Hoist with His Own Petard: Jerry Brown Reveals True Intent of Prop 1

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546; [email protected]; Twitter: @shopcraft

Hoist with His Own Petard:
Jerry Brown Reveals True Intent of Proposition One

Sacramento, CA – After months of misrepresenting the true purpose of Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown inadvertently undermined his own message at a recent Stanford water conference. He claimed the measure would provide components missing from the State Water Project “enacted by my father.” These components, Brown ominously intoned, would “deal with the Delta.”

Jerry Brown had attempted to “deal with the Delta” once before. That was during his first tenure as governor in the 1980s, when he tried to push through the Peripheral Canal, a fiscally irresponsible and environmentally destructive trans-Delta water conveyance scheme that was soundly rejected by voters.

Opponents of Proposition 1 noted that the State Water Project constructed by Governor Pat Brown is nothing to boast about. “It has depleted North State Rivers, degraded the richest estuary on the west coast of the continental United States, encouraged unsustainable corporate agriculture on the toxic soils of the western San Joaquin Valley and provided zero water security for southern California ratepayers,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta and field director for No on Proposition 1. “In concert with the federal Central Valley Project, the State Water Project has brought the Delta to the precipice of ecological collapse. Meanwhile, the State Water Resources Control Board has handed out water rights that promise five times more water than is available in California. Now, the Governor is championing a proposition for dams that will provide minimal water storage at astronomical expense, and destroy what is left of our salmon fisheries. These aren’t legacies he should point to with pride.”

Barrigan-Parrilla noted that Proposition 1 is closely allied to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, a Brown scheme that is a reprise of the Peripheral Canal. The BDCP would authorize the construction of two gigantic trans-Delta tunnels that would devastate the Delta, cost $70 billion or more, and benefit corporate San Joaquin Valley farmers at the expense of citizen ratepayers.

Brown appeared at the Stanford conference – inappropriately titled New Directions for U.S. Water Policy — with representatives of Paramount Farms, a corporation that cultivates 165,000 acres of orchards in the San Joaquin Valley. Stewart Resnick, a close Brown confidant and Democratic Party fund-raiser, owns Paramount Farms. Resnick has made hundreds of millions of dollars exporting nut crops to China. He has used his wealth to great advantage, influencing state water policy through generous political contributions, including to Brown’s campaigns.
“Brown’s master plan for California water is simple,” says Barrigan-Parrilla. “First, it’s about taking care of special corporate interests like Paramount Farms. Then it’s about sticking taxpayers with the bill. It benefits the governor’s cronies, but it certainly does nothing to secure the water security of average Californians.”

Barrigan-Parrilla noted that voters must recognize the linkage between Proposition 1 and the BDCP, and reject both. “Voters should not be fooled. Proponents of Prop 1 may say the water bond is separate from building the twin Delta tunnels, which will devastate fisheries, family farms, and the five county Delta region. But the Governor does not see them as separate,” she observed. “Gov. Brown’s poor choices in water leadership through three terms have not protected Californians during this drought, and they will only assure future water crises. Prop. 1 mainly offers more infrastructure projects that will be bone dry during future droughts.”

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In case you missed it: LA Times, “Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water”

Amid California’s drought, a bruising battle for cheap water

By BETTINA BOXALL
October 21, 2014

The signs appear about 200 miles north of Los Angeles, tacked onto old farm wagons parked along quiet two-lane roads and bustling Interstate 5.

“Congress Created Dust Bowl.” “Stop the Politicians’ Water Crisis.” “No Water No Jobs.”

They dot the Westlands Water District like angry salutations, marking the territory of California’s most formidable water warrior. Their message is clear: Politicians and environmental laws are more to blame for Westlands’ dusty brown fields than the drought that has parched California for the last three years.

In truth, neither is to blame for Westlands’ woes so much as the simple fact that the nation’s largest irrigation district is in the wrong place.

In a state where three-quarters of the water use is by agriculture, powerful farm districts such as Westlands play an outsized role in the rough-and-tumble world of water politics.

Westlands and its wealthy farmers are exercising their considerable clout to maintain a flow of cheap water from the north despite a harsh truth. In all of California, there may be no worse place to practice the kind of industrial-scale irrigated agriculture that Westlands is famous for than the badly drained, salt-laden lands that make up roughly half the district.

Westlands has persevered for decades by battling other farmers for supplies, repeatedly suing the U.S. government and spending millions of dollars trying to roll back environmental restrictions on water deliveries — all while planting lucrative nut crops that can’t survive a season without water.

Now it is a driving force behind the most ambitious water project proposed in California in decades, the $25-billion plan to send Sacramento River supplies south to Westlands and elsewhere through two giant water tunnels burrowed under the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

The water would help Westlands for a time. But the expensive tunnels would merely delay the inevitable: The more Westlands is irrigated, the more its land will be ruined.

Continue reading article and view drought map at LA Times.

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In case you missed it: Fresno Bee, “Trudy Wischemann: In the end, water bond will undermine small farmers”

Trudy Wischemann: In the end, water bond will undermine small farmers
BY TRUDY WISCHEMANN Fresno Bee


Valley Voices
October 18, 2014

Mas Masumoto, that Fresno County farmer who grows peaches on the Kings River fan, has become an invaluable regional voice. Through his books and his monthly column in The Bee, he has spoken the truths of rural, small-farm life for people like him, small farmers who largely mark their daily joys and long-term sufferings in silence. Thanks to Mas’s writings, they feel less alone in this world, and more non-rural people understand. As a rural advocate, I am deeply indebted to him. When he speaks, I listen.

Several weeks ago he fervently called for “Art of the Drought,” this drought, referring back to art from the Dust Bowl in the 1930s. A rendering of Dorothea Lange’s famous photograph, “Migrant Mother,” filled a quarter of the page, surrounded by sketches of other kinds of dried-up sufferings. I know the photo well, and many of her others: while at Berkeley I worked with her widower, economist Paul Taylor, near the end of his life. He knew the power of her art, and when they combined it with his facts and knowledge, they created a document of that drought’s causes and effects — “An American Exodus: A Record of Human Erosion” (1939) — that was never surpassed.

About two-thirds down in Mas’ column there’s an uncharacteristically political suggestion that voters should approve the water bond in the upcoming November election. I was surprised by his rare political advocacy and chagrined by his suggestion that the voters’ hearts need to be opened by art to vote “yes.” I see nothing in the water bond that will help the smaller growers, and have every reason to suspect that our tax monies will continue to be used to help the large ones like Lynda and Stuart Resnick, owners of Paramount Farms, to the disadvantage of those trying to make a living on the land.

The bond’s most prominent spokesperson, Gov. Jerry Brown, learned well from his father, under whose leadership we got the water bond creating the high-cost State Water Project that made farming feasible on those west side lands the Resnicks farm now. This second-generation governor would still like to be president someday, according to published reports this summer, and the Democratically inclined new king and queen of California Agriculture can probably help make that happen.

So, what could make Mas move in print from his apolitical comfort zone to advocate for passage of Proposition 1? Perhaps it’s the same thing that moves most of my citrus-growing neighbors to think it’s their only salvation. Few have examined the legislation, busy with trying to survive; with characteristic faith, they follow the lead of the agribusiness industry hoping they’ll be included in the state’s largesse.

Or perhaps it’s an even stronger survival instinct. To oppose the California Water Bond, especially in public in this large grower-dominated region, could be economic as well as political suicide. Perhaps the key to understanding our farmer friends’ reflexive advocacy for a bond that could mean their end, we have to go back to another Dust Bowl-era piece of art, John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath, which Mas addressed in late spring.

In Mas’s earlier piece he ruminated on what Steinbeck might have written about this drought, mentioning the plight of the smaller farmers and hoping he’d find them on the new pages. But they were there on the old ones, just invisible except for three pages describing a small farmer who gives Tom Joad a job at a decent wage, only to be forced to reduce it the next day under pressure from the Associated Farmers. Steinbeck’s description of the angst the small farmer experienced doing that is something I hear from my own farming neighbors, and so is his awareness of the economic control exerted over his life and farm by the largest players. “Goddamn it, they got me trapped,” says Steinbeck’s small farmer with more clarity than my farm friends express. But the feeling is there, and so is the helplessness they feel about getting freed.

I think our farm friends are being used, once again, to pass legislation that will undermine them in the end. I don’t know that they have a choice. But we do. Visit www.noonprop1.org, the website of the “No on Prop. 1” campaign, and see if their arguments aren’t compelling. They’re asking us to make our politicians work for real solutions to our increasing water supply problems rather than dealing out a little pork here and there to keep quiet those who otherwise might speak up. Then, for the love of our rural lives and our real agricultural economy, vote “no” on Prop 1.

Trudy Wischemann is editing a book of writings on “Agriculture and the Common Good” for publication this year with Mark Arax. She writes “Notes from Home” for Tulare County’s Foothills Sun-Gazette, which can be viewed at www.trudysnotesfromhome.blogspot.com.

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Water, Money, Taxes, Campaigns, and the Bond: The Resnick Farming Story

Water, Money, Taxes, Campaigns, and the Bond:
The Resnick Farming Story

By Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla and Various Associates

Articles
1. Farming Water
2. Farming Money
3. Farming Tax Deductions
4. Farming Legislative Support
5. Farming Prop. 1 and Past Water Bonds
6. The Resnick Farming Story

Farming Water

Today we’re going to consider some shenanigans going on down around the end of the Delta-Mendota Canal, the second of the two canals that convey water south out of the Delta. (This is the federal Central Valley Project – CVP – facility; the other is the State Water Project’s California Aqueduct — SWP.)

The Delta-Mendota Canal ends west of Fresno where a channel called Fresno Slough connects the Kings River to what is left of the San Joaquin River. The Mendota Dam there creates a reservoir called the Mendota Pool which is used to hold water to irrigate crops.

Nearby are the communities of Mendota and Firebaugh, with their serious employment problems and their water quality challenges.

Farmers in that region have gamed ground water pumping for years by putting pumps next to the federal Delta Mendota Pool and pumping the water out back into the state and federal canals only to resell it to the taxpayers or to take it back for irrigation. In the 1990s, Westlands growers were the main beneficiaries of these practices, but lately the Resnicks have joined the pool pumpers. That is because the Resnicks now farm in numerous west side San Joaquin Valley water districts, in addition to Kern County.

Starting in 2005, the Resnicks purchased a number of Paramount Farm parcels in Madera and Fresno Counties, adding over 15,000 acres to their 150,000 acre operations in Kern County. (See the attached acreage spreadsheet.) The Resnicks have purchased land along the San Joaquin River and the Delta Mendota Pool area just south of Los Banos and west of Firebaugh. They also own property near Fresno Slough. So, we now have Paramount Orchards Partners in the Mendota Pool area, where groundwater pumping and transfers are already in full swing.

The possibilities are endless. Resnick can pump water from the San Joaquin River, from groundwater, and from the Central Valley Project and State Water Project aqueducts. He can move water from Westlands to his operations in Kern County, while taking Delta water directly from the SWP in Kern County as well. And once the water reaches Kern County, he can store it for a dry day in the Kern County Water Bank, of which he owns a controlling majority, and then sell the water for a profit. One source tells us that he is using Westlands water to process almonds at his new processing plant. Quite a creative use for federal irrigation water.

Farming Money

The tentacles of Paramount Farms spread far and wide, with controlling interests in Berrenda Mesa, Belridge, and Dudley Ridge water districts on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. Berrenda Mesa and Dudley Ridge have already been involved in huge water sales, including the sale by Dudley Ridge landowner John Vidovich of paper water to the Mojave Water Agency for $73 million. If the Resnicks were to sell the 22,000-plus acre feet of Dudley Ridge water they control under the same conditions and price, it would be worth more than $200 million to the Resnick bottom line.

This isn’t about growing food to feed people in the U.S. or anywhere else. Never mind decent jobs or water for the region’s disadvantaged agricultural workers. For Resnick, this is about the potential to make a LOT of money controlling water.

Farming Tax Deductions

Many suggest corporations were attracted to the Central Valley not out of a love of farming but because of the tax benefits afforded to farmers if they grew permanent crops. During the 1960s, the Internal Revenue Service allowed investors to immediately write off their entire share of development costs for growing almonds and other permanent crops. While some, but not all, of these advantages were removed for almonds in the 1970s, they all still exist for pistachios, and non-citrus fruits like pomegranates. Thus, despite droughts and lack of water, permanent crops continue to be planted. Permanent crop acreage has vastly expanded since the last drought in 2009, including new plantings of almonds in 2014. Guess there are still advantages to farming tax deductions.

So is this why “farmers” like Stewart Resnick continue to plant permanent crops and buy up thousands of acres in an area like the west side where it rains less than 7 inches a year? We think the main course for Stewart Resnick is to control water supplies, but with a dish of tax advantages on the side. Plus, campaign contributions indicate his intent is to have even greater access to subsidized water via Proposition 1 with its nearly $1 billion marked for “river and stream” purchases that can be taken from the Bay-Delta estuary for export. Additionally, with his ability to pump water from each and every source in the San Joaquin Valley, some extra storage projects for a little bit of new water, paid for in great part by tax payers, would provide even greater flexibility for his water transfers.

Farming Legislative Support

From January, 2013 through June, 2014 Stewart and/or Lynda Resnick,/Paramount Farm Companies contributed $206,000 to Senate and Assembly races throughout the state. These Senate and Assembly maps show the enormous reach of Resnick’s influence on politics in Sacramento. Some of his most generous contributions were made to those in charge of specific committees or sitting on committees that work on water and the environment and agriculture, or to legislators who serve in important watershed areas. (Please note that under Stewart Resnick’s name, contributions have only been updated through June, 2014.) We have not yet seen if additional contributions flowed from him to the Capitol in the weeks before the passage of the water bond. Click here to see if your representative received contributions from the Resnick empire.

Resnick’s reach is so vast that his contributions even made it into the campaign coffers of several Delta legislators. Dr. Richard Pan (Assem-9th District) received $3,000.00; Senator Cathleen Galgianni (Sen-5th District) received $4,000.00; and Assemblymember Susan Eggman (Assem-13th District), and Chair of the Assembly Agriculture Committee received $5,000.00. It is worth noting that these three legislators have raised very little in contributions from local farmers, and less than 20% from businesses and people within the districts that they represent. (We will return to that subject later.)

It should also be noted on the Federal side that Stewart Resnick has been even more generous with our two Senators and Central Valley Congressional Representatives who are working on legislation at the Federal level to take even more water from the Delta.

Farming Prop. 1 and Past Water Bonds

Since 2000, California has spent about $20 billion in water bonds and interest. The titles of these past bonds, like Prop 1, carry the promise of a safe, clean, and reliable drinking water supply. That is why we must ask: “Where is the water in this drought to show for all the billions borrowed?”

The bond pitch is always “clean drinking water,” “safe drinking water,” but it is never delivered. From 2000 to 2006, voters approved a total of $15.47 billion in new debt (before interest) to meet the same needs for which we are being told Prop 1, ($7.2 billion in new debt; $14.4 billion with interest payback) will deliver.

Let’s take a stroll down memory lane:

* Proposition 12: The Safe Neighborhood, Parks, Clean Water, Clean Air, and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2000 — $3.8 billion (with interest); Voter approved debt $2.1 Billion in 2000.
* Proposition 13: The Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Bond Act of 2000 — $3.4 billion (with interest); Voter approved debt $1.97 Billion in 2000.
* Proposition 40: The California Clean Water, Clean Air, Safe Neighborhood Parks, and Coastal Protection Act of 2002 — $4.3 billion (with interest); Voter approved debt $2.6 Billion in March 2002.
* Proposition 50: The Water Quality, Supply, and Safe Drinking Water Projects (Coastal Wetlands Purchase and Protection) Act of 2002 — $5.7 billion (with interest); Voter approved debt $3.4 Billion in Nov 2002.
* Proposition 84: Bonds for Clean Water, Flood Control, State and Local Park Improvements Act of 2006 — $10.5 billion (with interest) Voter approved debt $5.4 Billion in 2006.

Do any of our readers remember this promise from Prop 84?
“$1 billion in funding for integrated regional water management. These funds will provide grants to increase water supply, reduce demand, and protect water quality. The result will be an additional 1 million acre feet of water per year for California.”

Under Prop 1 those who pay the least get the most water. That means Stewart Resnick and big growers like him. In contrast, family farmers in the Delta, fishers, and local communities will lose water through accelerated exports. Prop 1 continues this charade. And our urban neighbors in LA, SF, San Diego, Orange County, and the Bay Area will contribute the most money in their taxes to pay back the general fund debt under Prop 1, while gaining small amounts of new water through limited local projects.

The Resnick Farming Story

To say the least, it is frightening how much influence one corporate agribusiness can exercise over the operations of the state and federal water system in California through a combination of land purchases, tax breaks, and campaign contributions to a large pool of California legislators. Worse, Paramount farms even works they system through contributions to Delta legislators, Central Valley Congressional Representatives, and our two Senators. This of course does not include the $150,000 that Stewart Resnick has contributed to the Prop 1 Campaign coffers, as part of the $850,000 contributed in total by big ag to Governor Brown’s campaign for the bond.

Here at ground zero — the Delta – we are calling on Assemblymember Pan, Senator Galgianni, and Assemblymember Eggman to return the contributions that they have received from Stewart Resnick. To take money from Stewart Resnick, whose entire mission is to control water exports from this magnificent estuary, destroying our home in the process– all for his expanding corporate empire — is wrong. Their campaign coffers are far from empty. If they feel that they need these few extra thousand dollars to win their campaigns, then they should hold some picnic or pancake fundraisers within their districts so they can reconnect with those who love the Delta.

More importantly, the Resnick story makes it clear why we all should reject Prop 1. Until water rights are adjudicated in California so that “farmers” like Resnick cannot game the system, the system cannot be fixed. In the meanwhile, legislators need to take an accounting of where the money has been spent from past bonds, and create a bond that is solely for groundwater cleanup, recycling, conservation, storm water capture, near-term drought measures, ensuring that poor communities will have their drinking water problems solved, and for the development of new water technology that will make us water efficient. What we don’t need is another bond that makes Stewart Resnick richer.

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JOIN US: Bees swarm California with new graphic and tour “Sucked Dry: Examining Drought and Privatization from Mesoamérica to California

We have some exciting news, the Beehive Design Collective, Restore the Delta & the NO on PROP 1 coalition will be swarming California with a new graphic and tour focused on California water politics in the midst of a massive drought starting tomorrow.

We will be introducing a *brand new graphic* about the BDCP tunnels at several workshops and events throughout the state to help stop the BDCP TUNNELS that threatens the SF Bay Delta, the largest estuary on the western hemisphere. The graphic draws inspiration from struggles against large-scale infrastructure projects throughout MesoAmerica, connecting local and the global struggle for control and protection of water.

All events are open to the public and we encourage you to come. More details on dates are below:

OCT.(Download and save graphic of tour schedule)
18- Fremont – 6pm @ FUSE (Fremont Underground Social Experience), 39112 State St. (at Capitol Ave.)
19- San Francisco – 2pm @Dolores Park
20- West Oakland – 7pm @Greenpeace Warehouse, 955 7th St.
21- Berkeley 2-5pm @Sproul Plaza, UC Berkeley campus, 7pm location TBA
22- San Jose – Police Brutality Solidarity Event at DeAnza (12pm)
23- Santa Cruz – 7pm @Museum of Art and History, 705 Front St.
24- San Luis Obispo – 7pm @Linneas Cafe, 1110 Garden St.
25- Santa Barbara (TBA)
26- Los Angeles – 2pm @Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights, 415 S. St. Louis St. w/ Food and Water Watch
27- Ventura – 6:30pm @The Lab, 11137 Azahar St
28- San Bernardino – 7pm @Black Flame Collective, 360 W. Orange Show Ln.
29- Bakersfield (TBA)
30- Fresno – 5pm @Anvil Art Gallery/Manchester Experiment, 3302 Blackstone Ave Suite G 203
31- Davis – 1pm @Delta of Venus Cafe, 122 B St.
NOV.
1- Redding (TBA)
2- Chico w/ AquAlliance
3- Stockton – evening show @Huddle, 235 N San Joaquin St. w/ With Our Words, DeltaFusion, Restore the Delta and others.
4- Sacramento – 7pm @Sol Collective, 2574 21st St.

About the tour:

California is in the midst of a historical drought, the most severe the region has had in the last 500 years. This water crisis has devastated resources, with several communities facing the prospect of running dry. A number of projects advocating infrastructure development such as the BDCP and Prop 1 have been proposed as solutions for the state, but are they truly in the interests for all? What are their impacts to our drying rivers and reservoirs? Fisheries and communities? Drawing inspiration from struggles against large-scale infrastructure projects throughout MesoAmerica, the Bees with Restore the Delta’s Javier Padilla Reyes will take you on a visual journey touching on the local and the global struggle for control and protection of water.

About the Bees

Based out of small-town Machias across the country in rural Maine, the Beehive Design Collective is an all-volunteer organization of activists, artists, educators and organizers. Our main focus is creating and presenting graphic works about global issues internationally. These portable murals are teeming with intricate images of plants and animals, illustrating surreal but meticulously researched scenes of sociocultural realities in the modern world. Not only are our graphics detailed, beautiful works of art, but they also are tools in understanding the big picture of a region’s struggles.

More on the Bees (VIDEO): http://www.upworthy.com/the-poster-is-mesmerizing-the-story-it-tells-is-electrifying-have-you-seen
More on MesoAmérica Resisté (graphic): http://beehivecollective.org/beehive_poster/mesoamerica-resiste/

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