Mendocino County Today: January 6, 2014

IN THE WETTEST of times, Fort Bragg's ingenious water system is a struggle. We asked 4th District supervisor Dan Gjerde how it was holding up during the drought: “We're clearly going through another drought year. The other day, Council Member Meg Courtney told me she's concerned about the city's water supplies, so I'm sure City Manager Linda Ruffing and the City are preparing plans. But I haven't yet seen an announcement from the City calling for a water emergency.

“AS YOU KNOW, the City has a three stage alert system. In the past, the public has significantly curtailed water consumption during alerts, so as soon as water supply levels drop to a predetermined level, the City Manager will enact the water emergency.

“THE CITY'S drinking water is drawn from three sources: Noyo River, Newman Gulch and Waterfall Gulch. During periods of low water flow in the Noyo, a majority of Fort Bragg's water is drafted from Newman Gulch and Waterfall Gulch. For years, the City has searched for viable ways to supplement those sources. Fort Bragg's now moving forward with two projects: The City plans to construct a new 45-acre raw water pond near Newman Gulch, and has also tendered an offer to purchase the Mendocino Coast Recreation and Park District's property on Highway 20. The 700-acre parcel on Highway 20 includes most of the Newman Gulch watershed, and the property contains a significant amount of underground water. If the City's offer is accepted by the bank, the City will protect the property from illegal dumping and eventually tap some of the property's water with at least one well.”

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JEFF COSTELLO WRITES: My friend Bill S. back east, a retired Pratt & Whitney mechanic, has a respectable history as a labor negotiator, having put in his time with union officials and politicians, up to and including including the governor of Connecticut. What has he accomplished? I'm not sure, but he is in earnest, a real believer in the best dominant left principles and philosophy, and seems to still think — or hope — the system can be changed from within. An optimist, we might say.

How to achieve meaningful change? We're talking about a nationwide total strike, as well as an income tax boycott. Nobody goes to work or school or shopping. Stopping the whole economic machinery. Imagine the 99% letting go their basic fears all at the same time. At the very idea, people would say... “b-b-but that would be anarchy, CHAOS!” It is impossible to achieve. What are our demands, Bill asks. The demand, simple enough: “stop fucking us over.” Demands? I say, To whom would you present demands? To whom would you say “abolish the stock market,” for instance? And have them not laugh in your face. Remember the Pinkertons. If real action is feared, out come the big guns.

No — we need the evolution, revolution in consciousness, the false promise that did not result from the 60s. And now pot is legal in Colorado, just another profit-making commodity. Hundreds lined up in the cold the first day, to pay $400/ounce. An outrageous price by any standard. In light of this, is legalization a good thing? Where will the tax money from marijuana sales go? At least some of it to the “defense” budget. Is this not a supreme irony, the peace and love drug now paying for bombs?

I'm still with the old turn-on, tune-in and drop-out sentiment, but drugs after all did not effect that. We, as a population, are far too conditioned either with work ethic, too fearful and self-absorbed to step out of established behavior patterns. For pete's sake, the military is still getting new soldiers with the same hackneyed old hyper-nationalistic-heroic flag-waving crap. How can you fight that? And abolishing the military is only part of what's needed. No, this is really an existential thing. The revolution needs to happen internally, one person at a time.

So here we are in Colorado, where legal marijuana sales are front-page news the past week, with no sign of stopping. At $400/ounce, this a far cry from a “people's” drug. The squares, the suburbanites, right wingers have co-opted a drug they once feared and which really did turn out to be harmless, what we used to think of as a “revolutionary” mind-altering substance. The joke is on us. “The people” cannot afford it. A long way from the ten-dollar lids of the 60s.

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THE MENDOCINO COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS will appoint a chairman, appoint its members to special assignments, set its meeting calendar and discuss other business at its Tuesday meeting. The meeting starts at 9 a.m., and none of the agenda items are set at specific times. As part of its annual organization procedures, the board will also discuss appointing members to a public policy facilitating committee under a memorandum of understanding the county holds with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, National Marine Fisheries Service and Sonoma County Water Agency. The board will consider appointing a sixth member to the Mendocino County Board of Retirement, and will also hear a presentation on the county pension system's actuarial valuation for the 2012-13 fiscal year, and will consider setting contribution rates for the 2014-15 fiscal year. Also on the agenda is a discussion about the county possibly withdrawing the county Department of Transportation's appeal of the Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians' application to the Bureau of Indian Affairs for the Pine Crest fee-to-trust. The board will also consider declaring a local emergency because of drought conditions and appointing an ad-hoc committee "to work with local and state partners to support the residents of Mendocino County," according to the agenda.

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NATURAL HERITAGE INSTITUTE HIRES JERRY MERAL

by Dan Bacher

Many people have been speculating about where Jerry Meral, the controversial Deputy Secretary for Natural Resources who claimed “the Delta cannot be saved” in April 2013, would go to work after his retirement from state service on December 31.

The speculation is over. Meral, Governor Jerry Brown's former point man for the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) to build the peripheral tunnels, announced in an email and his new employer announced in a statement on December 31 that he will be now working for the Natural Heritage Institute (NHI), a pro twin tunnels “environmental” NGO that touts itself as “an early and strenuous proponent of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan.”

Jerry Meral is joining an organization that not only has been an “early and strenuous” cheerleader of the BDCP, but has long championed water markets and water transfers that have privatized water and transformed a public trust asset, belonging to all citizens, into a “profit center to enrich special interests,” according to Bill Jennings, Executive Director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA).

“NHI also developed the concept that became the Environmental Water Account, which enabled water speculators to sell public trust water back to the public at vast profit,” said Jennings.

“As you may have heard, I am retiring from state service today,” Meral said in his email. “It has been a great pleasure working for Governor Brown on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan for the past three years. I am confident that the Plan will be successfully completed and implemented.”

He said that starting January 1, “I will be representing the Natural Heritage Institute on California water matters, including BDCP.”

The Natural Heritage Institute announced his new employment in a statement saying, “Dr. Meral will represent NHI on BDCP issues.”

“In order to comply with state law regarding 'revolving door' issues, he will not be compensated for his time working on BDCP,” according to the Institute. “He will also represent NHI on groundwater issues, transportation issues affecting water quality and habitat, and other California water matters. Dr. Meral previously served on the NHI Board of Directors, and represented NHI on the BDCP Steering Committee in 2010.”

The complete NHI announcement regarding Meral's hiring is below:

Dr. Jerry Meral, who directed the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) for Governor Jerry Brown, has joined the Natural Heritage Institute as Director of the California Water Program.

Dr. Meral served as Deputy Director of the California Department of Water Resources from 1975 to 1983, Executive Director of the Planning and Conservation League from 1983 to 2010, and as Deputy Secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency from 2011 to 2013. In the latter capacity, he was in charge of the BDCP, a habitat conservation plan which includes the proposed twin water tunnels which would pass under the Delta from Sacramento to Tracy, as well as extensive habitat restoration.

Dr. Meral will represent NHI on BDCP issues. In order to comply with state law regarding 'revolving door' issues, he will not be compensated for his time working on BDCP. He will also represent NHI on groundwater issues, transportation issues affecting water quality and habitat, and other California water matters. Dr. Meral previously served on the NHI Board of Directors, and represented NHI on the BDCP Steering Committee in 2010.

NHI is a non-profit environmental conservation organization founded in 1989 with 25 years of experience in California water issues. NHI was represented on the BDCP Steering Committee for many years. NHI also works on river management issues throughout the world, with special focus on preserving and restoring natural functions on major river systems in Asia, Africa, and North and South America. The NHI Board of Directors includes well known scientists such as Dr. Peter Moyle, an expert on California fish.

The Natural Heritage Institute has been an early and strenuous proponent of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. NHI finds the evidence overwhelming that the delta cannot serve the dual functions of maintaining endangered species and water supply reliability without a massive habitat restoration program and improvements to the water diversion and conveyance infrastructure that can reduce the conflicts between these uses. BDCP is the only apparent vehicle for marshalling the billions of dollars of financial support from the State and Federal Water Contractors for the needed infrastructure improvements and for the public funding needed to undertake the restoration program.

The infrastructure improvements may also provide substantial benefits beyond the delta itself. NHI has worked for decades to illuminate opportunities for conjunctive use of surface and groundwater resources, many of which would rely on a more flexible system of moving water across the delta. When it becomes easier to move water to new off-stream storage facilities and empty groundwater basins in the San Joaquin Valley and Southern California, it will be possible to undertake stream enhancement north of the Delta, benefitting both the environment and water users of all regions

The principal fear of people in Northern California is that those in the Bay Area, San Joaquin Valley, and Southern California will take more water from the Delta than is good for the fish and the environment of the Delta can be alleviated through water management measures to implement the existing state policy to reduce reliance on the delta by the state and federal water supply agencies. Water exports from the Delta should not increase beyond the historic level of export.

Learn more about NHI at http://www.n-h-i.org.”

A list of government agencies, NGOs and foundations is listed on the Institute's website as “partners, funders and clients” (it doesn't specify which are partners, funders and clients).

The foundations listed include the Ford Foundation, National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, Pew Charitable Trusts, Resources Legacy Fund, S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation, Soros Foundation and The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, among others.

Background on Meral and the BDCP:

Meral became the focus of a huge controversy when he acknowledged on April 15, 2013 that “BDCP is not about, and has never been about saving the Delta.The Delta cannot be saved.'“

He made his controversial comments while speaking with Tom Stokely of the California Water Impact Network (C-WIN) in a private conversation after a meeting with Northern California Indian Tribes, according to Restore the Delta's “Delta Flows” newsletter (http://www.restorethedelta.org/or-is-it-the-point/)

After Meral made the revealing, candid comments, five Congressional Democrats - George Miller, Mike Thompson, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui and Anna Eshoo - called for Meral's immediate resignation. (http://www.fishsniffer.com/blogs/details/congressional-democrats-call-for-brown-administration-officials-resignation/)

“Meral’s statement, if accurately reported, suggests the Brown Administration intends to explicitly violate the established statutory co-equal goals of ecosystem restoration in the Bay-Delta and water reliability throughout the state,” according to the Representatives' statement. “This fuels speculation that the Administration’s plan, if unchanged, will devastate the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta and the communities that rely on it, a concern that Northern California Lawmakers and other stakeholders have voiced throughout the process.”

The widely-criticized plan proposes to construct three new intakes in the north Delta along the Sacramento River about 35 miles north of the existing South Delta pumping plants. Two 35-mile long twin tunnels would carry the water underground to the existing pumping plants that feed canals sttetching hundreds of miles to the south and west.

The release of the over 40,000 pages of public review draft of the Bay Delta Conservation Plan and its corresponding Draft Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS) on December 13 triggered a 120-day period for the gathering of public comments through April 14, 2014.

The construction of the twin tunnels will likely hasten the extinction of Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, as well as threaten the steelhead and salmon populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers.

For more information, go to: http://www.restorethedelta.org

2 Responses to "Mendocino County Today: January 6, 2014"

  1. Harvey Reading   January 6, 2014 at 10:00 am

    When you consider that the ten buck lid of the 60s had much less potency (and may or may not have actually contained a full ounce), four hundred bucks may not be that much different in terms of what you get for your money. Around here, I’m told, an eighth goes for about sixty.

    Reply
  2. subscriber@theava.com   January 6, 2014 at 1:16 pm

    That’s another thing. The ten-buck lids of the 60’s were potent enough for the likes of me, and the whole thing has turned into a snob-connoisseur affair. And no seeds, so to grow a plant you have buy seeds or cuttings. I don’t care any more, just an observer now.

    JC

    Reply

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