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Mendocino County Today: Friday, May 30, 2014

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JUST IN. The State Water Board is notifying 652 Russian River water rights holders that they must immediately halt diversions. The unprecedented state notice reads: "Based on the most recent reservoir storage and inflow projections, along with forecasts for future precipitation events, the state Water Board has determined that the existing water supply in the Russian River watershed is insufficient to meet the needs of all water rights holders."

THIS EDICT affects diverters from Potter Valley to Hopland, many of whom have storage ponds, and all of whom got diversion rights in 1954.

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ROADWAY CLOSED [from CHP, approx 7 am, May 30, 2014] Westbound Highway 20 at Scotts Valley Road in Lake County is closed due to a non injury traffic accident involving lines down in the roadway. Unknown ETA for re-opening. Traffic will be diverted through Scotts Valley Rd.

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THE THREE PERSONS arrested earlier this week in a Fort Bragg raid by the DEA, are identified as Rebecca Reynolds, 53, her daughter Jayne Reynolds, 28 and Travis Nichols, 25, all of Fort Bragg. The feds allege that these three shipped 3900 pounds of Mendo pot to Fall River, Massachusetts, and Fall River sent back $8 million in cash. The warrant for the Fort Bragg trio was issued in Massachusetts. A Fall River man is alleged to be the organizer of the business. The three Fort Bragg bustees have posted bail and are back at home after being held for two days in San Francisco.

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ALTHOUGH 3RD DISTRICT SUPE John Pinches hasn't endorsed any of the candidates, his brother Jim and sister June are listed as supporters on Woodhouse's website. Our Willits' sources say former supervisor Wagenet is also coming on strong as the election nears. We still think it looks like Madrigal and Woodhouse in a November run-off, with Madrigal in an uphill battle against Woodhouse. She has the disadvantage of having taken stands on a series of controversial issues, while Woodhouse, popular from his volunteer work with the schools, has no record on the most important issues facing the supervisors.

WATER is certain to be controversial given the intransigence of the wine industry and the ongoing fact of so many equivalently intransigent water districts strung out along the Russian River, two of them federal. The supervisors have unnecessarily complicated employee relations by going to an outside legal firm to negotiate with demagogic SEIU reps, who also ride in from outside to foul negotiations. Why supervisors who live here can't negotiate with workers who also live here remains an ongoing County mystery. Dope is also an ongoing prob in lots of ways, but it's so far out of local abilities to do anything about, and so frustrating because every time Mendo tries a smart approach to it that benefits us locally, here come the feds with a basket of subpoenas.

WE'D LIKE to see the supes nix a new County Courthouse and the proposed $5 million trash transfer station on Highway 20 near Fort Bragg. Both are unnecessary and, in the case of the Courthouse, egregious in the extreme.

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JUST SAYIN' but it's clear that the feds regard official Mendo as a gang of outlaws, what with their ongoing "investigation" of the County's drug policies via the quizzing by a federal grand jury of the County Auditor about the County's various marijuana related accounts, including restitution. The feds seem to think Mendo is corrupt in old fashioned ways, i.e., bags of cash being siphoned off from the drug trade for private cop piggy banks. The feds, however, have been “investigating” for a long time without uncovering any malefactors. Remember the big show they made over the casino at Coyote Valley? They came up with zilch on that one. We won't even mention the Bari Bombing, a case that remains eminently solvable. (I think the feds for reasons that ought to disturb even Amnesia County, gave the ex-husband a pass on that one.)

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DIGITAL FIRST MEDIA, formerly MediaNews Group, owns three Mendocino County papers and the largest circulation paper in Lake County where all the Mendo papers are printed. The Denver-based conglomerate owns several hundred other papers throughout the country. That MediaNews Group has re-dubbed itself Digital First Media tells us where the print papers are headed, which is to extinction if you missed the implications of the name change.

AS Digital First Media goes broke, it has begun selling off the real estate on which a number of its newspapers sit. The huge structure housing the Eureka Times-Standard is up for sale, as are the properties home to the Vallejo Times-HeraldRed Bluff Daily News,and many more not, so far, including the Ukiah Daily Journal, the Advocate Beacon or The Willits News. The latter two papers lease office. All the conglom's papers have cut staff, and most people in Mendocino County still employed by Digital First assume they could go any day now.

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Aylen, Edwards, Hawkins, Long
Aylen, Edwards, Hawkins, Long

JEFFREY AYLEN, Fort Bragg, marijuana cultivation etc.

RICHARD EDWARDS, Fort Bragg, tweek

NICOLE HAWKINS, Covelo, elder abuse

AARON LONG, Redwood Valley, reckless driving

Manuel, McGlothlin, Shupe, Smith
Manuel, McGlothlin, Shupe, Smith

RAMON MANUEL, Ukiah, domestic assault

HARVEY McGLOTHLIN, Craig, Colorado, drunk in public and, well, Harv does not seem employment-ready

BLAKE SHUPE, Redwood Valley, pot charges then apparently tried to slug it out with the cops

KAHNA SMITH, Fort Bragg, domestic assault

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FROM THE DA'S OFFICE: A Washington State man was sentenced Tuesday in Mendocino County Superior Court to 10 years in prison after pleading guilty to felony charges relating to a 2013 crime spree on the Mendocino Coast, including arson of an inhabited structure, second-degree burglary, possessing a short-barrel shotgun, and receiving stolen property, according to the Mendocino County District Attorney's Office. Alec John Faccone, 22, will have to serve at least eight years because of formal sentencing rules that characterize arson as a violent felony, a legal characterization that limits the defendant's prison credits to 15 percent instead of the standard 50 percent. The arson caused damage in excess of $200,000, according to a statement released Thursday. Despite a plea for probation by the defense, Deputy District Attorney Tim Stoen argued for a state prison commitment, an argument that carried the day because of the "callousness of the defendant's actions." In summarizing the underlying facts, Stoen recounted that Faccone entered a vacant house in February 2013 on Noyo Heights Drive in Fort Bragg to manufacture methamphetamine to sell. Faccone then tried to cover up his crime by setting the house on fire. Faccone cut a gas line to feed the fire, an act which put Fort Bragg firefighters at great risk, according to Stoen. Faccone went on to burglarize two other homes in Fort Bragg, stealing three firearms from one of them. He then burglarized a home in nearby Mendocino, where he stole more firearms. Five days after setting fire to the Noyo Heights house, Faccone broke into a vacant Heeser Drive house and proceeded to camp out and trash the residence for more than two weeks, Stoen continued. At one point, a Yuba City woman who owned the Heeser Drive house checked a remote surveillance system and witnessed Faccone in her home waving a machete and crawling around in his underwear. "It traumatized her," Stoen said.

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BARKING DOG -- Caller in the 600 block of Joseph Street reported at 8:59 a.m. Monday that a dog nearby had been barking for the past two days. An officer responded and left a card because no one was home.

POLE SPLIT -- Caller at the corner of Observatory and South Dora streets reported at 2:21 p.m. Monday that an electric pole was split and wires were down.

SHOPLIFTER -- Caller at Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard reported at 2:29 p.m. Monday that two shoplifters were running from the store. An officer responded and arrested a 28-year-old Ukiah woman for theft.

KEYS STOLEN -- Caller at Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard reported at 5:06 p.m. Monday that she had keys clipped to her cart and they were stolen.

SHOPLIFTER -- Caller at CVS Pharmacy on South Orchard Avenue reported at 6:28 p.m. Monday that two people had shoplifted. An officer responded and arrested Jerrad R. Lafayette, 25, of Eureka, for violating his probation.

STRANGER IN HOME -- Caller in the 400 block of East Gobbi Street reported at 6:40 p.m. Monday that he called his home from the hospital and a stranger answered. An officer responded and determined that the house sitter had let someone in.

TRANSIENT LOITERING -- Caller in the 500 block of East Perkins Street reported at 7 p.m. Monday that a transient was loitering. An officer responded and arrested Scotty Willis, 30, for violating his probation.

BABY DEER IN FENCE -- Caller in the 900 block of Low Gap Road reported at 7:37 p.m. Monday that a baby deer was caught in a fence. An officer responded but the deer was gone.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE, DRUG POSSESSION -- Caller in the 600 block of North State Street reported at 8:21 p.m. Monday that her boyfriend punched her in the head and took her car. An officer responded and arrested Jeannette Long, 22, on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance. She was cited and released.

MAN HIT WITH BAT -- Caller in the 300 block of South State Street reported at 9:38 a.m. Tuesday that a man had hit another man with a bat or stick in Alex R. Thomas Jr. Plaza. An officer responded and arrested Michael A. Owen, 26, of Eureka, on suspicion of possessing a controlled substance, violating his probation and possessing drug paraphernalia.

ATTEMPTED HOTWIRE -- Caller in the 500 block of North State Street reported at 10:41 a.m. Tuesday that someone tried to hotwire her unlocked car. An officer responded and took a report.

TIRES SLASHED -- Caller in the 700 block of South State Street reported at 11:43 a.m. Tuesday that tires were slashed on a vehicle.

SHOPLIFTER -- An officer responded to Walmart on Airport Park Boulevard at 3:11 p.m. Tuesday and arrested a male juvenile for theft.

The following were compiled from reports prepared by the Ukiah Police Department regarding calls handled by the Fort Bragg Police Department.

FIREWOOD STOLEN -- Caller reported at 2:13 p.m. that firewood had been stolen from McKerricher State Park. The call was referred to the California State Parks Department.

DUI ARREST -- Caller in the 1100 block of North Main Street reported at 3:34 p.m. Tuesday that a guest smelling of alcohol drove away. An officer responded and arrested Kenneth J. Hlinka, 64, of Sebastopol, on suspicion of driving under the influence.

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Watch behind the curtains

As men walked up and down the street.

Wino men, old men.

Young men sharp as mustard.

See them. Men are always

Going somewhere.

They knew I was there.

Years old and starving for them.

Under my window, they would pauses,

Their shoulders high like the

Breasts of a young girl,

Jacket tails slapping over

Those behinds,


One day they hold you in the

Palms of their hands, gentle, as if you

Were the last raw egg in the world. Then

They tighten up. Just a little. The

First squeeze is nice. A quick hug.

Soft into your defenselessness. A little

More. The hurt begins. Wrench out a

Smile that slides around the fear. When the

Air disappears,

Your mind pops, exploding fiercely, briefly,

Like the head of a kitchen match. Shattered.

It is your juice

That runs down their legs. Staining their shoes.

When the earth rights itself again,

And taste tries to return to the tongue,

Your body has slammed shut. Forever.

No keys exist.

Then the window draws full upon

Your mind. There, just beyond

The sway of curtains, men walk.

Knowing something.
Going someplace.

But this time, I will simply

Stand and watch.


— Maya Angelou

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ALL THOSE DEAD CARP at Lake Mendocino don't exactly enhance the already half-drained, dried-mud aesthetic of the lake, but the Corp of Engineers seem reasonably certain that "Koi herpes virus" is responsible. The Corps has packed samples off to UC Davis and expects answers soon. If the deaths aren't due to the virus, which is restricted to carp, the die-off could restrict human-type animals from using the lake.

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On 05-28-2014 at approximately 11:57 P.M., Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies contacted Richard Edwards, 43, of Fort Bragg within the 32000 block of Pudding Creek Road in Fort Bragg after observing him operating a bicycle without required lighting. During that contact Deputies conducted a search of Edwards’s person and property and located a methamphetamine smoking pipe and a small bag containing approximately 1.9 grams of methamphetamine. Edwards was arrested and transported to the Mendocino County Jail where he was booked on the listed charges with bail set at $10,000. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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On May 28, 2014 at approximately 12:43pm, Mendocino County Sheriff's Deputies were dispatched to a domestic altercation at a residence located within the 15000 block of Mitchell Creek Drive in Fort Bragg. After Deputies arrived they contacted the male victim and suspect Kahna Smith, 31, of Fort Bragg. Deputies learned the victim and Smith were involved in a cohabitating dating relationship and both were engaged in a verbal argument. The argument escalated when Smith physically assaulted the victim with a broom handle and a propane canister. The victim was struck repeatedly about the chest and also struck in the head. Deputies observed that the victim had visible injury as a result of the assault and subsequently arrested Smith for domestic abuse of a cohabitant. The victim was transported by ambulance to Mendocino Coast District Hospital and Smith was transported to the Mendocino County Jail, where she was lodged with bail set at $25,000. (Sheriff’s Press Release)

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"All About Money" returns to KZYX on Friday, May 30, at 9 a.m., Pacific Time, with a special edition show on "The FCC and the End to the Open Internet".

Regulators are proposing new rules on Internet traffic that would allow broadband providers to charge companies a premium for access to their fastest lanes. The FCC’s proposed rules will produce a strong incentive for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to create congestion through artificial scarcity. Not only would this outcome run counter to the FCC’s broader goals, it actually undermines the so-called Section 706 legal basis for these rules.

Our guest is Todd O'Boyle, Director for Media and Democracy at Common Cause. We'll also be joined by other guests, including Amelia Deloney, Policy Director of the Center for Media Justice, and Jessica Gonzales, executive vice president and general counsel at National Hispanic Media Coalition.

Through Mr. Boyle, we are scheduling former FCC Commissioner Michael Copps for a future show. Commissioner Copps is now an advisor to Common Cause.

Our broadcasts are heard live at 881, 90.7, and 91.5 FM in the Counties of Mendocino, Lake, Humboldt, and Sonoma in northern California.

We also stream live from the web at

We may also archive shows at KZYX or post shows to the Public Radio Exchange.

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by Will Parrish

When it comes to California's gargantuan system of dams, reservoirs, power plants, pumping plants, canals, aqueducts, siphons, tunnels, gates, and other infrastructure for capturing and exporting water to agribusiness, industry, and people, Chief Caleen Sisk of the Winnemem Wintu tribe has pretty much seen and been through it all. California's largest reservoir, Shasta Lake, inundates a vast stretch of the Winnemem's aboriginal territory. The reservoir is formed by Shasta Dam, one of the world's largest dams, which the US Bureau of Reclamation constructed during World War II to hold back the waters of the McCloud, Pit, and upper Sacramento Rivers.

Despite promises from the federal government, the Winnemem have never received compensation for the flooding and dislocation. In the years immediately following construction of the 602-foot-tall, 3,460-foot-wide concrete plug that is the Shasta Dam, hundreds of thousands of salmon died at its foot, repeatedly battering themselves against it while trying to reach their ancient spawning grounds. The salmon have been the cultural foundation of the Winnemem and other Indigenous people of the area for countless generations.

Now, California is in the throes of its worst drought since first building its modern water infrastructure. In fact, 2013 was the driest year since the state began keeping records in the 1840s. According to UC Berkeley paleoclimatologist B. Lynn Ingram, this may be the most parched the state has been since roughly 1580.

California's business and political leaders have a stock answer: build more dams, capture and export more water. A slew of proposals to sacrifice the state's watersheds on the altar of new dams, reservoirs, pumps, sumps, and diversions are quickly gaining political traction. These new projects come against a backdrop of uncertainty due to climate change, which has already greatly diminished the state's biggest source of water in the dry season: spring snowpack that melts from the Sierra Nevadas and other mountain ranges.

In April, Representative Jim Costa (D-Fresno) introduced a bill, co-signed by a number of other Democratic Congressmen, to increase the size of Shasta Dam. Costa's bill would expand the reservoir's storage capacity by roughly 13 percent, raising it an additional 18.5 feet. More than three-fourths of this water would go gushing down into the lands owned by California's dynastic San Joaquin Valley agribusiness clans, including those in Costa's district.

The dam raise would flood thousands of acres of the Winnemem's remaining cultural strongholds. These include more than 50 sacred sites, among which are ceremonial areas the Winnemem have used for thousands of years.

On April 19th, Caleen Sisk spoke about this perpetuation of cultural genocide in Ukiah, at an event called “Salmon and Sovereignty: Indigenous People's Perspectives on Water and Cultural Survival in California.” More than 100 people attended the event at the Saturday Afternoon Clubhouse, which also featured speakers from Mendocino and Lake County Indigenous tribes such as Corine Pearce of the Redwood Valley Pomo, Jim Browneagle of the Elem Pomo, and Priscilla Hunter of the Sherwood Valley Band of Pomo, as well as a performance by the Round Valley Feather Dancers.

“There is no other place in the world we can go to be Winnemem Wintu,” Sisk told her audience. “There is nowhere else we can go to carry out our traditions and our cultures.”

As a matter of necessity, Chief Sisk has become one of the most powerful voices of opposition to California's pathological water system. She was the opening – and perhaps most well-received – speaker at the “Don't Frack California” rally in Sacramento on March 15th, which several thousand people attended. At the time she stopped in Ukiah, she was on a brief speaking tour to call attention to her people's struggles against the California's water lords. She has also toured behind the award-winning new film “Dancing the Salmon Home,” which chronicles the Winnemem's efforts to reunite with the salmon.

Witty and well-informed, Sisk offers a perspective rooted in her people's relationship with the McCloud River and their landbase, located on the south side of Mt. Shasta. It a perspective based on altogether greater depth and longevity than what the leaders of the young state of California have demonstrated as they plot out how to meet future water needs.

“When California became a state, you could drink out of any stream,” Sisk says. “You could drink out of any spring. And now, they say that all of the rivers are contaminated. So, not only are they not talking about how to clean up the water, but that they are focusing on where to export all the contaminated water. Where is the effort to clean it up?” 

Brown Water Planning

The idea of exporting a greater volume of McCloud, Pit, and upper Sacramento River water to southern California agribusiness, industry, and suburban development is part and parcel of what Sisk refers to as “Brown Water Planning.” The Brown and Obama administrations are both pressing for the euphemistically named San Francisco Bay Delta Conservation Plan, better known as the “Delta Twin Tunnels” as a means of expanding California's water export capacity. It is one of the most destructive ideas ever devised for California's water system.

First, a bit about the ecology and geography of the San Francisco Bay Delta. Roughly two-thirds of Californians (some 22 million people) rely on the Delta and its tributaries as their primary water source. Yet, according to polling data, three out of four Californians do not know where the Delta is, nor are they aware of its role in providing for the state's water supplies.

According to the US Environmental Protection Agency, the Bay Delta watershed covers more than 75,000 square miles and includes the largest estuary on the west coasts of North and South America. This vast (though now badly damaged) ecological treasure also contains the only inland delta in the world. About two-thirds of California's salmon pass through it on their way upstream to spawn. It is where the California's two largest rivers (the Sacramento and San Joaquin) end. It is also where one of the world's greatest water engineering projects begin.

The Sacramento and San Joaquin join at at the western end of the Delta near the town of Pittsburg, at the head of Suisun Bay. They transport about half of the state's total water run-off. More than seventy percent of the water exported from there goes to the San Joaquin Valley, coastal Central, and Southern California for agribusiness and suburbia.

The Twin Tunnels would be a pair of 40-foot diameter water pipelines that would tap into the Sacramento River south of the Shasta Dam, but upstream of the Delta. They would have a capacity to siphon 75,000 gallons of water per second, which is enough to drain, in theory, every single drop of the Sacramento River, California's largest waterway and formerly the most productive salmon fishery in the United States.

The tunnels would convey water 45 miles to the massive export pumps located in the town of Tracy, at the south end of the SF Bay Delta. Operated by the federal government, these pumps sit at the head of the 117-mile-long Delta-Mendota Canal, which sends water gushing through the Inner Coast Ranges down to the western San Joaquin Valley, home of the powerful Westlands Water District, on which more below. Beyond that lies Kern County, home of the oil industry (including water-intensive fracking wells), more agribusiness, and prospective urban development.

The Bay Delta Plan would also create new political impetus behind raising existing dams and building new ones on northern California rivers to store and feed more fresh water into the tunnels. The plan to raise Shasta Dam and enlarge its reservoir is one.

“This water plan is one big toilet,” Caleen Sisk explains. “Shasta Dam is the tank. The San Francisco Bay Estuary is the bowl. And the tunnels are the exit pipes, one of which goes right to Westlands Water District to provide for their selenium-laden, poisoned crops. Another is designed to go off into two fracking mines. And five pipes are designed to go off into the desert for new communities that would be homes for five million new people who are moving to California.”

According to the Bay Delta Conservation Plan's Environmental Impact Statement, the operation of the twin tunnels, coupled with the impacts of climate change, would greatly drain many of northern California's greatest rivers, which feed into the Sacramento River either naturally or, in the case of the Trinity River, due to a human-constructed diversion. These include the Trinity Reservoir (which would experience a reduction of 19 percent, according to the EIS), Folsom Reservoir (31 percent), and Oroville Reservoir (32 percent). The result may be even lower flows, particularly in the fall, in the Trinity, Sacramento, American, and Feather Rivers.

Touted by Gov. Jerry Brown as a solution to the state’s intractable water conflicts, the BDCP seeks “co-equal” goals: restoring the Delta’s aquatic ecosystems, while also enhancing the state’s water supplies. Yet, the idea of restoring an ecosystem degraded by fresh water diversions by building new infrastructure to divert even more fresh water largely speaks for itself.

Already, the small Delta smelt – a key indicator species for the health of the Delta's ecosystem – is on the edge of extinction. Nearly every species of fish that lives in the Delta has suffered a more than 90 percent population decline in the past half-century. The vast reduction of freshwater inflows would increase the salinity of the water in which these fish live, potentially rendering it uninhabitable for them. What would be the greater ecological consequences of more or less turning the largest freshwater estuary on the Pacific Ocean into a dead zone?

New Reservoirs

In the San Joaquin Valley, a cornucopia of more than 200 crops that generates $15 billion a year in gross farm income. The biggest agricultural irrigation district in North America, the Westlands Water District, principally resides here. Irrigation districts like Westlands are local-government entities that hold long-term contracts for water supplied by two massive water projects: the Central Valley Project, which is operated by the federal government, and the State Water Project. The districts, in turn, sell water to individual farmers within their boundaries.

The Westlands district encompasses nearly 1,000 square miles of Fresno and King counties on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley. The district is dominated – notoriously so – by a relative handful of large growers, including the ultra-influential Boswell cotton dynasty (the late JG Boswell was often referred to as “The King of California”), which controls 150,000 acres in the San Joaquin Valley town of Corcoran, and Paramount Farms, perhaps the largest agricultural company in the United States in terms of revenue, which is operated by the infamously well-connected Bevery Hills billionaires Stuart and Lynda Resnick (the Resnicks are great friends of California Senator Dianne Feinstein, for instance).

While this arid region has produced an indisputable bounty of cotton and other field crops over the decades, the state and federal government's costly irrigation of this mineral-laden desert is also one of the greatest water hogs ever to develop on earth. California has perhaps the most hydrologically altered landscape on the planet. Roughly 80 percent of its water consumption is by agribusiness, although agriculture accounts for only two percent of the state's GDP.

In spite of the dire straits of migrating salmon and other life in the state's rivers and estuaries, California's Big Ag-sponsored senator, Dianne Feinstein has been pressuring state and federal water agencies to provide maximum pumping of the season’s rains to provide relief to San Joaquin Valley farms. Feinstein calls this pumping “the maximum amount allowed by environmental law.” Going perhaps a bit further are Republicans in the US House of Representatives, who passed a bill in February that would suspend environmental protections in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta entirely, enabling all the water to be pumped south.

Feinstein recently complained to the San Francisco Chronicle that environmentalists “have never been helpful to me in producing good water policy.” Largely due to Feinstein's efforts, nearly two-thirds of the natural flow in the San Francisco Bay Delta watershed was captured in upstream storage or exported between February 1st and April 15th. The one-third left over was needed just to prevent salinity intrusion in order to protect water quality for the export pumps and other water users. The well-being of the ecosystems, including the struggling fish (not to mention the fishing industry) was otherwise ignored.

Meanwhile, under Albert Einstein's definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result), California's political and business are either insane or care little about the fate of the state's ecosystems. A spate of new storage proposals are wending their way through the legislative process.

One of these would create a huge new dam called Temperance Flat on the Upper San Joaquin River. At 665 feet, Temperance Flat Dam would be the second highest dam in California, and the fifth tallest dam in the United States (it would be about 63 feet higher than Shasta Dam). Representative Jim Costa introduced a bill to authorize construction of the dam in February.

Another proposal is to expand San Luis Reservoir, the artificial lake on San Luis Creek in the eastern slopes of the Diablo Range of Merced County, which stores water taken from the San Francisco Bay Delta. The 305-foot-tall earthen dam that traps water in the reservoir would be raised by 20 feet, at a cost of roughly $360 million.

And, just east of Lake County and the Mendocino National Forest, not far from the Central Valley town of Maxwell, a reservoir five times bigger than Lake Sonoma would be constructed at a cost of $4 billion. In March, Democratic Congressman John Garamendi and Republican Doug Le Malfa introduced a bill to authorize the Sikes Reservoir, which would involve construction of two large dams up to 310 feet high to capture Sacramento River water and store it for releases during the dry season.

“We want to use the moment when people are focused and interested,” Rep. Garamendi, a fairly liberal Democrat, told the Sacramento Bee. “We’ve got to move these projects forward.”

The Sites project would flood the Antelope Valley, which is about 10 miles west of the small town of Maxwell on Interstate 5. It would also drown up to 14,000 acres of grassland, oak woodland, chaparral, riparian habitat, vernal pools, and wetlands (including 19 acres of rare alkali wetlands).

The dam could take water from the Sacramento River, including potentially during the spring. “One perfectly legal diversion scenario could take up to 67 percent of the average flow of the Sacramento Rier during the month of April,” writes the group Friends of the River. “Further modifying flows in the Sacramento River could affect the river's riparian and aquatic habitats, and the plethora of sensitive, threatened, and endangered fish and wildlife species that depend on those habitats.”

We have reached a pretty pass in the degradation of California's water supplies. In spite of all of the water exports, farmers in the Central Valley still rely heavily on groundwater. So much water has been pumped from aquifers beneath Central Valley between 2003 and 2008 that it would fill Lake Mead, the largest reservoir in the nation. Farmers are now drilling wells 2,000 feet deep before they hit water.

Thus, building new water storage may, in a sense be easier. What is missing is a discussion of the long-term consequences of continuing to grow melons, cotton, and pistachios in the desert, of continuing with the same type of water infrastructure that is rapidly undermining the ecological health of the state's watersheds.

The Middle Water People

In their language, the Winnemem Wintu are known as “The Middle Water People.” The McCloud River is bounded by the Upper Sacramento to the West and the Pit River to the East. As Caleen Sisk often says regarding her people, “We were born from water, we are of the water, and we fight to protect it.”

Construction of Shasta Dam followed a century of violence against Northern California's Indigenous people, initially perpetrated by invading miners and governmental policies of extermination. The Winnemem once numbered approximately 14,000. By 1910, that number had plummeted to 400. Today, the tribe’s population is approximately 150.

The U.S. government first recognized the Winnemem Wintu in 1851, when it entered into the Cottonwood Treaty. Through this treaty, the Winnemem Wintu and several other Native American tribes ceded their homelands to the United States in exchange for the creation of a 35-square mile reservation. The federal government promptly “lost” this and 17 other treaties with California First Nations, and they were never ratified.

Less than thirty years later, an additional 280 acres were taken for the establishment of a government reservation fish hatchery along the McCloud River – the first-ever in California. The Winnemem were employed at the hatchery due to their extensive knowledge of salmon. In 1941, Congress enacted the Central Valley Project Indian Land Acquisition Act, which provided for the creation of the Shasta Dam along the McCloud River. The Winnemem have lived in the shadow of the dam, which flooded many of their traditional lands, ever since.

Since 1985, the U.S. government has refused to grant federal recognition of the Winnemem Wintu tribe. The lack of federal recognition cuts off federal benefits that are provided to tribes with federal recognition. It also conveniently dovetails with the maintenance and potential expansion of the Shasta Dam. As of now, the Winnemem have virtually no legal standing in their fight to maintain their traditional waters.

While struggling to maintain their culture together under such circumstances, the Winnemem also face battles on multiple fronts. Nestle Corporation has been snatching up land in their traditional territory on Mt. Shasta through the years. The multi-national private water company has mulled plans for several years to build a million square foot water bottling plant on the McCloud. And, if it wasn't bad enough that the Westlands Water District receives huge quantities of water exported from Shasta Dam, the agribusiness-dominated water district also purchased a 3,000-acre- stretch of the McCloud in 2007, which they have talked of “annexing” into their district.

In 2004, the Winnemem conducted their first war dance in more than 100 years. In their effort to bring the salmon home, the tribe had openly declared war with the US government (a war that is not intended to involve armed struggle, it should be noted).

News of the war dance brought Caleen Sisk into contact with the Maori people of New Zealand. When the Shasta Dam was being constructed, the Chinook salmon were distributed to fisheries around the world, including New Zealand. There, the Chinook continue to migrate and thrive in the Rakai River, while their siblings on the Sacramento River struggle to survive.

The Winnemem are now working with fisheries biologists to have the progeny of these salmon who were displaced from their river returned home. Yet, the salmon would be unable to survive in the McCloud under present conditions.

So, the Winnemem are struggling to prevent the Shasta Dam raise and the Twin Tunnels. They also aim to bring down the Shasta Dam, which continues to block the fish's migration. The fight to return the salmon runs on the McCloud is, as the Winnemem's web site puts it, “no less than a fight to save the Winnemem Wintu Tribe.”

“We believe that when the last salmon is gone, humans will be gone too,” Caleen Sisk says.

For more information on the Winnemem Wintu, see To listen to a recording of Caleen Sisk's talk in Ukiah, see

(Contact Will Parrish at

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by Norman Solomon

In a memoir published this year, the CIA’s former top legal officer John Rizzo says that on the last day of 2005 a panicky White House tried to figure out how to prevent the distribution of a book by New York Times reporter James Risen. Officials were upset because Risen’s book, State of War, exposed what — in his words — “may have been one of the most reckless operations in the modern history of the CIA.”

The book told of a bungled CIA attempt to set back Iran’s nuclear program in 2000 by supplying the Iranian government with flawed blueprints for nuclear-bomb design. The CIA’s tactic might have actually aided Iranian nuclear development.

When a bootlegged copy of State of War reached the National Security Council, a frantic meeting convened in the Situation Room, according to Rizzo. “As best anyone could tell, the books were printed in bulk and stacked somewhere in warehouses.” The aspiring censors hit a wall. “We arrived at a rueful consensus: game over as far as any realistic possibility to keep the book, and the classified information in it, from getting out.”

But more than eight years later, the Obama White House is seeking a different form of retribution. The people running the current administration don’t want to pulp the book — they want to put its author in jail.

The Obama administration is insisting that Risen name his confidential source — or face imprisonment. Risen says he won’t capitulate.

The Freedom of the Press Foundation calls the government’s effort to force Risen to reveal a source “one of the most significant press freedom cases in decades.”

Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says: “The pursuit of Risen is a warning to potential sources that journalists cannot promise them confidentiality for disclosing Executive Branch criminality, recklessness, deception, unconstitutional policies or lying us into war. Without protecting confidentiality, investigative journalism required for accountability and democracy will wither and disappear.”

A recent brief from the Obama administration to the nation’s top court “is unflinchingly hostile to the idea of the Supreme Court creating or finding protections for journalists,” Politico reported. The newspaper added that Risen “might be sent to jail or fined if he refuses to identify his sources or testify about other details of his reporting.”

This threat is truly ominous. As Ellsberg puts it, “We would know less than we do now about government abuses, less than we need to know to hold officials accountable and to influence policy democratically.”

So much is at stake: for whistleblowers, freedom of the press and the public’s right to know. For democracy. That’s why five organizations —, The Nation, the Center for Media and Democracy / The Progressive, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) and the Freedom of the Press Foundation — have joined together to start a campaign for protecting the confidentiality of journalists’ sources. So far, in May, about 50,000 people have signed a petition telling President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder to end legal moves against Risen.

Charging that the administration has launched “an assault on freedom of the press,” the petition tells Obama and Holder: “We urge you in the strongest terms to halt all legal action against Mr. Risen and to safeguard the freedom of journalists to maintain the confidentiality of their sources.”

The online petition — “We Support James Risen Because We Support a Free Press” — includes thousands of personal comments from signers. Here’s a sampling of what they had to say:

“Freedom of the press and freedom of speech are the cornerstones of our democracy. Stop trying to restrict them.” — Jim T., Colorado Springs, Colorado

“Protected sources are essential to a real democracy. Without whistleblowers, there is no truth.” — Jo Ellen K., San Francisco, California

“Enough of the government assault on freedom of the press! Whistleblowers are heroes to the American people.” — Paul D., Keaau, Hawaii

“It seems our government is out of control. The premise of deriving power from the people would appear to be a quaint notion to most within the three branches. Instead they now view us as subjects that must bend to their will rather than the other way around.” — Gary J., Liberty Township, Ohio

“‘Journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed. Everything else is public relations.’ — George Orwell” — Todd J., Oxford, Michigan

“As a writer, I support freedom of the press around the world as a vital first step toward regaining control of our compromised democracies.” — Patricia R., Whitehorse, YT, Canada

“You promised an open and transparent administration. Please keep that promise.” — Willard S., Cary, North Carolina

“Without a free press, we really have nothing.” — Robin H., Weehawken, New Jersey

“The Obama administration’s attack on press freedom is an issue of grave concern. Why are we spending billions of dollars going after supposed ‘terrorists’ when the greatest threat to democracy resides right here in Washington, DC.” — Karen D., Detroit, Michigan

“Damn you, Obama! You become more like Nixon daily!” — Leonard H., Manchester, Michigan

“Congratulations, Mr. Risen!” — Marian C., Hollister, California

“The U.S. is becoming an increasingly frightening place to live, more than a little like a police state. President Obama, you have been a huge disappointment. I expected better from you.” — Barbara R., Newport, Rhode Island

“Come on, President Obama... you're a Constitutional scholar. You know better than this. Knock it off.” — James S., Burbank, California

“There can be no true freedom of the press unless the confidentiality of sources is protected. Without this, no leads, informants or whistleblowers will be motivated to come forward. Reporters should not be imprisoned for doing their job.” — Chris R., North Canton, Ohio

“You took an oath to 'preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,' freedom of the press!” — Diane S., San Jose, California

“Whatever became of the progressive Obama and the change you promised? Evidently it was a load of campaign bull puckey, making you just another politician who says whatever it takes to get elected. In other words, you and your administration are a complete sham. As for your constitutional scholarship, it would appear to be in the service of undermining the Constitution a la Bush and Cheney.” — Barry E., Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania

“Without a free press, our republic is paper-mache. Remember John Peter Zenger! We must not shoot the messenger — we must raise the bar for conduct and probity!” — Lance K., Chelsea, Massachusetts

“A free press is the only counterbalance to crony capitalism, corrupt legislators, and a pitifully partisan Supreme Court, that continues to destroy our Constitutional protections.” — Dion B., Cathedral City, California

“I implore you to RESPECT THE FIRST AMENDMENT.” — Glen A., Lacey, Washington

“Did you not learn in grade school that freedom of the press is essential to a free country?” — Joanne D., Colorado Springs, Colorado

“We've been down this road before. What amazes me is that we condemn other countries for stifling freedom of the press, then turn around and do the same thing to advance our own purposes. Are we proponents of democracy and a free press or not?” — William M., Whittier, California

“Journalism is a vital component of a democracy, and it is a core function protected by the freedom of expression enshrined in both international and domestic law. You must stop harassing and persecuting journalists and their sources who are providing a vital public service in prying open the activities of governments that are illegitimately concealed from the public. If the public is not informed of state actions executed in their name, they cannot evaluate and render consent to those actions through the vote. This secrecy therefore subverts democracy, and you must stop using police powers to destroy the whistleblowers who enable government accountability to the public.” — Jim S., Gatlinburg, Tennessee

“I support freedom of the press, not the attorney general’s vicious abuse of his position!” — Bettemae J., Albuquerque, New Mexico

“Compelling reporters to reveal their sources just means that sources will stop talking to reporters. That will cripple the free press. If you think that’s not important, please resign immediately.” — Stephen P., Gresham, Oregon

“As an old woman who remembers the lies of Lyndon Johnson, Richard Nixon, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush (especially) and the current administration, I do not trust my own government to tell me the truth anymore. Freedom of the press is my only chance [to] find out what the truth is. Protect reporters’ sources!” — Monica O., Lomita, California

“Without freedom of the press, we might as well kiss democracy goodbye!” — Melvin M., Vashon, Washington

“I am ashamed of this administration, its policies and its Department of Justice — what a travesty of criminal turpitude and mass media complicity. 'Transparency' — hah! Cheap campaign rhetoric.” — Mitch L., Los Altos Hills, California

“Walk the walk or stop talking about democracy. Free press is the basis of our constitution.” — Carl D., Manassas, Virginia

“No free press, no democracy!” — James F., Moab, Utah

“If you force the media to reveal its sources, no one will ever come forth with a news story or lead again. I'm sure this is precisely what the politicians and big business want. Then there’d be absolutely no accountability. We need an effective shield law rather than persecuting journalists and news organizations for reporting the news.” — Jim S., Ladera Ranch, California

“Freedom of the Press is the hallmark of a free society. Your administration has done everything in its power to subvert Freedom of the Press by jailing whistleblowers and reporters who uncover wrong doing. This must stop!” — Ed A., Queens, New York

“We have very few real journalists left. Let's not jail them!” — Karen H., West Grove, Pennsylvania

“As the press goes, so goes citizens’ rights.” — Kathy F., West Bend, Wisconsin

“I have been shocked at how this administration has treated the American people’s right to know, prosecuting reporters, whistleblowers, and others who have had the temerity to cast light into the dark corners of our government. You bring the whole concept of democracy into disrepute and set a bad example for the rest of the world.” — Marjorie P., Montpelier, Vermont

“We need our investigative reporters more now than ever in history. Keep our press free.” — Joan R., Novato, California

“Investigative reporting is becoming too rare in the U.S., and compelling J. Risen to reveal his sources will only make such reporting even rarer. Is this your deliberate intent?” — Elaine L., Elk Grove, California

“I am responding in support of James Risen. Freedom of the press is one of the cornerstones of our democracy and should never be trampled on by government.” — Lois D., San Jacinto, California

“Freedom of the press is more important than some stinking government attempt to find out how bad shenanigans made it into the press. Quit this crap about trying to make a reporter reveal his or her sources. We need good reporting a lot more than lousy stinking politicians trying to shut up the truth.” — Ralph M., Bakerstown, Pennsylvania

“Without a free press tyranny will ensue.” — Bob P., Holland, Pennsylvania

“I thought Mr. Obama was supposed to be a Constitutional lawyer and swore to uphold it. I thought the Attorney General was supposed to also protect the Constitution. It seems you both have abandoned those duties. Prove you hold the Constitution as the authority from which you derive your own and cease this persecution of a reporter who epitomizes one of the crucial things the Constitution stands for — a truly free press.” — Michael S., Tukwila, Washington

“I've seen mud more transparent than the Obama admin.” — Paul H., Carlton, Oregon

“Wow, this coming from the Obama administration who supposedly is for open govt. Isn't it a police state when the govt cracks down on reporters for telling the truth? James Risen is a hero who will go to jail before revealing his source and the fact that you want to throw him in jail is the real crime here.” — Gayle J., Seattle, Washington

“Shocking.” — Peggy K., Soldiers Grove, Wisconsin

“You have way overstepped your authority. I consider myself a moderate, but your aggressive pursuit of journalists and whistleblowers strikes fear in my heart. Your use of intimidation to weaken the press is contributing to the dismantling of our democracy.” — Marcia B., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“Quit trying to silence journalists! This is a Vladimir Putin approach to government. Hope and Change? Get Real!” — Rich W., Grass Valley, California

“Stop destroying our heroes, the courageous whistleblowers and journalists, including Risen and others who should be thanked, not prosecuted! You know damn well that the People want these people honored!” — Nancy G., Palm Desert, California

“Please recognize the need for a journalist to be free of coercion to reveal confidential sources. Bravo to James Risen for having the courage to resist this onerous government intimidation.” — Thomas S., Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

“We are already seeing freedom of the press undermined by consolidation of media ownership. The founding fathers believed that we could only keep this republic if we have free press and an informed public. Stop the suppression of information. Free access to information is not an optional ingredient.” — Janelle J., Buffalo, Missouri

“Stop persecuting journalists and whistleblowers. Information is the lifeblood of a democracy.” — William C., Sherman Oaks, California

“Our government has become big brother. Journalists must not be forced to name their sources if we are to know the truth.” — Carolyn S., Los Angeles, California

“A free press is gone if confidential sources are revealed.” — Vincent H., Rutledge, Tennessee

“Frankly, Mr. President, I'm surprised at you, and I have to say, disappointed. This seems like something that happens in totalitarian countries.” — Karen B., Felton, California

“Freedom of the press is already under siege because big business controls so much of the message. The Obama administration must respect James Risen’s right to withhold his source.” — Patricia B., Marco Island, Florida

“Whistleblowers are vital to keeping our democracy from turning into a police state. And a free press is vital to keeping us informed. Drop this case, and uphold the principles of our Constitution.” — Cynthia D., E. Boston, MA

“The press should be free to do its job! How about some of that 'most transparent administration' stuff. If an administration has nothing to hide it has nothing to fear.” — Mike H., Terre Haute, Indiana

“James Risen is an investigative reporter of high repute who should not be subjected to state harassment and punishment for upholding his pledge of confidentiality to his sources. These encroachments on our Fourth Estate’s watchdog function as a check on the abuse of power must not stand.” — Barbara K., Santa Fe, New Mexico

“You both have to stop talking out of both sides of your mouth, i.e. lying. We are fighting for freedom of the press. Stop being enemies to us people.” — Judith N., North Bonneville, Washington

“Please don't trash the Bill of Rights. Protect the freedom and independence of the press. Drop the case against James Risen.” — Andrew M., Lower Gwynedd, Pennsylvania

“Daniel Ellsberg was right. James Risen is right.” — Leonore J., Toledo, Ohio

“When the light of free press is no more, darkness prevails and evildoers flourish. I know this is what this corrupt government wants but over our dead bodies.” — Felix C., San Antonio, Texas

“What Mr. Risen did in this instance, was not criminal. Rather it was EXACTLY what a free press should do, without fear of reprisal. Stop the strong arm tactics.” — John S., Trumbull, Connecticut

“The investigative work of journalists sheds light on the world and what is happening. The increasing punishment of journalists is pushing our world and news into a scary age of non-information. Safeguard the confidentiality of journalists and their sources.” — Christin B., Barnegat Light, New Jersey

“Stop persecuting journalists and truth tellers.” — Phyllis B., Desert Hot Springs, California

(Norman Solomon is executive director of the Institute for Public Accuracy and co-founder of His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at

One Comment

  1. Lazarus May 30, 2014

    Rumor has it SEIU pulled the plug on Ms. Madrigal……..unconfirmed of course, and street money say Woodhouse may win it all June 3rd……?

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