STOCKTON, CA – Last month, Bethany Pane, Chief Counsel for the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) sent an email to DSC subscribers that three council members recused themselves from the Delta tunnels appeals proceeding, a process related to a vote on the consistency determination, due to potential conflicts of interest.
Ms. Pane noted that Council Member Maria Mehranian has worked “for a firm that has submitted a bid to work on a portion of the CA WaterFix project.”
On Friday, October 12, 2018, Ms. Pane notified DSC subscribers that Ms. Mehranian was now participating as a voting member in the WaterFix appeal hearing. Ms. Pane wrote, “The bid was not successful, thus removing the potential conflict and the need for her recusal. Ms. Mehranian will participate in the WaterFix appeals process effective today.”
However, Ms. Mehranian’s conflict of interest has been an ongoing issue. Earlier this year, Ms. Mehranian, as a managing partner for Cordoba Corporation, posted extensive commentary touting her pro WaterFix position at her Cordoba Corporation’s website that had been previously posted at the Pacific Council on International Policy website.
Executive Director Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla commented:
“The idea that Ms. Mehranian’s conflict of interest is no longer relevant because her firm was not chosen to work on WaterFix is a case of magical thinking by Ms. Pane and Ms. Mehranian.
“Her position on the Delta Stewardship Council has served as an opportunity for her to advance her company’s objective of winning a WaterFix contract by being part of the WaterFix decision-making process. Her advocacy for WaterFix while serving as a DSC member earlier this year is even more troubling. She has not been a neutral party on past votes, and she is not a neutral party to the appeal process, or any other Delta issues under consideration. Whether her firm won an initial contract or not is irrelevant because if this project should move forward, there will be many more contracts for those corporation’s in the water engineering industry that are part of the inner WaterFix circle.
“Not only should Ms. Meharanian recuse herself from the appeal process, but she should immediately resign from her position on the Delta Stewardship Council. Delta Stewardship decision makers cannot claim to be neutral while advocating through their day-jobs to build the Delta tunnels. Period.”