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A recap of recent history on Delta levees and public safety

Five years ago at the end of August, Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on lives and property along the Gulf Coast. Almost immediately, the members of  California’s Reclamation Board voted to review all urban development plans proposed for Central Valley flood plains.  This was a rarely-used power given the Reclamation Board by state law. At the end of September 2005, the LA Times reported that Governor Schwarzenegger had fired all six members of the Reclamation Board and replaced them with seven of his own appointees, most with ties to agriculture and engineering. Click Here for the LA Times report One of the fired board members was Jeffrey Mount, who was quoted by the Times as saying “All I know is, we [...]

Corps principles

We owe today’s opening quote to Brigadier General Scott F. “Rock” Donahue, commander of the South Pacific (Pacific Southwest) Division of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), who was in San Joaquin County this week to be briefed on county emergency services, flood protection, and integrated regional water management. Since two-thirds of the Delta is in San Joaquin County, the Delta was on the agenda. General Donohue seasoned his address to attendees with aphorisms like “Think big, go big, go fast.”  You could argue (and RTD does argue) that thinking big about water engineering in California has created the problems the Delta faces today.  Einstein might suggest that big water engineering is not the level of thinking we need [...]

Schwarzenegger signs bills to delay water bond

Fresno Bee-8/10/10 By Robin Hindery (Associated Press) Calif. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday completed the process of removing an $11.1 billion water bond from California’s November ballot and delaying it for two years. The governor signed two bills, one of which postponed the water bond vote until November 2012. The other delayed the terms of the nine members of the California Water Commission, which would have allocated some of the bond money. Lawmakers on Monday scrambled to secure the necessary two-thirds votes in the Assembly and Senate to pass AB1260 and AB1265. Bond supporters feared the state’s dismal economic climate would turn voters against the measure. They say the two-year delay will give them time to persuade Californians to support [...]

Sinking the water bond

L.A. Times-8/11/10And then there were nine. The water bond known as Proposition 18, which was to be the first of 10 measures on the Nov. 2 ballot, has been put off for two years, leaving voters with slightly less campaign material crowding their mailboxes, fewer words in the ballot pamphlet to read and understand, and one less decision to make. That sounds like a good thing. But it’s a telling example of the state’s political stalemate.The $11-billion bond measure would have presented the state with an enormous new debt and new annual service payments – at a time when Californians are grappling with the consequences of past spending decisions. Bonds and pension commitments lock the state into preprogrammed spending for [...]

Water bond violated unwritten Capitol rule

Sacramento Bee-8/11/10By Dan WaltersCommentary When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature enacted a sweeping package of water bills that included a $11.1 billion bond issue last year, they ignored a powerful – albeit unwritten – rule of Capitol life.That rule says any major policy decree must have virtually unanimous support from every stakeholder group or it will ultimately fail because opponents have so many political ways to kill it.The corollary to that tenet, of course, is that in a state as complex and fragmented as California, unanimity on any big bill is almost impossible. Or it requires so much tweaking that the final product, such as a 1996 energy deregulation, is unworkable.Water is an excellent example of how the rule [...]

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