The Sacramento Bee Misses the Mark: Karla Nemeth’s Conflict of Interest is her Payroll History, Not Her Marriage

This afternoon, the Sacramento Bee published a report on the newly appointed director of the Department of Water Resources (DWR), Karla Nemeth. The article misses the mark on why Nemeth is an irresponsible choice, mainly focusing on her marriage to Metropolitan Water District employee Tom Philp instead of her own professional work history at the California Natural Resources Agency that was reimbursed by Metropolitan Water District.
Executive Director of Restore the Delta, Barbara Barrigan-Parrila said,
“Roger Patterson of Metropolitan Water District and Jay Lund of UC Davis are rather dismissive of the conflict created by a cost-sharing arrangement through which the new director for the California Department of Water Resources, Karla Nemeth, worked for the California Resources Agency, with Metropolitan Water District reimbursing the state for her pay from 2012 through 2014. We find the lack of disclosure reported as part of her public resume when she was appointed to her position to head DWR the real issue, not her marriage. The cost-sharing arrangement is indicative of how DWR is a captured agency controlled by the State Water Contractors.
“Furthermore, the dismissive comments by Patterson and Lund show how out of touch they are with transparency, public accountability, and what every day Californians see as a good government in terms of California water management. Such dismissiveness on the heels of the Oroville crisis, the State Auditor’s findings regarding California WaterFix, and secret meetings led by DWR staff with State Water Resources Control Board staff tainting the water permit hearings, exemplifies an institutional circling of the wagons to hide bad management practices by DWR.
“We have requested public forms showing this reimbursement relationship from Metropolitan Water District and California Resources Agency, and we have not heard back from either agency, which is not a surprise.”
Restore the Delta—similar to the vast majority of Delta tunnels opponents—does not believe that Karla Nemeth should be questioned because of her marriage to Tom Philp. Instead, she should be questioned because her previous payroll history with MWD is missing from her public resume and she has unavoidable ties to the CA WaterFix project (formerly titled the Bay Delta Conservation Plan).
With this in mind, Nemeth does not appear to be the director who will reintroduce governmental transparency and integrity into the framework of DWR—an agency that has recently taken heat for its favoring of cronyism, its toxic workplace environment for people of color and women, and horrible mismanagement of the Oroville Dam crisis and Delta tunnels project.


ICYMI: January 19, 2018
Nora Kovaleski, 408-806-6470,
Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Restore the Delta, 209-479-2053,

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