Wild steelhead win in Fresno Federal District Court

Submitted: Oct 30, 2008
Badlands Journal editorial board

Fresno Bee
Fish policies upheld in court ruling
Judge says feds have steelhead discretion...John Ellis
A federal judge in Fresno ruled Monday that the U.S. government has discretion to recognize differences in steelhead fish populations when determining whether they are eligible for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger issued a 168-page ruling on two challenges to how the National Marine Fisheries Service viewed California's steelhead populations.
One case challenged the government's practice of counting hatchery steelhead populations separately from wild populations.
The Pacific Legal Foundation had argued that Endangered Species Act listing decisions could be based on the numbers of hatchery steelhead produced each year. Based on that, the foundation had asked the court to remove five separate populations of steelhead from the list of endangered species.
In his decision, Wanger wrote that the "best science available" used by the NMFS "strongly indicated that naturally-spawned and hatchery-born [steelhead] are different."

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Hedge fund founder cashes out to walk in truth

Submitted: Oct 19, 2008

Letter: Andrew Lahde, Lahde Capital Management
By Andrew Lahde...10-17-08,s01=1.html
Today I write not to gloat. Given the pain that nearly everyone is experiencing, thar would be entirely inappropriate. Nor am I writing to make further predictions, as most of my forecasts in previous letters have unfolded or are in the process of unfolding.

Instead, I am writing to say goodbye.

Recently, on the front page of Section C of the Wall Street Journal, a hedge fund manager who was also closing up shop (a $300 million fund), was quoted as saying, “What I have learned about the hedge fund business is that I hate it.” I could not agree more with that statement. I was in this game for the money. The low hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale, and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government. All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other side of my trades. God bless America.

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Sacramento's "tortured middle way"

Submitted: Aug 19, 2008
Badlands Journal editorial board


Thanks to Sacramento’s man on the U.S. Supreme Court, Judge Anthony Kennedy, who created the meaningless “significant nexis” to determine the connectivity of waters to navigable streams, federal resource agencies have been up a creek as far as knowing their jurisdiction to enforce the Clean Water Act. The EPA has done nothing about more than 400 CWA enforcement cases since the Supreme Court ruling called the “Rapanos Decision.” Kennedy’s middle ground stood between four conservative justices who wanted CWA enforcement only on permanent streams and four liberals who voted for intermittent streams as well, including wetlands and vernal pools.


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Judgment Entered in Favor of Raptor, POW and Citizens Group in RMP suit

Submitted: Jun 20, 2008

MERCED, CA (June 20, 2008) --Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Humphreys signed this week the judgment for the lawsuit between San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water, Citizens for the Protection of Merced County Resources (petitioners), against the County of Merced and real party of interest Riverside Motorsports Park (respondents).

Judge Humphreys ordered in favor of petitioners that the following approvals of the Merced County Board of Supervisors on the RMP project be voided and vacated:

Resolution No. 2006-219;
Ordinance No. 1800;
Zone Change No. 03-007;
General Plan Amendment No. 03-005
Removal of project site from the Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve;
Amendment to the Merced County General Plan to redesignate the project site from "Agricultural" to "Castle Specific Urban Development Plan Industrial";
Rezone of the project from "A-1" and "A-2" to "Planned Development";
Approval of the project master plan;
Text Amendment to Merced County General Plan to modify policies in the Circulation Chapter that would exempt the project from traffic Level of Service standards for feature and major events.

The Court also ordered the County of Merced to refrain from further approvals on this project until the County and RMP undertakes further environmental review "to correct the deficiencies in the EIR and as otherwise required under the California Environmental Quality Act."

"We have nothing but the highest praise for our legal team," said San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center President Lydia Miller. "Gregory Maxim, Julie Garcia, Marsha Burch and their law firms, Sproul Trost LLP of Roseville and the Law Offices of Don B. Mooney in Davis."

"This judgment is a tremendous victory for the citizens of Merced County," said Gregory Maxim. "This lawsuit was brought for the purpose of ensuring that the citizens were provided with a full and fair opportunity to review and comment on all project impacts. This judgment, and the voiding of nine of the project's prior approvals, will provide the citizens with this opportunity."

"We are overjoyed at this positive outcome for the Raptor Center and Protect Our Water," Miller continued. "But we were particularly pleased with the strong support we received throughout the process of this lawsuit from the Citizens for the Protection of Merced County Resources, led by Suzy Hultgren, Paul van Warmerdam and Stacey Machado."

For further information contact:

San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center Attorney at Law
Protect Our Water Sproul Trost LLP
(209) 723-9283, ph. (916) 783-6262 tel

Citizens for the Protection of Merced County Resources

Suzy Hultgren-(209) 358-2339 ph, (cell) 209-769-8583
Paul van Wamerdam- (209) 678-2251 ph,(cell) 209-678-2251
Stacey Machado-(209) 564-8361 ph,

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The Green Job Frame, a Loose Cheeks Special Feature

Submitted: May 20, 2008

About a hundred people, many of them from Merced, got an education in UC intellectual bankruptcy this week at the old Merced Theatre during a forum on "Green Jobs." The event was organized by Kenny, the Monster UC Merced Faculty Spouse, and it featured a trio of top Bay Area speakers on everything green. After the Monster got the computers started (computer inadequacy is a hallmark of Monster Shows), we entered the world of "Framing and Reframing," a rhetorical confection created by UC Berkeley's Chomsky-Lite, Prof. George Lakoff.

The Monster framed it like this: the environmental debate is always framed as an environmental protection argument, yet we need thousands of new jobs but if the environment collapses, human health and safety also collapses; ergo, we need "green jobs." QED, it's a "no brainer" for Merced to seek these "green" industries and jobs.This "framing" of the question unleashed the speakers to bay after the elusive "green job."

Merced City Councilman John Carlisle, the only member of the panel that did not indulge in "framing" lingo, described the situation in Merced in dire terms -- gangs, bad air quality, teen pregnancy, etc. -- all the products of poverty in this weird county, which has among the nation's least affordable housing, its highest foreclosure rate and is among the five poorest counties in the state. For "a community already in need of help,"

Carlisle wants "green jobs." In his definition of "green jobs," however, the audience got its first intimation that it was going to get had that evening. "Green jobs," according to Carlisle and others on the stage have good employers, good benefits, upward mobility, and meaningful work -- for starters. Carlisle's election apparently owed quite a bit to the work of the sponsors of the Green Job event. In this context, we can understand his utopian affection. Otherwise, he seems to be a pretty level-headed retired probation

Nwamaka Agbo, from the Oakland-based Ella Baker Center, made an excellent presentation on the Center's efforts to get more "green-collar jobs" in Oakland, Berkeley, Emeryville and Richmond, pointing out that poor communities of color also care about the environment but have more immediate worries. She defined "eco-apartheid" in West Oakland near the port, presenting the dichotomy of "organic food v. no food at all." "Eco-equity" means the incorporation of everyone into the environmental movement. We thought Agbo's presentation would have been equally interesting and relevant to Merced if she had been talking about Brooklyn or Compton, but we now live in the home of UC Merced, so we must gratefully
accept its total framing of our lives as we so gratefully accepted the finance, insurance and real estate framing of our economy in recent years.

"The environmental conversation lacks racial analysis," Agbo bravely asserted against the entire history of the environmental justice movement in an evening definitely not devoted to discussion of CEQA suits in Planada. (One of the event sponsors later tried to “reframe” what Agbo said, but Loose Cheeks, “framing-deficient," didn't get it.)

Marc Stout represented the Bigshot Entrepreneur wing of "green jobs," a flak for Cleantech, "a utility-scale power-plant project developer." He said construction and maintenance of future solar farms will require thousands of workers. He mentioned figures. He described a 40-acre facility near Mendota (unfinished) and a 640-acre solar farm his company is planning for the San Joaquin Valley.

The only interesting thing he said was that Germany, a cold, northern European country, employs a half a million of its citizens in the solar business. Siemens, the German global conglomerate, is the largest player in this market, according to other sources, but Germany is probably absorbing most of what it produces. Japanese solar technology dominates the US market at the moment, but Siemens’ India-made panels sold here reportedly have quality problems. It is interesting to note that in the cornucopia of “green jobs” Stout touted, manufacturing solar panels or any other "green" technology was absent. The entire industry seems to be gearing up for its Conquest of America on off-shored manufacturing.

Although, according to Stout, hundreds of thousands of jobs will be available soon for construction and maintenance of solar farms, about twice as many jobs will be available off-shore plants to make solar panels. Stout did not indicate if all this solar power injected onto the grid will in any way lower utility rates and not just make money for the utility companies and solar entrepreneurs like himself (and, of course,
those thousands of construction and maintenance personnel, who will all be US citizens and working for Bay Area-level wages and protected by strong unions.)

It was with the presentation by Cheryl Brown of the UC Berkeley Labor Center that we entered into the full vedanta of what it means to be "green."

"Green jobs are quality jobs," she said. And, although that was about as far as she went to defining green in mere layperson's language, she said she thought that some concept of "sustainability" should be included and that a quality job meant one that might last.

That would knock out solar farm construction work. Stout never broke down the figures on numbers of jobs between construction and maintenance. Asians will manufacture the panels.

While we have heard and largely approved of the new verb, "to greenwash," to describe what corporations are doing to claim to be environmentally friendly, it was Brown who brought back to our hick consciousness the verb, "to green," languishing in the shadows since the 1970's gerund, The Greening of America.

Brown's "framing" was dead on arrival, but it twitched along obliviously anyway. Quality jobs apparently mean that we must "unionize in the market-driven green solution." Well, we dunno. But, to use an older Berkeley term, we had a " flashback." We don't think Cesar Chavez' dying words in Yuma were, "Unionize in the market-driven green solution!"

Brown cavorted around the various bills in Congress and the state Capitol and the innumerable institutions out there doing something "to green" industry and jobs, claiming that the East Bay is to become the "Silicon Valley of green stuff."

Loose Cheeks left before all the questions from the audience were finished because they weren't questions. They were living ads for various "green" and "greenwashed" groups and public institutions.

However, in the hoopla before the event and during the event, we noted only two references to agriculture. In the Merced Sun-Star's editorial boosting the event, editors referred to "stagnant agriculture." At the "green jobs" forum, agriculture was treated solely as land available for the placement of large numbers of solar panels and as a very minor source of air pollution (less than 10 percent, versus construction, the worst polluter at 40 percent).

One of the sponsors of the event, the carpet-bagger professional opponents of the WalMart distribution center project, once again increased the threat to their cause and our environment. Having done very little but kiss the posteriors of politicians and the press since they arrived, the City of Merced has totally suckered the WalMart Action Team into making "positive contributions" instead of simply and coherently opposing the project.

They were overjoyed that the City's economic development director was in the audience. They don't like Quintero much because they feel he doesn't always listen to them. That could be because Quintero actually knows something about the employment situation in Merced. He made more sense than anyone on the panel when he said Merced contains many "line workers" who need a job tomorrow and certainly cannot afford to go through lengthy "green job" training programs, assuming government funds are made available for them. All the panelists and some of the "questioners" mentioned the sainted state Sen. Darryl
Steinberg's bill to provide $3 billion for "green job" training. Clue: Steinberg has made an entire career out of haphazard, ill-timed defenses of politically correct causes.

Thoroughly engrossed in the process of allowing UC to completely “reframe” their reality, Kenny the Monster and his sponsors never thought to include anyone on the panel who actually knew anything about the San Joaquin Valley environment or its labor history. For this act of appeasement, they were rewarded: the Sun-Star didn’t even send a reporter to cover the event.

Loose Cheeks left the performance at the old theatre in a disordered state. How is it that you come to "green" Merced without talking about its natural resources? How does that work? Presumably, UC Merced and Kenny Monster will reframe it for us us all in the finest Goodbar/Valley Hopefuls style.

Loose Cheeks learned the next day that Merced County Planning Commissioner Etc. Cindy Lashbrook said something about not wanting all the farmland filled with solar panels. This is reported to have made the posterior-kissing crowd nervous, for which we applaud the Commissioner of Many Hats.

Meanwhile, to respond to Quintero's excellent question: house the homeless in foreclosed, empty homes and hire the unemployed to mow those lawns and maintain those gardens. That would provide permanent housing for the homeless and work for those gardeners for the rest of their lives. With water, the grass and the gardens would once again be "green."

As for the Walmart "opponents," the asthma coalition and the local Sierra Clubbers who sponsored the event, Loose Cheeks wanted to remind them and their Florida-based employers, knucklehead labor goons, that you don't stop environmentally destructive development by sucking up to the land-use officials that approve the projects, and the job of opponents does not include providing "positive" solutions. That’s the business of the government and its good friends in private enterprise.

RE: [WMAT_Leadership] MSS: Forum to tout green growth‏
From: on behalf of Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo
Sent: Thu 5/15/08 4:26 PM
To: 'Kenny Mostern' (;;;;; 'Nick Robinson'

Just wanted to let you know that I will not be able to attend tonight. Thank you for bringing this issue to the forefront. If I can be of assistance in any future endeavors please let me know. I am sitting on the board of the San Joaquin Valley Clean Energy Organization formed last year through the Housing, Land Use and AG Committee of the San Joaquin Valley Partnership and green jobs is an important component of addressing energy and air quality issues here in the Valley.
Good Luck!
Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo
(Executive Director Merced County Farm Bureau, President California Women for Agriculture, Top Henchette Supervisor Deidre Kelsey reelection campaign, Etc.--ed.)

--A.J. Gangle

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Concerning UC/Lawrence Livermore National Lab bombs over Tracy

Submitted: Mar 06, 2008

Organizing / Planning Meeting in Tracy on MARCH 6

Public Hearing in Tracy on MARCH 18


Please circulate widely. Please come. It's crucially important.

An important invitation for you:


We've found the Weapons of Mass Destruction! Five years ago, the U.S. attacked Iraq based on flimsy allegations of non-existent WMDs. Now, the Department of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration has released new plans to modernize and "revitalize" the U.S. nuclear weapons research and production complex at 8 locations across the country, including at the Livermore Lab's Site 300 in Tracy. The DOE calls the plan, "Complex Transformation."

We call it "Bombplex." Tri-Valley CAREs and allied organizations are calling on all anti-nuclear, anti-war, environmental, and peace and justice activists to turn the "Bombplex" public hearings into a national public referendum on the future of nuclear weapons.

Here is where you come in. We are holding a special organizing / mobilizing / planning meeting in Tracy and calling on key activists and organizations to participate. Our goal is to take action together to MOBILIZE a large and powerful turnout at upcoming public hearings in Tracy (March 18 - see below for hearing time and location) and Livermore (March 19 - the 5th anniversary of the Iraq war).

Planning Meeting in Tracy:
Thursday, March 6th, 7 PM to 8:30 PM, Tracy Community Center, 300 East 10th
Street, Tracy. To RSVP or obtain details, call Marylia at (925) 443-7148 or email

Note: Also at the Tracy Community Center on March 6, beginning at 6 PM, there will be a Dept. of Energy (DOE) workshop on the Superfund cleanup of toxic contaminants at the Building 850 "Firing Table" at Site 300. This Firing Table is one of four highly polluted locations where open-air bomb blasts have been (and still are) detonated at Site 300. The DOE workshop will feature posters about the cleanup (not speakers), so you can pop in and see the displays before the "Bombplex" organizing meeting at 7 PM. (And, if you think that pollution from bomb tests is relevant to why we must stop the "Bombplex," you are correct.)

Planning Meeting in Livermore, too:
Thursday, February 21, 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM, at Tri-Valley CAREs, 2582 Old
First Street, Livermore, CA. To RSVP or obtain details, call Marylia at (925) 443-7148.

Elements for each organizing meeting will include:
* What is Bombplex? A primer on nuclear weapons programs embedded in this plan, followed by a discussion on what YOU want to emphasize at the Tracy hearing.
* How do we stop it? Ideas to make the hearings successful, powerful and effective.
* Who can we mobilize? A structured outreach brainstorm to accomplish our goals.
* What's next? A broader discussion on nuclear disarmament action beyond the hearings.

"Bombplex" Action Alert for Newsletters, etc.

Public Hearings on the Future of the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Complex!

The Dept. of Energy (DOE) National Nuclear Security Administration has released its draft plan to revitalize the nuclear weapons complex at 8 locations across the country, including Livermore Lab. The DOE calls the plan "Complex Transformation" (formerly known as "Complex 2030"). We call it "Bombplex."

The draft plan is in the form of a Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS). The most important thing to know is that the plan is fundamentally about the future of the U.S. nuclear weapons research and production complex. Do you want to see a revitalized weapons complex with added capabilities to research, develop, test and produce new and militarily modified nuclear bombs? Or, do you want to see the U.S. fully comply with its legal obligations under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty?

Don't be silent at this critical juncture. Your voice is needed now. Make the hearings a public referendum on nuclear weapons. At the hearings, you can speak on the changes you want to see at Livermore Lab, or on U.S. nuclear weapons policy writ large. You can speak out to stop polluting nuclear weapons activities at the Livermore Lab main site and its Site 300 in Tracy. You can tell the government to stop new nuclear weapons, like the Reliable Replacement Warhead, which the DOE is still pushing for with $40 million in its latest budget request. You can call on the government to end ALL bomb testing at Site 300. Tell DOE not to detonate depleted uranium, high explosives and other toxic and radioactive materials on open-air Firing Tables that are already polluted from past use. Tell DOE that plans to conduct even bigger bomb blasts under a "for hire" program for the Department of Homeland Security is unacceptable. You may also wish to point to the U.S. hypocrisy in planning to produce new weapons of nuclear mass destruction on the 5th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Come and speak your truth to power. Choose the peace issues that are most meaningful to you. There will also be a 90-day period for written public comments. Public hearings are:

Tuesday March 18, 2008 -- Tracy, California
Holiday Inn Express, 3751 N. Tracy Blvd. One session only: 6 p.m.-10 p.m.

Wednesday March 19, 2008 - Livermore, California
Robert Livermore Community Center, 4444 East Ave. 2 sessions: 11 a.m.-3p.m. and 6 p.m. -10 p.m.

Comments may be submitted by mail to:
Mr. Theodore Wyka, Complex Transformation SPEIS Document Manager, Office of
Transformation, NA-10.1, U.S. Department of Energy/NNSA, 1000 Independence
Avenue, SW. Washington, D.C. 20585
Or by fax: (703) 931-9222 (request confirmation of receipt)
Or by e-mail: (request confirmation of receipt)

More info at -- o o

Marylia Kelley,
Executive Director

Tri-Valley CAREs
2582 Old First Street
Livermore, CA 94551

Ph: (925) 443-7148
Fx: (925) 443-0177
Email: or

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UC: Robbing Peter and the professor to pay Chancellor Paul

Submitted: Dec 18, 2007

Anyone in Merced not in on the land deal brought about by the boondoggle on Lake Yosemite, UC Merced, or dazzled blind by the glitter of blue and gold, knows UC chancellors have ethics and spiels that make Fresno developers look and sound like a neighborhood-watch group. UC administration is systemically ethically disadvantaged. Dr. David Kessler, dean of UCSF Medical School, did important research and discovered Disappeared Multiple Millions Syndrome (DMMS). An outraged UC administration fired him. He should have received a Nobel Prize for identifying the parasitic disease that is rotting a once-great public institution.

Merced county schools dispatched hundreds of third-grade lobbyists to the state Capitol, wearing "UC Merced" T-shirts for this?

Badlands Journal editorial board

San Francisco Chronicle
Doctoral students turning down UC due to inadequate aid packages...Tanya Schevitz
The University of California is failing to attract some of the best doctoral students because its financial aid and fellowship packages are not competitive with other top colleges, according to a new report from UC. California's high cost of living further aggravates the problem, said the study, which was based on a survey of graduate students. The stipend is what ends up in the students' pockets after tuition and fees.
The net average stipend of $17,356 offered to UC's doctoral graduate students is $1,000 lower than the average of competing institutions. The difference is even larger when cost of living is factored in, creating a net disadvantage for UC of $3,259 per year.
"Students rate UC very highly and comparable with competing institutions in terms of academic reputation, research activities, location and diversity of students and faculty," the report says. "Students also indicate, however, that UC's financial support offers are less attractive than those of other institutions in terms of the amount, type and duration of supported offered."
There are currently 22,500 doctoral students at UC's 10 campuses. Among UC's top competitors are Stanford University, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Harvard University, the University of Washington and the University of Michigan.
In 2007, 52 percent of students who were admitted to at least one other university outside of the UC system said they would attend UC. That is an increase from 50 percent in 2004, the last time the survey was done. But UC is still losing many top students and hasn't been able to grow its ranks as much as it would like, said Glantz.
The problem, UC faculty and officials say, lies in part with the state budget crunch that led to increases in fees and tuition in recent years... The rising costs have strained the budgets of departments, which have chosen to admit fewer doctoral students instead of offering smaller financial packages.
"This results in a gradual erosion of quality across the system," Glantz said. "Once you fall off the quality pedestal, it is very hard to get back on it."

San Francisco Chronicle
UCSF medical school fires dean in dispute over finances...Sabin Russell
Dr. David Kessler, the onetime commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration who became dean of the UCSF School of Medicine in 2003, was fired Thursday night after years of discord over finances at the prestigious medical school.
Kessler's boss, campus Chancellor Michael Bishop, announced the dean's departure Friday morning in an internal e-mail to faculty members but did not disclose the reason.Hours later, Kessler told The Chronicle that he had been labeled a "whistle-blower" by the University of California after he repeatedly sought to uncover what he called "financial irregularities that predated my appointment." At the heart of the dispute, Kessler said, are tens of millions of dollars in funds that he believes should have been in the dean's office account prior to his starting the job, but have never been properly accounted for because of what he called "poor financial controls."
UC officials countered that Kessler was mistaken about how much money should have been in the fund, and a university spokeswoman said Friday that two audits done after he raised the matter found no irregularities.The spokeswoman said Kessler first raised the issue in the spring of 2005. If so, that was after an anonymous complaint was sent accusing Kessler of lavish spending. An internal UC audit found no support for the anonymous allegations against Kessler. Kessler was dean of the Yale School of Medicine when he was recruited in 2003 to the $540,000-a-year post as UCSF vice chancellor and medical school dean.In his e-mail to the faculty, Bishop wrote that Kessler has "left office," and thanked him for "his energetic service to the university and his substantial achievements on behalf of UCSF."
UCSF spokeswoman Corinna Kaarlela declined to comment on the reason for the firing, saying, "This is a personnel issue, and we cannot comment further," she said.
However, late Friday the university released a statement declaring that Bishop in June had asked Kessler to resign by Jan. 1, and asked to work with him on a plan for severance and transition to a successor. "Unfortunately, Dr. Kessler did not relinquish his position, forcing the Chancellor to formally dismiss him," the university said....Bishop said the university would start an international search for a successor to Kessler.In an exclusive interview with The Chronicle, Kessler claimed the firing was the culmination of a long effort on his part to straighten out the finances of the medical school dean's office - an effort that he said remains unfinished.
"It was a matter of financial integrity," he said. "I tried to work within the system for 2 1/2 years, to get it fixed. I wanted to protect the school, the institution."
He said that Bishop had asked him to resign last summer, but that he had refused. When Bishop asked him to resign again on Thursday, Kessler said, he once again declined and was fired.At issue, according to Kessler, was his discovery after a year in office that the amount of money available to run discretionary programs in the dean's office was millions of dollars less than he was promised when he took the job. He conducted his own financial analysis in December 2004, concluding the source of the problem was an $18 million annual discrepancy dating from the fiscal year ending in 2002, a year before he arrived.
Kessler told The Chronicle that he had been provided financial documents before he joined showing there would be an annual infusion of $46.4 million for the dean's office to spend on a variety of programs, but he subsequently discovered the figure was $28.8 million. With each successive year since 2002, the discrepancy has been accumulating, reducing the financial viability of the dean's office.
"What it means is there is less money for recruitment, less money for renovations, less money for faculty support and less money for educational initiatives," Kessler said. He stressed that this issue was not one of missing money or embezzlement, but of "inadequate financial controls" - the set of rules, procedures and regular reports that large organizations use to keep track of their money...

Sacramento Bee
UC weighs raises of 33% for all 10 chancellors...Dorothy Korber
University of California regents are weighing a proposal to increase their top executives' pay by an average of 33 percent over the next four years, beginning with salary hikes this year of between 13 and 17 percent.
The plan, which will be discussed in a closed committee meeting today, is drawing fire from critics who question the propriety of such increases in a tight budget year for the state.
The full Board of Regents is expected to vote on the proposed raises Thursday at their meeting in Los Angeles.
A brief executive summary released by UC President Robert Dynes says the pay increases are necessary to "address particular recruitment and retention needs." According to Dynes, UC chancellors' pay lags 33 percent behind similar universities.
The proposed salary hikes for chancellors heading the 10 UC campuses would total $3 million.
For UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgenau, a 33 percent increase would boost his current annual salary of $416,000 to $553,280. For UC Davis Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef, the increase would take him from $300,000 annually to $399,000...
But critics say the timing and tone of the executives' raises is wrong. Lt. Governor John Garamendi, a UC regent, noted that the raises would come the same year the university has raised student fees by 7 percent. Since 2001, he said, fees have nearly doubled for undergraduates...
He rejected the argument that higher pay is necessary to retain top people. "They already have very good salaries," he said. "This is a public university; if it's about money, they shouldn't be there. My attitude is if you don't want to work here, leave."
State Sen. Leland Yee, a San Francisco Democrat, also criticized the chancellors' proposed pay raises. Yee is the author of SB 190, a law that takes effect Jan. 1 and requires open discussion of executive compensation by UC regents and California State University trustees...
The proposed salary hikes for UC chancellors come less than a week after the release of a state audit critical of how much the California State University system awards its executives...

San Francisco Chronicle
Higher pay = higher costs: UC regents raise salaries, student fees...Charles Burress
(09-20) 19:27 PDT Davis -- The UC regents voted Thursday to award substantial pay raises to faculty and to sharply increase the fees students pay at the university's law, medical and other professional schools.In the more controversial of the two actions, the regents' decision to raise professional school fees would result, in some cases, in significant differences in the amounts charged at each campus, with some costing more than $40,000 a year.
Critics said a public university shouldn't be too expensive for the poor and middle-class and that the 10-campus system would foster an undesirable hierarchy with some campuses being viewed as superior to others. Supporters argued that UC's nearly three dozen professional schools, in the face of declining state financial support, desperately need to boost income to maintain quality and attract top faculty and that increased financial aid would be offered for those who cannot afford the cost.
The plan passed on a 13-5 vote by the regents at their meeting at UC Davis.
The fee hikes - ranging from about 4 percent to 15 percent each of the next three years - will see the biggest rise at UC Berkeley's Boalt School of Law, where total annual fees would rise to $40,906 in 2010-11 from $26,897 this year. In 2001-02, the school charged $11,175, meaning the cost will have risen 266 percent in nine years.
Berkeley's Haas School of Business would see a similar rise to $40,882 in 2010-11, compared with UC Davis' business school, which would cost $30,975 in the same year.
"This is not an affordable education for the majority of people UC must serve," said Regent Eddie Island, who argued that the increased financial aid was inadequate. He said the purpose of UC as a public land-grant institution was to make high-quality education attainable by even the least-advantaged classes of society. "That was our original mission and we've gotten away from that."
Board Chairman Richard Blum countered that the schools face losing their best faculty without further funding, noting that the Haas school lost 10 of its 13 accounting professors in just one year.
Regent Peter Preuss said, "If we don't act, our quality will go down."
Regents voting against the measure were Island, Benjamin Allen, Odessa Johnson, Frederick Ruiz and Lt. Gov. John Garamendi.
On the other side of the ledger, in response to alarms over the loss of underpaid professors, the regents also approved hefty salary raises for a substantial portion of the faculty with an intent to push academic compensation to market levels within only four years.
"The faculty is the University of California's most valuable resource," UC Provost Rory Hume told the regents.The increases, however, are premised on increased funds, including promised money from the state next year that appears threatened by shrinking state revenues...

UC, CSU reach again for students' wallets
Tuition increases approved for both state university systems -- 5th boost in 6 years...Tanya Schevitz, Jim Doyle
(03-15) 04:00 PST Los Angeles -- California's 626,000 public university students got clobbered Wednesday with their fifth tuition hike in six years as the governing boards of both the University of California and the California State University agreed to raise the price of attendance dramatically. Despite emotional pleas from students, the UC Board of Regents and the CSU Board of Trustees said they had no choice but to increase the costs next fall to maintain the quality of the institutions. As dozens of students chanted in protest outside, the regents voted 13-6 during their meeting at UCLA to increase undergraduate and graduate fees in the fall by 7 percent and professional school fees by up to 12 percent. Meanwhile, in Long Beach, the CSU trustees voted 15-1 to impose a 10 percent fee hike on undergraduate and graduate students next fall.
Regents acknowledged this is probably not the end of annual increases for UC students. Since the 2001-02 school year, undergraduate tuition has climbed 92 percent at UC's campuses and 94 percent at CSU's schools...

Offer letters from UC detail top hires' perks
Enhanced benefits promised to recruits
Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack - 56k

Extra compensation up 9 percent over previous year (11/9)

Chart: Who received what (11/9)

Regents committee OKs pay raises for 71 (7/20)

Some UC execs to get more money (7/19)

Low-rate loans for UC's elite on homes (7/13)

Colleagues baffled, grief-stricken at news of Denton's suicide (6/26)

UC Santa Cruz chancellor dies in suicide plunge (6/25)

Bid to bar UC regents' closed pay meetings (5/23)

Study: scores of violations kept secret (5/18)

700 awarded $23M in exit pay (5/17)

Comparing pay scales is no easy task (5/14)

Embattled UC prez defiant over recruitment policy (5/7)

3 lawmakers want UC chief out of office (5/3)

Auditor blasts UC's pay practices (5/3)

Administrators, president's office blasted (5/2)

UC said to break meeting laws (5/2)

Legislators want UC to reveal all about exec perks (4/26)

Audit says perks to 68% of top employees (4/25)

Task force criticizes UC pay practices (4/14)

Big perks for aides to UC's president (3/31)

UC files formal charges against UCLA prof (3/31)

Santa Cruz chancellor's housing wish list (3/30)

List of items (PDF) (3/30)

Regents vote to add supervisors for budget, compliance (3/17)

New controls on spending for UC homes and offices (3/16)

Offer letters detail UC hires' perks (3/1)

More pay revelations on ex-UC executive (3/1)

UC failed to give regents required reports (2/28)

Faculty group asks UC leader to rethink plan for pay raises (2/28)

Brass grilled on pay practices

Talk of limiting UC execs' outside roles

UC admits regents should have OKd extra pay

Senators demand answers

UC officials in Capitol hot seat today over pay practices (2/8)

Extra cash set aside for top execs who leave

List of execs who got severance

President gets power to boost salaries

Big changes sought in how UC raises pay

Details given on extra pay

Legislative hearing into UC compensation

Ex-provost still on payroll

Outrage in Capitol at pay revelations

UC refuses to release exec raise list

Student services cut as high-pay jobs boom

Free mansions for people of means

UC piling extra cash on top of pay

Other perks include gifts, travel, parties

Database of highest paid UC employees

When the University of California recruited UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau two years ago, he was promised at least 1 1/2 years in paid leave when he steps down -- with the opportunity to earn more. UC also agreed to sweeten his health care benefits and give him $150,000 a year in research funding. When UC hired Steven Chu to run the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in 2004, the university agreed to give him a $50,000 "signing bonus," tweak the retirement formula to boost his pension and, in addition to covering his actual moving costs, give him additional money to cover any taxes he might owe on the relocation payment.
And the university promised UC San Diego Medical Center director Richard Liekweg, who was hired in 2003, up to a year's severance pay if he is fired without "good cause" in his first five years. Those are just some of the special perks contained in offer letters UC tendered to 29 current and former top executives during the hiring process that have not been previously reported. The Chronicle obtained the letters last week under the California Public Records Act. The information is just the latest in a series of revelations about the university system's pay practices that have prompted several audits and legislative hearings.
"The bottom line is about transparency,'' said Sen. Debra Bowen, D-Redondo Beach (Los Angeles County), a member of the Senate Rules Committee, which reviewed the appointments of several regents at a hearing earlier this month. "That kind of disclosure would be required at a publicly traded company, and no less is expected when taxpayer money is involved."
In some cases, the letters provided additional reasons why UC offered the perks.
Birgeneau's letter said he was offered 1 1/2 years of paid leave to make up for the leave he had accumulated at his prior employers, the University of Toronto and MIT. According to the offer letter, Birgeneau will also be able to accumulate additional sabbatical leave while working at UC, so he could wind up taking a much longer leave when he eventually steps down as chancellor. In addition, UC reduced the amount of years Birgeneau needs to qualify for health care coverage when he retires, "as an exception to policy." The letter said the exception would be noted in the item presented to the regents to approve his appointment, but the written proposal just mentioned his salary and a promise to increase his pension.
UC Berkeley spokesman George Strait said Birgeneau, who earns $400,000 a year in salary, simply asked UC to match the benefits he was already receiving as president of the University of Toronto when he came to UC Berkeley. And Strait said Birgeneau will not be able to personally pocket any of the $150,000 a year he was promised in research funding, because it's reserved for equipment and other expenses. Meanwhile, Chu's offer letter said UC offered to give the lab director a $50,000 signing bonus to pay back a loan he owed to Stanford University, where he previously worked as a physics professor. UC also agreed to boost his pension benefits -- basing the calculations on his full base salary (currently $359,000 a year), instead of the usual limit of $205,000 -- in lieu of covering the closing costs on his home. Both items were approved by regents, but not publicly announced.
Other perks contained in the offer letters that weren't publicly reported include:

-- An $8,916 car allowance for executive vice provost Wyatt "Rory" Hume, who was hired last year. Though many senior executives at UC receive a similar allowance, the offer letter said the regents hadn't approved one for Hume's position because it was new. Instead, President Robert Dynes approved the allowance on his own. Hume, who is now acting provost, earns $296,000 in salary.

-- A list of "improvements" requested by UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton to the chancellor's residence. The list was not attached to the letter. But UC has come under fire in the past few months for spending $30,000 on a dog run for Denton's home and her dogs. UC also offered Denton $35,000 a year in research funding, the letter shows. Denton earns $282,000 in base salary.

-- Liekweg's severance pay. UC promised he would continue to receive his salary and health care benefits for up to 12 months (or whenever he took another job, whichever is first), unless he was let go for "good cause,'' such as gross misconduct or committing a felony. Liekweg's base salary is $445,900.

Several UC spokesmen pointed out it would have been the responsibility of UC's Office of the President -- not the appointees themselves -- to report such details, if necessary. None of the appointees even worked at UC at the time they were recruited. Regent Judith Hopkinson said it's not always clear what regents were told at the time, because they were sometimes given information about appointments orally, rather than in writing. She also said the regents didn't do enough to tell administrators which items needed to be reported to the board.
"I don't think it was a deliberate effort to not do things properly, but I do think it was poor administration by the regents and by the administration,'' she said. "It just became practice over time."
The offer letters are part of an audit under way by UC's outside auditing firm, PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is expected to be completed in April. UC spokesman Paul Schwartz said the administration's own review of the letters found that administrators sometimes violated university policies by failing to disclose some elements of compensation packages to the regents and the public -- a problem Schwartz said was exacerbated by UC's failure to file routine annual reports on executive compensation for the past two years.
Schwartz also said it's clear that UC made exceptions to policies too often, "involving such items as relocation allowances, accelerated vesting of annuitant health benefits, sabbatical payout, additional retirement and future severance benefits."
UC has taken steps to improve disclosure in the past few months. For instance, last week UC publicly announced a series of appointments approved between meetings, and included relocation allowances, temporary housing, deferred compensation and other benefits in addition to base salary. The university also posted reports, summarizing pay packages for its top managers, online for the first time on Thursday. Still, Schwartz urged The Chronicle to hold off on reporting anything about the offer letters until the PricewaterhouseCoopers audit is completed, because the auditors will also review other information that isn't publicly available, such as the executives' personnel files.
"We want to state in writing, in the strongest terms possible, our concern about The Chronicle moving forward with representations based on these offer letters alone,'' he said...

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Submitted: Aug 01, 2007
The National Park Service's top scientist says politics drove the decision...Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Todd Willens was the leader of the U.S. delegation who made the motion to take the Everglades off the list. Until last fall, Willens was a top aide to former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a frequent critic of environmental laws and environmental groups. -- St. Petersburg Times, Craig Pittman, July 31, 2007

The president's brother, Jeb, as readers may recall from the Florida 2000 election, is governor of Florida, site of the Everglades and of developers as voracious as those in the former region of Pombozastan, now suffering the highest per capita rate of mortgage foreclosure in the nation. Even as top political appointees to the Department of Interior were toppling in investigations, the Bush administration appointed the defeated Pombo's top aide to a top role in Interior.

This sort of fin de regime move smacks of Al Gore's sale of the Elk Hills Naval Oil Reserve (south San Joaquin Valley) to Occidental Petroleum in the days of stained blue dresses, impeachment and bombs over Kosovo.

Another late Bush-regime move to be alert for would be the sale of the San Luis Reservoir to Westlands Water Districts. Investigations by representatives Nick Rahall (chairman of the Natural Resources Committee) and George Miller into the activities of Jason Peltier, a high Department of Interior official until he announced he was leaving government to become a high official with Westlands, may turn up the trail leading to this outrageous gift to agribusiness and its imperial water agency.

We are grateful to the Frog for catching the relationship between the UN decision on the Everglades and former Pombo staffer, Willens.

Badlands editorial staff

St. Petersburg Times
Imperiled Glades cut from watch list
A U.N. committee downgrades the park, despite concerns ...CRAIG PITTMAN
Published July 31, 2007

Last month, the U.N. World Heritage Committee made headlines when it took Everglades National Park off its list of endangered sites.
The committee, charged with protecting irreplaceable landmarks of outstanding universal significance, hailed the progress the United States had made toward Everglades restoration. This, even though a report released a week later showed that the billion-dollar restoration project already had fallen years behind schedule.
The committee's decision went against the National Park Service's own recommendation and the U.N. committee's science advisers.
"We said it should stay on the danger list because further work needed to be done," said David Sheppard, who heads the Programme on Protected Areas for the Switzerland-based Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, which goes by the initials IUCN.
However, Sheppard said, "the head of the U.S. delegation made the comment that it should come off (the list) because of the progress they had made," and the committee went along with that.
The National Park Service's top scientist says politics drove the decision.
"There's always been a kind of pressure from the Washington level to say, 'Okay, we've got a plan, now take us off the list,' " said Robert Johnson, director of the South Florida Natural Resources Center at Everglades National Park since 1995. "I think for the Bush administration, it was seen as a black eye to be on that list."
Being taken off the list "gives people the impression that things are going well," when the restoration is actually decades away from achieving its goals, he said.
For the past four years it has been the only American site listed as being in danger. Being on the list "focuses more international attention on what we do," Johnson said.
Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Interior Todd Willens was the leader of the U.S. delegation who made the motion to take the Everglades off the list. Until last fall, Willens was a top aide to former Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Calif., a frequent critic of environmental laws and environmental groups.
Willens said that making the change was not the result of some political agenda. In fact, it wasn't even his idea, he said. Instead, he said, before the meeting, representatives from some of the 21 other countries on the committee told him they wanted the Everglades off the list because of the 7-year-old restoration project.
So even though the National Park Service's own report recommended keeping the Everglades on the danger list, "I changed the last sentence of our report and said we wanted to be taken off," Willens said.
He said he made the motion before any other country could jump in, because "the U.S. should be fully in charge of its own sites."
The committee is the governing body of the 176-nation World Heritage Convention, set up under a treaty initiated by President Richard Nixon. In 1973, the United States became the first nation to ratify it.
The committee takes inventory of all major world landmarks. It compiled a list of 380 World Heritage sites, including Stonehenge and China's Great Wall. In 1996, when a Polish company proposed building a shopping center near Auschwitz, its World Heritage Site status helped spur international opposition.
Twenty U.S. sites are on the overall list, including the Grand Canyon and Yellowstone National Park. Everglades National Park has been listed as a World Heritage site since 1979.
When the committee puts a site on its danger list, the goal is to call attention to the threats facing the site. For instance, the Galapagos Islands are being invaded by exotic species, and Jerusalem's Old City is imperiled by Mideast unrest.
The committee put Everglades National Park on the danger list in 1993 when it was beset with threats from encroaching development, water pollution and damage from Hurricane Andrew.
In 2000, Congress and the state Legislature approved a complex plan to restore the River of Grass. Some of its crucial elements are six years behind schedule and the cost has ballooned to nearly $20-billion, according to a Government Accountability Office report made public this month.
Last year, on behalf of the U.N. committee, Sheppard of the IUCN visited Everglades National Park to check on progress.
"I thought the site, although there had been significant progress, still faced significant threats," he said. That's why the IUCN recommended the committee keep the Everglades on the danger list for at least two more years.
Meanwhile, Johnson said, the park staff "put a lot of work into" creating a list of benchmarks that could be used to gauge their progress on dealing with the threats, such as curtailing the phosphorous pollution flowing into the park.
But the committee's own staff noted this month that there are still concerns about water pollution in the park and urban development creeping closer to the park boundaries.
"Various sources have emphasized that restoration is progressing very slowly," the committee's staff wrote in a recommendation to keep the Everglades on the list.
But when the committee heard Willens' motion, it went along with it. There was no formal vote, Willens and Sheppard said, and no dissent. Willens said that's because other sites on the list are in far worse shape than the Everglades, such as one in Iraq.
"Some of the other sites are in war zones," he said. "This way the Everglades doesn't take a lot of attention away from them."

Sacramento Bee
Talks continue grinding forward to reach water deal
The proposed transfer to Westlands still faces major obstacles ...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau and Dennis Pollock, Fresno Bee

WASHINGTON -- Negotiators are pressing forward today on what some are calling the biggest water transfer in the nation's history, hoping to end a Central Valley irrigation dispute that's defied solution for several decades.
The sprawling Westlands Water District would gain control of the water stored in San Luis Reservoir, under the revised proposal expected on Capitol Hill. Westlands could be free of the federal acreage limits meant to preserve small family farms, and would stop repaying the government for building the reservoir and associated canals.
In return, the Rhode Island-sized water district and several others would assume responsibility for cleaning up a multibillion-dollar irrigation drainage mess. So far, the districts haven't specified exactly how they might solve the drainage problem...
Farmers ready to take big drink; CALIFORNIA: May get huge water grant while cities conserve -- Garance Burke (AP)

FRESNO, Calif. -- The U.S. government appears poised to turn over the rights to billions of gallons of water to a politically connected group of farmers in California, where most people are being asked to conserve.
Landowners in the Westlands Water District would gain the rights to 1 million acre feet of water under a proposed settlement federal regulators are likely to present today. An acre foot translates to the amount needed to cover one acre with a foot of water.
That's 15 percent of the federally controlled water in California -- the largest grant to irrigators since 1903. ..

The Center for Public Integrity
Did Taxpayers Lose on Deal For Oil Field?
Elk Hills Timeline -- Josey Ballenger, Nathaniel Heller and Knut Royce

WASHINGTON, October 27, 2000 — 1912: Out of concern for the long-term availability of oil supplies for naval ships, President Taft establishes Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 1 near Bakersfield, Calif. Over the next few years, his administration adds two more oil and three oil shale reserves in the West to the program. They remain essentially undeveloped until 1976.

1922: NPR-1, informally known as Elk Hills, is part of the "Teapot Dome Scandal" in which oil barons bribed Secretary of the Interior Albert Fall for secret oil drilling leases during the Harding administration.

1976: During President Carter's term, the Arab oil embargo of 1973-1974 leads Congress to pass the Naval Petroleum Reserves Production Act to open NPR-1 and 3 for production on July 3. The law required that the reserves be operated at maximum efficient rates. From 1976 to its transfer to Occidental in February 1998, Elk Hills alone generated $17.1 billion in revenue for the U.S. Treasury, against expenses of $3.3 billion.

1985-1994: In every year but one, the White House's Office of Management and Budget proposes the sale or lease of Elk Hills under the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations, but each time, the Democrat-controlled Congress shoots the proposal down.

July 1993: The Senate Armed Services Committee requests that the Department of Energy utilize the National Academy of Public Administration to study management alternatives for the Naval Petroleum and Oil Shale Reserves, including the concept of corporatization, or turning the property over to a government corporation.

May 1994: The NAPA report recommends turning Elk Hills and the other Reserve properties into a wholly owned, for-profit government corporation.

Nov. 23, 1994: A memo appears on the desk of Energy Secretary Hazel O'Leary asking her concurrence to have Elk Hills, by far the most lucrative Naval Reserve, run by a public corporation. All assistant secretaries have signed off on the proposal.

Dec. 2, 1994: Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Patricia Godley meets with Deputy Secretary Bill White, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the Reserves Captain Ernest Hunter and OMB Associate Director T.J. Glauthier to discuss corporatization. DOE memos indicate that "OMB continues to favor immediate privatization of the Reserves as the preferred option."

Dec. 19, 1994: At a news conference with President Clinton and Vice President Gore on the "Middle Class Bill of Rights" and "Reinventing Government," Deputy Energy Secretary White announces the administration's intent to sell Elk Hills.

Sept. 7, 1995: On the second anniversary of "Reinventing Government," Vice President Al Gore presents a report by the National Performance Review, an interagency task force that made recommendations for more than 180 specific cuts in government. President Clinton says these cuts will save more than $70 billion in the next five years. One of the recommendations is to sell Elk Hills.

Feb. 10, 1996: The Defense Authorization Act of 1996, which spells out the procedure for selling Elk Hills within two years, is signed into law.

Oct. 1, 1997: The deadline for all bids on Elk Hills to be submitted, at noon in Houston.

Oct. 6, 1997: DOE announces Occidental Petroleum Corp. is the high bidder on Elk Hills, at $3.65 billion. DOE does not divulge, to this day, the other bidders' names or offer amounts.

Feb. 10, 1998: Occidental takes over control of Elk Hills from the U.S. government.
July 2000
The Nation

Al Gore succeeded where the Administration of Warren Harding failed. He privatized Elk Hills, the huge oilfield outside Bakersfield, California, set aside long ago as a strategic reserve for the Navy. Back in the Harding days, Interior Secretary Albert Fall went to jail for taking a $100,000 bribe to approve lease of the field to Edward Doheny. For seventy years, lingering recollections of Teapot Dome remained strong enough to stymie attempted raids on the military's largest strategic fuel reserve. Nixon tried to sell it, and so did Reagan; each time Congress beat them back...
Al Gore: The Other Oil Candidate ...Bill Mesler, Special to CorpWatch

For thousands of years, the Kitanemuk Indians made their home in the Elk Hills of central California. Come February 2001, the last of the 100 burial grounds, holy places and other archaeological sites of the Kitanemuks will be obliterated by the oil drilling of Occidental Petroleum Company. Oxy's plans will "destroy forever the evidence that we once existed on this land," according to Dee Dominguez, a Kitanemuk whose great grandfather was a signatory to the 1851 treaty that surrendered the Elk Hills.
Occidental's planned drilling of the Elk Hills doesn't only threaten the memory of the Kitanemuk. Environmentalists say a rare species of fox, lizard and the kangaroo rat would also be threatened by Oxy's plans. A lawsuit has been filed under the Endangered Species Act. But none of that has given pause to Occidental or the politician who helped engineer the sale of the drilling rights to the federally-owned Elk Hills. That politician is Al Gore.
Gore recommended that the Elk Hills be sold as part of his 1995 "Reinventing Government" National Performance Review program. Gore-confidant (and former campaign manager) Tony Cohelo served on the board of directors of the private company hired to assess the sale's environmental consequences. The sale was a windfall for Oxy. Within weeks of the announced purchase Occidental stock rose ten percent.
That was good news for Gore. Despite controversy over Dick Cheney's plans to keep stock options if elected, most Americans don't know that we already have a vice president with oil company stocks. Before the Elk Hills sale, Al Gore controlled between $250,000-$500,000 of Occidental stock (he is executor of a trust that he says goes only to his mother, but will revert to him upon her death). After the sale, Gore began disclosing between $500,000 and $1 million of his significantly more valuable stock.
Nowhere is Al Gore's environmental hypocrisy more glaring than when it comes to his relationship with Occidental. While on the one hand talking tough about his "big oil" opponents and waxing poetic about indigenous peoples in his 1992 book "Earth in the Balance," the Elk Hills sale and other deals show that money has always been more important to Al Gore than ideals...

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Conservation groups' letter to the Governor in defense of CEQA

Submitted: Jul 25, 2007

For Immediate Release, July 24, 2007

Brian Nowicki
Center for Biological Diversity, 520-449-3898

For Immediate Release, July 24, 2007

Conservation Groups Call on Governor Schwarzenegger to Stand Up for Global Warming Law:
Senate Republicans Hold State Budget Hostage to Favors for Development and Fossil-Fuels Lobby

SACRAMENTO, Calif.— Conservation groups called on Governor Schwarzenegger today to publicly oppose efforts by the Republican minority in the California State Senate to exempt greenhouse gas emissions from environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act.

“California’s budget bill is currently being held hostage by a small minority of senators trying to force the majority into accepting a measure to exempt new projects from CEQA’s requirement to analyze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We ask that you speak out publicly against this and any future attempts to roll back California’s efforts to fight global warming,” read the letter.

The California Environmental Quality Act, a bedrock state environmental law, requires all state and local agencies to assess and reduce significant environmental impacts from new developments and other projects. The California Attorney General and many conservation organizations have sought to hold agencies and project applicants accountable for compliance with respect to greenhouse gas emissions.

On June 21, 2007, the California Building Industry Association, Western States Petroleum Association, and other fossil-fuel interest groups sent a letter to the governor and the state legislature seeking an “administrative or legislative remedy” to exempt the greenhouse gas emissions of developments and other projects from review under the Act.

On Friday, July 20, after the state assembly passed a budget bill and sent it to the Senate, Senate Republican leader Dick Ackerman halted passage of the bill and set out a number of demands, including a provision to exempt developments and other projects from review of greenhouse gases. Such a measure is completely inappropriate for the budget bill and being introduced in an insidious, back-door fashion to forestall public outcry and legislative debate.

After an all-night session through Saturday morning, Senate President Pro-Tem Don Perata adjourned the Senate until Wednesday, with instructions to Senate Republicans to provide a unified list of demands for the passage of the budget. It is uncertain whether the California Environmental Quality Act exemption for greenhouse gases will be part of this list of demands.

California is a national leader in efforts to fight global warming, and the California Environmental Quality Act is prominent among the laws and policies that are addressing greenhouse gas pollution. Other critically important laws and policies include the California Global Warming Solutions Act, which requires California to reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and Executive Order S-3-05, which sets a goal of reaching emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

The groups’ letter to the governor is attached.

July 24, 2007
Honorable Arnold Schwarzenegger
State of California
State Capitol Building
Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Schwarzenegger,

We ask that you issue a public statement of opposition to the current minority attempt in the California state Senate to eliminate the California Environmental Quality Act process to analyze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The State of California has long been a champion of environmental protection and is the undisputed leader in climate change policy nationally. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), our state’s flagship environmental law, is a key component of the suite of laws and policies already on the books to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in our state. CEQA provides an established system with a proven track record of assessing and reducing the significant adverse environmental impacts of new projects. Greenhouse gas emissions are among the most important of such impacts that CEQA addresses.

California’s budget bill is currently being held hostage by a small minority of Senators trying to force the majority into accepting a measure to exempt new projects from CEQA’s requirement to analyze and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. We ask that you speak out publicly against this outrageous demand and any other attempt to roll back California’s efforts to fight global warming.

CEQA requires all state and local agencies to assess and reduce, to the extent feasible, all significant environmental impacts from new project approvals. The CEQAenvironmental review process is fully established throughout the state, with a proventrack record of ameliorating impacts relating to air pollution, water quality andavailability, land use, endangered species, and many other aspects of California’s
environment. This process represents a wonderful opportunity, and also a legal mandate, for cities, counties, and other agencies to consider the greenhouse gas emissions from new projects they approve and then to adopt the many measures readily available to reduce those emissions. While the passage of the California Global Warming Solutions Act certainly heightens the urgency of ensuring CEQA compliance, state and local
agencies’ legal obligations under CEQA with regard to greenhouse gas emissions predate and are separate from and complementary to the new mandates.

The California Attorney General, many of our organizations, and others have sought to hold agencies and project proponents accountable for compliance with this bedrock environmental law with respect to greenhouse gas emissions. Faced with the irrefutable argument that agencies must assess and reduce greenhouse gas emissions to the extent feasible in the CEQA process, a number of special interests are now seeking to eliminate CEQA’s requirements with regard to greenhouse gas emissions.

The June 21, 2007 letter you received from the California Building Industry Association, Western States Petroleum Association, and other industry groups completely misrepresented efforts to enforce CEQA as efforts “to implement AB 32 (The Global Warming Solutions Act) and Gubernatorial Executive Order S-3-05,” and sought an “administrative or legislative remedy” to exempt greenhouse gas emissions from CEQA.

To suggest that efforts to implement and enforce an existing law such as CEQA, constitute premature enforcement of the Global Warming Solutions Act is disingenuous. While the Global Warming Solutions Act is a critical component of the state’s efforts to address greenhouse gas pollution, the statute states repeatedly that it does not excuse compliance with any existing law to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or protect the
environment. See, e.g., Cal. Health and Safety Code §§ 38592(b), 38598.

Scientists tell us that greenhouse gas pollution must be slashed eighty percent or more by mid-century to avoid disastrous climate change. Your Executive Order to reduce California emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 is consistent with this mandate. But actually reaching the targets identified by scientists, your Executive Order and the California Global Warming Solutions Act will be challenging. To succeed we
must get started immediately and pursue all possible avenues. To this end, California is fortunate to have CEQA, which provides one of the most promising and important means of reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new development and other projects. With California’s population projected to approximately double by mid century, we must improve the way we grow in order to actually achieve the pollution reductions we need to preserve the environment and our quality of life.

During the budget bill crisis of the past few days, special interests opposed to regulation of greenhouse gases attempted to insert a provision into the budget bill to exempt greenhouse gas emissions from new development and other projects from CEQA review. It is possible that this item will be presented once again when the Senate reconvenes this Wednesday.

We ask that you publicly oppose this bald attempt to roll back California’s efforts to fight global warming. As governor, you have demonstrated leadership in fighting global warming, including the issuance of Executive Order S-3-05. We ask that you continue that commitment now by releasing a public statement of opposition to this and any legislative efforts to undermine efforts like Executive Order S-03-05, the California Global Warming Solutions Act, and CEQA, to induce real actions and changes in the fight against global warming. A statement from you would help clarify that attacks against these efforts are working against the interests of the state of California, and against the commitment the state has made to fighting global warming.

Considering the growing impacts and risks of global warming to the environment, the economy, and public health, the benefits existing law can provide to California and the world in reducing greenhouse gas emissions from new projects are tremendous. Full CEQA enforcement with respect to greenhouse gas emissions deserves your full support and enthusiastic endorsement.

We thank you for your leadership in addressing the climate crisis, and look forward to working with you and your staff on this critically important issue.


Adrienne Bloch
Senior Attorney
Communities for a Better Environment

Michael E. Boyd
Californians for Renewable Energy, Inc. (CARE)

Ingrid Brostrom
Center on Race, Poverty & the Environment

Stuart Cohen
Executive Director
Transportation and Land Use Coalition (TALC)

Kim Delfino
California Program Director
Defenders of Wildlife

Drew Feldman
San Bernardino Valley Audubon Society

Susan Frank
President & CEO
Steven and Michele Kirsch Foundation

Garry George
Executive Director
Los Angeles Audubon

David Gordon
Executive Director
Pacific Environment

Ralph Salisbury, Chair
Sierra Club, San Gorgonio Chapter

Bill Hatch
San Joaquin Valley Conservancy

Tam Hunt
Energy Program Director / Attorney
Community Environmental Council

Dan Jacobson
Legislative Director
Environment California

Linda Krop
Chief Counsel
Environmental Defense Center

Paul Mason
Sierra Club California

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center

Brian Nowicki
Center for Biological Diversity

Gary A. Patton
Executive Director
Planning and Conservation League

Michelle Passero
Director of Policy Initiatives
The Pacific Forest Trust

Nancy Rader
Executive Director
California Wind Energy Association

Robert Ryland
Central Valley Safe Environment Network

Scott Smithline
Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs
Californians Against Waste

Ms. Gabriel Solmer, Esq.
Legal Director
San Diego Coastkeeper

V. John White
Clean Power Campaign

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Sonny Star: full of bull and applepie

Submitted: May 20, 2007
About 80 percent of our smog-causing pollutants come from mobile sources over which the air district has no jurisdiction. More than ever, we will need the state and federal government to do their fair share for the Valley by providing funding and regulatory assistance to reduce emissions from cars, trucks and locomotives. -- Merced Sun-Star, May 19, 2007

This ration of the well-known substance was dished out via Sonny Star, McClatchy's local rent-a-rag, by Seyed Sadredin, executive director/air pollution control officer of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District, who began his flak during a breezy week by saying:

Air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is better than it has ever been in recorded history. With tough regulations, innovative measures and investment by businesses and residents, air pollution has been reduced significantly throughout the Valley. Despite this tremendous progress, the Valley's pollution-retaining geography and meteorology make meeting new, federal ozone and particulate standards a challenge that is unmatched by any other region in the nation.

Having already reduced Valley smog by 80 percent since the 1980s, virtually eliminating the remainder will not be cheap and cannot happen overnight. On April 30, the Air District's governing board adopted the first eight-hour ozone plan in California. This overarching and comprehensive plan is designed to help the Valley attain cleaner air, as measured by the federal smog standard, as expeditiously as practicable. The regulatory cost to businesses will be about $20 billion. The board members should be commended for their courage, resoluteness and commitment to clean air.

Sadredin is willfully confusing the public on behalf of the state regional air board, made up entirely of pro-growth Valley politicians. The board is asking the federal Environmental Protection Agency for the worst air pollution designation it has to offer, "extreme non-attainment," so that federal highway funds will not be pulled back until developers have all the roads they need for more growth, which will equal more pollution, not however the responsibility of the state board. Presumably, in 2023, Sadredin's two-bit flak successor will be saying our air is even cleaner, but that we must apply for the federal "catastrophic non-attainment" designation so that federal highway funds will not be withdrawn.

As long as the Valley keeps growing, it doesn't matter how many restrictions are placed on stationary-source emissions (mainly farm equipment). It is the cars of the new residents that do the damage. It is the destruction of natural resources to build subdivisions that does the damage.

Until a public coalition actually commits to suing both the federal and state governments simultaneously and is willing to endure the long haul such a suit would entail, nothing will improve and Sonny Star will be printing authoritative "expert" flak about how much cleaner our air is getting every breeze May.

Moving from bull to a related topic, apple pie, we note that righteous members of the local Applepiocracy are suggesting that the CEO of Riverside Motorsparts Pork is really not the proper sort of person we should include in our community. Therefore, the Applepiocrats suggest, the board of supervisors somehow renege on their approval of the RMP permits and zone changes. Because, you see, he is not a nice man. Sonny Star, with his unerring instinct for snobbery and with its contemptuous ignorance of law, is also slinging apple pies at John Condren.

The present public commentary in Merced is filled with bull and apple pie. If this keeps up too much longer, the whole county will be buried by flaky crusted compost (which might be a smoother driving surface than our present streets and roads). And that's just dandy, as long as no one imagines it will stop the increase in air pollution coming to the Valley through "planning" promoted by the University of California, the Merced Association of Governments, the Merced Board of Supervisors, the Merced City Council, the finance, insurance and real estate special interests, the air board and the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint. And, of course, by Sonny Star, who knows which side he's buttered on.

The only black box on the horizon is $5 fuel.

Badlands editorial staff

Merced Sun-Star
Breathe easier knowing air is cleaner...Seyed Sadredin, executive director/air pollution control officer of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Air quality in the San Joaquin Valley is better than it has ever been in recorded history. With tough regulations, innovative measures and investment by businesses and residents, air pollution has been reduced significantly throughout the Valley. Despite this tremendous progress, the Valley's pollution-retaining geography and meteorology make meeting new, federal ozone and particulate standards a challenge that is unmatched by any other region in the nation. Having already reduced Valley smog by 80 percent since the 1980s, virtually eliminating the remainder will not be cheap and cannot happen overnight. The board members should be commended for their courage, resoluteness and commitment to clean air. About 80 percent of our smog-causing pollutants come from mobile sources over which the air district has no jurisdiction...we will need the state and federal government to do their fair share for the Valley by providing funding and regulatory assistance to reduce emissions from cars, trucks and locomotives. By any objective measure, the plan adopted by the air district is a comprehensive effort that leaves no stone unturned...

Merced Sun-Star
RMP an embarrassment...Marc Medefind, Merced...Letters to the editor

Five months ago, the Merced County Board of Supervisors made a decision that rocked the world of citizens who think that clean air, noise restrictions, ag preservation, and traffic concerns should be pre-eminent in the hearts and minds of those they elected to serve. Since then, the "house of cards" known as Riverside Motorsports Park has taken quite a tumble...Sun-Star has published exposés about the background and character of CEO John Condren...documents the seemingly nefarious ways in which he treated both employees and directors. Other articles have exposed the way the RMP Corp. deceived those who were once strong supporters and flouted the laws in Alameda County...paint a picture of an arrogant, egomaniac who apparently did anything to get what he wanted, regardless of statute or ethics. Sun-Star Sports Editor Steve Cameron...Where's the money coming from to build this gargantuan track? We still have no answers. Kenny Shepherd ("Advocate to Adversary") once again raised huge questions about character and trust where RMP is concerned...far from rolling in the bucks -- RMP can hardly pay its electric bills. After bamboozling most of Merced County's Supervisors into supporting this farce...milked dry and its directors sent packing...filling local racing fans with dreams of grandeur...overturning common sense ordinances... it doesn't seem too unrealistic that the rezoned land will be sold to investors...Mr. Condren will sail off into the sunset... But maybe that was the plan from day one. Still, it's not too late. Our Supervisors have only to revisit and rescind their unfortunate December decision to prevent this embarrassment from staining our county any further.

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