[env-trinity] Water Bill Update and Stop the Canal Action Alerts!

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed Sep 9 18:14:48 PDT 2009

----- Original Message ----- 
From: Dan Bacher 
Sent: Wednesday, September 09, 2009 5:23 PM
Subject: Water Bill Update and Stop the Canal Action Alerts!

Good Afternoon

Here are three breaking news updates on the water bill package, including (1) an action alert from Bill Jennings of CSPA, (2) an action alert from Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla of Restore the Delta and (3) my article on Senator Lois Wolk withdrawing her authorship of the Delta Conservancy Bill.

Today was the third day since Friday that Sacramento and Delta residents held a protest outside Senator Darrell Steinberg's office against his campaign to push the water bill package, a road map to the peripheral canal, through the Legislature by Friday.�

Please call Steinberg and your Legislators �to halt what Jennings aptly describes as a "Legislative Descent into Madness." Steinberg's phone number is�916-651- 4006.


1. CSPA Action Alert!

Time is short if you give a damn about the Delta.� Cheers

Legislative Descent into Madness

�But I don't want to go among mad people,� Alice remarked. �Oh, you can't help that,� said the Cat: �we're all mad here.�

Senate pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg is leading the California Legislature down the rabbit hole into Lewis Carroll's strange land believing, in the words of the Cheshire cat, �if you don't know where you are going, any road will get you there.�

After ignoring the state's water problems for years and faced with 9% approval ratings, Steinberg decided to solve the water crisis in the waning days of the legislative session.� Bringing together 5 seriously flawed water bills, he circumvented the normal policy committee legislative process and created a joint conference committee to review and approve the bill package.

As Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters put it, �legislators, their staffers and hundreds of lobbyists are acting as if they're snorting meth, frantically trying to write and enact hundreds of bills in the 2000 session's final hours.�� 

Together, the water bills represent an unprecedented modification of the water code and an attack upon 130 years of water law and legal opinion.� They establish water exports as coequal goals with restoration of the Delta estuary, give a politically appointed council the supreme authority to approve and fund a peripheral canal and exclude fishermen, environmentalist and Delta communities from the process.� They will essentially institutionalize the estuary's collapse and forestall effort to restore it. 

Steinberg stacked the conference committee with representatives from the southern San Joaquin Valley and LA area and excluded representatives from the Delta counties because he couldn't count on their approval.� Multiple bond issues to fund conveyance and new dams were introduced.

Amazing coalitions of environmentalists, fishermen, Delta farmers and water agencies have come out in opposition to the Mad Hatter's rush to enact something, what ever it is.� CSPA agrees that the state's water crisis needs to be addressed but we believe it must be done right - not just right away. 

After a dysfunctional series of show hearings over the last week while horse-trading was occurring in he backroom, the conference committee was unable to reach agreement by the Tuesday deadline.� Republicans characterized the process as a �dog and pony show.�

>From there the process became, as Alice put it, �curiouser and curiouser.�� 

Steinberg, faced with the possibility of being deposed as Senate pro Tem desperately began discussion with Governor and subsequently announced that he would introduce a bill on the floors of the Assembly and Senate on Friday for a vote later that evening.

Now we have discovered that a secret 61-page bill is circulating among water agencies and we have been told that it represents the results of the discussions between Steinberg and the Governor.� It includes a $12.6 billion bond for water projects, excludes the Delta from County of Origin laws and gives the Governor the power to appoint all members of the Delta Stewardship Council.� Water exports will be coequal with Delta restoration but it doesn't define any measures related to recovery of the environment.� The State Water Project will be removed from under the Department of Water Resources.� We're informed this bill will be introduced on Friday for enactment the same day.

The bill represents an abdication of responsible legislative oversight and due diligence.� It is fiscally irresponsible.� It will increase debt service for bonds to 9% of the state's deficit budget.� It provides subsidies to water agencies as basic health, education and public security services are being slashed.� It's simply, a descent into legislative madness. 

The time to avert this train wreck is short.� All who believe in the Delta and its fisheries as national treasures that deserve protection need to take a moment to call your State Senate and Assembly representatives and let them know that they must not only vote against Steinberg's water bill, but they need to tell their colleagues to do the same.� 

All who believe in good government and deliberative process should call Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg and let him know what you think of policy legislation that is being written in the middle of the night without input from the Delta farming and fishing communities.� Let him know what you think of a new water bond at a time when the state is billions of dollars in debt and education is being gutted. He can be reached at 916-651- 4006.

And don't forget to go to the CSPA website at www.calsport.org and sign the petition and letters to your representatives.�

Bill Jennings, Chairman
Executive Director
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
3536 Rainier Avenue
Stockton, CA 95204
p: 209-464-5067
c: 209-938-9053
f: 209-464-1028
e: deltakeep at aol.com

Restore the Delta News & Action Alert 9/9/09

"Darkness is only driven out with light, not more darkness." ---Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

      Steinberg Moves to Revamp California Water Policy in the Dark of Night �

      Restore the Delta staff members have been busy attending Conference Committee meetings on water policy and the five bill package reshaping the future of the Delta this last week. The end result: the Conference Committee failed to meet its own deadline yesterday. The Conference Committee report might be published later on today.

      This, however, has not slowed down Senate President pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg who political insiders say is trying to push through a last minute water bill that will have elements from the previous bills and a new water bond. It is our understanding that Senate President Steinberg will introduce the bill on the floor this week to be voted on at the last minute without public vetting. The bill will require a 2/3 vote so that a referendum cannot be set into motion by the public.

      Here's what we need each and every one of you to do. Call your State Senate and Assembly representatives and let them know that they must not only vote against Steinberg's water bill, but they need to tell their colleagues to do the same. Also, call Senate President pro Tempore Steinberg and let him know what you think of policy legislation that is being written in the middle of the night without input from the Delta farming and fishing communities. Let him know what you think of a new water bond at a time when the state is billions of dollars in debt and education is being gutted. He can be reached at 916-651- 4006.

      To say that Restore the Delta is exasperated by the events of the last two weeks is an understatement. Through the Conference Committee process it became apparent that not only were our expert Delta legislators, like Senator Lois Wolk (5th Senate District), shut out of the process, but that testimony committees were stacked with "experts" from outside the Delta, and that testimony from in-Delta interests was being ignored by the Conference Committee. Even more disturbing was a point during Monday's hearing when some Delta advocates were actually taken to task by Senator Flores and Senate President Steinberg for calling into question the behind-the- scenes negotiations process.

      Never mind that representatives from the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District were busy working a deal with Senator Steinberg and a limited number of legislators and representatives from the Governor's administration. Never mind this was happening behind closed doors, as a way to safeguard authorization of new conveyance that would deplete the Delta of the freshwater that it needs all under the banner of co-equal goals for water management in California. Never mind that these policies are being crafted so that Western Central Valley Agribusiness can have all the water it wants, despite its junior water rights, and contracts written years ago indicating that they were only entitled to extra Delta water during wet years.

      Take action today. Let your legislator know that the people of the Delta want real solutions that will create regional self-sufficient water supplies throughout California, reduced Delta exports, and an equal seat at the governance table for our region.

      3. Lois Wolk Article:

      Senator Wolk Withdraws Authorship of Delta Conservancy Bill�

      by Dan Bacher

      In a strongly worded statement, Senator Lois Wolk (D-Davis) today withdrew her authorship of Senate Bill 458, legislation that would establish a Delta Conservancy, because of her concern than the bill's amended version would serve as a "tool to assist water exporters who are primarily responsible for the Delta's decline."�

      Wolk took this action after being notified by Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) that her legislation would be amended in a Water Conference Committee with provisions Senator Wolk and the five Delta counties opposed. Wolk has been replaced with Senators Steinberg and Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) as the authors of SB 458.�

      "When I learned that the Conference Committee intended to alter key provisions of the bill, as well as other pieces of the water package, it was clear I could no longer carry this legislation," said Senator Wolk. "What began as a sincere effort to create a state and local partnership to restore the Delta and sustain the Delta communities and economy is becoming, day by day, amendment by amendment, a tool to assist water exporters who are primarily responsible for the Delta's decline."

      Wolk's withdrawal of the legislation authorship comes as a huge, diverse coalition of northern California water agencies, Delta farmers, fishermen, conservationists, environmental justice advocates, California Indian Tribes and others are opposing Steinberg's mad rush to push water legislation through the Capitol by Friday, the last day of the legislative session. They are asking Steinberg and the Committee to delay the legislation, a thinly-veiled road road map to the peripheral canal that greatly undermines the public trust and California water rights law, until next session.

      Democrats and Republicans failed to come up with a water deal� by the 5 p.m. deadline yesterday that Steinberg had arbitrarily set. Steinberg, in an effort to push a peripheral canal and water bond that would result in increased water exports out of the Delta, excluded Wolk, Assemblymember Mariko Yamada (D-Davis) and other Delta Legislators from the politically-stacked 14 member Water Conference Committee.

      "It is regrettable," said Wolk of the amendments to her bill and the exclusion of Delta legislators and residents from the water bill process. "Without the Delta communities as working partners in this effort it is unlikely to succeed."�


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