Looks to fix 2010's ACA 4 that will appear on November ballot
by Brian Leubitz
Gov. Brown has always been fond of the concept of a rainy day fund. He's included the concept on many occasions, speeches, budgets, etc. Add "special session" to that list:
Gov. Jerry Brown on Wednesday called a special session of the Legislature to replace the "Rainy Day Fund" measure on November's ballot with a dedicated reserve to let the state to pay down its debts and unfunded liabilities.
"We simply must prevent the massive deficits of the last decade and we can only do that by paying down our debts and creating a solid Rainy Day Fund," Brown said in a news release, which accompanied a proclamation convening the special section next Thursday, April 24. (Josh Richman / Political Blotter)
It seems that pretty much everybody in Sacramento, across the political spectrum, supports the move, with Richman pulling supportive quotes from the Speaker, Senate minority leader, and the Chamber of Commerce. But, of course, they all have different ideas of what this means. Brown wants to account for the wild swings in revenue we get due to stock options and the like, while Huff and the Chamber focus first on spending one-time revenue on ongoing expenses.
What exactly this means for the November ballot is unclear. Any changes could push the ballot measure to 2016, but there is some flexibility with a lot of time still remaining.
It turns out having one of your members arrested for involvement in a gun running scandal hurts your approval numbers. Who'd have thunk it?
Following Yee's arrest, voter sentiment of the legislature has turned negative. The proportion of voters expressing disapproval jumped six points from 40% to 46%, and now is greater than the proportion approving (43%), which declined three points. Thus, voter opinions of the legislature swung a net nine points in the negative direction in the days following news of Yee's arrest.(Field poll PDF)
Now, that being said, 40% is still relatively strong compared to the dark days of the budget fights a few years ago. In September 2010, approval of the legislature hit a rather abysmal 10%. The majority vote budget and the wiggle room afforded by Prop 30 should probably get most of the credit for that rebound. But the Yee arrest, following the other Senate legal issues, drags that down. Perhaps some of that will be resolved when those members are officially gone from the chamber, but with the Yee story likely to linger in the news, don't expect an immediate bounce at the end of the year.
Meanwhile, Gov. Brown is riding high. Field has him at an all-time high of 59%, with just 32% disapproving. Those are numbers that will be hard for any competitor to overcome in June or November. But the field of candidates that are actually in the race? The odds grow even longer. Right wing extremist Tim Donnelly leads the pack at 17% with no other candidate exceeding 3%. Neel Kashkari hopes to spend his way to relevance, but time is running quite short.
Poll shows right-wing anti-immigrant Tim Donnelly could be GOP standard bearer in November
by Brian Leubitz
WHo really wants to be the one to get steamrolled by Gov. Brown and his huge warchest come June/November? Well, there are a few folks vying for the privilege, but few show any sign of making any inroads. Barring a bizarre calamity, Brown seems a prohibitive favorite over the field. And that instinct is borne out in PPIC's poll:
When primary likely voters are asked how they would vote in the governor's race, 47 percent choose Brown and 10 percent choose Republican Tim Donnelly. Fewer support Republicans Andrew Blount (2%) or Neel Kashkari (2%)-the other candidates included in the survey-while 3 percent name someone else and 36 percent are undecided. (PPIC)
Now, Donnelly, who is a well known right wing extremist better known as a Minuteman vigilante than as a serious legislator. Not exactly the type of candidate a 21st century party is really looking for in a state with a minority majority. But while some party leaders are kind of rooting for Neel Kashkari, and his much more compelling, and modern, story, the grassroots of the party seems to prefer Donnelly's anti-immigrant right-wing platform.
Had Kashkari been able to keep up his initial strong fundraising, you would have to like his odds to pull out the number two spot. But with that fundraising rapidly slowing, Donnelly may be able to carry a right-wing base vote to the second line of the November ballot. The other candidate, Andrew Blount, Mayor of Laguna Hills, says he is raising no money at all. Unless he plans to self-finance, Donnelly's slightly higher name ID would likely be enough to push him over the edge. Here's the current cash situation:
Donnelly reported Monday that he has less than $11,000 in cash on hand, with unpaid bills of $149,068. Kashkari, meanwhile, has banked more than $900,000, while Brown has nearly $20 million on hand.(SacBee)
Perhaps this will improve when one of them squeaks onto the November ballot. However, the numbers right now are all looking strong for Gov. Brown. His current approval rating is at 49% approval, down a bit from his all time high in January of 58%, but more than solid given the other factors in the race.
Governor looks solid for next election, looks back and forward with Dowd
by Brian Leubitz
Neel Kashkari, despite being something of a modest frontrunner to make it to the general election with Gov. Brown, is now struggling with fundraising. Apparently Hank Paulson can only max out once, and Kashkari is having some issues getting contributions beyond the ranks of Goldman Sachs. Kashkari now has less than $1mil, compared to Brown's nearly $20m.
That all leads up to Maureen Dowd's puff piece with the Governor entitled "Palmy Days with the Governor." There are no hard hitting revelations here, just a few rememberances, many of which have to do with the Clintons:
So how does he reconcile what he said in 1992 and now? Have the Clintons changed, or has Brown changed?
He crosses his arms and gives me a flinty look, finally observing: "In retrospect, after we see all the other presidents that came afterwards, certainly, Clinton handled his job with a level of skill that hasn't been met since."
It goes on to cite the heckling at the CDP convention, but Gov. Brown is a fighter at heart. Despite his discomfort at the heckling, he closed his speech with "keep protesting." He has changed a lot since his first go-round, but maybe he is still much the same.
Gov. Brown filed his papers for re-election today after writing a letter to the people of California, highlighting his record of working with everybody and ability to forge a compromise. With his approval rating approaching 60%, and a weak field of competitors, Brown looks very strong in his reelection campaign.
Carla Marinucci of the San Francisco Chronicle has a way with a video camera like few else. She readily acknowledges the less than high tech camera work, even going so far as to name her video series "Shaky Hand Productions." But she has a way of being in the right place at the right time to ask some very pertinent questions.
Yesterday she posted another such video, this time a dimly lit interview of Gov. Brown. He covered the drought and the frustrating Bay Bridge situation. On mandatory water restrictions he hewed his refrain of letting local governments ride lead:
I like to focus attention and responsibility on local government, local school districts, whenever possible. So I certainly encourage every local community to do exactly what they need ... and when it becomes necessary for the state to take over and actually order (rationing) ... I'll certainly do that. "
Cruise on over to her blog post to get the full transcript. Looks like he'll officially kick his campaign off soon.
At some point, whether this year or two years from now, the state will have to get the prison population down to 137.5% of its designed capacity, or around 112,000 prisoners. Gov. Brown has been working on that primarily through realignment and shifting prisoners to private prisons out of state. The three judge panel took a look and decided the deadline should wait. But there's a catch in the ruling (Full court order here):
Under Monday's order, the state has until Feb. 28, 2016, to reduce the inmate population in its 34 adult prisons - designed to hold 81,574 inmates - to 137.5 percent of its current design capacity. State prisons now house roughly 117,600 inmates. The order requires the number to be reduced to 112,164 and bars the state from sending inmates to out-of-state prisons to get to that level. (SacBee)
Beyond that agreement not to send prisoners out of state, the state also agreed that they would seek to reduce the current out of state population of 8,900. Furthermore, the judges went ahead and outlined how the state was going to get down to that 137.5% figure pretty explicitly, with benchmarks and an appointed compliance officer.
Many of the media reports are simply referring this order as a stay of execution, but rather it is a compromise that requires the state to meet certain conditions. Beyond seeking additional space in county jails, the state will implement the following 8-point plan agreed to by the court:
(a) Increase credits prospectively for non-violent second-strike offenders and minimum custody inmates. Non-violent second-strikers will be eligible to earn good time credits at 33.3% and will be eligible to earn milestone credits for completing rehabilitative programs. Minimum custody inmates will be eligible to earn 2-for-1 good time credits to the extent such credits do not deplete participation in fire camps where inmates also earn 2-for-1 good time credits;
(b) Create and implement a new parole determination process through which non-violent second-strikers will be eligible for parole consideration by the Board of Parole Hearings once they have served 50% of their sentence;
(c) Parole certain inmates serving indeterminate sentences who have already been granted parole by the Board of Parole Hearings but have future parole dates;
(d) In consultation with the Receiver's office, finalize and implement an expanded parole process for medically incapacitated inmates;
(e) Finalize and implement a new parole process whereby inmates who are 60 years of age or older and have served a minimum of twenty-five years of their sentence will be referred to the Board of Parole Hearings to determine suitability for parole;
(f) Activate new reentry hubs at a total of 13 designated prisons to be operational within one year from the date of this order;
(g) Pursue expansion of pilot reentry programs with additional counties and local communities; and
(h) Implement an expanded alternative custody program for female inmates. (Order at p. 3)
The Compliance Officer will be checking in with the court, but the court plans on retaining jurisdiction over the prison system until the reductions are deemed "durable."
In the end, this is a very reasonable plan for all parties. It makes the prison system safer and healthier for prisoners and guards. It will shift focus from parole violaters and other low-risk offenders to the most dangerous elements in the prisons. There is a lot of evidence that we can make our communities safer through more rational sentencing, and perhaps this can be the hammer that prods us along that course.
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.
Catherine Reheis-Boyd, President of the Western States Petroleum Association and former Chair of the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create so-called marine protected areas in Southern California, led the successful campaign last year by the oil industry to defeat all one bill to ban or regulate the environmentally destructive practice of fracking last year.
The oil industry added last minute amendments to Senator Fran Pavley's already weak legislation to regulate fracking in California, Senate Bill 4, last September, making an already bad bill even worse. Governor Jerry Brown signed the legislation, dubbed by environmentalists the "green light for fracking" bill, on September 20.
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.
The top 10 companies and groups that hired lobbyists during 2013 spent a total of $30.5 million, reported the Capitol Weekly (http://capitolweekly.net/top-10-lobbying-firms-billed-40-million/).
The rest of the top 10 spenders were:
• California State Council of Service Employees, $4.26 million.
• California Chamber of Commerce, $3.7 million.
• California Hospital Association/California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems, $3.15 million.
• Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. - $2.24 million.
• AT&T Inc. and its affiliates - $2.33 million.
• California Medical Association - $2.27 million.
• SEIU-UHW (Labor organizations) - $1.88 million.
• Southern California Edison, $1.84 million.
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)
Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians.
Governor Brown, a strong supporter of the environmentally destructive practice of fracking, has become known as the "Big Oil Governor." Robert Gammon, East Bay Express reporter, revealed that before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's 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)
In addition to supporting the expansion of fracking in California, Governor Jerry Brown is fast-tracking the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels during the midst of a record drought. The massive tunnels won't create one drop of 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.
The oil industry extends its influence not only by direct lobbying, but through its presence and leadership on boards and panels, in a classic example of the fox guarding the hen house. In an extreme conflict of interest, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd not only chaired the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force for the South Coast, but she served on the task forces for the Central Coast, North Central Coast and North Coast. (http://yubanet.com/california/Dan-Bacher-Top-Censored-Environmental-Story-of-2012-Marine-guardian-lobbies-for-offshore-oil-drilling-fracking.php)
The MLPA Initiative, under the "leadership" of Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives with numerous conflicts of interests, created fake "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, corporate aquaculture, wind and wave energy projects, military testing and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to "protect" the ocean, the oil industry was conducting environmentally destructive hydraulic fracturing (fracking) operations off the Southern California coast. Documents recently obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and truthout.org reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a "marine guardian."
The Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) is a landmark law, signed by Governor Gray Davis in 1999, designed to create a network of marine protected areas off the California Coast. However, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in 2004 created the privately-funded MLPA "Initiative" to "implement" the law, effectively eviscerating the MLPA.
When will there be a long overdue investigation into the conflicts of interest, terminally flawed science, violation of the Yurok Tribe's gathering rights and failure to provide comprehensive protection in so-called "marine protected areas" that have made the MLPA Initiative into one of the most tainted environmental processes in California history?
While California has been falsely portrayed as a "green state" by the mainstream media and corporate "environmentalists," the state's current political leadership is in reality controlled by Big Oil, Big Ag and other corporate interests.
Governor calls GOP legislation an "an unwelcome and divisive intrusion"
by Brian Leubitz
The GOP really thinks the drought is good for them politically. Problem is, there isn't that much that can really be done to ease the effects, other than a rain dance and monkeying around with precedence of water users.
But the GOP wants to be seen as doing something, so Speaker Boehner flew to the Central Valley for a photo-op and to announce legislation that would change how water is used in the Central Valley. Because water distribution in the arid southwest is a dizzying array of federal and state law, that could mean tossing a flaming bag of dog feces into the mix of already complicated water precedence. But, the folks with power in the districts that elected the California Republicans are generally big ag interests, the GOP Congress members have their marching orders. Bring water back to Big Ag.
So, the legislation they introduced in late January would do that in the short term, and try to gin up support to get more water for Ag in the long term. The short term solution is to just keep pumping until there is no more water to pump. Tough luck salmon!
There are no cheap or easy solutions for that long-term question, but they are trying to score points by pointing at the Senate. Trouble is, in reality, both of our Senators have been working on this issue for a long time, and have an opinion on the so-called Senate inaction. In fact, they already wrote a letter to the President outlining a real plan for action:
The state's other senator, Barbara Boxer, was less charitable in her assessment of the proposal, saying in a statement that it was "old ideas that ignore many of the stakeholders counting on a real solution to this devastating drought."
Boxer urged Republicans to support a three-point plan she and Feinstein outlined in a letter to President Obama. The proposal calls for appointment of a drought task force and a drought coordinator to work with a similar state-level effort, calling for a broad federal disaster declaration, and urging the Obama administration to direct federal agencies to expedite water transfers and infrastructure improvements. (Fresno Bee / John Ellis)
But Governor Brown made his thoughts on the bill crystal clear in a letter to the ranking members of the House Natural Resources Committee:
"H.R. 3964 is an unwelcome and divisive intrusion into California's efforts to manage this severe crisis," Brown wrote. "It would override state laws and protections, and mandate that certain water interests come out ahead of others. It falsely suggests the promise of water relief when that is simply not possible given the scarcity of water supplies."(SacBee Capitol Alert
But, the attention is nonetheless necessary. A panel of experts (and hey, maybe including some scientists would help) would be a good start on how to address the long-term health of the Central Valley agricultural environment. Let's face it, there are some very deep systemic concerns for the future water needs, but let's see if Boehner comes back during a rainy season when the photo opportunity isn't as politically advantageous.
Does Jerry Brown Control the Skies? GOP asks if why he is hiding the water
by Brian Leubitz
Governor Brown briefly discussed the drought in his state of the state speech, but clearly there is plenty more to be said. The picture to the right is what is passing for the Sierra snowpack these days. But first let's review what he did say in the speech:
Among all our uncertainties, weather is one of the most basic. We can't control it. We can only live with it, and now we have to live with a very serious drought of uncertain duration.
Right now, it is imperative that we do everything possible to mitigate the effects of the drought. I have convened an Interagency Drought Task Force and declared a State of Emergency. We need everyone in every part of the state to conserve water. We need regulators to rebalance water rules and enable voluntary transfers of water and we must prepare for forest fires. As the State Water Action Plan lays out, water recycling, expanded storage and serious groundwater management must all be part of the mix. So too must be investments in safe drinking water, particularly in disadvantaged communities. We also need wetlands and watershed restoration and further progress on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.
It is a tall order.
He goes on to mention that climate change is real, and that we will be facing more variable weather, more droughts, more fires and other extreme weather. But while 2013 was the driest year on record, it is far from being the driest California has experienced. That being said, a UC-Berkeley professor, B. Lynn Ingram, believes that it might be the driest year in 500 years. But that isn't to say that we know 2014 will be better, or that it was some sort of anomaly.
When Drake landed in California in the 16th Century, it was reportedly as dry, if not drier. But the bigger issue is that the massive 20th century development was based on an abnormally wet century. A century when our droughts were shorter and less severe than the previous millenia:
If you go back thousands of years, you see that droughts can go on for years if not decades, and there were some dry periods that lasted over a century, like during the Medieval period and the middle Holocene. The 20th century was unusually mild here, in the sense that the droughts weren't as severe as in the past. It was a wetter century, and a lot of our development has been based on that.(B. Lynn Ingram)
Today, that wetter climate supports over 10 million people in LA county alone, in addition to one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world. Yet what happens if 2013 isn't a blip on the radar, and it is a part of the reversion to the mean? Then we would need to really critically examine our land use patterns and how we collect, store and use our water. But, instead of that critical analysis, the California GOP would rather make this a political issue. Us versus them; agriculture vs environmentalists.
But even if you wanted an us versus them, it isn't clear that you can stop at just agriculture and protection of endangered species. But, that's what the GOP is going with. It sounds good enough to draw the most senior Republican in the nation, Speaker John Boehner:
"When you come to a place like California, and you come from my part of the world, you just shake your head and wonder what kinds of nonsense does the bureaucracy do out here?" (Speaker Boehner) said, referring to the long-running diversion of millions of gallons from farms to the habitats of endangered fish.
"How you can favor fish over people is something that people from my part of the world never understand," he said.(LA Times / Evan Halper)
Nevermind that Ohio deals with issues of endangered species all the time, but the bigger myth is that this is simply an issue of the smelt vs farmers. It is far bigger than that. You have the issues between Delta farmers, who are quite productive themselves, and farmers in the Central Valley, especially the drier southern part of the Valley around Bakersfield. The fish being considered are not just the endangered tiny smelt, but also the salmon runs in Northern California that could be totally eliminated if enough water isn't granted to the rivers. Once the runs dwindle, it is remarkably difficult to bring them back, even with substantial hatchery programs. And those fish, yeah, they represent jobs to thousands of fishermen.
At any rate, it is hard to argue that Jerry Brown has been some sort of impediment to getting water to the Central Valley farmers. In fact, during the last huge drought, then Gov. Jerry Brown tried to get a peripheral canal built. That was ultimately defeated by referendum in 1982. Had it passed it would have brought massive change to the Delta and a lot of questions of sustainability. The BDCP includes two tunnels around the Delta that would divert fresh water around the Delta. Now, the technology has clearly improved over the past 30 years, but questions about the long-term viability of the tunnels still abound. The junior water users, especially the Westlands Water District in the southern Valley, desperately want change, any change, to move them up the ladder. But will there be enough snowpack in the Sierras to divert all that water to Southern California?
The other major question is storage. In an age when snowpack can no longer be trusted to store our water from February-June, do we need to build a bunch of more reservoirs? Well, again, where does that water come from if we have neither rain nor snow? But even with that question, does storage really change the fundamental questions, or just delay the inevitable? With agriculture accounting for about 80% of water usage, how do we decrease usage without decimating our crop yields? No matter how much we spend on water projects, we will need to get more out of the water we do have no matter what.
Or maybe we will get a lot of rain this week when the high pressure ridge breaks down, and we can go back to pretending that there is tons of water laying around. But in the end, it is hard to imagine that blaming Democrats for a lack of rain will bring Republicans out of their political drought of their own making.
Governor to address legislature as new leadership team emerges. I'll be on KALW Your Call at 10AM to discuss the State of the State.
by Brian Leubitz
There was a bit of controversy surrounding what was slowly coming into focus last week surrounding the legislative leadership races. Sen. Steinberg said last week that Sen Kevin de León was going to be the next Senate President Pro Tem. That was met with some worrying tones from Northern California, especially from the Bay Area Council:
We respect the importance of Southern California and often work closely with leaders there on key issues, but for the good of California, we must continue to share leadership.
As a region, therefore, we face an enormous and historic political test. Northern California's senators and Assembly members should stand up for their districts, their voters, their region and this historic balance of power, and ensure that the next leader of either the Senate or the Assembly is from this part of the state. Once we lose that position of power, it's very difficult to get it back. (Jim Wunderman, CEO of Bay Area Council , op-ed)
While this is a fuzzy kind of truth, you don't really have to go all that far back to find contra cases. Willie Brown and Bill Lockyer were leading both chambers in the mid-1990s, but it has been something of a recent practice with the fast changing faces of the Legislature since term limits.
At any rate, the BAC and other northern allies will have another shot at this race in two years. Atkins is term limited in 2016, while de León will face his Senate limit in 2018.
Meanwhile, the Governor has a plethora of topics to discuss at today's State of the State. Water, climate change, the budget, and HSR all may come up. I'll be on KALW Your Call (91.7 in SF) at 10 AM, right after the speech to discuss it.
Who, you may ask. Well, indeed Neel Kashkari intends to be the next governor of the great state of California. Kashkari, the former head of the TARP program, announced today that he will take on Brown (presumably) in the June election (and November if he gets that far.)
Former U.S. Treasury official Neel Kashkari announced Tuesday that he is running for governor of California, staking his campaign on his ability to create jobs and improve public schools.
"Here today, on this stage, I am announcing that I'm running for governor of California," Kashkari told a few hundred people at a luncheon at Cal State Sacramento. "That's my platform, jobs and education. That's it. That's why I'm running for governor of California."(LA Times)
Fortunately for Kashkari, the caption writers of the LA Times are a bit out of date when they write under a photo that he is attempting to win the GOP nomination. Because, let's be realistic here, he would have a much tougher route if that was his path. Instead, given that we now work in a Top-2 system, Kashkari will attempt to woo enough Republicans, independents and a smattering of Democrats in the June election to be the second highest vote getter and move on to November.
It is probably a better path than the one that Meg Whitman had to trod in 2010. She had to cater to the far right to get her party's nomination, say some stuff about immigration she probably didn't believe and all that. Kashkari can hope that the nativist vote won't overwhelm the "moderate" coalition that he aims to build. Of course, in Tim Donnelly, the nativists have just the candidate to rally around. Kashkari will have to hope that he can build a big war chest from the corporate Republicans to build an operation that can deal with the right wing ground game. It is doable, but a strong showing from Brown in gathering independent support could mean that Donnelly is the man that gets through June.
And even if he can get through June, what then? Brown is still sitting at an impressive 58% approval rating in the last Field poll. That includes 58% approval among independents, a figure that could go higher if the economy continues to recover. Brown has a big chunk of cash sitting in the bank, and an impressive operation in a Democratic state. In other words, unless Brown opts out in a stunning turn of events, he is a strong favorite to retain the job. Kashkari will do well to replicate the results of Whitman in 2010. (Spoiler: Whitman lost by 13 points after spending $140 million)
Former Treasury Department official Neel Kashkari, a moderate Republican who is expected to run for governor, has failed to vote in nearly half the elections in which he was eligible since 1998 - including the 2012 presidential primary and the 2005 special election called to decide the reform agenda of then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger - public records show.
Oh, that's ok, no big deal. I mean, you are only trying to get millions of people to show up for you, what's a measly voting record anyway? Voting isn't nearly as powerful as the big checks, right?
At any rate, Kashkari has a little baggage to open up the race. Never an auspicious way to start.
Former LG struggled with fundraising and staff changes
by Brian Leubitz
St. Abel Maldonado struggled during his campaign for governor. To put it mildly. He didn't really rake in the bucks, and went through a complete staff change. Of course, there was also the issue that most of the GOP loyalists pretty much loathe the guy. Apparently now he's had enough:
Abel Maldonado, whose campaign for governor sputtered for months and failed to gain the support of Republican donors, has told other Republicans he will drop out of the race today, sources said. ...
Then, after finishing the first half of last year in debt, Maldonado and his original team of advisers split. Maldonado assembled a new group of advisers, including Ron Nehring, the former California Republican Party chairman, and he presented the team at the state party's convention last fall.(SacBee)
But never you worry, Tim Donnelly is still in the race, and he's totally for reals about his fundraising. Or well, at least he had enough to buy a milkshake at In 'N Out and still be able to afford a burger too.
The long awaited Bay Delta Conservation Plan documents, totaling 34,000 pages, have just been released. Here's the announcement from the California Natural Resources Agency, overseen by Secretary John Laird:
The state of California and its federal partners have announced the release of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for formal public review. This is a significant milestone in the effort to restore ecosystem health and secure reliable water supplies for California. The release is a key step toward completion of a final plan and corresponding environmental documents.
The plan seeks to protect delivery of the mountain snowmelt that supplies water to two-thirds of the state's population from San Jose to San Diego and thousands of Central Valley farms. It focuses on the estuary where the snowmelt flows, the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta, and aims to both reverse the ecological decline of the region and modernize a water system that now depends on hundreds of miles of earthen levees vulnerable to earthquake, flood, and rising sea levels.
Release of the public review draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its corresponding Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) triggers a 120-day period for the gathering of public comments, from Dec. 13, 2013 through April 14, 2014. Citizens, organizations, and government agencies are urged to review and comment on the documents.
From mid-January through mid-February, experts will be available at a dozen separate public meetings to facilitate review of the plan, and to hear public comments on the plan and accompanying environmental documents.
All substantive comments received during the public review period will be considered and discussed in a final EIR/EIS. Completion of the final documents would allow project proponents to begin seeking the many permits necessary to implement the comprehensive plan.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan aims to both stabilize water deliveries from the Delta and contribute to the recovery of 56 species of plants, fish and wildlife over the 50-year life of the plan. The Legislature delineated those co-equal goals in the 2009 Delta Reform Act.
The 9,000-page Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its corresponding 25,000-page EIR/EIS reflect significant revisions since the informal release of administrative review drafts last spring and summer. The public review draft documents reflect changes such as:
• Changes to the alignment of the proposed water conveyance tunnels that would significantly reduce disruption to north Delta communities and reduce by half the project's permanent footprint.
• More detail about the plan's critical adaptive management process, which would use research, monitoring, and adjustment of actions to ensure that environmental measures truly contribute to the recovery of covered species.
• Refinement and revision of how the plan would be governed.
• A description of the tools and sources of funding potentially available to support the adaptive management process if additional Delta flows and water supply are needed.
• Additional design criteria and operational constraints for the proposed north Delta intakes, including fish studies that would influence facility design.
• Addition of further measures to protect the greater sandhill crane, giant garter snake, and saltmarsh harvest mouse.
"This is a rational, balanced plan to help meet the needs of all Californians for generations to come," said California Natural Resources Secretary John Laird. "By meeting the state's dual goals for BDCP of ecosystem restoration and water supply reliability, we will stabilize and secure against catastrophe the water deliveries that sustain our homes, jobs, and farms, and do so in a way that not only protects but enhances the environment."
The plan proposes to change the way the State Water Project (SWP) and Central Valley Project (CVP) divert water from the Delta. It proposes the construction of new intakes in the north Delta along the Sacramento River about 35 miles north of the existing pumping plants. Twin tunnels would carry the water underground to the existing pumping plants, which feed canals that stretch hundreds of miles to the south and west.
A northern diversion on the Sacramento River would minimize environmentally harmful reverse flows in the south Delta that are caused when the existing pumping plants draw water from nearby channels.
The Bay Delta Conservation Plan has been developed through seven years of analysis and hundreds of public meetings. It is a habitat conservation plan under the federal Endangered Species Act and a natural community conservation plan under California law. It describes 22 separate conservation measures that would be undertaken by the California Department of Water Resources, operator of the SWP, in coordination with the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, operator of the CVP.
The plan would provide a stable regulatory environment for operation of the SWP, while working toward the recovery of imperiled fish species.
Water users served by the SWP and CVP - primarily in Southern California, the Santa Clara Valley, and the San Joaquin Valley - would pay most costs under the plan, including the entire $16 billion cost associated with new intakes and tunnels.
To read the public review draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan, get guidance on how to comment on the plan, and see the schedule of public meetings, please visit http://baydeltaconservationpla...
The Brown Administration will release its long-awaited Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) to participating agencies on Friday, December 6.
The administration will then release the documents of the controversial plan to build two massive water export tunnels to the public, most likely, on Monday, December 9, according to Californians for a Fair Water Policy.
The group announced today that it will present a panel of experts in a teleconference call on Friday, December 6 at 2 pm in advance of the project's release to brief interested media on what to look for in the 30,000-page project EIR/EIS.
The experts will address the anticipated cost and financial burden of the proposed Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), whom would benefit, whether it violates the law, and potential better solutions.
The panelists will include: Dr. Jeffrey Michael, Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific; Conner Everts, Exec. Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance; Bob Wright, Senior Counsel, Friends of the River; and Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director, Restore the Delta.
For more information, contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; steve [at] hopcraft.com Twitter: @shopcraft
Restore the Delta will be sponsoring the following rallies with dozens of other community, environmental, government, and water agencies:
Monday, December 9, 2013
Rally at the Santa Clara Valley Water District
Location: 5700 Almaden Expressway, San Jose, CA 95118
Starting Time: 9 a.m. (there was a time change)
Press Conference: After Secretary Laird finishes his talk
This Rally and Press Conference is sponsored by Restore the Delta, Food and Water Watch, Californians For A Fair Water Policy, 350 Silicon Valley, the Dean Democratic Club of Silicon Valley, the Environmental Water Caucus, and First Generation Farmers.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Press Conference and Rally at the Capitol
Location: Starting in Room 112, moving to West Steps if needed
Starting Time: Noon with 12:30 p.m. press conference - arrive as early as 10:30 for possible walk to California Resources Agency
This rally is sponsored by Californians for A Fair Water Policy and dozens of other environmental, fishing, farming, government, and water agencies.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Friday the 13th Rally to begin the 120 Day BDCP Response Countdown
Location: West Steps of the Capitol
Starting Time: 11:30 a.m.
This rally is sponsored by Californians for A Fair Water Policy and dozens of other environmental, fishing, farming, government, and water agencies.
And don't forget to write your letters to Governor Brown expressing your opposition to the peripheral tunnels plan! Letters should be addressed to:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
The salutation should read: The Honorable Edmund G. Brown
Background: The Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the tunnels will hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as threaten the steelhead and salmon populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers. The tunnel plan is based on the false premise that you can restore a river system by stealing more water from it.
The purpose of the $54.1 billion plan, masquerading under the "coequal goals" of water supply reliability and ecosystem restoration, is to facilitate the export of more water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies.
In July, scientists from the federal lead agencies for the BDCP Environmental Impact Report - the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service - exposed the terminally flawed science it is based upon in 44 pages of comments. They criticized the draft documents for being "biased," "insufficient," "confusing," and "very subjective."
In other BDCP news, the Delta Stewardship Council has a new web page explaining the relationship between DSC's Delta Plan and BDCP, and DSC's and the Independent Science Board's role in BDCP review:
A U.S. Geological Survey report released on Thursday revealed that land subsidence caused by over drafting of ground water supplies in the San Joaquin Valley has resulted in a threat to water delivery systems, including the Delta Mendota-Canal and the California Aqueduct.
Proponents of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels used the report's release as yet another opportunity to promote the $54.1 billion project as the "solution" to California's water problems, while tunnel opponents said the tunnels will do nothing to address the land subsidence threat.
The report, "Land Subsidence along the Delta-Mendota Canal in the Northern Part of the San Joaquin Valley, California, 2003-10," by Michelle Sneed, Justin Brandt, and Mike Solt, reveals how extensive groundwater pumping from San Joaquin Valley aquifers is increasing the rate of land subsidence, or sinking.
"This large-scale and rapid subsidence has the potential to cause serious damage to the water delivery infrastructure that brings water from the north of the valley to the south where it helps feed thirsty cropland and cities," according to the USGS. "The subsidence is occurring in such a way that there may be significant operational and structural challenges that need to be overcome to ensure reliable water delivery." (http://ca.water.usgs.gov/news/2013/WaterInfrastructureSanJoaquinValley.html)
The report concentrates on subsidence in an original study area along the Delta-Mendota Canal in the northern San Joaquin Valley, but also includes data from a subsequently discovered and much larger subsidence area that touches the canal on the southwest.
"This subsidence is reducing the capacity of the Delta-Mendota Canal, the California Aqueduct, and other canals that transport floodwater and deliver water to agriculture, cities, industry and wildlife refuges," the USGS stated.
"The USGS report was commissioned by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to learn more about the challenges we face due to subsidence. It will help us take additional proactive measures to ensure efficient delivery of water to the San Joaquin Valley," said David Murillo, Mid-Pacific regional director of the Bureau of Reclamation.
Phil Isenberg, Chair of the Delta Stewardship Council, who also served as the Chair of the Delta Vision Blue Ribbon Task Force and the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" on the Central Coast, was the first to respond to the report's release in a statement.
Isenberg employed the report to promote the California Water Action Plan and the Delta Stewardship Council's "Delta Plan," both of which strongly support the Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build the twin tunnels. There are currently seven lawsuits by water contractors, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and fishing groups against the severely-flawed "Delta Plan" proceeding through the courts.
"This report reinforces the urgency of understanding and better managing California's groundwater basins," said Isenberg. "The amount and widespread nature of the subsidence found by the USGS is truly alarming and shows that cutbacks in surface water deliveries because of drought or environmental concerns cannot sustainably be replaced or exceeded by continual groundwater extractions."
"The report also underscores the urgency of actions and recommendations included in the draft California Water Action Plan (http://resources.ca.gov/docs/Final_Water_Action_Plan.pdf) and the Delta Stewardship Council's recently adopted Delta Plan (http://deltacouncil.ca.gov/delta-plan-0)," said Isenberg.
Restore the Delta (RTD) responded to the release of the report by saying the Brown Administration's massive water export tunnels would "do nothing" to address this threat to the Central Valley. Restore the Delta Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla said, "San Joaquin Valley's land subsidence is the real threat to California's water delivery system."
She noted that the report shows that the Westlands and Kern Water District mega-growers are engaged in "unsustainable growing of permanent crops on arid land, and that the governor's Peripheral Tunnels don't address this root cause of the state's water problem."
"The San Joaquin Valley's complicated system of moving water around depends on maintaining water levels and flows in the Delta-Mendota Canal and in irrigation canals," according to Barrigan-Parrilla. "But groundwater overdraft in parts of the region is causing the land to subside and the canals to sink. One dam and canal in western Madera County are sinking six inches a year, so the dam won't be high enough for gravity to push water down the canal."
An engineering geologist with the Department of Water Resources says that two areas subsided up to a foot a year for the past four to five years. A USGS hydrologist says the lining of the Delta Mendota Canal is actually buckling in some places. One canal has lost 50% of its capacity due to subsidence, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.
"Yet, water rate payers are being asked to subsidize construction of the Brown Administration's peripheral tunnels so that big corporate agribusinesses in the San Joaquin Valley can prop up its unsustainable economic and environmental model," she explained.
"How can California water ratepayers be expected to pay for the construction of the Peripheral Tunnels when the state's existing water delivery infrastructure is breaking down?" said Barrigan-Parrilla. "Exporters have spent millions of dollars creating a public campaign that they are the victims, and that the Delta is the weak link, but these water takers were never supposed to plant permanent crops."
Barrigan-Parrilla concluded, "They've exhausted their own groundwater supply, and now they are coming after the Delta and upstream rivers to support farms that are not environmentally and economically sustainable. Sending them water is like enabling a drug addict. Is the state's entire water supply to be sacrificed for almonds to export to China?"
The construction of the $54.1 billion tunnels would hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta smelt, longfin smelt and green sturgeon, as well as imperiling the steelhead and salmon populations of the Trinity and Klamath rivers.
However, the way the state and federal governments are managing Delta water, many of these fish could become extinct before construction of the tunnels ever begins. The 2013 Fall Mid Water Trawl (FMWT) abundance indices recently released by the California Department of Fish and Wildlife reveal that populations of Delta fish are only a small fraction of their historical abundance before Delta water exports began.
The indices for Delta smelt (7), striped bass (23), threadfin shad (70), and American shad (135) were the second, second, third and second lowest, respectively, in the 46 years of the survey. The index for longfin smelt (36) was comparable to the very low indices of recent years.
Delta smelt, striped bass, longfin smelt, American shad and threadfin shad populations in 2013 have plummeted 98.9, 99.6, 99.7, 89.1, 98.1 percent, respectively, from the average of the initial six years of the survey (1967-1972), according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) and a board member of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) and Restore the Delta. The Sacramento splittail index was not released, but the 2012 September-October index was zero.
Massive water exports to corporate agribusiness interests on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley, combined with increases in toxic chemicals and invasive species, have resulted in these fish population collapses, according to state and federal scientists.
Yet Brown is not only promoting the construction of the twin tunnels, but on September 20 signed legislation, Senate Bill 4, giving the green light to the expansion of fracking in California. This will only result in increasing pollution of already contaminated ground water and surface water resources with the toxic brew of fracking chemicals that oil companies refuse to disclose.
With about one year left until the 2014 election, the GOP field for the second spot in the top-2 governor's election seems to be a very intriguing trio.
Abel Maldonado and Tim Donnelly have more or less made their candidacies official. On the other hand, former Goldman Sachs (and TARP administrator) Neil Kashkari has been less forthcoming on official news. However, he clearly seems to be building a campaign, and a non-traditional GOP campaign at that. He's clearly trying to come at it from the middle, but Joe Garofoli of the SF Chronicle looks at some who wonder at how that will fare in the CRP.
Two of California's likely Republican candidates for governor are going to put that to the test: Are voters - particularly conservative ones - ready for GOP candidates who are pro-choice, pro-same-sex marriage rights and pro-pathway to citizenship for those in the U.S. illegally?
It is a long shot. Those positions contradict the Republican national platform, and they're deal killers to the hard-core conservatives who make up the bulk of GOP primary voters.
"This is test case nationally of what the Growth and Opportunity Project (postmortem) was suggesting," said Alex Carey, a Sausalito resident and veteran GOP strategist who was an adviser to GOP Minnesota governor and 2012 presidential candidate Tim Pawlenty.
"California could be on the leading edge of what the party wants to do," Carey said. "But some conservatives will have to look beyond what their differences are with the candidates."
For years, the media has been trying to shoehorn some level of moderation in the CRP. And for a while, maybe there was some there. Gov Schwarzenegger wasn't exactly moderate, but nor was he what you would call right-wing these days. And Duf Sundheim, a former chair of the party, worked to create a somewhat inclusive party. But in the end, if you look around at today's CRP, you don't find a lot of inclusion there. You find Tim Donnelly.
While the media likes to think that because we have a pretty progressive majority in the Legislature and our representatives, that the CRP must reflect that as well. They would be wrong. The California GOP is just as hard-core and full of true believers as any, right up there with Dixie. It turns out that the fog of progressivism doesn't really roll all the way into every California community.
Maybe Kashkari can draw enough interest to finish in second place and get to a one on one matchup with Governor Brown. But when running against Maldonado, considered to be the GOP's legislative version of a moderate, how does he carve out the votes in what will likely be a low turnout June election? Will the two "moderates" open up a path to the general election for Donnelly?
While a moderate and vigorous GOP, or any strong second party, would be of considerable value for the state, that isn't where the Republicans are headed right now. And ignoring the social issues tends to only work if you are a some sort of movie star. Kashkari might draw a fair share of interest, but I find it hard to believe that a pro-choice, pro-marriage equality candidate, who also happens to have spent a fare share of time at Goldman Sachs, can really be welcome in today's GOP.
Opponents of Governor Jerry Brown's Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels asked how taxpayers would trust "deadbeat state agencies" to pay billions for seized farmland and habitat when news reports reveal that the agencies owe counties over $17 million.
Restore the Delta (RTD) today responded to news reports in the Sacramento Bee and on Capital Public Radio that the State of California has failed to pay for land it acquired from thirty-six counties.
This report of defaulted payments comes as the State pursues its plan to purchase, or seize through eminent domain, tens of thousands of acres of farmland to build a pair of water export tunnels to deliver massive quantities of Sacramento River water to corporate agribusiness, developers and oil companies.
"Why would we trust these same agencies to keep their promises about the $54.1 billion tunnels, the land they will purchase or the 'habitat' they will buy and manage?" asked RTD Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla. "The failure to repay for lands is just one in a long series of broken promises by these same agencies. They are not trustworthy."
The $54.1 billion cost of the tunnels includes $14.5 billion for construction, $1.5 billion for O&M (operation and maintenance), $26.3 billion for interest on tunnel revenue bonds, $7 billion for habitat and conservation, $3.2 billion for interest on General Obligation Bonds and $1.6 billion for administration and research.
The state currently owes the counties more than $17 million, according to California Public Radio (http://www.capradio.org/articles/2013/11/12/fish-and-wildlife-owes-counties-millions-of-dollars/
Bob Moffitt at California Public Radio explained, "The Department of Fish and Wildlife long ago bought properties for wildlife projects in three dozen counties. The department agreed to make yearly payments equal to the amount of property taxes that counties would lose as a result of the sale."
H.D. Palmer of the California Department of Finance told Moffitt that the state hasn't made a payment since the end of the 2001 fiscal year.
"The rural counties have sent letters to the governor seeking that those payments be re-instated and we are still working on the decisions on the budget that the Governor will submit in January," Palmer said. "So, we can't say one way or the other what will be in that budget regarding the in-lieu payments."
"This week, Yolo County sent the Department of Fish and Wildlife a past-due invoice for about $1.4 million. The county says property like the one known as 'No Man's Land' near the Yolo Causeway are not generating tax revenue because they are owned by the state and are a burden on neighboring landowners who pay more than their fair share for fire protection services," Moffitt reported.
The state owes Riverside $2.7 million - the most of any county- followed by Napa, Yolo, Butte, Merced, Lassen and San Diego, according to Moffitt.
Protesters have greeted Governor Jerry Brown at his recent appearances throughout the state to oppose his support of fracking, the peripheral tunnels, massive fish kills on the Delta and REDD. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2013/10/18/18745051.php
Big Oil treated legislators to $13,000 dinner before fracking bill vote
The oil industry, the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in Sacramento, dumped millions of dollars into its successful lobbying efforts to eviscerate an already weak fracking bill, Senator Fran Pavley's Senate Bill 4, at the end of the Legislative Session.
Chevron, the Western States Petroleum Association and Aera Energy LLC spent the most money lobbying legislators in the third quarter of 2013, according to California Secretary of State documents.
Chevron spent $1,696,477, the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) spent $1,269,478 and Aera Energy LLC spent $1,015,534. That's a total of $3,981,489 just between July 1 and September 30, 2013. In the first three quarters of 2013, WSPA alone spent a total of $3,578,266 on lobbying legislators. (http://cal-access.sos.ca.gov/Lobbying/Employers/Detail.aspx?id=1147195&session=2013&view=activity)
In a classic example of the "pay to play" and "wine and dine" corruption that infests California politics, nearly $13,000 of the Western States Petroleum Association's third quarter spending went toward hosting a dinner for 12 lawmakers and two staff members in September.
According to Lauren Rosenhall of the Sacramento Bee, the dinner took place at "one of Sacramento's poshest venues: The Kitchen, known for its interactive dining experience where guests sit in the kitchen as cooks share details of the five-course meal. Moderate Democrats seemed to be the target audience for the treat: Assembly members Adam Gray, Henry Perea and Cheryl Brown attended, as did Sens. Norma Torres, Ron Calderon and Lou Correa." (http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/11/oil-industry-treated-legislators-to-13k-dinner-as-fracking-bill-loomed.html)
The dinner was held on September 4, as Senate Bill 4 was awaiting a vote on the Assembly floor. The oil industry the next day added amendments that further weakened the already weak legislation opposed by a broad coalition of over 100 conservation, environmental justice and consumer groups, including Food and Water Watch, the Center for Biological Diversity, the Credo Campaign and California Water Impact Network (C-WIN).
These amendments including the following:
• Language added to the bill specifies that "no additional review or mitigation shall be required" if the supervisor of the Division of Oil, Gas and Geothermal Resources "determines" that the proposed fracking activities have met the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act. (http://www.sandiegolovesgreen.com/activists-urge-senator-pavley-to-withdraw- dangerous-fracking-bill/)
"This provision could be used by DOGGR to bypass CEQA's bedrock environmental review and mitigation requirements," according to a statement from the anti-fracking groups. "This language could also prevent air and water boards, local land use jurisdictions and other agencies from carrying out their own CEQA reviews of fracking."
• In addition, under existing law, the governor and DOGGR can deny approvals for wells that involve fracking or place a partial or complete moratorium on fracking. The new language states that DOGGR "shall allow" fracking to take place until regulations are finalized in 2015, provided that certain conditions are met.
"This could be interpreted to require every fracked well to be approved between now and 2015, with environmental review conducted only after the fact, and could be used to block the Governor or DOGGR from issuing a moratorium on fracking prior to 2015," the groups stated.
At the last minute, the League of Conservation Voters, NRDC and two other Senate Bill 4 backers withdrew their support for the legislation. However, the bill, having been given "green cover" by these NGOs, passed through the Legislature a week after the dinner.
Governor Jerry Brown, a strong supporter of the expansion of fracking in California, then signed the legislation on September 20.
"For Perea, Correa, Calderon and Torres, the September dinner was not the first time they'd been treated to The Kitchen by the oil industry. They were among 11 legislators who attended a Western States Petroleum Association dinner there last year, valued at nearly $11,000," Rosenthall noted.
Oil lobby has spent $45.4 million since 2009
Prior to the latest Secretary of State filing, a report released by the American Lung Association revealed that the oil industry lobby, the biggest corporate lobby in California, has spent $45.4 million in the state since 2009. The Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) alone has spent over $20 million since 2009. (http://blog.center4tobaccopolicy.org/oil-lobbying-in-california)
Oil and gas companies spend more than $100 million a year to buy access to lawmakers in Washington and Sacramento, according to Stop Fooling California, an online and social media public education and awareness campaign that highlights oil companies' efforts to mislead and confuse Californians.
In addition, Robert Gammon, East Bay Express reporter, revealed that before Governor Jerry Brown signed Senator Fran Pavley's 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)
The oil industry not only exerts influence by direct contributions to political campaigns, but by getting its lobbyists and representatives on key panels like the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Blue Ribbon Task Force. (http://www.elkgrovenews.net/2013/10/oil-lobby-has-spent-over-45-million-in.html, http://topics.sacbee.com/Marin...
In one of biggest environmental scandals of the past decade, Reheis-Boyd served as chair of the MLPA Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force to create alleged "marine protected areas" in Southern California. She also served on the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast task forces from 2004 to 2011, from the beginning of the process to the end of the process. (http://www.dfg.ca.gov/marine/mpa/brtf_bios_sc.asp)
The MLPA Initiative process overseen by Reheis-Boyd and other ocean industrialists created fake "marine protected areas" that fail to protect the ocean from fracking, oil drilling, pollution, wind and wave energy projects and all human impacts on the ocean other than fishing and gathering.
State officials and representatives of corporate "environmental" NGOs embraced and greenwashed the "leadership" of Reheis-Boyd and other corporate operatives who served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces to create "marine protected areas" that fail to actually protect the ocean. By backing her leadership as a "marine guardian," they helped to increase the already powerful influence of the Western States Petroleum Association and the oil industry.
The California Coastal Commission and other state officials acted "surprised" when FOIA documents and an Associated Press investigation revealed that Southern California coastal waters have been fracked repeatedly, over 200 times according to the latest data. Yet independent investigative reporters like David Gurney and myself warned, again and again, that this would happen when an oil industry lobbyist was in charge of marine "protection."
There's no doubt that the Western States Petroleum Association, Chevron and other oil companies use every avenue they can to dominate environmental policy in California, including lobbying legislators, contributing heavily to election campaigns, serving on state regulatory panels, and wining and dining politicians. Until we get the big corporate money out of politics, Californian will continue to be awash in a sea of oil money.
It's official now - Bay Delta Conservation Plan officials announced yesterday that the release of the peripheral tunnel plan documents has been postponed until December 13, 2013.
The announcement takes place as state officials are amping up their campaign to convince the public of the "need" to build the twin tunnels by spending taxpayer dollars on high powered public relations firms and setting up Astroturf organizations.
According to yesterday's announcement, "As a joint effort of state and federal agencies preparing the BDCP, the recent shutdown of the federal government and associated staff furloughs have delayed the development, review, and ultimately the release of the Public Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS). The Public Draft BDCP and EIR/EIS are now scheduled for release on December 13, 2013 for 120 days of formal review."
During the formal public review period running from December 13, 2013 to April 14, 2014, the public, agencies, and other interested parties will be able to access copies of the document online, in repositories throughout the state, and request copies for review.
"The State and Federal lead agencies also will hold a series of public meetings during January and February 2014 to provide information about the project and accept formal comments. Formal written comments on the Public Review Draft BDCP and EIR/EIS will be accepted during the official comment period and all significant environmental issues raised in comments received during the public review period will be addressed in the Final EIR/EIS. Details on how to provide comments will be available in December," according to BDCP officials.
The end of the announcement claims, "No final decisions have been made regarding going forward with the BDCP or in selecting an alternative; those decisions will only occur after completion of the EIR/EIS processes."
Actually, this is a false statement since BDCP officials, since the beginning of the process, have decided that a peripheral canal or tunnels is the "solution" to the "coequal goals" of "water supply reliability" and "ecosystem restoration," instead of evaluating other alternatives, including the Environmental Water Caucus Reduced Exports Plan.
On the same day the delay was announced, Restore the Delta called upon the State of California to cease funding multiple public relations firms around the state to sell the Governor Jerry Brown's peripheral tunnels to export massive quantities of Delta water to corporate agribusiness interests.
"It is outrageous that taxpayers are paying for a statewide propaganda campaign for these unnecessary tunnels," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. "These front groups have not disclosed that funding when pumping the tunnels. It's unacceptable, especially since the State has said it has not yet chosen a preferred alternative."
She asked, "How many firms and groups are being paid to pump this project? Has the Southern California Water Committee disclosed that the State is paying it to promote this project?"
The State has not disclosed its contracts with "community groups," including the Southern California Water Committee, nor disclosed that PR firms, including Katz & Associates (San Diego) and Milagro Strategy Group (LA), are being paid to push the tunnels, according to Barrigan-Parrilla.
The Metropolitan Water District (MWD) reported to its BDCP committee on October 22 that they are working with a statewide network of State-paid Public Relations firms to sell the tunnels.
"The governor stacked the Resources Agency, and Department of Water Resources with dozens of flacks. Now they're spending our tax funds to spread disinformation throughout the state through paid front groups and PR firms," she said.
The construction of Governor Jerry Brown's 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.
The tunnel plan is a badly-conceived Nineteenth Century "solution" to Twenty-First Century problems that will cost Californians an estimated $54.1 billion.