[env-trinity] Dan Walters and SacBee Editorial on the story that just won't die...

Tom Stokely tstokely at att.net
Wed May 1 10:33:40 PDT 2013

Editorial: Flimsy justification to call for Jerry Meral's ouster

Congressional representatives from Northern California have reason to criticize the way Jerry Meral and the Brown administration continue to push ahead with plans for two gigantic water tunnels in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. We added our voice to those criticisms Sunday.

But last week's call by five congressional Democrats for the resignation of Meral, the governor's point man on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, was an embarrassment. Did they want him to resign because the tunnel's ominous potential impact on Delta communities? Because of continued uncertainties about how much water would be left for the Delta?

No, they demanded the resignation because of something that Meral said – or purportedly said – within earshot of a pair of activists who are hardly neutral in their assessment of Meral.

On April 15, Meral reportedly said that the Bay Delta Conservation Plan "is not about, and has never been about, saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved." These comments were overheard by Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, who sent them into the blogosphere.

Meral claims his comments were taken out of context, but even if they weren't, they don't justify his resignation. More than a century ago, the Delta was drained, its ecosystem forever changed. "Saving it," at least restoring it to its pre-1800s state, is impossible, a point Meral has made in the past.

Sadly, we live in an age when the politics of vilification rages, when a single comment or image can be blown up beyond proportion. Liberals hate it when the right engages in these tactics. If so, they shouldn't practice it when it suits them.


Dan Walters: Maneuvers accelerate on California water plan

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/05/01/2490957/dan-walters-maneuvers-accelerate.html#storylink=cpy

Earlier this week, Gov. Jerry Brown's point man on the highly controversial proposal to bore tunnels beneath the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta found himself in political hot water.

Gerald Meral, a veteran environmentalist who served in Brown's first governorship, was quoted as saying during a private meeting that the project, known formally as the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, "is not about, and has never been about, saving the Delta. The Delta cannot be saved."

That generated a letter from nine state legislators, all Democrats and all opponents of the tunnels, demanding that Meral resign and the project be halted.

Administration officials, apparently eager to avoid further controversy, said Meral's remarks were "taken out of context" but wouldn't explain further. They were busy, ironically, making appearances before two legislative committees that were discussing the tunnels and a bond issue for Delta improvements and other non-tunnel aspects of the $30-plus billion overall plan.

However, in the context of how water is now drawn from the Delta, Meral's remarks are a tempest in a teapot.

"Saving the Delta" is not, and cannot, be a goal because, as virtually everyone acknowledges, the Delta now is an ecological mess that ill serves both wildlife, especially salmon, and water users. It is, moreover, nothing like its seasonally swampy natural state; it is now a man-made complex of agricultural islands with water flows controlled by upstream dams and diversions from its southern edge.

As a new and praiseworthy report from the Public Policy Institute of California points out, the Delta cannot be returned to its natural state. Its vital roles as coastal estuary and water source can be improved with rational, science-based management of land and water – but only if parochial interests cooperate.

That's probably what Meral meant to say, or as Meral's boss, Resources Secretary John Laird, told a Senate committee Tuesday, quoting a Mick Jagger song, "You can't always get what you want."

However, the PPIC report, which summarizes exhaustive research about the Delta and its twin roles as wildlife habitat and water source for about three-fourths of Californians, also includes new polling data from Delta stakeholders, indicating that there's little willingness among them to accommodate others.

That political knot was evident both at the Senate hearing and in another in the Assembly, where lobbyists lined up to protect their pieces of the proposed $11.1 billion bond issue.

Voters must approve it, but it's already been postponed twice because of fears of rejection. Efforts are under way to reduce its size – and that is creating a political frenzy over whose projects will be reduced or eliminated.

Call The Bee's Dan Walters, (916) 321-1195. Back columns, www.sacbee.com/walters . Follow him on Twitter @WaltersBee.

Read more here: http://www.sanluisobispo.com/2013/05/01/2490957/dan-walters-maneuvers-accelerate.html#storylink=cpy

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