Called into the Principals’ Office: The Not-So-Superintendent

Lester Snow may have been kicked upstairs from DWR Director to Resources Agency Secretary partly to ensure delivery of the Bay Delta Consesrvation Plan.  The Administration may have been thinking that potentially regulated entities (PREs) around the BDCP table were losing focus and Snow would be the one to get folks back on track and encourage compromise.  Unfortunately, last month the table was moved to a back room, and people from the Delta weren’t given a key to get in.

Delta legislators complained in a formal letter to Snow and the Department of the Interior, but the Schwarzenegger Administration is showing itself to be increasingly contemptuous of California’s elected representatives.

At the Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) meeting on September 23, Snow provided a briefing on the situation,  With his federal counterpart, Interior Undersecretary David Nawi, at his side Lester presented his rebuttal letter sent to Senator Wolk and other state legislators and federal representatives. (available here)

Snow vehemently argued that the “closed-door, back room discussions” referenced by legislators were not in-fact taking place in “smoke-filled rooms.” He blamed the whole fuss on inexperienced media people not fact-checking their claims prior to filing their stories.  (Most people wouldn’t classify the Contra Costa Times’ Mike Taugher with careless media people.)

Snow stopped just short of criticizing the judgment of Senator Wolk and everyone else who signed the letter. What was really going on, he said, was an attempt to get BDCP Principals on the same page, and he felt the talks made BDCP a better process because in his opinion all the “main caucuses” were in the room.  He pointed out that, after all, the decision making will take place in public meetings.

But Snow was clearly shaken, as if even he didn’t believe that what was coming out of his mouth was the whole truth. We wouldn’t blame him for feeling that from the standpoint of ethics, continuing to strong-arm Delta communities and the ecosystem really isn’t worth it.

The product of the meetings was a report titled “Issues for Discussion for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.” (Available here )  Snow was careful to point out that this was not a draft plan, just a progress report on what has been considered throughout the planning process. Something that will give the transition team of an incoming administration an idea of where things stand.

Nawi noted that the current information compiled by the BDCP steering committee lacked a framework that made BDCP understandable. Is this a nice way of saying that the whole plan is basically incoherent?

There was some discussion about assigning a staff “point person” from both DSC and BDCP to ensure increased communication between the two entities.

Nawi spoke briefly about the federal government’s commitment to best available science and the furthering of the  “co-equal goals,” as well as increasing its involvement in Delta Planning.

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