This is not the Pillsbury Doughboy. His name is Glen McGourty and he'sMendo's UC Extension Farm Advisor. (I use the term "farm" loosely.) Taxpayers pay Mr. McGourty to give free technical advice to grape growers/booze makers (who call themselves "the agricultural community") about how to grow grapes in the most water-intensive ways -- essentially using shallow rooted rootstock so that their growing and ripening can be more carefully controlled and pesticides can be delivered via drip irrigation lines. Such shallow rooted grapes are much more vulnerable and exposed to frost (because of where these shallow rooted grapevines can be planted nowadays) than the old-style, deep-rooted, dry-farmed grapes such as those grown by Mendocino County's original grape growers going back to pre-Prohibition Italians.
Last week McPillsburyDoughBoy and his fellow Mendo Wine Industry reps and shills went to Sacramento to tell the State Water Resources Control Board how horrible regulation of their irrigation and frost protection methods is (are?). McGourty was accompanied by current Ukiah Supervisor John McCowen and former Ukiah Supervisor Richard Shoemaker (who now sits on the Russian River Flood Control District which exists for the primary purpose of handing out Mendo's share of Eel and Russian River water to expensive booze manufacturers).
Remember McCowen/Shoemaker are "liberals." And their Ukiah City district is mostly pavement and ugly buildings (such as this Google Street View shot of north State Street in Ukiah), not grapes, much less "agriculture."
But, of course, that doesn't stop them from shilling for the "agricultural community." (One almost expects the booze makers to ask their politicians to put them on the list of oppressed min
orities any day now. After all, the poor babies may have to suffer under the yoke of the "consider regulation" phrase in the County's new General Plan some day decades from now.)
Supposedly elected to represent their entire "districts" and constituents, these politicians are instead basically captives of the wine industry in the Ukiah Valley and oppose any reasonable regulation of the wine industry's profligate, unregulated, unmonitored and ungaged water takings.
The hearing in Sacramento was prompted by a fish-kill near Hopland last spring when a bunch of vineyards all simultaneously turned on their huge pumps to spray "frost protection" water on their intentionally fragile McPillburyDoughBoy-designed grapes. This was after Sean White, General Manager of the Russian River Flood Control District, had publicly stated that the wine industry was "self-regulated" -- an obvious oxymoron.
Some environmental groups were on hand at the Water Board hearing to say that something should be done about the grape-people's habit of "self-regulating" themselves into fishkills.
McPillsburyDoughBoy and Co. along with a hyper-indignant grape grower named Dennis Murphy opposed any regulation at all. McPillsburyDoughboy and his pals say that the wine industry has built ponds to store water for frost protection and fish kills won't be necessary for frost protection in the future. This supposed "investment" has nothing to do with fish kills, but more to do with drought and irrigation. But McPillsburyDoughBoy et al are trying to portray it as something the booze makers have done for the fish. Booze makers in Anderson Valley have already built hundreds and hundreds of ponds and they still got socked by the spring freeze. All the wine-ponds are the equivalent of a dam by a thousand cuts. They all have their straws in the streams, and taken as a group they effectively impede the normal flow of the rivers the same way one big concrete dam would.
Mr. Murphy was so overwrought as he spoke to the Water Board that he was nearly in tears as he whined: "I'm extremely upset that a federal agency could come up here and make direct accusations about growers and the consequences of irrigation. And then clam up claiming it's under investigation. That's wrong! That's not right. These are rumors. We need to know more."
Murphy and his political assistants basically are saying that the government shouldn't accuse the wine industry of anything unless they have a smoking gun. But, of course, there'll never be a smoking gun because there are no gages or other methods of measuring water extractions from the river because even though the Grand Jury strongly recommended gages in the Ukiah Valley a couple of years ago, the Supervisors, being captives of the wine industry, never bring up the idea of a gaging ordinance which would give them some idea who's pumping how much smf when, because the wine industry on which Mendo depends for a significant portion of revenue wouldn't tolerate any such thing.
The level of completely irrational opposition to such things as ordinary flow gages on pumps was effectively captured at the Board of Supervisors meeting a couple of weeks ago when Coastal Supervisor Candidate (and B&B proprietor) Wendy Roberts told the board that "the idea of wine industry regulation scares me to death!" (Never mind that no one proposed wine industry regulation, just maybe "considering" wine industry regulation years from now as called for in the County's own General Plan.)
But the biggest joke of them all in Sacramento was McPillsburyDoughBoy's claim that "Regulations never work. Look at Marijuana. It's illegal as heck and yet we have marijuana all over northern California and our county in particular. So people don't necessarily go along with regulation."
Get it? There's no point in regulating anything because the wine people are outlaws just like the pot people. They won't comply even if you try to regulate them.
Never mind that the comparison between wine and pot regulation is so novel as to cause us to wonder what McPillsburyDoughboy is drinking.
To view extended video of this water board "hearing" go to:http://www.ukiahvalley.tv/?v=7811005
In other wine news...
The Obama administration and their staff and the Secret Service are all in a tiz over a "security breach" by Mr. and Mrs. Tareq Salahi.
The Secret Service gallantly took the blame for the "breach Thursday and White House staffers said they were too busy to check everybody. The Salahis say they had invitations. But they have not yet surfaced.
The Salahis apparently have made themselves into fixtures in DC in recent years and the degree to which they've ingratiated themselves to the Country's Top Democrats is impressive given the amazingly friendly reception they got at the White House. Joe Biden certainly enjoyed Mrs. Salahi's attention.
According to the Philadelphia Inquirer:
"The Salahis got a foothold in Washington society with their Oasis winery. Everybody on the charity-society circuit, the source said, 'wants free wine. What they did was give away wine'."
All it takes to be welcomed by Democrats these days is a bimbo and a bottle of free wine and you're in!
(Remember that both Nancy Pelosi and Local Congressperson Mike WineBinahBro Thompson own their own vineyards and hobnob with wine people every day. Mike WineBinahBro's top local rep, the taxpayer paid Heidi Cusick-Dickerson, writes a weekly wine advertisement-column for the Ukiah Daily Journal and apparently doesn't think there's anything wrong with the public's representatives doing unvarnished advertisements for one very well-off industry at the expense of the general public, the rivers and the fish. Ms. Cusick-Dickerson doesn't even bother to try to highlight other businesses in her boss's congressional district.)
Let's at least hope that Al Qaeda or the Klan don't get any ideas about exploding wine bottles... After all, it's well past time for administration officials and the Secret Service to start looking the gift cork in the mouth.