Tag Archives: Darrel Steinberg

Language For Water Package Circulates Capitol:

Once again, political backroom deals have locked out those stakeholders most affected by the proposed water legislation.  Previews are circulating Sacramento but are not made available to the people, companies and organizations who will have to live with the results.

If political cynicism is a viral disease, actions like this are the reason that it spreads so quickly.  

Below the fold, you will find that action alert from Restore the Delta.  Since Calitics has a podcast scheduled for this afternoon with Lois Wolk and John Laird, I would like to know just how much longer they expect the public to sit down, shut up and get with the program. For my part I will continue working the Restore the Delta, the Planning and Conservation League, the Sierra Club, Heal the Bay, Green LA, Clean Water Action and all of the other folks who sent a letter to our bosses, Arnold, Darrel and Karen.  

Language For Water Package Circulates Capitol:  Delta Representatives/Community Leaders Barred From Preview

When Governor Schwarzenegger began his role in office, he was quite proud of being California’s premiere salesman – selling the California economy, geography, and lifestyle to court corporations throughout the world.  Many Californians responded positively to the Governor’s ongoing overtures made to the international business community.

Unfortunately what they did not foresee, is that today in 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger would be leading a failed economy while cutting deal after to deal to create a water package that will sell off the Delta – the Pacific Coast’s largest estuary – to the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District.  This package which would place junior water rights holders on coequal footing with upstream water rights holders, all at the expense of Delta farmers and fisheries, would transform the Westlands Water District and the Metropolitan Water District into California’s permanent water brokers, who will have the rights to purchase and resell water to Southern California’s urban communities at will through  a new conveyance system – aka the peripheral canal.

With the aid of his sidekick, Senate President pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, Governor Schwarzenegger’s Chief of Staff  Susan Kennedy has brought in one-by-one individual water agencies and other organizations, all from outside of the Delta,  to negotiate what each individual groups wants to see in the water package.  And by bringing in corporate environmental organizations into the negotiations process, such the Nature Conservancy, NRDC, and the Environmental Defense Fund, which all stand to benefit financially either from the bond package itself or from continued funding from pro-peripheral canal foundations or corporations like Bechtel, the Governor and Senate President have given themselves green cover for policies that will turn the Delta into a stagnant saltwater marsh.

Delta leaders, both elected officials and community leaders, remain 100% left out of the process.  The only question posed to a few  has been how much money we would like to see in a water bond proposal for a project for the Delta – that would be in trade for our consent for the water package and water bond.

Our concerns about water rights protections, inflows for Delta fisheries and Delta communities, enforceable and enforced water quality standards, and a local and state partnership for Delta governance have been completely ignored.  The letter proposal for a sustainable water strategy sent out by Restore the Delta and 23 environmental organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Californian has been ignored.  Our concerns about the State taking out general obligation bonds when our State coffers are empty have been ignored.

So now, our loyal and active Restore the Delta supporters, it’s up to you!  First, we need you to sign the five petition/letters that we have created on-line to send to all of California’s legislators.  You can do so by clicking here.

Second, we need you to forward this action alert to everyone you know in California.  Third, we need you to call your state legislator’s District office and let them know of your opposition to the secret water bond and water package.  And fourth, we need you to check back on the Restore the Delta website daily for the next week to see if your presence is needed in Sacramento.

As of noon today, an Assembly Parks, and Wildlife Committee Hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Monday October, 26, 2009.  If this changes, we will send out an updated email message this weekend.  It is also our understanding that the Senate Natural Resources Committee may hold a hearing on any day next week at the will of the Chairs.  We will let you know the time and dates of the hearings as soon as we know.

Is Arnold coming around and has the GOP lost its mind?

For a while, Speaker Bass and others (including lots of posts here) have pleaded with Governor Schwarzenegger to stand up to the Republican obstructionism.  He says he is for revenue increases, but he’s not knocking heads like past Republican governors have been willing to do. Pete Wilson and Ronald Reagan did it, surely Arnold could bang out some sort of compromise.

But up to now, he’s just been sort of attacking the legislature in general and really failing to recognize the underlying unwillingness to work for a solution from the Republicans. Now, surely we can agree that today’s Republicans are a lot more partisan than those of 20 years ago.  However, that’s just not a sufficient excuse for the Republican governor to fail to bring a single vote over.

At yesterday’s press conference, Arnold slighlty altered his tune.  He began to acknowledge what this is: Republicans are holding the state hostage.  They are simply not negotiating in good faith.  Take this for example, from the transcript on the Bee:

But I think that what is important is to come to the meeting and to be prepared and to propose those kind of issues. I have been to many meetings; none of those things were discussed. So I think it’s very hard for the Democrats, in a way, to negotiate when no one puts that on the table and says here is the list of things that we ask for and if we have this list then we’re willing to increase taxes and to come up with extra revenues. But it’s always very vague and nothing specific and I think that makes it sometimes frustrating in those negotiations.

Ok, well it’s a start, Governor, and the legislative inaction clock is very cute. But this simply isn’t enough. But today it seems that criticizing Republicans is too much.  After a Big 5 meeting, Senate Minority Leader Dave Cogdill decided to take his frustration out on the Governor:

I believe that the Big 5 process has been irreparably compromised as a result of comments in the press over the last couple of days, and it’s pretty difficult to negotiate in good faith in that situation. My personal belief is that any resolution to this that is going to be negotiated will result from efforts with the Big 4 similar to what we were able to accomplish with the budget last year, because, again, I just don’t see this process as being productive or helpful. (SacBee 12/11/08)

The thing is that the Republicans in the Legislature have grown used to one Arnold. The post-partisan Arnold that tries to make nice with everybody. The Arnold that we’ve basically had since the 2005 Special Election.  Then some new Arnold dared to nudge the Republicans for failing to negotiate in good faith, so Cogdill is going to take his marbles and go home. Boo-hoo Dave, there’s no crying in politics, Hillary Clinton aside. You are being intransigent, and you got called out on it. You know what else? Nobody likes you, so go cry about that too.

In actuality the problem here isn’t that Arnold is being too tough now, it’s that he’s not being tough enough. We need the Governor to play hardball with these Republicans. The real problems is that he already missed his chance to really break the logjam a few months ago. If he wanted to get reform, well dammit he should have been hanging out in Audra Strickland’s district and campaigning against Tony Strickland in the Senate. He should have gone to Stockton and argued to the voters there that John Eisenhut would work to fix the budget and that Bill Berryhill would not.  But it seems that post-partisanship doesn’t extend so far as to electing people who will actually pursue sound policy, regardless of party.  

Oh to be a fly on the wall of that Big 5 Meeting, but Sen. Steinberg gave us a clue about the atmosphere:

“There was no lunch served,” Steinberg said.

The leaders are signaling that perhaps there will be a deal next week, but I won’t be holding my breath.  The recent behavior of Cogdill and Assembly Minority Leader Mike Villines don’t give much reason for hope.

UPDATE: Speaker Bass released a statement on Cogdill’s little tantrum:

“They said that they came up here because of what they believed in and they believed that there should never be a tax increase. All of us came up here for what we believed in. I came up here to make sure that I would protect programs that now I have to recognize have to be cut.  We all have to do things that we never thought we would do because California is in a catastrophic situation.”

It’d be nice if the Republicans could at least pretend to care that our state government is about to collapse.

Speaker Bass, perhaps annoyed by the clock, acknowledged that the Governor is going to have to provide some real leadership here:

Gimmicks aren’t going to keep transportation projects moving, let schools stay open or provide public safety. The fact remains Democrats are the only ones who have been serious about compromising to find a budget solution. We have stepped up to the plate and support both the deep cuts and new revenues it will take to help close the budget deficit. It is past time for Governor Schwarzenegger to break the logjam created by his own party and produce Republican votes for a package of cuts and revenues. The 2/3 vote requirement means Democrats can’t do it alone. With 51 Democrats we only need three Republican votes in the Assembly. But we need real leadership from Governor Schwarzenegger to convince even a few of his Republican colleagues to compromise. Other Republican governors have done that in time of emergency. This governor has to deliver as well.