NOTE: The work in the press release below was completed by our coalition partners.
STOCKTON – Today, protestants San Joaquin County, Sacramento County, City of Stockton, City of Antioch, and Local Agencies of the North Delta jointly prepared and filed a motion asking the State Board to stay the WaterFix Hearing for at least 90 days. The stay request is based on recent revelations of unlawful ex parte communications between members of the State Board’s WaterFix Hearing Team, on the one hand, and DWR personnel promoting the twin tunnels in the WaterFix Hearing, on the other.
Ex parte communications in this context are communications between members of the Hearing Team and advocates for one side, without the knowledge of the other side. An analogy would be a substantive discussion between a judge and plaintiff’s counsel in a civil lawsuit concerning the lawsuit itself, without the defendants and their counsel ever being informed that such a discussion took place. The unlawful ex parte communications in this case are substantive and concern issues at the heart of the ongoing evidentiary proceeding. These ex parte communications violate Constitutional due process requirements, California law, rules of the Board itself, and other ethical guidelines that apply in such proceedings.
These ex parte communications irrevocably taint the WaterFix Hearing. The requested stay is necessary to allow further investigation into the extent of the ex parte communications and to determine how best to address the ethical misconduct that has occurred.
The most critical approval needed for Governor Brown’s twin Delta tunnel legacy project (ironically named “California WaterFix”) is that of the State Water Resources Control Board. The approval process was initiated by the California Department of Water Resources (DWR) and U.S. Bureau of Reclamation in August 2015, by their filing of a Petition for Change. The State Board’s approval of that Petition is essential for construction of the proposed project. The WaterFix Hearing is an evidentiary hearing. Twin tunnel proponents and those opposing the twin tunnels, called “protestants,” present testimony and other evidence to support their positions before the State Board. The State Board’s WaterFix Hearing Officers are the decision-makers who must hear the evidence from all sides and eventually decide the fate of the Petition for Change. They sit as the judges in the WaterFix Hearing. They and the other State Board personnel assisting them in this matter comprise the WaterFix Hearing Team.
For immediate release: 1/16/18
Thomas Keeling, Freeman Firm, (209) 474-1818, [email protected]
Osha Meserve, Soluri Meserve, (916) 425-9914, [email protected]