards," he said.

"At the same time, they projected the amount of water available for export. As soon as the projections were released, they began to pump MORE water than they projected; thus taking the water needed for fish and endangering future allocations for all purposes. If this had not been allowed, the reservoirs would have 800+ TAF more storage in them than they currently do," he noted.

"The Urgency Petition process is for actual, unforeseeable emergencies," said Herrick. "The State has known since at least September that we might be facing a horrible water supply year due to the lack of precipitation during the first 9 months of 2013. Knowing that reservoir levels were getting very low, and that the prior year had insufficient water for fish and water quality standards, the projects simply waited to see what would happen. Not until the very last minute did they file their Urgency Petition (to the State Water Resources Board - SWRCB)," he explained.

Herrick noted that Urgency Petitions require no public notice or input, but must be based on a finding that the petitioner exercised due diligence in getting the permit change under the normal petition process if possible.

"Since the projects have known for months that this scenario was facing them, they should have made their petition months ago. But that would have resulted in public notice, public hearing and input by the interests who depend on the current standards being met," he said.

Herrick said, "It appears that, as in the past, the projects manipulated the process to make sure there was no official opposition to their requests to violate the water quality standards. Worse, it appears the regulators (SWRCB staff) were working with the regulated projects outside of the public purview to make sure the petition remained unknown. Therefore, there was no contrary data submitted to contradict the pre-agreed to order granting the petition.

Herrick asked, "What would have been the findings of the SWRCB Board if the information of the projects taking too much water last season were in the record?"

Tunnels and fracking will only amplify California's water and fish crisis

In spite of the record drought, Governor Jerry Brown continues his plan to build the fish killing-peripheral tunnels under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and to expand the water-intensive oil extraction process of fracking (hydraulic fracturing) for oil and natural gas in California.

Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, the Executive Director of Restore the Delta, urged the state and water agencies to invest in projects that yield new water and jobs, rather than spending billions on the environmentally destructive twin tunnels.

"We have had three dry years in a row and the governor admits the tunnels won't add one drop of water to our drought-plagued state," said Barrigan-Parrilla. "We need solutions more appropriate to our future water challenges, not this $60 billion mega-project that would misspend the billions needed for sustainable water solutions."

"The better approach would be to invest wisely in projects that actually produce new water and local jobs. California needs more water recycling projects, such as Orange County's that is producing enough water for 600,000 residents each year. By cleaning up groundwater, we will create another new supply and room to store water when it is truly available," concluded Barrigan-Parrilla.

The proposed peripheral tunnels will undoubtedly kill the sensitive Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, a delicate mix of salt and freshwater, that is vital to the life cycle of Central Valley Chinook salmon, as well as thousands of other fish and species, according to the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.

"There is no precedent for the killing of an estuary of this size, so how could any study be trusted to protect the Delta for salmon and other fish? How can they even know what the effects will be?" said Winnemem Wintu Chief and Spiritual Leader Caleen Sisk. "The end of salmon would also mean the end of Winnemem, so the BDCP is a threat to our very existence as indigenous people."

Referring to Shasta, Oroville and Folsom dams, Sisk said, "These dams are supposed to be efficient in times like these, but they will never work when water mongers are in charge. They want the dumbed down public to believe now that building the twin tunnels and raising Shasta Dam are what MUST BE DONE...to keep golf courses green, and fallow farms wet with drinking water! Why don't they use their 'reclaimed water' project there like they did on the San Francisco Peaks?"

The massive tunnels won't create any new water, but they will divert huge quantities of precious water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies, and oil companies conducting steam injection and fracking operations in Kern County. The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity River, the largest tributary of the Klamath River.

"We can't make it rain, but we can be much better prepared for the terrible consequences that California's drought now threatens, including dramatically less water for our farms and communities and increased fires in both urban and rural areas," said Governor Brown when he declared a drought state of emergency in January. "I've declared this emergency and I'm calling all Californians to conserve water in every way possible."

Brown can't make it rain, but he can can put a moratorium on fracking and he can stop his tunnels project in order to preserve California's precious water resources during an unprecedented drought. While Governor Brown is apparently pushing the construction of the peripheral tunnels as a monument to his "legacy," his real legacy will be the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead populations and the draining of northern California unless he stops his mad plans to build the tunnels and frack California.

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org  

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Patient and Consumer Initiatives Will Save Lives and Money

by: Consumer Watchdog

Mon Jan 13, 2014 at 13:36:42 PM PST

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Water ratepayers protest 'twin tunnel tax' at L.A. City Hall

by: Dan Bacher

Sat Dec 21, 2013 at 11:38:54 AM PST

One of the biggest myths about the fight over Governor Jerry Brown's plan to build the twin tunnels under the Delta is that it is a conflict between northern California and Southern California.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. The conflict over the two gigantic twin tunnels is not between northern California and southern California, but instead between the great majority of Californians, both north and south, who oppose the tunnels and corporate agribusiness interests, developers, water privateers and corporate-backed politicians who support the project.

The growing opposition to the twin tunnels proposed under the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) was highlighted by a news conference in front of LA City Hall on Wednesday, December 18. Water ratepayers, community leaders and consumer groups spoke out against the tunnels project, claiming that it would raise rates and property taxes but bring no new water to Los Angeles.

Governor Jerry Brown and his staff have portrayed the BDCP as the "solution" to achieving the co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability. The 120-day public comment period for the 40,214 pages of BDCP documents released last week began on Friday, December 13.

"One calamitous storm or natural disaster - driven by climate change - could jeopardize the entire Delta, destroy its ecosystem and cut off water to 25 million Californians," Brown claimed. "This agreement with our federal partners moves us another step closer to being more prepared for an uncertain future in California." (http://losangeles.cbslocal.com/2013/12/18/consumer-group-warns-delta-twin-tunnels-plan-may-cost-ratepayers/)

Food & Water Watch, eight Los Angeles neighborhood councils, the Sierra Club, Southern California Watershed Alliance and Environmental Water Caucus Ratepayers and advocates strongly disagreed with Brown - and called on Mayor Garcetti, the Los Angeles City Council and LADWP to oppose "unfair rate hikes and property taxes" proposed to pay for the massive twin tunnels project.

The 35-mile long, 40-foot wide twin-tunnels project is estimated to cost between $25 and $54.1 billion, forcing Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to increase water bills and property taxes from $2,000-$4,500 per household, according to Food & Water Watch California Director Adam Scow. This "twin-tunnel tax" would not bring any new water to Los Angeles.

"At a time when Los Angeles is becoming more water efficient and using less water from the Delta, this twin-tunnel project would raise water bills and property taxes on Los Angeles homeowners and small businesses by at least $2,000 to subsidize more water for large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District," said Scow. "This plan is fundamentally unfair to Los Angeles taxpayers and ratepayers."

Scow said the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power's water plan calls for reducing its purchase of imported water from the Delta by 30 percent and increasing its local water supply through cost-effective measures such as replacing aging water pipes, cleaning groundwater, and expanding water recycling.

"Yet large corporate agribusinesses in Kern County and the Westlands Water District support the tunnels on the condition that they will secure massive amounts of water from the Delta for themselves and continue to be subsidized by taxpayers and ratepayers in Los Angeles and throughout southern California," emphasized Scow.

"It's wrong and unfair for Los Angeles ratepayers to subsidize new tunnels for corporate interests when we already need to invest billions in fixing and upgrading our local water infrastructure," said Ed Begley, actor and environmental advocate. "We need to clean our local water supply and create local jobs - not waste billions on a wasteful tunnel project."

An independent cost-estimate of the tunnels done by ECONorthwest for Food and Water Watch and the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) shows that LADWP would need to increase water bills from $7-15 per month for over 40 years or $2000-$4,500 per household to fund its cost share of the tunnels, according to Scow.

Furthermore, with rising energy prices, delays, and cost overruns - common in large-scale construction projects - the costs to Angelinos could be significantly higher. ECONorthwest projects that the real cost of constructing the tunnels would be $17 billion in 2017, the earliest year that construction would begin.

"In a tough economy, we know that ratepayers can only afford to pay so much," said Chris Sales, Board President of the Northridge South Neighborhood Council. "The Northridge South Neighborhood Council, which represents 20,000 Angelenos, encourages Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this wasteful project and prioritize investments that create local jobs and protect our environment."

"The North Hollywood North East Neighborhood Council, representing 25,000 residents, opposes the twin-tunnels - a project that would raise our water bills and property taxes but deliver no additional water," said Board President Ernie Moscoso. "We call on Mayor Garcetti and the City Council to oppose this unfair tunnel tax and prioritize investments that expand our local water supply."

LADWP has projected that billions of dollars are needed to replace its aging system of pipes and water mains, and billions more to expand water recycling and to clean a large aquifer in the San Fernando Valley, according to the groups. A recent poll from the L.A. Times showed that when told about the costs of the tunnels, a majority of Californians opposed the project.

Conner Everts, Executive Director of the Southern California Watershed Alliance, also slammed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, representing a growing movement of Los Angeles Basin environmentalists who are opposed to Jerry Brown's twin tunnels.

"This project is an unfair tunnel tax will raise our water bills but give us no new water," said Everts, who grew up steelhead and trout fishing in Southern California streams. "Los Angeles needs to invest in local infrastructure and local jobs first."

Everts also noted that Southern California is on the path to taking less imported water. "If we continue with the illusion that there will be more water, we aren't facing the reality of our water supply, or investing in water conservation jobs for Southern California," he stated.

Increasing numbers of columnists and editors from the Los Angeles Times and other Southern California newspapers have criticized the tunnel plan also.

On December 15, LA Times columnist George Skelton exposed how Governor's Brown's use of the "threat" of a "catastrophic earthquake" on the Delta to justify the construction of the twin tunnels is based on a "shakey rationale." (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-cap-delta-20131216,0,4576916.column#axzz2ns32l7z5)

Skelton also had a solution to the tunnels. "Before spending $16 billion boring oversize tunnels and mucking up people's lives, how about this? Try modern fish screens. Relocate the pumps so they don't reverse river flows. Take the water after it flushes through the delta," he said.

Californians for a Fair Water Policy is a statewide coalition of ratepayers, environmentalists, Tribal leaders, farmers, businesses and fishermen opposed to the tunnels project because of the severe negative impacts on California ratepayers, taxpayers, wild salmon and the San Francisco Bay Delta's ecosystem. Learn more at http://www.stopthetunnels.org.  

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$100 Billion Win

by: Consumer Watchdog

Thu Nov 14, 2013 at 12:21:38 PM PST

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It's Time to Take Back UC for California

by: Take Back UC

Wed Nov 06, 2013 at 09:29:43 AM PST

With the passage of Proposition 30 last November, millions of Californians voted to make personal financial sacrifices in support of public education.  As an elected state representative and former UC faculty member, I feel a special responsibility to ensure that these hard earned funds are being utilized to increase access to UC by Californians.

To be sure, Prop. 30 funds have helped to blunt the assault on access and quality that the financial crisis brought to California's schools, community colleges and our public Universities.  Some have even enacted additional reforms in order to protect students and taxpayers from future contingencies.

But some, like the University of California, have done just the opposite.

Billions have been squandered on risky investments and oversized executive entitlements.  And UC's administrative staff-the highest paid public employees in California who have almost no contact with patients and students-have become the fastest growing segment of its workforce.

The UC isn't just a university.  Through its 10 campuses, five medical centers, three national laboratories, and nineteen other facilities, it is one of the leading economic, research and health delivery institutions in America.  It serves 200,000 students and 4 million patients annually, and is responsible for 1 in 46 California jobs.  

In many ways, as the UC goes, so goes California.  And things are not going as well as they should be.

Student tuition has tripled, and out-of-state enrollment has skyrocketed.  Courses have been cut and student services slashed.  Debt has doubled.  Taxpayer-subsidized UC hospitals are shirking their responsibility to provide health care to the poor on public programs like Medi-Cal, and they have been hit with millions of dollars in government fines for patient safety violations and court-ordered whistleblower settlements.

Unfortunately, under our Constitution, UC does not have to play by the same rules as other public agencies-even other public schools in California.  

That's why the real power to change UC lies with all of us-patients, students, faculty, alumni, donors, staff and California taxpayers.  We write the checks, fill the classrooms and hospitals, and maintain the facilities.  For generations, Californians have made the sacrifices necessary to build the UC into a crown jewel.  

If we are to preserve this legacy and strengthen it for future generations of Californians, we must take action to end the cycle of mismanagement that is putting UC students and patients at risk.  We must be vigilant and equally steadfast advocates for the reforms that are needed to get UC back on track.

In short:  we need to come together and TAKE BACK UC.

TAKE BACK UC is a grassroots coalition of opinion leaders, organizations, students, patients, workers and taxpayers from every corner of the Golden State.  Our cause is to raise awareness about problems in the UC system, and to mobilize the public in support of common sense solutions-like increased access to qualified California students with reduced student expense to earn a UC degree, access to UC hospitals and physicians, safe staffing at UC health facilities and campuses, and fair pension reforms.

Ultimately, the time for reform at UC is now.  Last month, a new President took the reins at UC.   Our coalition will show that not only is there a need for change at UC-but that there is a mandate for it.  This isn't just about sharing our concerns today--- but holding the Regents and top UC administrators accountable for results in the months and years to come.  

There are a few things you can do to help grow this watchdog movement right now.

1. Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
2. Learn more and lend your name to our growing list of supporters by signing up at www.TakeBackUC.org.  
3. Sign our Change.org petition on fair pension reform for UC executives and safe staffing levels at UC hospitals - and share them with your friends!

Thank you in advance for your continued support of public education in California, and your commitment to restoring the University of California to its rightful place as the crown jewel of our Golden State.

Dr. Richard Pan
California State Assemblymember (D-9th District)

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To the Ballot for Alana and Troy

by: Consumer Watchdog

Mon Nov 04, 2013 at 11:29:06 AM PST

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Water bond campaigner reveals measure would lose 'pretty dramatically'

by: Dan Bacher

Thu Oct 31, 2013 at 08:30:52 AM PDT

Joe Caves, a "campaign manager" for three successful water bonds, told attendees at a dinner of the Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) on October 24 that the bond that is currently on the 2014 ballot would lose "pretty dramatically."

The legislature doesn't have a very good record of passing successful water bonds, according to Caves. (http://mavensnotebook.com/2013/10/30/policy-politics-public-opinion-what-does-it-take-to-craft-and-pass-a-successful-water-bond/#more-8819)

"The one passed in 2009 was the first one they even managed to get a 2/3rds vote on since 2000," said Caves. "And that one was constructed in a way necessary to put legislative compromises together, but also created elements of it that created opposition to the bond."

"The polling that we did after that bond passed was such that it started out with so much baggage, it was so large, and the opposition was so significant that all of our polling showed it going down in 2010. It showed the same thing in 2012, and it's showing today that the bond that's on the 2014 ballot would go down pretty dramatically," he explained.

"The Delta opposition to the current BDCP is great enough in the Delta communities that particularly in the Bay Area and Northern California, it tends to translate into this north-south water grab issue that fundamentally doomed the peripheral canal back in 1982," said Caves. "All of our polling indicates that if that's the message that Northern California has and if there are credible messengers pushing that, it's very easy to defeat a bond, any bond."

Responding to Cave's comments, Restore the Delta (RTD), opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels that would drain the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and doom Central Valley salmon and other Pacific fisheries, called on the governor to abandon his proposed tunnels.

"Voters are not going to stick ourselves with a $7 billion bill to mitigate damage from the proposed water export tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "The tunnels can't go forward without a certain source of funding to mitigate its disastrous effects."

"If voters won't approve that funding, and water-takers won't pay for the damage they'll do, then it's time to abandon this unworkable project. What now, Governor Brown? How are you going to spin the tunnels going forward?" she asked.

Tunnel opponents say the BDCP is a badly-conceived Nineteenth Century "solution" to Twenty-First Century problems that will cost Californians an estimated $54.1 billion.

The construction of the peripheral tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperil salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers. It will take vast quantities of fertile Delta farmland out of agricultural production, under the guise of "habitat restoration," to facilitate the diversion of massive quantities of water to irrigate corporate mega-farms on toxic, drainage impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, according to tunnel opponents.  

Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials announced on Monday that the release of the BCCP documents, originally slated for release in mid-November, has been delayed to December 13, 2013, the result of the federal shutdown. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/29/18745610.php)

Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) Background:  According to the Committee's website, http://www.socalwater.org, "The Southern California Water Committee (SCWC) - established in 1984 - is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public education partnership dedicated to informing Southern Californians about our water needs and our state's water resources. Through measured advocacy, SCWC works to ensure the health and reliability of Southern California's water supply." The group is "being paid by the Brown Administration to push its tunnels," reported Restore the Delta.

For more information and action alerts, go to: www.restorethedelta.org

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Davis' Governorship Ended, So Did GOP's Future, Thanks to Arnold

by: gabrielsanchez

Mon Oct 07, 2013 at 11:39:11 AM PDT

(A perspective from one involved in the recall election... - promoted by Brian Leubitz)

A decade ago today, one of the most intense political experiences I had ended in heartbreak.

California's Recall Election was a political thrill ride unlikely to be matched in my lifetime. While things didn't turn out well for my candidate on Election Night, I have no regrets.

We now have Democratic supermajorities in the Legislature and no Republican elected to statewide office. We have had two (three if you want to argue) balanced, on-time budgets and things are getting done in Sacramento without the partisan rancor that existed previously.

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Brown Out

by: Consumer Watchdog

Fri Sep 27, 2013 at 18:08:31 PM PDT

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Brown Administration Media Tour Excludes Delta Communities

by: Dan Bacher

Tue Sep 24, 2013 at 19:50:03 PM PDT

The Brown administration on Monday, September 23 amped up its public relations campaign for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build twin tunnels to export massive quantities of northern California water to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. As usual, the voices of Delta communities were completely excluded.

Restore the Delta (RTD) called out the Natural Resources Agency and the Department of Water Resources for choreographing a media tour of the Delta that does not include one Delta area representative. The group strongly opposes Governor Jerry Brown's rush to build peripheral tunnels under the Orwellian-named Bay Delta "Conservation" Plan, noting that the $54.1 billion dollar boondoggle would drain the Delta and doom Central Valley Chinook salmon and other Pacific fisheries.

Restore the Delta Executive Director, Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, said, "Directors and public relations officials are conducting a tour with officials from the Metropolitan Water District in the Delta at taxpayer expense to sell the project to Southern California media, but they have managed to exclude all Delta community representatives from talking with these members of the media to learn the Delta perspective of the peripheral tunnel project."

"While we do not fault the media for participating in the tour, as listening to multiple sources is part of their job, we note that the Department of Water Resources is expanding its tax-fueled media campaign to sell Californians on a $54 billion boondoggle project that Federal fisheries agencies have said will not save endangered fish species, will destroy wintering habitat for endangered Sandhill Cranes, and will destroy the Delta family farming community," she said. "All of this is being pushed forward by the Brown Administration to serve the special interests of a few big water districts like the Metropolitan Water District, Westlands, and the Kern County Water Agency which operate as the middlemen to control a limited, public resource for profit- California's water supply."

Delta residents, including farmers, fishermen and recreation enthusiasts, showed up with signs protesting the twin tunnels throughout the tour to answer questions on the Delta reaction to the proposed tunnel project.

Barrigan-Parrilla added, "What DWR officials will not tell the media is the level of destruction that will be inflicted on the Delta with this project. They also won't tell the media that there is a better solution for the Delta and California, including: upgrading levees, reducing water exports, fixing the existing pumps, retiring drainage impaired farmland, and investing in projects throughout the state that will make more water for Californians. This will save the Delta and ensure that southern Californians have the water that they need."

The construction of the tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as imperil the salmon and steelhead populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The "habitat restoration" proposed under the plan would take huge areas of fertile Delta farmland out of production in order to continue irrigating selenium-filled, drainage-impaired land on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

Ironically, the exclusive media tour took place the exact same day that two articles slamming the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the tunnels, one by columnist George Shelton and the other by reporter Bettina Boxall, appeared in the LA Times.

Shelton's column, "Buffaloes threaten pristine landscape," stated, "The Brown administration and some water buffaloes want to muck up one of the most unique, mysterious and picturesque areas of California. Muck it up literally." (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-cap-water-20130923,0,2269382.column)

Jerry Cadagan, longtime water activist, quipped, "In hockey it's a hat trick, in baseball a grand slam, in buffalo hunting it's a sharp arrow right in the heart; LA Times columnist George Skelton got himself a trophy buffalo today."

"And while Mr. Skelton handled the bow and arrow, his LA Times colleague Bettina Boxall took a very sharp knife and cut the buffalo's heart," he added.

Boxall's piece, "Who will pay for Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta tunnel project," said, "Hints have been dropped that to keep the water project alive, urban ratepayers in Southern California may pay more than their share, in effect subsidizing San Joaquin Valley agribusiness interests." (http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-delta-cost-20130923,0,6231604,full.story)

Restore the Delta is a 10,000-member grassroots organization committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
http://www.restorethedelta.org  

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Student-led Campaign for Oil Extraction Tax Announces Strategic Resubmission, New Partnerships

by: ksings

Mon Sep 23, 2013 at 14:59:13 PM PDT

The student-led campaign to pass an oil extraction tax in California via ballot initiative entered a new phase this week. The initiative, titled the California Modernization and Economic Development Act (CMED, for short), began gathering signatures in April and hit the signature gathering deadline set by the Secretary of State today. However, Californians for Responsible Economic Development, the student-led group that drafted the initiative, is announcing plans to strategically resubmit a revised measure: "This Summer has been busy for the CMED team," said Aaron Thule, Grassroots Coordinator for the campaign, "after a lot of hard work, we have built a signature gathering coalition for Fall and Winter that will be ready to activate and qualify this initiative come November."

The revised initiative will still utilize a tax on oil extracted from California to make investments in education and energy affordability, and authors have kept the same title. However, the authors made several key changes to the initiative. First, CMED will now feature a sliding scale tax of 2% to 8%, which proponents argue will protect small business owners and jobs. Proponents of the initiative predict that the oil tax would bring in 1 billion dollars a year in revenue for the state. Second, revenue in the revised initiative would be allocated as follows:

- 50% would be placed in a special 30-year endowment for education. After 3 years, the endowment would begin to payout in four equal parts toward K-12, Community Colleges, Cal State Universities and University of California. After 30 years of collecting interest, proponents predict it would bring in as much as 3.5 billion dollars a year (in today's dollars) for California's education system.

- 25% would be used to provide families and businesses with subsidies to help them switch to cleaner, less costly forms of energy

- 25% would be allocated toward rolling back the gas tax increase enacted last July, to make gas more affordable for working class Californians.

The growing coalition, which set signature gathering goals to qualify the measure by early Spring, includes the University of California Student Association (UCSA), groups at San Francisco State University, Sonoma State University, CSU Bakersfield and several community colleges. California College Democrats and Young Democrats, which have both endorsed an extraction tax for education and clean energy, are also lending support. "It's hard to believe that California is the only state that practically gives away our energy - especially when, as a state, our schools and colleges continue to struggle and we have yet to provide adequate funding to meet our own renewable energy standards," said Erik Taylor, president of the College Democrats, who added: "Cal College Dems aren't the only ones focused on the problem. At the Democratic convention in April, the state party endorsed an extraction tax policy for California. At the Democratic eboard meeting in July, the Young Democrats took it a step further and endorsed an extraction tax for education, renewable energy and community development."

The UCSA, which represents hundreds of thousands of students in the UC system, plans to organize across several campuses in order to ensure benefits for students. Kareem Aref, the President of the UCSA, commented, "Affordability and funding are critical issues at the UC and Prop 30 simply is not the solution in itself that we need. Our campaigns for this year are designed to ensure a stable and long term funding stream for the UC. We are excited to push CMED to the next level and see this initiative implemented."

More information and updates from the campaign can be found at http://www.cmedact.org

Discuss :: (2 Comments)

Idle No More Against Shasta Dam Raise

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 13:07:48 PM PDT

 The Bureau of Reclamation will be holding a 75th anniversary celebration of Shasta Dam on Saturday, September 21 - and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies will be there to protest plans by the federal agency to raise the huge dam on the Sacramento River.

Tribal leaders say the dam raise will inundate many of the sacred cultural sites not already covered by the waters of Shasta Lake. They also oppose the dam raise because it is designed in conjunction with Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.

The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as threaten salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Tribal members and their allies, including members of other Indian Tribes, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists, will meet at the Shasta Dam during the "celebration" at 10 a.m.

"We want them to know we're not going to be idle no more and that they need to deal with us as real people," said Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk. "There's nowhere else we can go in the world to be Winnemem. If they raise the dam, they will be taking away our future as a people."

"We can't go to Hoopa or Navajo land to learn to be Winnemem," Sisk said. "This is our Mother Country. We want our salmon back and we want access to participation in the process as a viable community. In their environmental impact report, they list everything we have as archeological sites. However, that's where we dance - that's where we bring our girls across the river in the puberty ceremony."

Sisk is urging people to bring a sign, bring a boat or just come and support the bring the salmon home and No Dam Raise option.

"We are not going to fall silent for this BOR organized celebration priming the pump for a further raise which will drown the rest of our sacred places, which will reduce the chance for introducing salmon above the dam, which will put a big ol' gravel pit in our neighbors' neighborhood and hugely and negatively impact the houseboater's businesses and campgrounds," said Sisk. "It's not just our issue!"

This year, the Bureau has been "celebrating" the 75th anniversary of Shasta Dam with a series of events starting on September 15 and ending on September 21. A Bureau press release describes the dam as "an engineering marvel responsible for water distribution to over 38 million Californians."  

The Tribe and its allies this week held a series of film showings to show the other side of the anniversary, starting with the premiere of the wonderful film, "Pilgrims and Tourists," showing the commonality of struggles between the Winnemem in California and the indigenous people of the Altai Republic of Russia, at the Cascade Theatre in Redding on Saturday, September 14.

"To make room for the reservoir, the BOR stole our lands, destroyed our salmon run, and submerged our burial grounds and sacred sites," according to Sisk. "Many Winnemem were left homeless, and we still have yet to receive to the 'like lands' that were promised to use in the 1941 Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which authorized the stealing of our land."

Sisk added, "When will there be justice for the Winnemem Wintu? Is it right for the BOR to be celebrating the stealing our lands, our burials, our wild Chinook Salmon, our way of life - leaving us with nothing and then calling us an "unrecognized tribe!"

"It is time to Idle No More for the Lenda Nur! (winter chinook salmon). The McCloud River, a world class fishing river, should have the wild Chinook back. The same ones that were sent to New Zealand are ready to come back," Sisk said.

"There is nothing more powerful than a belief that has come of time. Our time has come!" she concluded.

For more information on the impact of Shasta Dam upon the Winnemem Wintu, you can read Marc Dadigan's superb article at: http://indiancountrytodaymedia...  

Reminder: The 90-day comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation began on Monday, July 1, and all comments must be received by midnight Monday, September 30. The Draft EIS documents the "evaluation of potential effects of six alternative plans to modify the existing Shasta Dam and Shasta Reservoir Project," located approximately 10 miles northwest of Redding, Calif.

Written comments may be mailed or faxed to Katrina Chow, Project Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Planning Division, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1893, fax: 916-978-5094 or email BOR-MPR-SLWRI@usbr.gov.

You can learn more at: www.shastadamraise.com
https://www.facebook.com/event...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)

Idle No More Against Shasta Dam Raise

by: Dan Bacher

Fri Sep 20, 2013 at 13:07:48 PM PDT

 The Bureau of Reclamation will be holding a 75th anniversary celebration of Shasta Dam on Saturday, September 21 - and the Winnemem Wintu Tribe and their allies will be there to protest plans by the federal agency to raise the huge dam on the Sacramento River.

Tribal leaders say the dam raise will inundate many of the sacred cultural sites not already covered by the waters of Shasta Lake. They also oppose the dam raise because it is designed in conjunction with Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the peripheral tunnels.

The construction of the twin tunnels would hasten the extinction of Central Valley Chinook salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other species, as well as threaten salmon and steelhead runs on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

Tribal members and their allies, including members of other Indian Tribes, fishermen and grassroots environmentalists, will meet at the Shasta Dam during the "celebration" at 10 a.m.

"We want them to know we're not going to be idle no more and that they need to deal with us as real people," said Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk. "There's nowhere else we can go in the world to be Winnemem. If they raise the dam, they will be taking away our future as a people."

"We can't go to Hoopa or Navajo land to learn to be Winnemem," Sisk said. "This is our Mother Country. We want our salmon back and we want access to participation in the process as a viable community. In their environmental impact report, they list everything we have as archeological sites. However, that's where we dance - that's where we bring our girls across the river in the puberty ceremony."

Sisk is urging people to bring a sign, bring a boat or just come and support the bring the salmon home and No Dam Raise option.

"We are not going to fall silent for this BOR organized celebration priming the pump for a further raise which will drown the rest of our sacred places, which will reduce the chance for introducing salmon above the dam, which will put a big ol' gravel pit in our neighbors' neighborhood and hugely and negatively impact the houseboater's businesses and campgrounds," said Sisk. "It's not just our issue!"

This year, the Bureau has been "celebrating" the 75th anniversary of Shasta Dam with a series of events starting on September 15 and ending on September 21. A Bureau press release describes the dam as "an engineering marvel responsible for water distribution to over 38 million Californians."  

The Tribe and its allies this week held a series of film showings to show the other side of the anniversary, starting with the premiere of the wonderful film, "Pilgrims and Tourists," showing the commonality of struggles between the Winnemem in California and the indigenous people of the Altai Republic of Russia, at the Cascade Theatre in Redding on Saturday, September 14.

"To make room for the reservoir, the BOR stole our lands, destroyed our salmon run, and submerged our burial grounds and sacred sites," according to Sisk. "Many Winnemem were left homeless, and we still have yet to receive to the 'like lands' that were promised to use in the 1941 Indian Lands Acquisition Act, which authorized the stealing of our land."

Sisk added, "When will there be justice for the Winnemem Wintu? Is it right for the BOR to be celebrating the stealing our lands, our burials, our wild Chinook Salmon, our way of life - leaving us with nothing and then calling us an "unrecognized tribe!"

"It is time to Idle No More for the Lenda Nur! (winter chinook salmon). The McCloud River, a world class fishing river, should have the wild Chinook back. The same ones that were sent to New Zealand are ready to come back," Sisk said.

"There is nothing more powerful than a belief that has come of time. Our time has come!" she concluded.

For more information on the impact of Shasta Dam upon the Winnemem Wintu, you can read Marc Dadigan's superb article at: http://indiancountrytodaymedia...  

Reminder: The 90-day comment period on Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Shasta Lake Water Resources Investigation began on Monday, July 1, and all comments must be received by midnight Monday, September 30. The Draft EIS documents the "evaluation of potential effects of six alternative plans to modify the existing Shasta Dam and Shasta Reservoir Project," located approximately 10 miles northwest of Redding, Calif.

Written comments may be mailed or faxed to Katrina Chow, Project Manager, Bureau of Reclamation, Planning Division, 2800 Cottage Way, Sacramento, CA 95825-1893, fax: 916-978-5094 or email BOR-MPR-SLWRI@usbr.gov.

You can learn more at: www.shastadamraise.com
https://www.facebook.com/event...

Discuss :: (0 Comments)
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