[env-trinity] Sac Bee 4 7 10

Byron Leydecker bwl3 at comcast.net
Wed Apr 7 10:12:38 PDT 2010

Delta panel must be conflict-free

Sacramento Bee-4/7/10



In his short story "Harrison Bergeron," the writer Kurt Vonnegut described a
dystopian society where the strong had to wear body weights and the
beautiful had to don face masks. 


This is the situation facing California's new Delta Stewardship Council,
which, as originally envisioned, was supposed to be a powerful voice for the
Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.


Created last year by lawmakers as part of their water reform deal, the Delta
Stewardship Council has the twin mission of restoring Delta habitat while
also ensuring that water reliability is a "co-equal" goal. 


Yet to meet this mandate, a strong Delta Stewardship Council would need to
have a stable source of funding, created by assessing fees on water users. 


It doesn't. 


It would have a board relatively unencumbered by conflicts of interest. 


It doesn't. 


By design, lawmakers and water interests that want to retain control over
Delta decisions have ensured that the Delta council will be handicapped by
body weights, with little independence or autonomy. 


The council's immediate challenge is Gloria Gray of Inglewood. On her way
out of the Assembly speaker's office, Karen Bass used her appointment to the
council to select Gray, a board member of the West Basin Municipal Water
District, a Los Angeles County water agency. Gray has a clear conflict of


How can she represent a Southern California water district that depends on
the Delta for its supplies and also enforce the co-equal goal of protecting
the Delta? It a clear violation of the law. 


Despite an opinion confirming her conflict by the Legislative Counsel, Gray
still hasn't said if she will resign from either the West Basin water
district or the stewardship council. If she were wise, she'd follow the
example of Phil Isenberg, who ended his relationship with his Sacramento
lobbying firm when Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger appointed him to the Delta


Environmentalists are heated up over another appointee to the council -
Richard Roos-Collins, an attorney who works for the Natural Heritage
Institute - but on this score, there is more smoke than fire. 


Roos-Collins is clearly qualified to serve on the council, and in that role,
he will be a strong advocate for restoring the Delta and assessing all
options for water reliability.


The stewardship council has much work ahead of it, especially with the body
weights lawmakers have left it with. The sooner it has a sitting membership
free of conflicts and manufactured controversy, the better off it will be. 



Byron Leydecker, JcT

Chair, Friends of Trinity River

PO Box 2327

Mill Valley, CA 94942-2327

415 383 4810 land/fax (call first to fax)

415 519 4810 mobile

 <mailto:bwl3 at comcast.net> bwl3 at comcast.net

 <mailto:bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org> bleydecker at stanfordalumni.org

 <http://fotr.org/> http://www.fotr.org 




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