Despite Senator Dianne Feinstein’s well-documented opposition to Congressman Ken Calvert’s (R-Corona) rider that would exempt the Delta tunnels (CA WaterFix) project from further judicial review, Metropolitan Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) staff has recommended that its board of directors support the controversial rider with a resolution vote at Monday’s, June 18, 2018 MWDOC board meeting.
MWDOC’s staff position on the rider is not shared by either of California’s senators. Separately, Senators Feinstein and Harris have voiced their opposition to the rider, indicating that they will fight the litigation ban when the appropriations bill enters the Senate. In a letter dated May 21, Senator Feinstein wrote to the Chairmen of the Appropriations Committee to voice her strong opposition to the rider, noting that the “WaterFix should only proceed subject to the full scrutiny of our state and federal laws and our established institutions, including review by independent judges.”
Senator Harris took a public position against the rider in a press email written by her press secretary Tyrone Gayle on Tuesday, June 12. Gayle explained, “Senator Harris is opposed to any efforts to subvert California’s rights and waive federal environmental laws through the elimination of judicial review. If this legislation advanced to the Senate, Senator Harris would want that provision stripped before its consideration.”
Senator Harris’s recent announcement to the press follows last week’s news that two public interest groups, Food and Water Watch California and the First Amendment Coalition accused Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD) of violating the Brown Act with serial closed-door communications preceding their April 10 vote on CA WaterFix. A Voice of San Diego report details just some of the backdoor jockeying efforts that were made to get enough yes votes for the tunnels. One MWDOC representative and board director in particular lead the charge—Director Brett Barbre. Consequently, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California has scheduled a revote regarding the WaterFix tunnels on July 10, 2018.
It’s worth noting that Mr. Barbre and Congressman Calvert share a decades-long political history in addition to their common goal of pushing the tunnels through without proper due process.
On May 22, 2018, Restore the Delta issued a PRA request including a request for a year’s-worth of communications between Congressman Calvert and Mr. Barbre, but MWD has delayed responding to the PRA, noting that Restore the Delta will receive materials on a “rolling basis” as early as June 28.