Federal Government

Federal court orders delay in certification of local elections in Merced County

Submitted: Nov 05, 2006

A federal district court has ordered Merced County and four cities not to certify all local elections held on Nov. 7 until a motion for preliminary injunction arguing violations of the Voting Rights Act is heard on Nov. 21. One election that won't be affected is for the 18th Congressional District. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, whose offices are on the third floor of the Merced County Administrative Building, fount of the "alleged" violations of the act.

Under the temporary restraining order written by Judge Oliver Wanger on Friday, one county-wide measure, Measure G, cannot be certified until the next hearing on the voting rights violations. The list of discrepancies and potential irregularities in this measure is growing by the day.

Local government is in a bad way when the most burning public issue is whether officials are corrupt or incompetent.

Bill Hatch

Nov. 4, 2006
Merced Sun-StarVoting lawsuit may delay local results...John Ellis, Fresno Bee
FRESNO -- Certification of Tuesday's elections in four Merced County cities could be delayed by a lawsuit that claims the cities violated the Voting Rights Act by annexing land without federal government approval. In a worst-case scenario for Atwater, Gustine, Livingston and Los Banos, mayors and council members elected Tuesday could be delayed from taking office until the matter is resolved. During a hearing Friday before U.S. District Judge Oliver W. Wanger in Fresno, the cities agreed not to certify their elections until the Justice Department grants the approvals. "That was a major accomplishment," said Joaquin Avila, an attorney and Seattle University law professor who filed the suit on behalf of Los Banos residents Felix Lopez and Elizabeth Ruiz. If that doesn't happen by Nov. 21, a three-judge panel that day will hear a request by the two plaintiffs for an injunction that, if granted, would prohibit the elections from being certified until the Justice Department approves the annexations. If the case does move forward past Nov. 21, the four cities previewed their defense Friday. That defense: They are not subject to the Voting Rights Act.

FELIX M. LOPEZ and ELIZABETH RUIZ, individually and on behalf of those similarly situated,
1:06-cv-1526 OWW DLB

Plaintiffs, Felix M. Lopez’s and Elizabeth Ruiz’s Motion for Temporary Restraining Order came on for hearing on November 3, 2006, in Courtroom 3 of the above-captioned Court, Oliver W. Wanger, United States District Judge, presiding. Plaintiffs were represented by their counsel Joaquin G. Avila, Esq. and Brian Sutherland, Esq. Merced County was represented by its attorneys James N. Fincher, Esq., County Counsel Designee and Nielsen, Merksamer, Parrinello, Mueller & Naylor LLP by Christopher E.
Skinnell, Esq. and Marguerite Mary Leoni, Esq. The Local Area Formation Commission of Merced County (“LAFCO”) was represented by its counsel Best, Best & Krieger by Gene Tanaka, Esq.
Defendant City of Atwater was represented by its attorneys Allen, Proietti & Fagalde LLP by Salvador V. Navarrete, Esq. The City of Dos Palos did not appear. Winton Water and Sanitary District appeared by its attorney Craig Mortensen, Esq. The City of Gustine appeared by its attorneys Berliner Cohen by Thomas E. Ebersole, Esq. The City of Livingston appeared by Burke, Williamson & Sorensen LLP by Sarah Peters Gorman, Esq. The City of Los Banos appeared by its attorney Abbott & Kindermann LLP, by Joel Ellinwood, Esq. There was no appearance for the following Defendant Districts: Ballico Community Services District,
California; Central California Irrigation District, California; Delhi County Water District, California; City of Dos Palos, California; East Merced Resource Conservation District, California; Franklin County Water District, California; Hilmar County Water District, California; Le Grand Community Service District, California; Los Banos Resource Conservation District,California; Merquin County Water District, California; Midway Community Services District, California; Planada Community Services District, California; Santa Nella County Water District, California; Snelling Community Services District, California; South Dos Palos County Water District, California; Turlock Irrigation District, California; and Volta Community Services District, California.

After considering the Motion for Temporary Restraining Order, supporting declarations and legal authorities and the opposition legal authorities, declarations and oral arguments of all counsel, the following order is entered with the agreement of the parties.

Certification Of Election Results
The County of Merced, City of Atwater, City of Gustine, City of Livingston, and City of Los Banos agree not to certify the results of County or City elections before the hearing of and decision on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary Injunction. If the City of Dos Palos is holding elections it shall not certify the result of its City elections before said hearing.


1. All City Defendants may certify the results of the
November 7, 2006, state-wide and federal elections, but not local elections. The County agrees not to certify any election results before hearing of and decision on the Preliminary Injunction.

2. Plaintiffs agree that if any Defendant receives
allegedly required DOJ pre-clearance or approval of all boundary change actions or other voting changes that are the subject of Plaintiffs’ Complaint prior to date of the hearing of the Preliminary Injunction, as to that Defendant, the Motion for Injunctive Relief is withdrawn and that Defendant shall be free to certify all its election results.

3. As to the non-County and non-City District Defendants
and LAFCO, no present injunctive relief is required as none of those Defendant Districts are holding elections November 7, 2006.

Order To Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction

All Defendants, and those acting for, under or in concert
with them, shall show cause, if any they have, why they should not be enjoined from finalizing or certifying the November 7,2006, election results until there is full compliance with Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. 42 U.S.C. § 1973c.

The following schedule shall govern further briefing and hearing on the Order to Show Cause Re Preliminary Injunction:

a. Plaintiffs’ supplemental authorities and/or other
submissions shall be filed by midnight, November 8, 2006;

b. All Defendants’ oppositions to Plaintiffs’ motion for
Preliminary Injunction shall be filed by midnight, November 17,2006;

c. The hearing on Plaintiffs’ Motion for Preliminary
Injunction shall be held November 21, 2006, at 1:00 p.m. in
Courtroom 3, Seventh Floor of the above-captioned Court at 2500 Tulare Street, Fresno, California, before United States Circuit Judge Jay S. Bybee, United States District Judge Oliver W. Wanger, and United States District Judge Anthony W. Ishii, sitting as a three-judge district court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.

§ 2284.
No Testimony To Be Presented
After inquiry of each appearing party, no party intends to
present testimony at the OSC hearing.
DATED: November 3, 2006, at Fresno, California.
/s/ Oliver W. Wanger

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Comments on Measure G

Submitted: Nov 04, 2006

Members of the public concerned that Merced County and Merced County Association of Governments immediately recycled Measure A as Measure G after the Primary Election defeat of Measure A, tried repeated times, via California Public Records Act requests, to obtain accurate, complete information about Measure G. Errors and inconsistencies appeared in both the County sample ballot and Measure G Voter Information Pamphlet.

Without the opportunity to view the documents before they were published, the public was unable to spot the errors and advise the County of them. Although officials made themselves available, they did not make most of the requested material available, critics of Measure G said Saturday.

The Measure G Voter Information Pamphlet, for example, calls the measure a "1/2-cent" tax on one page and a "1/2-percent" tax on another. Which is it: a half-cent sales tax per transaction or a half-percent per dollar sales tax on all transactions? local activists asked.

This is misleading "information." If it was not deliberately misleading, the public might have provided a helpful review of this propaganda-as-information before it was sent to every registered voter in the county between Oct. 10 and Oct. 16.

The publicly funded Measure G "information" pamphlet, printed to look exactly like a sample ballot pamphlet, also informs the public that the tax will start on "Oct. 1, 2006." If Merced County retailers, going into the Christmas season, had been allowed to review this document, they would probably have objected to this retroactive, probably illegal tax, critics of Measure G noted.

Members of the public also expressed concern about the accounting of campaign
contributions for measures A and G, which appear to commingle funds from both campaigns. Measure A failed in the Primary. Measure G is a different campaign by a different name in the General Election. Yet, local researchers found, the County recorded contributions to both campaigns as one campaign fund. This may be yet another irregularity in Merced County elections administration.

Another irregularity critics point out is that MCAG or the County or both of them have appointed a citizens oversight committee to monitor the spending of Measure G funds before the citizens have even voted on Measure G, which may or may not be the same as Measure A, but no one is quite sure because neither the County or MCAG have released the actual text of Measure G to the public for review. By the way, neither proponents nor opponents of Measure G, whose comments are printed in the sample ballot, were allowed to see the official text of Measure G, on which they commented.

The public is also concerned about the accounting of campaign contributions for
measures A and G. These funds appear to be commingled. It is understandable that if a candidate wins a primary election or gets enough votes to gain a runoff, campaign finance accounting could roll over the amounts into the general election period.

However, critics are concerned that, since Measure A was defeated in the primary election, accounting that presents cumulative contribution amounts in Measure G accounts that include Measure A contributions is irregular.

Critics of the county planning process are also concerned about a transportation plan promoted by the Merced County Association of Governments that is separate and unrelated to the proposed update to the county General Plan and numerous city and community plan updates now in progress. It looks like whenever lawful planning processes threaten, developers in Merced just pile on another layer of plans and more taxes on the people.

On Friday, the federal court ruled to bar certification of the elections in four Merced cities due to violations of the Voting Rights Act. County elections irregularities appear to be multiplying. Meanwhile, Rep. Dennis Cardoza sits on the third floor of the Merced County Administration building, presumably mulling his economic options as the County administration crumbles beneath his feet, noted one critic of government in Merced County.

Critics of Measure G speculated that the campaign for Measure G might achieve $1 million in campaign funding. However, the public will not know until the last campaign finance period is reported, well after the General Election.

Measure G remains a regressive tax: an increase on sales tax that will fall hardest on the poorest for the benefit of the richest.

Bill Hatch

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Federal judge rejects developers' efforts to negate vernal pool species' protection

Submitted: Nov 03, 2006

Butte Environmental Council * California Native Plant Society Defenders of Wildlife * San Joaquin Raptor and Wildlife Rescue Center

For Immediate Release
November 3, 2006
Kim Delfino, Defenders of Wildlife, (916) 201-8277
Barbara Vlamis, Butte Environmental Council, (530) 891-6424
Carol Witham, Calif. Native Plant Society, (916) 452-5440

Court Invalidates U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Exclusion of Nearly 900,000 Acres of Vernal Pool Critical Habitat

Developers Efforts to Strip Protections Rejected

Sacramento, CA -- Yesterday, Federal District Court Judge William B. Shubb issued a major ruling overturning the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (FWS) decision to omit 900,000 acres in 11 counties from its 2005 final rule designating critical habitat for 15 imperiled vernal pool plants and animals. Vernal pools are seasonal wetlands found throughout California. Judge Shubb also rejected industry’s attempt to overturn the protections for more than 800,000 acres that FWS did protect as critical habitat.

The court agreed with the six conservation organizations involved in the case that FWS failed to look at whether its decision to eliminate critical habitat protections for vernal pool grasslands in Butte, Fresno, Madera, Merced, Monterey, Placer, Sacramento, Shasta, Solano, Stanislaus, and Tehama counties affected the future recovery of the vernal pool species.

In sending FWS back to the drawing board, Judge Shubb accepted the central argument of the conservation organizations that in excluding vernal pool critical habitat within 11 California counties, FWS continued its long history of failing to consider the essential importance of such designation to the ultimate recovery of the vernal pool species. With more than 90 percent of California’s vernal pool wetlands already destroyed, meaningful habitat protection is essential to ensuring that the species not only avoid extinction, but recover to the point where they can be taken off the endangered species list. FWS has 120 days to issue a new critical habitat rule.

“This is a big victory in the longstanding effort to protect and recover vernal pool grasslands,” stated Kim Delfino, California program director of Defenders of Wildlife. “This decision makes it clear that Fish and Wildlife Service cannot ignore the recovery needs of species when designating critical habitat.”

The court also rejected almost every single argument by the building industry’s challenge to FWS’s decision to designate more than 858,846 acres of vernal pool grasslands as critical habitat. Ironically, the court did agree with the builders that FWS failed to explain adequately why it excluded UC Merced and a Highway 99 project in Tehama County from critical habitat—both of which were 11th hour exclusions directed by Department of Interior political appointee, Julie Macdonald. Macdonald—a civil engineer by training—was recently the subject of a major expose in the Washington Post for her consistent rejection of staff scientists’ recommendations to protect imperiled wildlife. Macdonald has a history of improper meddling in vernal pool issues, and a previous critical habitat rule had to be redone after she inserted economic analysis that vastly exaggerated the potential costs of designation.

“We are elated that the court rejected the challenge to FWS’s decision to designate more than 800,000 acres of vernal pool grasslands as critical habitat,” stated Barbara Vlamis, executive director of the Butte Environmental Council. “At least for those grasslands, the developers will have to ensure that their projects will not undermine the future recovery of these 15 imperiled plants and animals.”

This recent decision is only the latest in a decade long effort to protect vernal pool grasslands under the Endangered Species Act. In August 2003, the Bush Administration issued a final critical habitat rule for vernal pools in which it excluded more than one million acres and six counties on economic grounds. In January 2004, the conservation groups successfully challenging the 2003 rule resulting in the court ordering FWS to reconsider its exclusions. In August 2005, FWS issued its new final rule excluding nearly 900,000 acres of grasslands. In December 2005, the conservation organizations filed suit challenging FWS’s exclusion of the five counties.

“As vernal pool grasslands are ripped up, they are replaced by sprawl,” stated Carol Witham of the California Native Plant Society. “Designating vernal pool grasslands as critical habitat will not stop sprawl, but it will make developers and local governments think hard about how their land use decisions impact the future recovery of these unique 15 imperiled plants and animals.”

The court ordered FWS to reconsider its decision to exclude the nearly 900,000 acres and eleven counties and issue a new critical habitat rule in 120 days. The current critical habitat designation of more than 800,000 acres of vernal pool grasslands remains intact.

“Now that FWS must consider the benefits to the recovery of the 15 vernal pool plants and animals from designating critical habitat, we believe that the Fish and Wildlife Service will no longer be able to justify its decision to exclude half the vernal pool critical habitat acreage,” stated Lydia Miller of the San Joaquin Raptor and Wildlife Rescue Center.

Protein-rich invertebrates and crustaceans, as well as the roots and leaves of vernal pool plants provide an important seasonal food source for waterfowl as well as other non-migratory bird species. According to the California Academy of Sciences, Pacific Flyway migratory birds and 19 percent of all wintering waterfowl in the continental United States take respite in vernal pools.

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Biofuels: a critical perspective

Submitted: Nov 02, 2006

Most people have some trouble developing a critical point of view on an issue without a little help from critics. As it stands in the southern tier of the Pomboza (that part of the district controlled by Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear/Shrimp Slayer-Merced) biofuel is the hottest technology since the six-foot, deep-ripping chisel, built to tear up seasonal grasslands for temporary orchards and vineyards that will become subdivisions. And we won’t get no help from the newspaper.

Now, Merced dairymen working out their Midwest corn budgets for next year, will complain to each other and their bankers about a price hike, which they are told is the result of competition with biofuel. But farmers are price takers. They are used to it and accept it and don’t try to think about it too much, particularly when milk prices are down below breakeven.

The article below is a good rundown on criticisms of the latest “ecological” fad, biofuels, and should help restore our sane view that Cardoza is the same-old, same-old, ignorant hustler he always has been despite his latest reinvention of himself as a post-Pombo environmentalist with solar panels on his roof.

Bill Hatch

Running on Hype
The Real Scoop on Biofuels
Counterpunch.com – Nov. 1, 2006

You can hardly open up a major newspaper or national magazine these days without encountering the latest hype about biofuels, and how they're going to save oil, reduce pollution and prevent climate change. Bill Gates, Sun Microsystems' Vinod Khosla, and other major venture capitalists are investing millions in new biofuel production, whether in the form of ethanol, mainly derived from corn in the US today, or biodiesel, mainly from soybeans and canola seed. It's literally a "modern day gold rush," as described by the New York Times, paraphrasing the chief executive of Cargill, one of the main benefactors of increased subsidies to agribusiness and tax credits to refiners for the purpose of encouraging biofuel production.

The Times reported earlier this year that some 40 new ethanol plants are currently under construction in the US, aiming toward a 30 percent increase in domestic production. Archer Daniels Midland, the company that first sold the idea of corn-derived ethanol as an auto fuel to Congress in the late 1970s, has doubled its stock price and profits over the last two years. ADM currently controls a quarter of US ethanol fuel production, and recently hired a former Chevron executive as its CEO.

Several well-respected analysts have raised serious concerns about this rapid diversion of food crops toward the production of fuel for automobiles. WorldWatch Institute founder Lester Brown, long concerned about the sustainability of world food supplies, says that fuel producers are already competing with food processors in the world's grain markets. "Cars, not people, will claim most of the increase in grain production this year," reports Brown, a serious concern in a world where the grain required to make enough ethanol to fill an SUV tank is enough to feed a person for a whole year. Others have dismissed the ethanol gold rush as nothing more than the subsidized burning of food to run automobiles.

The biofuel rush is having a significant impact worldwide as well. Brazil, often touted as the the most impressive biofuel success story, is using half its annual sugarcane crop to provide 40 percent of its auto fuel, while increasing deforestation to grow more sugarcane and soybeans. Malaysian and Indonesian rainforests are being bulldozed for oil palm plantations-threatening endangered orangutans, rhinos, tigers and countless other species-in order to serve at the booming European market for biodiesel.

Are these reasonable tradeoffs for a troubled planet, or merely another corporate push for profits? Two new studies, both released this past summer, aim to document the full consequences of the new biofuel economy and realistically assess its impact on fuel use, greenhouse gases and agricultural lands. One study, originating from the University of Minnesota, is moderately hopeful in the first two areas, but offers a strong caution about land use. The other, from Cornell University and UC Berkeley, concludes that every domestic biofuel source ­ the ones currently in use as well as those under development ­ produces less energy than is consumed in growing and processing the crops.

The Minnesota researchers attempted a full lifecycle analysis of the production of ethanol from corn and biodiesel from soy. They documented the energy costs of fuel production, pesticide use, transportation, and other key factors, and also accounted for the energy equivalent of soy and corn byproducts that remain for other uses after the fuel is extracted. Their paper, published in the July 25th edition of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that ethanol production offers a modest net energy gain of 25%, resulting in 12% less greenhouse gases than an equivalent amount of gasoline. The numbers for biodiesel are more promising, with a 93% net energy gain and a 41% reduction in greenhouse gases.

The researchers cautioned, however, that these figures do not account for the significant environmental damage from increased acreages of these crops, including the impacts of pesticides, nitrate runoff into water supplies, nor the increased demand on water, as "energy crops" like corn and soy begin to displace more drought tolerant crops such as wheat in several Midwestern states.

The most serious impact, though, is on land use. The Minnesota paper reports that in 2005, 14% of the US corn harvest was used to produce some 6 million gallons of ethanol, equivalent to 1.7% of current gasoline usage. About 1 1/2 percent of the soy harvest produced 120 million gallons of biodiesel, equivalent to less than one tenth of one percent of gas usage. This means that if all of the country's corn harvest was used to make ethanol, it would displace 12% of our gas; all of our soybeans would displace about 6% of the gas. But if the energy used in producing these biofuels is taken into account ­ the fact that 80% of the energy goes into production in the case of corn ethanol, and almost 50% in the case of soy biodiesel, the entire soy and corn crops combined would only satisfy 5.3% of current fuel needs. This is where the serious strain on food supplies and prices originates.

The Cornell study is even more skeptical. Released in July, it was the product of an ongoing collaboration between Cornell agriculturalist David Pimentel, environmental engineer Ted Patzek, and their colleagues at the University of California at Berkeley, and was published in the journal Natural Resources Research. This study found that, in balance, making ethanol from corn requires 29% more fossil fuel than the net energy produced and biodisel from soy results in a net energy loss of 27%. Other crops, touted as solutions to the apparent diseconomy of current methods, offer even worse results.

Switchgrass, for example, can grow on marginal land and presumably won't compete with food production (you may recall George Bush's mumbling about switchgrass in his 2006 State of the Union speech), but it requires 45% more energy to harvest and process than the energy value of the fuel that is produced. Wood biomass requires 57% more energy than it produces, and sunflowers require more than twice as much energy than is available in the fuel that is produced. "There is just no energy benefit to using plant biomass for liquid fuel," said David Pimentel in a Cornell press statement this past July. "These strategies are not sustainable." In a recent article, Harvard environmental scientist Michael McElroy concurred: "[U]nfortunately the promised benefits [of ethanol] prove upon analysis to be largely ephemeral."

Even Brazilian sugarcane, touted as the world's model for conversion from fossil fuels to sustainable "green energy," has its downside. The energy yield appears beyond question: it is claimed that ethanol from sugarcane may produce as much as 8 times as much energy as it takes to grow and process. But a recent World Wildlife Fund report for the International Energy Agency raises serious questions about this approach to future energy independence. It turns out that 80% of Brazil's greenhouse gas emissions come not from cars, but from deforestation-the loss of embedded carbon dioxide when forests are cut down and burned. A hectare of land may save 13 tons of carbon dioxide if it is used to grow sugarcane, but the same hectare can absorb 20 tons of CO2 if it remains forested. If sugarcane and soy plantations continue to encourage deforestation, both in the Amazon and in Brazil's Atlantic coastal forests, any climate advantage is more than outweighed by the loss of the forest.

Genetic engineering, which has utterly failed to produce healthier or more sustainable food-and also failed to create a reliable source of biopharmaceuticals without threatening the safety of our food supply-is now being touted as the answer to sustainable biofuel production. Biofuels were all the buzz at the biotech industry's most recent biotech mega-convention (April 2006), and biotech companies are all competing to cash in on the biofuel bonanza. Syngenta (the world's largest herbicide manufacturer and number three, after Monsanto and DuPont, in seeds) is developing a GE corn variety that contains one of the enzymes needed to convert corn starch into sugar before it can be fermented into ethanol. Companies are vying to increase total starch content, reduce lignin (necessary for the structural integrity of plants but a nuisance for chemical processors), and increase crop yields. Others are proposing huge plantations of fast-growing genetically engineered low-lignin trees to temporarily sequester carbon and ultimately be harvested for ethanol.

However, the utility of incorporating the amylase enzyme into crops is questionable (it's also a potential allergen), gains in starch production are marginal, and the use of genetic engineering to increase crop yields has never proved reliable. Other, more complex traits, such as drought and salt tolerance (to grow energy crops on land unsuited to food production), have been aggressively pursued by geneticists for more than twenty years with scarcely a glimmer of success. Genetically engineered trees, with their long life-cycle, as well as seeds and pollen capable of spreading hundreds of miles in the wild, are potentially a far greater environmental threat than engineered varieties of annual crops. Even Monsanto, always the most aggressive promoter of genetic engineering, has opted to rely on conventional plant breeding for its biofuel research, according to the New York Times. Like "feeding the world" and biopharmaceutical production before it, genetic engineering for biofuels mainly benefits the biotech industry's public relations image.

Biofuels may still prove advantageous in some local applications, such as farmers using crop wastes to fuel their farms, and running cars from waste oil that is otherwise thrown away by restaurants. But as a solution to long-term energy needs on a national or international scale, the costs appear to far outweigh the benefits. The solution lies in technologies and lifestyle changes that can significantly reduce energy use and consumption, something energy analysts like Amory Lovins have been advocating for some thirty years. From the 1970s through the '90s, the US economy significantly decreased its energy intensity, steadily lowering the amount of energy required to produce a typical dollar of GDP. Other industrial countries have gone far beyond us in this respect. But no one has figured out how to make a fortune on conservation and efficiency. The latest biofuel hype once again affirms that the needs of the planet, and of a genuinely sustainable society, are in fundamental conflict with the demands of wealth and profit.

Brian Tokar directs the Biotechnology Project at Vermont's Institute for Social Ecology (social-ecology.org), and has edited two books on the science and politics of genetic engineering, Redesigning Life? (Zed Books, 2001) and Gene Traders: Biotechnology, World Trade and the Globalization of Hunger (Toward Freedom, 2004).

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Pombo: sincerity, depth, conviction

Submitted: Nov 01, 2006

To put the story below in layman’s terms, Pombo, knowing in September he would have a tough race for reelection, still put $25,000 from his RichPAC into the prodevelopment Tracy mayoral candidate, Vice Mayor Brent Ives, running against Celeste Garamendi, the slow-growth candidate, who is John Garamendi’s sister. John, now state insurance commissioner, is running for lieutenant governor.

Maybe separate appearances by both the President and his wife trump a slow-growth Garamendi in the district. Maybe Mrs. Bush will provide a bumpito to get Pombo back even with the Democrat, McNerney, a man whose name people have spelling correctly.

Pombo’s supporters include the Tsakapoulos family, who have development interests in Tracy that include Tracy Hills, the proposed project on Corral Hollow Road that will adjoin UC Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s proposed level 4 biowarfare laboratory. Many Democrats backing Phil Angelides, Angelo Tsakapoulos’ protégée, believe that publicity during the Primary about the millions Tsakapoulos dumped into Angelides’ campaign got him the nomination and destroyed his chance for election.

Badlands has consistently held that Pombo is a straight shooter who acts forthrightly on his fundamental political belief: that whatever is good for the Pombo Family real estate interests is good for America and the World. In this contribution to the Tracy mayoral campaign, Pombo was being absolutely consistent. The Number One American value in Pombo’s political philosophy is promoting growth that increases property values of land around Tracy that is owned by the Pombo Family. Some may find this a narrow political philosophy, but it has always been evident that RichPAC himself has held it deeply and sincerely and is even willing to sacrifice campaign cash to protect Pombo Family real estate interests.

Maybe, Mrs. Bush's appearance will make up the difference. Anyway, if an incumbent in San Joaquin County can’t find a way to steal at least two percent of the vote, he does not deserve to be an incumbent in San Joaquin County.

Oct. 31, 2006
Modesto Bee
Cash for ads to beat Tracy mayor hopeful
Robin Hindery (AP)
TRACY — Rep. Richard Pombo has contributed $25,000 from his campaign fund to defeat a Tracy mayoral candidate who favors a slower approach to development. Pombo, who has extensive land holdings in the area, is a longtime proponent of development there. The seven-term Republican's donation is part of a larger effort by prodevelopment groups to protect their interests in the rapidly growing city. Tracy's population has more than doubled since 1990. The city emerged from its agricultural past to become a haven for Bay Area transplants searching for affordable housing. Pombo's donation came from his Washington, D.C.-based political action committee, Rich PAC. On Sept. 25, he transferred $25,000 to the independent Hat PAC of Sacramento to help fund television and radio advertising against Democratic mayoral candidate Celeste Garamendi. Garamendi is an outspoken champion of slow growth in Tracy who helped lead a successful fight in 2000 to pass a law that slashed planned residential development by half. Her family's connection to Pombo stretches back to 1992, when he narrowly defeated her sister-in-law, Patti Garamendi, in his first bid for Congress. Pombo's campaign did not return calls Monday. Garamendi's opponent, Vice Mayor Brent Ives, has pushed for a deal to let two development companies skirt the slow-growth law in exchange for at least $40 million for new public sports facilities. The companies would be allowed to build as many as 9,700homes, starting in 2012 when Tracy's cap on new building ends. One of the developers, AKT Development, is owned by the influential Tsakopoulos family, whose members also have donated a few thousand dollars to Pombo's re-election campaign this year. Garamendi said the unprecedented $25,000 donation is allowing special-interest groups to sway the election. "The PACs are laundering money in order to provide a shield to development interests," she said. "This is a new low, bringing the corruption of Washington to our small community of Tracy." She said she pledged not to accept any money from political action committees. Hat PAC's contributors include Manteca-based AKF Development and Northern California grocery store operator PAQ Inc. Those groups have helped Hat PAC spend nearly $58,000 on anti-Garamendi advertising over a one-week period starting Oct. 11, according to the committee's campaign finance records.

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Pombo update: Oct 13-26

Submitted: Oct 27, 2006

As the evidence is mounting against Rep. RichPAC Pombo and he keeps demonstrating how corruption stupefies (he genuinely doesn't know he's done anything wrong and never will), we might pause and spend a few minutes getting a perspective on the Congress as a whole, provided in the Oct. 17 listing of Rolling Stone, "The Worst Congress Ever." http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/12055360/cover_story_time_to_go_inside_the_worst_congress_ever

However, as we sit back and spit, let us also consider that these guys aren't moral heroes, their just ordinary, pork-seeking, bribe-taking congressmen. We might contemplate for a moment the sheer rapacity of the special interests who sponsor them as if they were stock cars. Perhaps the day will shortly come when the members of Congress will be required to wear large decals advertising their 10 top contributors just to reach the political junkie segment of the TV audience. The corporations who just cannot pass up the opportunity to bribe a congressman to get a bill that will make them more profits are, if anything, more stupid and corrupt than the moral pygmies we elect to serve in Congress. What lies beneath the congressional corruption scandal is that appears to be much larger than the personal morality of congressmen, a very small thing in itself. The laws, or rather the destruction of Law, is being driven by something powerful. What is it?

Another view from a distance catches something of the anxiety:

The Guardian -- 10-28-06
Republicans facing 'electoral hurricane' in face of centrist Democrat push
Democrats on course to retake House of Representatives but euphoric mood tempered by fears of last-ditch media blitz
Julian Borger in Knoxville
... By several measures, national sentiment is more anti-Congress than it was in 1994, when the Republicans swept to victory with a net gain of 54 seats in the House and eight in the Senate, stunning Bill Clinton's administration. However, even the most optimistic Democrats do not expect a victory on that scale.
"I have a cautionary note to my friends in the Democratic party. This year is different from 94," Dick Gephardt, a former party leader in the House said. "Over the last six months, the Republicans have been on alert that they could lose the election. That was not the case for us in 94, and if you're expecting something, you fight harder."
... For one thing, the Republicans have more money in hand at the end of the campaign. In an election that will end up costing a record total of $2.6bn, the Republicans have a $200m advantage, much of which it will spend in the last few days. According to Jennifer Dunn, a former Republican congressman, her party has more money on hand than the Democrats in 19 of the closest 25 House races. In the Tennessee Senate contest, Mr Corker has raised nearly $13m, more than $4m more than Mr Ford. Furthermore the Republican contender can count on much more financial help from Republican headquarters in Washington than his Democratic rival.

Oct. 26, 2006

San Francisco Chronicle
Money flows to Democratic challengers in California House races...Erica Werner,
Democratic challengers in two hot Northern California congressional races out-raised the GOP incumbents during the first 18 days of October, as Democratic hopes rise for retaking the House. Both national political parties are spending in the district, with the GOP pouring in more than $1.3 million to protect Pombo.

Modesto Bee
Only corrupt Republicans should be afraid of Pelosi...Brad Baker
Local Republican congressmen are stoking the fear. Republican incumbents Richard Pombo, John Doolittle and George Radanovich need fearful voters. They're desperate to protect their seats and their majority party power. Congressmen, your party has led us to record-high deficits, a cascade of corruption scandals, a war without end, environmental plunder, the disastrous mismanagement of Hurricane Katrina, the subversion of Constitutional rights, and the United States' crumbling respect and credibility in the world. Let me whisper this to you gently: You guys are the scary ones. We're getting threats about Pelosi from local Republicans who helped turn the Capitol into a snake pit. They all backed Tom DeLay for their majority leader. Pombo and Doolittle have been linked to the Jack Abramoff investigation. Radanovich's ethics were challenged in a land deal that allowed him to keep his winery when his investors lost everything. Only Republican incumbents should be afraid. The rest of us desperately need a change.

Tracy Press
Negativity rules campaign ads...John Upton
Attack ads permeate local campaign material, and candidates of all partisan stripes are striking back. “If I were simply a private citizen and not an elected member of Congress, the litany of attacks against me and my family would constitute libel, slander and defamation of character,” wrote Pombo in a Wednesday e-mail to his supporters. “If Jerry McNerney were simply a private citizen and not a Congressional candidate for change, the litany of lobbyist-funded attacks against him and his family would constitute libel, slander and defamation of character,” Yoni Cohen said.
Election 2006...From the dirty tricks of Jerry McNerney's supporters to the money trail behind certain City Council candidates, more voters sound off about the upcoming election.

Trash McNerney tactics...Monica Dias, Tracy...Jerry McNerney campaign signs illegally placed in our public right of ways. For a man who professes to care so much about the environment, he evidently could care less about the visual pollution he is creating all over Tracy. Tracy’s parks and roads belong to the citizens, not the McNerney campaign. The city should immediately direct municipal workers to remove all the illegal McNerney signs from public property and throw them in the trash, where McNerney and his underhanded campaign tactics belong.

Vote against TRAZC...Dve Dawson, Tracy...TRAQC has accused members of the Tracy City Council of taking developer money, and it has accused developers of creating a monopoly over the housing market, yet TRAQC has taken developer money and is trying to create a monopoly on the City Council.

Follow the money!...Janet Greenhow, Tracy...Have you noticed the enormous amounts of money being thrown into Ives’ campaign and the costly ads falsely denying Garamendi’s concern for Tracy, all the while the city doggedly pursues the developer contracts.

McNerney won't make us saft...Steve Reshakis, Tracy...“Tough tactics produce leads,”...Democratic leaders Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean and the rest, including liberal McNerney, cannot be trusted with the lives of our children.
Police our government...Kendra Niedziejko, Brentwook...Republican or Democrat, anyone with a grocery list of documented (even questionable) ethical violations should not only be voted out, but also removed from their existing position. It is our duty as citizens to start policing our government and expecting better of our leaders. It’s disgraceful that a local congressman is listed on the 13 most corrupt politicians’ list.

Contra Costa Times
'Pull untrue ad," Pombo demands...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has demanded a Sacramento area cable company pull a campaign ad placed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The television spot said Pombo voted to hike his congressional salary eight times while voting against a $1,500 bonus for troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. "The ad is entirely false," wrote Pombo campaign consultant Wayne Johnson in a letter to Comcast, which broadcasts in the San Joaquin County portion of District 11. The Democratic committee spokeswoman Kate Bedingfield said the party stands fully behind the ad... The dispute over the allegations in the ad offer a glimpse into the world of political spin and congressional machinations that would make Machiavelli blush. On the pay-raise issue, the argument centers on whether or not procedural battles over the automatic cost-of-living increase for members of Congress constitutes a direct vote on salaries. According to a Congressional Research Service report updated in April, the annual increase goes into effect unless lawmakers vote to stop it. Pombo said he has voted to block the increase four times since he took office in 1993. The congressman also voted in for a 1996 spending bill, which included the automatic pay increase. The salary of a member of the House of Representatives has risen 11 times and been denied five times since 1990. The eight votes referenced in the Democratic committee's ad involve the annual attempt of Rep. Jim Matheson, D-Utah, to deny the pay hike through an unrelated bill, a violation of House rules. Bedingfield said that journalists have for years reported this procedural vote as de facto pay hike. "The bottom line is that when the votes came up, Richard Pombo voted to give himself a raise," Bedingfield said. Pombo voted against a failed 2003 bill that author Rep. Bart Stupack, D-Michigan, had said would direct $265 million from an Iraq reconstruction account to fund the bonus. Pombo's staff letter to Comcast calls the assertion false because its text did not specify that funds would go to the bonus. But Pombo said he voted no, along with war hero Jack Murtha, D-Penn., because he opposed the diversion of money intended to help secure Iraq and end the war. "A $1,500 check doesn't do you much good if means you are away from your family another year," Pombo said. Pombo also objected to the ad's portrayal of him as anti-military because several weeks before the bonus legislation he voted
for a 4.1 percent raise for all military personnel.

U.S. Newswire
Rep. Pombo's refusal to investigate Jack Abramoff exposed in hard-hitting, but humorous, television ad...Rick Bielke, Money Watch
Newswire/ -- Rep. Richard Pombo's refusal to investigate convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff's lobbying on behalf of clients from the Northern Mariana Islands is the subject of one of the most creative and compelling television ads of the fall in the northern California district...
Entitled "Baker's Dozen." The ad is being run by Campaign Money Watch. "Richard Pombo needs to be held accountable for his inaction on serious human rights abuses, in apparent payback to lobbyists and campaign donors," commented David Donnelly, director of Campaign Money Watch. "Despite mounting evidence, he's refused to investigate anything to do with convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Money may not buy everything, but perhaps it buys blinders for Pombo."

Pom and Jerry...Amanda Griscom Little
A year ago it was virtually unthinkable that Rep. Richard Pombo (R-Calif.) -- right-wing darling, fundraiser extraordinaire, champion of polluting industries, and enemy No. 1 of the environmental community -- could be unseated by any Democrat, much less one with zero political experience to his name. But now, a week and a half before Election Day, the rookie Democratic challenger in California's 11th District, Jerry McNerney, is giving Pombo a run for his (prodigious amounts of) money. "There's panic in the Pombo campaign," says Rico Mastrodonato, Northern California director of the California League of Conservation Voters. And now [Pombo's] in a dead heat with a guy who just months ago he thought he could eat for breakfast." Not surprisingly, environmeMntal groups have flocked to McNerney's side. Green groups have deployed an extensive on-the-ground outreach campaign to rally votes for McNerney. And it's not just enviros who are rallying behind McNerney. The local media is overwhelmingly endorsing the neophyte Democrat and sparing little subtlety in editorials skewering Pombo...Modesto Bee, San Jose Mercury, The Sacramento Bee. As it is, Pombo isn't saying much of anything. In the midst of the most important political battle of his career, he is reportedly refusing to talk to the press.

Jerry McNerney.org
McNerney on Domestic Spying...Press Release
The Jerry McNerney for Congress campaign today responded to a desperate incumbent's slanderous television advertisement. Attempting to avoid being held accountable for flip-flopping on warrantless wiretapping, Pombo is misrepresenting McNerney's position in a new television ad. "In May, Pombo agreed with McNerney that current law provides law enforcement with the tools necessary to monitor terrorist communications and prevent future attacks," said McNerney communications director Yoni Cohen. "Pombo also agreed with McNerney that the government should not spy on American citizens without first obtaining a warrant. But in September, Pombo flip-flopped, embracing President Bush's unconstitutional attack on American liberties. California residents can't trust Pombo to keep his word. Why should they trust him with their vote?"
CLAIM: Pombo's vote for the Electronic Surveillance Modernization Act in September is consistent with his statement at a Republican forum in May. (Tracy Press, 10/12/06).
FACT: Pombo initially said law enforcement should monitor phone calls between suspected terrorists only after getting a warrant. In May, Pombo proclaimed: "I believe that when monitoring phone calls or amassing a list of where people call, even though it is specifically targeted at people that are believed to be associated with terrorist groups, that it does have to go through the normal process, that [intelligence officers] do have to get a warrant issued before they take advantage of having that opportunity." (Tracy Press, 10/12/06).
Four months later, Pombo voted to allow the government to spy on American citizens before obtaining a warrant.
CLAIM: "According to his own published answers to Vote Smart, McNerney would stop law enforcement from monitoring terrorist phone calls." (Pombo TV Ad, "Our Time")
FACT: McNerney would encourage law enforcement to monitor terrorist phone calls in a manner consistent with the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
McNerney's position is consistent with his response(s) to an online questionnaire.
Notably, Project Vote Smart prohibits the use of its name or survey in any negative partisan activity, including advertising. According to the organization's website, "Project Vote Smart does not permit the use of its name or programs in any negative campaign activity, including advertising, debates, and speeches" (Associated Press, 10/24/06).

Oct. 25, 2006

Monterey Herald
No sure things this time...Robin Hindrey
Scandal fallout could hurt Pombo, Doolittle. Although California is 3,000 miles from the nation's capital, it's not far enough for either incumbent to escape the fallout from Washington's lobbying and congressional page scandals or the Bush administration's roundly criticized Iraq policies.

Sacramento Bee Editorial
The Bee recommends
District 11: Jerry McNerney
Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton is a political neophyte, a Ph.D. engineer who attended West Point, once worked at Sandia National Laboratories and now owns a wind power company. This, like any election with an incumbent, is a referendum. Richard Pombo work for special interests is at the diseased heart of the quid-pro-quo process that defines Washington politics today. To send him back to the Capitol endorses a system we can no longer tolerate. (Read more)
District 4: Charlie Brown
It's time to replace 16-year incumbent John Doolittle, R-Roseville, and send Democrat Charlie Brown of Roseville to Congress. Doolittle is emblematic of what's wrong in Washington. Brown was a career Air Force pilot and worked eight years in the Roseville Police Department. Brown has a lifelong commitment to public service. (Read more)

Stockton Record
Pombo should be re-elected, but needs to change...Editorial
Pombo has become an influential insider susceptible to the enticements and temptations of political power in the nation's capital. The forces arrayed against him in his re-election campaign are an indication of just how powerful he's become - and how he has faltered. The Record endorses Pombo for an eighth term in Congress, but its support is qualified. His Democratic opponent, Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney, has almost no background as a public policy-maker. He's a stronger candidate than his first run at Congress two years ago, but not strong enough. Pombo has found it difficult to counter the criticism. Some of it is accurate. Some is based on falsehoods. Some is rooted in interpretation. Or distorted. If he survives the McNerney challenge, Pombo will have a choice to make: Continue in the same direction or heed the criticism and do some things differently. If re-elected, he must shut the doors of vulnerability - or two years from now, he'll find a more experienced Democrat presenting an even stronger challenge.

Tracy Press
McNerney files ad complaint...Press staff report
The team behind Democrat Jerry McNerney filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission regarding an advertisement aired by his opponent, Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. The mandatory message from Pombo saying that he authorized the advertisement came at the beginning, instead of at the end, of a television advertisement, as FEC rules demand. Yoni Cohen, said the mistake shows Pombo has a habit of bending rules..said the mistake could cost the Pombo campaign money that could otherwise have been used to pay for more advertising because it could be forced to pay TV stations money as a penalty.

San Francisco Chronicle
Santa Cruz - 3 lawsuits challenge UC campus growth...Tanya Schevitz
The University of California's plan to expand its Santa Cruz campus has attracted a spate of lawsuits. University officials have argued that they followed all requirements for approval...also contend that the campus has to grow in order to meet the educational needs of the state.
National parties upping the ante as Pombo battles to keep seat...Rachel Gordon
Republican Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy, once expected to cruise to re-election after easily subduing a primary challenge, now finds his House seat threatened by the Democratic wave that seems to be building across the country. Analysts say the contest for Pombo's district, which includes much of San Joaquin County and parts of three Bay Area counties, has tightened... When the campaign ends, the race between Pombo and Democrat Jerry McNerney, 55, a Pleasanton wind energy consultant, is expected to have cost upwards of $10 million, making it one of the priciest congressional battles ever in California, say campaign strategists.

Contra Costa Times
Outsiders converge on contentious race...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
It's crowded on the Congressional District 11 campaign trail. Nearly two dozen groups are burning shoe leather, Internet time, money or all three in the contentious contest between GOP Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney of Pleasanton. In a clear sign that both sides believe they can win, the district's 350,000 registered voters are awash in precinct walkers, rallies, radio and TV ads, e-mail solicitations, phone calls and fundraisers.

Oct. 24, 2006

Reality check on ad from McNerney...Hank Shaw
The Record will examine the claims made in advertisements various candidates or political groups air locally this election season. Here is one ad released last week from Democrat Jerry McNerney. The ad: "Lost Limbs."Claim: Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, voted to raise his pay by $30,000. The facts: False. The last time Congress voted to raise its pay was in 1991, two years before Pombo arrived in Washington. Claim: Pombo voted against a measure that would add $53 million to the federal research budget for new prosthetics; the proposal is in response to the large number of Iraq war veterans returning home with lost limbs. The facts: Yes, Pombo voted against it...
The key vote in question was an amendment to a larger defense appropriations bill offered... Melancon and his supporters - mostly Democrats - argued that even though a "yes" vote would use $169 million in base-reduction money to get $53 million in new prosthetics money (congressional accounting rules are arcane), the base-reduction process would be going on for a long time, and the needs of the returning vets were immediate.

Tracy Press
Pombo camp rebukes accusers...John Upton
The campaign manager for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, described anti-Pombo campaigners linked to Defenders of Wildlife as “scum” after they accused Pombo in a mailer of refusing to investigate child prostitution, forced abortion and sweatshop labor in the Mariana Islands while he was “under the influence” of convicted felon and former lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Pombo’s campaign and the House Resources Committee that Pombo chairs, would not rule out that employees at Preston Gates & Ellis, which employed Abramoff, might have lobbied Pombo or his staff on behalf of the Mariana Islands government. Dennis Stephens, a former Pombo staffer employed since 1995 as a lobbyist for Preston Gates, attended a $500 Pombo fundraiser Oct. 23, 1997, and discussed Mariana Islands issues with Pombo and Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, according to election filings and Preston Gates billing records released by the Marianas. Kennedy said he couldn’t comment on the fundraiser because it was nine years ago, but he said the Preston Gates invoices “scream of padding.”

San Francisco Chronicle
Doolittle, Pombo face unexpectedly tough re-election fights...Robin Hindery, AP
Like many endangered House Republicans, John Doolittle and Richard Pombo enjoyed years of job security most politicians would envy. But no one is envying their re-election prospects now... Although California is 3,000 miles from the nation's capital, it's not far enough for either incumbent to escape the fallout from Washington's lobbying and congressional page scandals or the Bush administration's roundly criticized Iraq policies. The defeat of Doolittle and Pombo, both from normally safe Republican districts, could prove pivotal.Through their political action committees, groups including the Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club, the League of Conservation Voters and Environmental Action have spent about $1 million on anti-Pombo advertising since California's June primary. The Republican Party has taken notice of both congressional races. The National Republican Congressional Committee has contributed more than $153,000 to Doolittle and more than $650,000 to Pombo as of Oct. 23. President Bush visited both districts this month on a fundraising sweep. As of Sept. 30, both incumbents held a financial edge. Pombo had $1.1 million in his campaign fund... The incumbents also are banking on party loyalty to carry them through another re-election.

Oct. 23, 2006

USA Today
Two lawmakers with Abramoff ties in tight...Martin Kasindorf
TRACY, Calif. — Rep. Richard Pombo's record as chairman of the House Resources Committee has environmental groups so riled that they're spending more than $1 million to beat the seven-term Republican on Nov. 7. In a normally ironclad GOP district that Pombo won with a 61% majority two years ago, polls show that the environmentalists' TV spots and doorbell-ringing are helping to make him a candidate for the politically endangered list. The Sierra Club calls Pombo, a Stetson-wearing cattle rancher, an "eco-thug." The League of Conservation Voters says he advances a "radical, anti-conservation agenda." The Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund voted him "wildlife villain of the year." Rolling Stone magazine dubs him "enemy of the earth." Brian Kennedy, a spokesman for Pombo, says the environmental groups "need a boogeyman to sell their message and raise money," and that Pombo disagrees with "the very left-leaning ... organizations on the best approaches to protecting our environment."Polls show races tightening for Pombo and Republican Rep. John Doolittle, worrying GOP leaders enough that President Bush flew out this month to raise $400,000 for Pombo and $600,000 for Doolittle in their districts. After commissioning three private polls it won't release, the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent $625,000 on Pombo. "

The Ledger
Green political groups throwing mud...Cory Reiss, Washington Bureau
A recent mailer to voters in a House district south of San Francisco Bay accused the incumbent Republican, Rep. Richard Pombo, of failing to act on "documented charges of child prostitution, forced abortion and sweatshop labor." The only mention of the environment was in the disclosure: Paid for by Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund. The mailer ties Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, to corrupt lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who represented business interests in the North Marianas Islands, a U.S. territory where abuses have been alleged. The Pombo race holds particular interest for Florida, home to many endangered species and epicenter of the offshore drilling fight. When environmental groups talk about environmental issues in Pombo's district, it is often to argue that Pombo is "in the pocket" of Big Oil. Pombo is unapologetic about his efforts to, in his view, fix an outdated endangered species law and provide offshore energy to the country while preserving the ability of states to keep drilling more than 100 miles from shore. Pombo's campaign says some allegations by environmentalists are "subhuman" and unwarranted. He denies any significant contact with Abramoff or hint of influence.

Truth Out
Grass roots on firs in midterm campaign...Sari Gelzer
Pombo Meets His Match - Jerry McNerny's "People Power." Strong grass-roots mobilization paired with a dissatisfaction with Pombo's support of Big Oil's and developer's interests over his local constituents' needs has brought even Republican voters to the conclusion that they are no longer being represented by their Republican candidate, with some choosing to vote for McNerny this election.

CNN "Broken Government" To Air Thursday Night
Thurs. 8PM CNN will air a segment on the House Republican-led effort "To allow Congress to reverse the judgments of the United States Supreme Court." Pombo is featured prominently in the ad for the show. 8PM Thurs; rebroadcast at 11PM.

Pombo and his flawed ethics don't deserve support
Lodi Sentinel
Oct 21, 2006 - 07:16:49 am
www.lodinews.com/articles/2006/10/24/opinion/guzzardi/guzzardi_061021.txt - 52k
Last week, the Lodi News-Sentinel tepidly endorsed Congressional incumbent Richard Pombo, citing vague reasons like "bright," "amiable," and has "solid conservative values." But the News-Sentinel then listed alarming reasons not to support Pombo, including donations he received from convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff and from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he oversees in the House. And the News-Sentinel noted that Pombo has hired and retained his wife to work on his re-election staff. Unmentioned is that Pombo also hired his brother and paid both over the last three election cycles more than $370,000 for "bookkeeping" and "consulting."If you don't think these salaries are excessive for the jobs performed, just try to imagine what you, as a non-Pombo family member would be paid. More abuses that the News-Sentinel did not include but which are written up by the Committee on Standards of Official Conduct are Pombo's support of two new freeway projects (the Pombo family owns 1,500 acres near the freeway), his opposition to environmental standards, an excessive and inappropriate use of franking privileges and use of federal funds for campaign expenses…

Oct. 22, 2006

Stockton Record
Shaping the future of agriculture-rich Valley...Hank Shaw
TRACY - Richard Pombo's cattle ranch sprawls over the suede hillsides of the Coastal Range. Several hundred Angus - black and red - mixed with young Holsteins bound for dairies from Tulare to Tulelake wander the open feedlot below his house. Whether he wins or loses his bid for an eighth term in Congress, Pombo will always have his herd. Pombo is vice chairman of the House Agriculture Committee and is in line to take over that panel in 2009 - if he wins and if his fellow Republicans retain control of the House. Pombo's opponent, Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney, is not an expert on agriculture. He said securing a seat on the Agriculture Committee is not one of his top priorities should he beat Pombo next month, but McNerney says he is rapidly getting up to speed on the industry's issues. Pombo and McNerney agree that the key to next year's Farm Bill debate...

Pombo denies doing big favors for Big Oil...Rep. Richard W. Pombo, R-Tracy
The Record's decision to run a Los Angeles Times story last Sunday ("Pombo bill gives tax incentives to oil companies") was a disservice to readers. The Times has a penchant for tainting its reporting with a liberal slant and willfully neglecting the facts...subject of this story was legislation passed by the House of Representatives in June that was designed to increase American energy supplies from a resource known as oil shale. To put it to work for consumers, however, we must create incentives for producers to invest the necessary risk capital in America instead of overseas. The oil-shale legislation does that by giving them a break on production royalties - or taxes. This upfront incentive to invest in America - or "tax break for Big Oil" as liberals who fail to understand supply-and-demand principals in a global free-market economy like to put it - would create hundreds of thousands of good jobs, generate billions in corporate income tax revenue for the federal government and lessen our dependence on foreign sources. Describing this legislation as a "favor to Big Oil" is intellectually bankrupt and constitutes journalistic malpractice. Was I doing oil companies a favor when I sponsored the House-passed legislation to recover $13 billion in lost royalty payments they owe the taxpayers?

Oct. 21, 2006

Vote could change balance of power...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
Democratic control of Congress would be a mixed bag for California and the Central Valley, shifting power, status and priorities in ways that defy easy pre- election reckoning. "I don't expect it to happen," Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, said of a Democratic takeover... Democrats increasingly anticipate they will retake control of the House and possibly the Senate on Nov. 7. "It becomes possible I could be a subcommittee chairman," mused Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, "but I don't know yet what will be available or offered." University of California political scientist Bruce Cain added that a chairman's powers will vary with the style of party leadership. "We have not done anything besides preliminary discussions," Cardoza said. "We don't want to put the cart before the horse." Other California muscle is also at risk. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, chairs the House Resources Committee. Californians lead the House Appropriations and Armed Services committees, overseeing money and the military. A conservative Californian oversees jobs and schools, as chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. Brian Kennedy, spokesman for Pombo's House Resources Committee, adding that a Democratic takeover "obviously would affect the Valley's ability to bring home certain projects." Besides chairmanships, some Californians could gain influence in a Democratic-controlled House. Cardoza and Fresno Democrat Jim Costa, for instance, belong to the centrist Blue Dog Coalition. The group's three dozen middle-of-the-road members would like to be the dealmakers in a narrowly divided House. But this also poses some political risk for individual members; for instance, if a liberal House leadership began expecting party discipline from the centrist Democrats in order to pass high-profile bills.

San Francisco Chronicle
Pombo's letter fills the mailbox
U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo's ludicrous complaint (Letters, Oct. 19) in response to The Chronicle's endorsement of his opponent deserves a point-by-point response....RODGER SCHLICKEISEN, President Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund Washington, D.C.
-- He repeats his claim that the only "link" between him and convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff is Abramoff's unsolicited donations to his campaign. Hogwash. Abramoff's own billing records show that he lobbied Pombo and his staff 13 times between 1996 and 2001.
-- He denies that he favors drilling off California's coast because the legislation he sponsored only permitted it and didn't require it. If Pombo didn't support drilling, all he had to do was let the moratorium continue. But instead, he proposed to allow it if and when a willing governor won election.
-- He goes through his repeated assertion that he wasn't weakening the science in the Endangered Species Act and suggests that the House's passage of his bill somehow vindicates him. Why, then, was his bill repudiated by endangered species experts and editorial boards across the country? So extreme was his bill that not even the Bush administration promoted it, and it died when the Republican-controlled Senate refused to consider it.
-- He wants us to forget his proposal to sell off 15 national parks. The fact is that he actually drafted a full bill...
-- He claims that the only role disgraced House Majority Leader Tom DeLay played in securing for him the chairmanship of the Natural Resources Committee was to vote for him. Nonsense. It was well known in Washington that Pombo was able to leapfrog over many senior Republicans on that committee only because DeLay insisted Pombo, one of his lieutenants, be given the position. Several moderate Republicans were so angered by the slight to other, more senior, more deserving and more respected committee members that they actually spoke to the press about it, which duly reported it for the public to read. The reporting was not refuted. Suffice it to say that The Chronicle made a wise endorsement when it chose to endorse Jerry McNerney rather than the incumbent, who is not only the most extreme anti-environmentalist in Congress, but also has been identified as one of the 13 most corrupt members of Congress. California and the nation deserve better.
Has he forgotten?...PETER PETROSKI, Danville...Editor -- Richard Pombo's letter states "I never suggested, proposed, voted for, or endorsed" the selling off of national parks. At the Oct. 5 debate in Tracy, he told the audience "I floated the idea to see what interest there was." Thursday night at a forum in Dublin, he took the middle ground and asserted "It was a proposal some of the staffers worked on, not something I did." The "truth" to Mr. Pombo seems to be set in a geopolitical context: The more left (San Francisco) we are, the more he distances himself from his message to his core constituency. To continue the recent crossover trend, I, a Danville Republican, will not vote for Richard Pombo.
Condemned critics...DAN JULIAN, Kensington...Editor -- Richard Pombo, in his angry response to The Chronicle's endorsement of Jerry McNerney for Congress, included among many other complaints against The Chronicle that their article was laden with "heresy."
'Dullard's' dictionary...DAVE MURPHY, Petaluma...Editor -- Yet another reason not to vote for Richard Pombo: He doesn't know the difference between ''hearsay'' and ''heresy.''
For the record ... THOMAS LETCHFIELD, Palo Alto...Editor -- In his Oct. 19 letter, "Richard Pombo fires back," he exposes the many errors and misstatements in your editorial opposing him. In fairness, I think you ought to acknowledge them. I'm not holding my breath.
Not forthright...CATHERINE GODLEWSKI, Dublin...Editor -- As a constituent of Richard Pombo's, I contacted his office via e-mail several times, urging him to support the American Horse Slaughter Prevention Act. A phone call was also logged to his office. After months, a response specific to this piece of legislation was finally received from Mr. Pombo's office, including that the bill had passed. What Mr. Pombo failed to include was he had voted to reject it. Fact.
Not representing us...MARIAM ES-HAQ, Stockton ...Editor -- Richard Pombo is a poster child for corruption

Contra Costa Times
Show Pombo you oppose sex trade...Paul Corrado, Livermore
IS THERE a connection between young women forced into the sex trade, forced to have abortions, working 12 to 14 hour days in sweatshops, and Rep. Richard Pombo's House chairmanship? Any credence to the bipartisan outrage by Alaska's governor, conservative Republican Frank Murkowski, and House Democrat George Miller about this happening on American soil? Yes. Has Miller asked Pombo to hold hearings on these conditions? Yes. Rebuffed? Yes. Did the Senate vote to apply U.S. labor laws to the U.S. Territory Northern Mariana Islands, whose capital is Saipan? Yes, unanimously. Was an attempt to bring this issue to the floor of the House thwarted when Pombo refused to hold hearings? Yes. Is clothing made in Saipan labeled "Made in USA"? Yes. After spending two hours Internet researching what I believed to be hyperbola, an ugly picture emerged.

Ms. Magazine
Saipan Revisited...Kathrine Spillar, Executive Editor of Ms. Magazine...National/Summer 2006
Ms. cover story sparks ire and action; more Abramoff scandals uncovered. “Article ignores the great strides we’ve made.” That was the headline in the Saipan Tribune in response to the Spring 2006 Ms. cover story on abusive garment sweatshops, forced abortions and sex trafficking in the Northern Mariana Islands (of which Saipan is the largest).
Congressman Geroge Miller...US House of Representatives
Abramoff-Congress Scandal Includes Labor/Immigration/Electoral Abuse in U.S. Territory...Congressman George Miller
From: Office of Congressman George Miller
Date: January 3, 2006
Subject: Abramoff-Congress Scandal Includes Potential Electoral Fraud and Blocking Congressional Efforts to Stop Labor, Human Rights, and Immigrations Abuse in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands (U.S. CNMI)

The announcement today of a guilty plea by Republican Lobbyist Jack Abramoff provides an important opportunity to bring Abramoff and others to justice for a number of crimes. It also provides a significant opportunity to fully uncover a long-standing but unresolved scandal involving Abramoff, members of Congress, their staff, and others to prevent Congress from passing legislation to end serious labor, human rights, and immigration abuses in the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands and to investigate interference with local elections in that U.S. territory. “In addition to the million-dollar payment involving the London law firm, for example, half a million dollars was donated to the U.S. Family Network by the owners of textile companies in the Mariana Islands in the Pacific, according to the tax records. The textile owners -- with Abramoff's help -- solicited and received DeLay's public commitment to block legislation that would boost their labor costs, according to Abramoff associates, one of the owners and a DeLay speech in 1997.”-- Washington Post story, 12/31/05
Below is a link to the series of letters between Miller and Chairman Pombo and the Justice Department explaining the need for a full investigation of Abramoff’s dealing with the U.S. CNMI and the role that members of Congress, their staffs, and other lobbyists played in blocking reform legislation and possibly interfering in local elections. http://www.house.gov/georgemiller/abramoff.html

Oct. 20, 2006

Sacramento Bee
McNerney for Congress...Editorial
During his 14 years in the House of Representatives, Richard Pombo has represented the 11th Congressional District, which stretches from San Joaquin County to Santa Clara County. Along the way he has amassed a dubious list of financial supporters -- development interests, Indian gaming tribes, oil companies, foreign mining concerns and some of the most corrupt people in Washington, D.C. To earn that support, Pombo has embraced potentially disastrous environmental policies; suggested selling off national parks; tried to engineer giveaways of natural resources; and embraced drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and off both coasts. All of these interests have returned his support in the form of contributions. This record speaks for itself -- and loudly enough that voters should get the message and return Pombo to private life. If you prefer the politics of extremes; if you're OK with selling off national parks; if backroom deal-making and tainted money suit you; if you embrace out-of-balance budgets and the concentration of wealth -- Pombo's your man. But he is no longer representing the true interests of his district, state or nation. That's ample reason for voters to send Jerry McNerney to Congress.

Election 2006...Voice of Voters
Congressman cares for us...Ralph Jones, Tracy... EDITOR, I will vote for Congressman Richard Pombo on Nov. 7 because he knows the issues and cares about his constituency. He knows whom he went to Washington to represent — we the voters who commute across the Altamont, the ones that $3-a-gallon gas matters the most. I have lived in Tracy nearly 11 years and have seen my commute time to Silicon Valley nearly double while wages stagnanted and gas prices more than doubles. Pombo knows his constituency. This is why I support him. Whether it is his support for drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska or drilling off the coast of California to support America’s thirst for oil, I agree. His proposal for a new highway route to the Bay Area, relieving the congestion on the crowded Interstate 580-205 corridor is but one more reason that we have sent the right person to Washington. On a personal note, Pombo lent me his support when I lost my security clearance after 20 years working in the defense industry. It was a small matter, a misunderstanding. Pombo allowed me, Mr. Private Citizen, to be heard. Upon enlisting his help, the matter was quickly resolved. That is why I know and believe that Pombo does not take the voice or vote of his constituency for granted.

Pombo linked to Ives...Mike Boyd, Soquel... EDITOR, Washington, D.C., lobbyist money has finally made it to Tracy with the announcement that Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, gave $25,000 for the defeat of Brent Ives’ mayoral opponent, Celeste Garamendi. That’s a nice payoff for Ives, who has supported the Pombo family’s economic interests surrounding the old antenna farm. Pombo’s family owns land around the antenna farm, and in order to keep a prison off the site, Pombo passed legislation to sell the property to the city so Tracy’s children can play soccer over 36-inch and 24-inch natural gas pipelines. In 1999, the Tracy Planning Commission turned the site down for Tracy Learning Center because placing students near large gas pipelines is not a great idea. Doesn’t matter to Pombo and Ives, since there is money to be made. The antenna farm is also located next to the Tracy Biomass Plant and the Owens-Illinois glass container plant, two of the top industrial polluters in San Joaquin County. The San Joaquin Valley Pollution Control District said there was a less hazardous site for the sports park, but Ives and Pombo have their own agenda. Looks like the next endangered species Pombo is targeting may be the children in Tracy.

Oct. 19, 2006

Capitol Weekly
By David L. Dayen
After the census of 2000, Democrats and Republicans in the state Legislature
made a Faustian bargain, agreeing to preserve their own hides by
gerrymandering the state so resolutely, and so specifically, that it would
be impossible to ever flip seats from one party to the next. It was a
textbook example of what is wrong with politics; an example not of the
voters picking their representatives, but the representatives picking the
voters. In virtually all elections since, this theory held, with every
single seat remaining in the same party's hands in 2004.

But, as Robert Burns once wrote, "The best laid plans of mice and men oft go
awry." In fact, there are at least two House races in California this year
that are defying the odds, and if these two Democrats are successful, they
could help to shift the balance of power in Congress. In CA 11, incumbent
Rep. Richard Pombo is facing wind energy expert and businessman Jerry
McNerney; and in CA 04, Rep. John Doolittle is being challenged by Charlie
Brown, an ex-Republican Air Force Lt. Colonel (Ret.) who served in every
forward action from Vietnam to Operation Desert Storm…

San Francisco Chronicle
Richard Pombo fires back...U.S. Rep. RICHARD W. POMBO, 11th District, Tracy...Letters to the editor
Editor -- I did not expect to receive the San Francisco Chronicle's endorsement, but when you gave your blessing to my opponent I certainly did not expect it to be based on factual inaccuracies or laden with political innuendo and heresy. You state that I have had "links to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff," though the only possible "link" to which you can point came in the form of unsolicited contributions to my campaign, the sum of which I donated to the Boys & Girls Clubs when Abramoff pleaded guilty to federal crimes. The fact is Mr. Abramoff never lobbied me on a single bill or a solitary vote -- ever.
I favor drilling off California's coasts, you assert, even though the bipartisan legislation I sponsored would have made that the exclusive decision of coastal states themselves. Our state would have garnered complete and unfettered power to ban offshore drilling from Sacramento -- instead of Washington -- forever. Even the Washington Post had the moderate sense to endorse this legislation before it was passed by the House of Representatives in June.
I also want to "downgrade the science around endangered species designations," you write, even though the scientific standard used in the Endangered Species Act is three decades old and couldn't possibly be "downgraded" any further. The bipartisan legislation I sponsored and the House passed would have updated this standard to match those used in effective laws such as the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and virtually all the rules and regulations that apply to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's scientific rule-making processes.
And you actually printed an urban legend of the liberal blogosphere when you stipulated that I think the less popular National Parks "should be sold off" -- a proposition I never suggested, proposed, voted for or endorsed. Period.
Even my appointment to the chairmanship of the Resources Committee is tainted, according to your editorial, because it came "at the behest of" former-Rep. Tom DeLay. Assuming Mr. DeLay did vote for me (committee chairman are selected by secret ballot), he would have been only one of the thirty-something votes I needed from the Steering Committee to secure the position.
My opponent and I have very different ideas when it comes to solving the problems facing this country. Liberals and conservatives always do. But I would have respected the editorial board's decision to endorse my opponent had it been deliberated based on those differences. It was not. To the contrary, your endorsement appears to have been a forgone conclusion based on the fact that he places a (D) instead of an (R) at the end of his name and reads like it was drafted using a blend of Greenpeace talking points and Democrat National Committee scripts from the "character assassination" file. Coming from a publication whose readers count themselves among America's liberal and intellectual elite, this conservative "dullard" is not impressed.

Dems see 2 House seats the think GOP can lose...Edward Epstein
Increasingly confident Democratic campaign strategists have added the seats of two veteran Northern California Republican congressmen, Richard Pombo of Tracy and John Doolittle of Rocklin in Placer County, to the list of contests they think they can win on Nov. 7.

Inside Bay Area
Outside TV ads blur race in Tracy...Mike Martinez
TRACY - A political action committee from Sacramento with ties to developers and U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo has spent more on the Tracy mayoral race - almost $58,000 - than all the candidates for mayor in the last two elections combined - $21,150 -according to public documents. Ads paid for by the committee targeting Celeste Garamendi and her opposition to a developer-built youth sports complex have been appearing on MSNBC and the Fox News Channel on Comcast Cable. In its filings with the city, HAT PAC named Garamendi as the candidate supported or opposed in the race for mayor of Tracy. Garamendi said the ad blitz is aimed at electing Garamendis opponent, Brent Ives, and maintaining a pro-development City Council. Never in the history of Tracy has this much money been spent in any kind of mayors race or local race, Garamendi said. In the last race, $15,000 thought to be a lot. Funds for the committee have come from $25,000 donations from a political action committee managed by Pombo, who Ives has said publicly endorses his candidacy for mayor... John Feliz, a political consultant and a director of HAT PAC, said they invest in areas that are pro-business and Tracys mayoral election has a good pro-business candidate were investing in. Consultants retained by Ives campaign for mayor would probably be paid by the PAC, he said.

New York Times
Mr. Pombo's Map...Editorial
When you add up the energy resources of the American West, one of the biggest items in the ledger is oil shale - rock formations containing deposits that can be distilled, by heating, into oil. The processes for extracting oil shale are still hugely expensive...
because the potential environmental costs are staggering. You can pump oil from oil shale by heating the underground formations, with untold effect on groundwater. Or you can dig it all up, cart it away and heat it somewhere else, scarring vast tracts of the West. None of this has stopped Congressman Richard Pombo of California - champion of the idea that we can drill our way to energy independence - from throwing yet another economic bone to the energy sector. In a little-noticed provision of the much- reviled Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act - which the House passed in June and the Senate will take up when Congress returns - Mr. Pombo lowered the royalty rate for oil shale from 12.5 percent to 1 percent. Should the day arrive when the price of shale oil becomes competitive, this could turn out to be an extraordinary giveaway of federal revenue (most oil shale lies under federal land) and a huge incentive to wreak environmental damage. None of this is surprising. Mr. Pombo has been well- financed by oil and gas producers. He has done his best to give away public resources and throw away prudent restraints on energy exploration. We believe that this country must pursue energy independence. But unlike Mr. Pombo, we believe that there is a vibrant new economy to be found in conservation and that is where our future lies. When we try to envision the America that Mr. Pombo has mapped out for us, all we can see is a nation committed to devouring itself, one barrel of oil at a time.

Oct. 18, 2006

Modesto Bee
Pombo a poor legacy to leave to heirs...Debra Renfroe, Escalon...What kind of legacy are we leaving our children and grandchildren if we allow Richard Pombo to remain in office? He has been responsible for writing legislation that has destroyed environmental protections that took years to establish. His position on drilling in Alaska is unwavering in spite of the effect it will have on the delicate environmental balance of the area and the world. Do we want to leave our future up to someone who has been included in a list of the most corrupt politicians in Congress? It is time for a change by voting for Jerry McNerney. He has the expertise in environmental issues and will truly represent the people of this district.

Sacramento Bee
The friends of fixers, gamblers and sweatshops...Peter Schrag
What is it about the Central Valley that produces so much political muck?...Manteca Congressman John McFall, Rep. Tony Coelho of Merced, Democrat Gary Condit of Ceres, and now we have Rep. Richard Pombo of Tracy and Rep. John Doolittle of Roseville. Neither Doolittle nor Pombo has been charged with anything illegal. But the goop trailing behind them makes the transgressions of their Valley predecessors look almost benign. Just tracing their links to Abramoff and the sweatshop-dominated Northern Mariana Islands and the Indian gambling interests that were his biggest clients would take a wall-size diagram. In a recent debate with Jerry McNerney, his Democratic opponent, Pombo declared that Abramoff "never once lobbied me on anything." He'd barely met the guy. But records of the Northern Marianas government show that Abramoff billed his clients there for contacts with Pombo and his staff. How did a rancher from Tracy get so interested in those remote Pacific islands? The low-wage garment industry on the islands, which are U.S. territory, can label its products "Made in U.S.A." When the industry fought to block legislation that would have ended its exemptions from U.S. immigration and labor laws, Pombo and Doolittle were happy to help. Pombo got some $6,500 in individual contributions from the Marianas, but they pale beside the $250,000 he collected in the last two election cycles from Indian gambling interests, most of them Abramoff clients. Thanks to DeLay, Pombo chairs the House Resources Committee, which oversees Indian casinos. No congressman got more from the tribes in those years than Pombo. Back in 1994 Doolittle and Pombo both signed the GOP Contract With America, which promised to restore "the faith and trust of the American people in their government" and to root out "waste, fraud and abuse." Is this how they honor it?

Lodi News-Sentinel
Pombo for Congress — but he must clear ethical clouds...Editorial...10-14-06
We are endorsing incumbent Richard Pombo for Congress.Pombo is bright, amiable and adheres to solid conservative values. He is against higher taxes and he has worked diligently on behalf of veterans. He has risen to a position of substantial power in Congress, serving as chairman of the House Resources Committee. His opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, is a thoughtful, soft-spoken and decent fellow. But McNerney is a political newbie. While he would be an excellent college professor (he holds a doctorate in mathematics) he would, in our view, be a relatively ineffectual member of Congress.Yet this endorsement comes with reservations.There are fair questions being raised about Pombo's ethics. He has received campaign donations from the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has received money from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he controls as a legislative leader. Critics contend he has traded financial favor for legislative action. Pombo has also continued to employ his wife, Annette, as a campaign consultant. None of this reflects well on the rancher from Tracy. We hope that, once re-elected, Pombo will take pains to clear the ethical clouds above him. As a veteran leader of Congress, he can and should use his power to push for higher standards of conduct and accountability.

Tracy Press
Perfect political storm...John Upton
While Rep. Richard Pombo is giving money to torpedo Celeste Garamendi's run at mayor... On the same day that Tracy councilman and mayoral candidate Brent Ives appeared to dismiss a proposal by Councilwoman Irene Sundberg to spend city money on youth sports fields and a swimming pool, Ives’ opponent and Sundberg ally Celeste Garamendi revealed Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, has given $25,000 to sink her campaign. AKT wants to give the city money to build sports fields in exchange for the right to build homes in 2012. AKT is owned by the Tsakopoulos family, and records show Katherine Tsakopoulos gave $2,100 to Pombo’s campaign in early July. Garamendi sees in the Pombo donation an effort by a corporate cabal to maintain power in Tracy. “The money is being directed 100 percent at maintaining the special-interest control of the council,” said Garamendi...
“Pombo has historically supported unrestrained development. Pombo’s Rich PAC gave $25,000 three weeks ago to a group led by the campaign manager of Rep. John Doolittle, R-Rocklin, to run attack ads against Garamendi, a community activist who for years has defeated big developers on ballot-box initiatives. Angelo Tsakopoulos gave $4,200 to Doolittle in June, records show. Assessor maps show Pombo’s family owns about 800 acres of largely undeveloped land in Tracy’s sphere of influence, where a slow-growth law championed by Garamendi and passed by voters in 2000 dramatically slowed the number of new homes that can be built. Garamendi previously vowed to do “everything legally possible” if elected mayor to block controversial deals that Ives, outgoing mayor Dan Bilbrey and incumbent council candidate Suzanne Tucker asked city employees to negotiate with The Surland Co. and AKT Development. The deals would let AKT and Surland build 500 of the 600 homes that can be built in Tracy every year from 2012 under the slow-growth law until 9,700 homes are built in exchange for at least $40 million in sports facilities and 35 acres of land. Garamendi’s husband, attorney Mark Connolly, has taken the city to court arguing that the deals break the slow-growth law by trading away more than 225 homebuilding permits every year. Attorneys for the city argued that voters never intended to limit the number of homes that can be built by agreement with developers.The deal with AKT Development would help pay for dozens of sports fields on 150 of the 200 acres of western Tracy land being purchased by the city at a bargain rate of $950,000 from the Prisons Bureau under a special law written by Pombo and passed by Congress in 1998. The legislation requires that a quarter of the land be used for economic development such as a business park. The legislation helped prevent a federal prison from being built on the land. The 50 acres earmarked by the city for economic development are on the northwest corner of the site, which is colloquially called the antenna farm, next to 18 acres of Pombo family land on Schulte Road. In nearby western Tracy, Pombo’s uncle, Ernest Pombo, owns 122 acres of land on South Hansen Road, 468 acres on Lammers Road, and 140 acres on West Byron Road. The homes that would be built by AKT Development in exchange for at least $20 million for the 150 acres of sports fields would be built on AKT’s 5,500-home southwest Tracy Hills housing and business project. Pombo’s campaign consultant, Wayne Johnson, said he knew nothing of Pombo’s $25,000 donation. Pombo’s campaign manager, Carl Fogliani, did not reply to a phone call and an e-mail.

Tracy Press
Very poor rich man...Rick Lane, Tracy Press...Voters' Voices
Rep Richard Pombo made a choice while in office, and it wasn't to side with the average Americans he represents. There is a cancer in Congress. Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, is at the epicenter of this cancer. And he has used the power we have entrusted in him as our representative to help spread it and hide it, at the expense of our health and our prosperity. Pombo faced a choice: integrity or corruption. He chose corruption. He did this because he believes corruption pays better than integrity. Mr. Pombo...Do you see only our wallets and not our hopes and dreams...What have we done to earn your dishonesty...I voted for you and defended you and am now ashamed of that fact. I think Richard Pombo is a great example of a very poor rich man.

Rude activists...Jean Burgess, Tracy...Voters' Voices
Jerry McNerney's rowdy backers at a recent forum provided a stark contrast between him and Rep. Richard Pombo. I have known Pombo since he first ran for Congress in 1992. He is straightforward, ethical and honest, and he always returns home to tell us exactly what is going on in Washington, D.C. He is being unfairly maligned and lied about by his opposition. I’m proud to be his supporter.

Inside Bay Area
Pombo-McNerney contest heats up as election nears...Josh Richman
The battle between House Resources Committee chairman Richard Pombo and his Democratic challenger Jerry McNerney, already the Bay Area's only hot congressional race, seemed to shift into overdrive last week. With three weeks left until Election Day, McNerney of Pleasanton stepped up his already lively campaign by appearing with prominent House Democrats, making hay over the former Rep. Mark Foley sexual e-mail scandal, bringing a Bay Area congressional press aide aboard his campaign as spokesman and launching a new television commercial. Pombo, R-Tracy, denied new allegations that he'd been directly contacted by disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff twice in 1996; continued his direct appeal to voters with a mailer inviting them to call him at his Tracy home; and saw the National Republican Congressional Committee spend more than $52,000 last week for mailings and phone banks against McNerney, bringing the NRCC's total spending on the race since Sept. 1 to about $536,000. Democratic pollster Greenberg Quinlan Rosner's late-September survey found McNerney leading Pombo 48 percent to 46 percent; with a five-point margin of error, it was a statistical dead heat. But Pombo has said his own polling has consistently found he has a comfortable lead.

Contra Costa Times
Re-elect Rep. Pombo...Editorial
SINCE THE 11TH Congressional District was redrawn to include suburban parts of the Bay Area, Rep. Richard Pombo has faced stronger challenges from Democrats. This year turned out to be a particularly tough race against Pleasanton wind energy consultant Jerry McNerney. McNerney was not the choice of the Democratic Party in the primary. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee viewed him as too liberal for the district and refused to include him in its fundraising program. Like many politicians from both parties, McNerney has moved toward the center after the primary. Pombo has been a mainline Republican for his six terms in Congress, representing the interests of rural voters. He is a strong advocate of limited government, tax reduction, free trade and a strong national defense. He continues to support the Bush administration's tax reduction legislation and does not want to pull U.S. troops out of Iraq until the government there is able to operate on its own. Pombo has done a decent job representing his district and so far has adequately answered questions about connections to convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. Pombo has nearly 14 years of experience in Washington. McNerney has not held elective office and admits he would have little influence as a freshman legislator. He was not up to speed on some important tax issues that will be considered by Congress in the coming session. Although McNerney is sincere in his aspirations for change, we think voters will have a better representative by re-electing Richard Pombo to an eighth term.

Oct. 17, 2006

The Worst Congress Ever
How our national legislature has become a stable of thieves and perverts -- in five easy steps
Ten Worst Congressmen
No member of Congress has worked harder to savage America's natural resources than Pombo, a Stetson-wearing cattleman who ran for office after a nature trail was slated to run through his family's 500-acre ranch. As chairman of the House Resources Committee, Pombo has waged a career-long campaign to abolish the Endangered Species Act, which he accuses of putting "rats and shellfish" before people. Last year he almost succeeded: His comically titled "Threatened and Endangered Species Recovery Act" would have phased out all protection for threatened wildlife by 2015. Pombo has also won passage of bills to eliminate habitat protections on 150 million acres of wilderness and to lift a quarter-century moratorium on offshore oil drilling.
"Dick Pombo is the most dangerous member of the House," says Carl Pope of the Sierra Club. "There's no one who represents the threat to our public lands that he does."
But Pombo doesn't let his environmental attacks get in the way of his own profit: He raked in $35,000 from clients of disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, and paid his own wife and brother $357,000 for dubious campaign services. That's a quarter of every dollar raised by his political action committee -- known, aptly enough, as Rich PAC.

Stockton Record
Pombo flush for ad blitz...Hank Shaw
Federal records show the seven-term incumbent has raised $3.4 million for his re-election effort - three times more than he’s ever done - and Pombo intends to spend that cash on mail, radio, television or any other way he can think of to sway voters before Election Day...has more than $1 million left in his account, enough to buy wall-to-wall television and radio ads from now until Election Day. The reason for all this buck-raking is an unusually spirited challenge from Pleasanton wind-energy consultant Jerry McNerney. McNerney has raised more than $1.2 million through Sept. 30, making him by far Pombo’s best-funded opponent. But McNerney is reporting only $323,000 remaining in his campaign account, and he owes staffers and vendors $128,000. Fueling Pombo’s campaign are an array of real estate, agricultural, fishery, oil and energy interests, plus about $250,000 from his fellow Republicans. A look at Pombo’s campaign contributors turns up just about every farmer from Galt to Fresno, all the local developers, a Who’s Who of oil companies and the entire North Pacific fishing industry. And this doesn’t include the roughly $550,000 the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent on Pombo’s behalf for mailing, phone banking and polls. The National Right-to-Life PAC also has been helping Pombo. As for McNerney, his campaign is fueled largely by other Democrats, unions and retirees. Technology companies in Silicon Valley and beyond also have shown him significant support, as have teachers, trial lawyers and environmentalists. It is this last group that has supplied McNerney with his strongest outside aid: Defenders of Wildlife, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters all have been active in trying to beat Pombo. Several groups have hired full-time activists to organize in Pombo’s 11th District. Locally, the money chase isn’t even close. Pombo has raised $510,200 from San Joaquin County donors - nearly 18 times more than McNerney’s $28,650.

Tracy Press
Spending spree in big race...John Upton
Campaign donations have poured into the congressional race at a rate of $120,000 per week, and candidates are spending it. The campaign team behind Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, launched television and direct-mail pieces late last week claiming that Pombo’s opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, “said North Korea should be allowed to develop nuclear weapons without fear of U.S. military intervention.” But McNerney bit back at the Pombo claim, telling the Tracy Press that though he would prefer to see the U.S. contain North Korea’s nuclear program with diplomacy and economic sanctions, he would not rule out military options. “My son was in Korea, and I know the risks and danger of Korea,” McNerney said. “We have to use all of the tools that we have available to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. We have to look at North Korea as a containment issue.” McNerney wrote in a project VoteSmart survey that he didn’t support the “United States using military force to dismantle the North Korea nuclear weapons program.” McNerney deleted the survey answer in late July. “Obviously, they already changed their answer on that, because they knew that the voters should be shocked and appalled,” Fogliani said. Meanwhile, the McNerney camp is attacking Pombo over veterans’ issues with an advertisement on San Francisco and Sacramento television stations. “Hundreds of American soldiers lost arms or legs in Iraq,” a voice-over says. “Congressman Richard Pombo added insult to injury when he voted against research to improve prosthetic limbs for veterans.” Fogliani said Pombo voted last May against the amendment to the military appropriations bill that would have increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs by $53 million, because it would have caused “unnecessary delays in the (Base Realignment and Closure) process.” The amendment failed by one vote....

San Francisco Chronicle
The Chronicle Recommends...Replace Pombo wioth McNerney
LINKS TO disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff, efforts to gut wildlife protections and sell off national parks, and a blessing to offshore oil drilling. That's the profile of U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo...this time his ethical stumbles and radical positions should catch up with him. His opponent, engineer Jerry McNerney brings a low-key probity that the district and House deserve. Pombo's positions are simply out of step with the core values of a state that treasures its natural resources... He wants to downgrade the science around endangered species designations, making habitat-destroying development easier. It's a special cause for Pombo, a rancher with allies who want to build in his sprawling, fast-growing district. As for national parks, he thinks there are too many, and the less popular ones should be sold off. It's not just ideology that disqualifies Pombo. It's ethics too. He was jumped from junior member to chairman of the House Resources Committee at the behest of scandal-tainted Rep. Tom DeLay. Pombo's campaign donations included $7,500 from the disgraced Abramoff and another $30,000 from Abramoff clients. If you are judged in politics by the company you keep, Pombo fails the test. His challenger McNerney lost to Pombo two years ago, and faces an uphill fight in a district designed to pool Republican voters in a Democratic state. But even within his own party, Pombo is proving an embarrassment. He should be retired.

Inside Bay Area
Pombo bill could bring him benefits...Mike Martinez...10-16-06
TRACY - Tall brown grass, a couple of houses, some power lines and cattle are the only objects easily visible on the 200 acres south of Tracy owned by U.S. Rep. Richard Pombo and his immediate family. The grasslands are also prime breeding grounds for the San Joaquin kit fox, which is an endangered species. With a plan for development being revived at the San Joaquin County level, and through revisions of the Endangered Species Act of 1973 that have been championed by Pombo, the Tracy Republican and his family could make a lot of money if the legislation ever makes it out of the U.S. Senate, where it has been stalled for the past year. The bill would compensate property owners if they are unable to develop their land because it was designated a habitat for an endangered animal or plant. Pombo, who was elected to Congress in 1994 and quickly began advocating for changes to the Endangered Species Act, said the only way he could get paid - if the bill is ever signed into law - is if the U.S. Department of Fish and Wildlife Services said he couldn't graze cattle there anymore. "Then you could be compensated on your ag value," Pombo said. "You can't go in and say I want to build a skyscraper, have Fish and Wildlife say no and get aid. That's written on purposeso people couldn't say it's there to pay off developers. You can only be compensated for what the current zoning is." Under bill HR 3824 - passed by the House in September 2005 - "financial conservation aid" can be given to "alleviate the burden of conservation measures imposed upon private property owners." Recently the plan to develop the area, which includes the Pombo property and bumps up against Tracy's city limits, resurfaced. The city of Tracy was so concerned about another new town - immediately south of the proposed Tracy Hills development - they asked a county staff member to discuss it at a recent meeting. No applications have been submitted, but the proposed project... In 2004, city voters rejected developer-backed initiatives, Measures U and V, which would have granted home-builders rights outside of Measure A, the city's slow growth initiative passed in 2000... Pete McCloskey, the original author of the Endangered Species Act of 1973, said providing financial aid for developers who can't build on land designated as habitat would "bankrupt" U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, who then wouldn't be able to preserve anything. "I was proud of that act and I still am," said McCloskey, who lost to Pombo in the Republican primary and has now endorsed Pombo's Democratic challenger, Jerry McNerney. "You can always change it and tinker with things. This guy really wants to gut the act. It's based on the fact that it inhibits development of his own property and his friends' (properties)."

Contra Costa Times
Pombo, Doolittle boast brimming war chests...Samantha Young, AP
GOP candidates' fundraising efforts leave rivals lagging, but neither can shake Abramoff ties. Among Pombo's notable contributions in the last quarter were $4,600 given by members of the Tsakopoulos family, relatives of Sacramento real estate developer Angelo Tsakopoulos, who is a major contributor to Democrats. McNerney had raised nearly $1.2 million in his bid for the Central Valley seat, including $713,000 in the most recent period. Fogliani called the McNerney campaign's assessment a "cheap character assassination." Neither Pombo nor Doolittle's reports include an estimated $400,000 and $600,000 raised by President Bush at respective fundraisers in their districts earlier this month.

Oct. 16, 2006

Pombo raises $3.1M in battle to keep seat...Samantha Young
Pombo had $1.1 million as of Sept. 30, the last day of the filing period. He had raised $3.1 million overall to defend his seat, nearly a third of that over the summer. He may need it. Pombo opponent and wind energy engineer Jerry McNerney had $334,000 on hand at the end of last month and has raised $250,000 since, said McNerney spokesman Yoni Cohen. "No amount of money from corporate lobbyists can save Richard Pombo's sinking ship," Cohen said. "Despite spending half a million dollars on desperate attack ads against Jerry McNerney, national Republicans have seen Pombo's standing deteriorate." McNerney had raised $1.2 million, including $713,000 in the most recent period. On the Net: Read the reports, www.fec.gov.

Mercury News
Republicans should give Pombo the boot...Editorial
Pombo, the seven-term congressman from Tracy, will take delight in proclaiming that we oppose his re-election because we don't like his radical views that call for eviscerating smart environmental laws. But the case for why Democrats and Republicans should support McNerney's candidacy in the sprawling 11th Congressional District goes far beyond Pombo's desire to sell off national parks, drill for oil off the Pacific Coast and make the Endangered Species Act extinct. Pombo is a national disgrace to the Republican Party. His unseemly connections to scandal-ridden lobbyist Jack Abramoff should be an embarrassment to all Republicans. A Washington watchdog group, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics, put him on its list of the 13 most corrupt Republicans and Democrats in Congress. And his questionable connections to oil companies, gambling interests and mining companies have been well documented. Pombo is such a bad role model that even Pete McCloskey, Pombo's challenger in the primary election, couldn't bring himself to endorse his fellow Republican this fall. Declaring ``enough is enough,'' McCloskey said he will vote for McNerney on Nov. 7. So should all voters in the 11th Congressional District.

Oct. 15, 2006

Los Angeles Times
How California helps protect GOP power...Tony Quinn
Gerrymandered districts almost ensure no state Republicans will lose their seats even in the worst of times...bipartisan decisions made five years ago to gerrymander congressional district lines in California and other states may be all that's left to save the GOP from losing control of Congress. When the California Legislature redrew the state's political lines in 2001, the priority of both Democrats and Republicans was to put a lock on their respective districts. Four GOP incumbent congressmen had lost in the 2000 election, and the party, fearful of losing even more in increasingly blue California, was desperate to hold on to its 20 seats in the House. Republicans offered Democrats a deal: Give us 20 safe seats in the redistricting plan, and you can do anything you want with the remaining 33. Before the 2001 redistricting, Pombo's district included heavily Democratic downtown Stockton. These voters were given to a neighboring Democrat, and Pombo's new district meandered all over the map in pursuit of Republican-voting suburbanites. In 2003, Stockton residents sued, claiming that Pombo's district violated a California constitutional provision requiring that districts should respect city and county boundaries and be geographically compact. California's congressional Democrats and both parties in the Legislature spent a nice hunk of taxpayer dollars defending their handiwork, and Pombo's district survived. In 2005, Democrats successfully fought to defeat Proposition 77, which would have provided for an immediate redrawing of legislative and congressional districts, despite the fact that their efforts were propping up a number of otherwise vulnerable GOP incumbents, among them Pombo.

Stockton Record
Record readers examine some pros and cons
Debate about Pombo continues...Pete McCloskey, Rumsey...A Sept. 9 letter in The Record suggested that "to infer that Congressman Pombo is in trouble during this campaign is untrue and deceitful." Like Ney and DeLay, Pombo took substantial sums from Abramoff in connection with the Northern Mariana Islands sweatshop and prostitution scandals. Three former congressional staffers working for Abramoff have pleaded guilty to conspiracy to bribe members of Congress. All three raised or gave substantial sums to Pombo, as did Kevin Ring... The wives of Pombo and Doolittle received, as did DeLay's wife, over $100,000 from their husbands' campaign funds. Ring took the Fifth Amendment rather than answer Senate questions regarding his relationship with Abramoff at the time he was giving money to Pombo. It's fair to inquire whether Pombo might be the next Republican leader to be subject of a Justice Department inquiry. His communications with Northern Mariana Islands officials have been subpoenaed by the Justice Department. Pombo could clear this all up simply by conducting the committee hearings that have been requested for many years by several of his committee members.
What has Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, done for his district?...Elizabeth Williams, Woodbridge...He voted for budget deficit reduction and more efficient use of our tax dollars...voted to strengthen Medicare...fights to protect our water supply...helped or co-sponsored three major acts and voted to fund 10 water projects in California and six water projects...secured $2,259,108 for schools...continues to work on trying to alleviate gridlock on the Interstate 205 and Interstate 580 corridors and is working on a new project to the South Bay (which doesn't go through any of his or his family's property)...voted to fix the Endangered Species Act...believes it's imperative that both sides work together to achieve the desired result. Pombo has achieved this without a lot of shouting and fanfare. All his achievements have been without raising our taxes.
I would have voted for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy...C. Sanders, Manteca...But one thing disturbs me greatly about our current representative - his failure to stand up for human rights. Pombo refuses to investigate well- documented reports of involuntary servitude, forced prostitution and forced abortion in the Northern Mariana Islands sweatshops. Why?

Mercury News
Pombo pushes for lower oil fees...Julie Cart
Tucked into a massive energy bill that would open the outer continental shelf to oil drilling are provisions that would slash future royalties owed to the federal government by companies prospecting in Rocky Mountain oil shale deposits. Sponsored by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Stockton, and passed by the House earlier this year, the bill would amend an existing requirement that the federal government receive a ``fair return'' from oil companies that hold oil shale leases on public lands. Instead, Pombo's bill would reduce royalties from the customary 12.5 percent of annual revenue to 1 percent. Further, the bill could cut the reduced rate by as much as 80 percent if the price of oil fell. The provision would benefit the energy industry, which is a heavy contributor to Pombo's re-election campaign.Pombo and others say oil companies need incentives to invest in the unproven billion-dollar technology, which squeezes oil from deep rock formations.The Senate is considering its own version of the House bill, expanding off-shore oil drilling. But it does not address oil shale royalties.

Oct. 14, 2006

It's a tough act to crack...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau...10-14-06
Tracy Republican Richard Pombo took office vowing to change the Endangered Species Act. In the 14 years since, he's delivered speeches, staged events and written bills. He's enjoyed perfect positions to pursue his signature issue, including, for the past four years, chairmanship of the House Resources Committee while his party has controlled both the House and Senate. The Endangered Species Act, though, remains unchanged since the day Pombo took office in January 1993. The same 22,300 words in the U.S. code then are still intact today. Which raises the fundamental question as Pombo faces a re-election challenge from Jerry McNerney, a Democrat from the Livermore Valley: What does the failure to revise the Endangered Species Act say about Pombo's legislative skills? "It's the sacred cow," Pombo said. "It is the big environmental law that takes precedence over everything." Pombo and his allies invariably cite the Senate as the current roadblock. In particular, they blame Rhode Island Republican Sen. Lincoln Chaffee... Pombo and Cardoza consider it a success that they moved their Endangered Species Act bill through the House last year... There's another view, and it's not exclusively held by Defenders of Wildlife, an environmental group now trying hard to defeat Pombo. Maryland Republican Wayne Gilchrest oppose Pombo's House bill. House Republican, Rep. Sherwood Boehlert of New York, said, "You can't put all the burden" on Pombo for the failure to revise the Endangered Species Act. "People don't want to come together." Pombo "is not a miracle worker, last time I looked." But while Boehlert today voices sympathy for Pombo's challenge, Pombo reacted sharply when a Bee reporter cited Boehlert's assessment from the mid-1990s that attacking the Endangered Species Act hurt GOP candidates. "He was wrong then," Pombo said of Boehlert. "He's been wrong a lot. "Nonetheless, 30 House Republicans in early 1996 warned GOP leaders in a letter that the party had "taken a beating this year over missteps in environmental policy." The Endangered Species Act debate then essentially hibernated until late 2004, when Pombo's staff members quietly began negotiating with the ranking Democrat on the House Resources Committee, Rep. Nick Rahall of West Virginia.

Lodi News-Sentinel
Editorial: Pombo for Congress — but he must clear ethical clouds

We are endorsing incumbent Richard Pombo for Congress.Pombo is bright, amiable and adheres to solid conservative values. He is against higher taxes and he has worked diligently on behalf of veterans.He has risen to a position of substantial power in Congress, serving as chairman of the House Resources Committee.His opponent, Democrat Jerry McNerney, is a thoughtful, soft-spoken and decent fellow.But McNerney is a political newbie. While he would be an excellent college professor (he holds a doctorate in mathematics) he would, in our view, be a relatively ineffectual member of Congress.Yet this endorsement comes with reservations.There are fair questions being raised about Pombo's ethics. He has received campaign donations from the convicted lobbyist Jack Abramoff. He has received money from the Indian tribes whose fortunes he controls as a legislative leader.Critics contend he has traded financial favor for legislative action.Pombo has also continued to employ his wife, Annette, as a campaign consultant.
None of this reflects well on the rancher from Tracy.We hope that, once re-elected, Pombo will take pains to clear the ethical clouds above him. As a veteran leader of Congress, he can and should use his power to push for higher standards …

Oct. 13, 2006

Tracy Press
Pombo's account is most plausible...Editorial
When deciding who to believe, Jack Abramoff or Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, the Press sides with the congressman. Whom do you trust? A former Washington, D.C., lobbyist who is going to jail for, among other transgressions, padding his billing records, or a popular local congressman who is seeking re-election to an eighth term? The topic was the Northern Mariana Islands... We trust Pombo’s accounting. The two dates that Abramoff billed for talking with Pombo are suspicious. Will this campaign season controversy come down to whether 10 years ago Pombo was home with his family or feasting with Abramoff at the lobbyist’s infamous Signatures restaurant in Washington? It’s that ridiculous.
Power corrupts...Wendy Kimsey, Pleasanton...Your Voice
As the saying goes: “Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” I was not surprised when I read in the newspaper that records show Pombo and his office had multiple contacts with disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff. I was also not surprised when I received a Pombo campaign flier that complained about the oil companies’ high profits, but didn’t state that Pombo received tens of thousands of dollars from these same oil companies as campaign contributions. Who is Pombo working for It’s not for the 11th District Constituents.
Contra Costa Times
Pombo confident as campaign roils...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
"Our internal polling shows me consistently ahead and that hasn't changed," said a relaxed Pombo during a meeting Thursday with the Contra Costa Times editorial board. "This race is different this year because it's one of the only real races in the state, so it's attracted every liberal activist within an hour's drive of the district." Pombo, R-Tracy, called his re-election campaign against Democrat Jerry McNerney high-profile but not tight... "Immigration is probably the biggest issue the Republicans in my district are talking about," Pombo said, "but it's not like they are not going to vote Republican." The congressman said billing records between Abramoff and a client, the Northern Mariana Islands, that show two contacts between Abramoff and Pombo in 1996 were the product of expense padding. He also disputed the accuracy of nearly a dozen contacts between Abramoff's staff and Pombo's staff noted in the records. Some of the records show that meetings took place between Abramoff's staff and Pombo's public affairs chief. "I have policy guys who meet with lobbyists," he said. "They don't meet with my communications chief." More importantly, Pombo said, he had no reason to meet with Abramoff. He was a junior member of Congress who had just published a book on property rights reform and had little interest in the Marianas. Why would I go to Saipan? It wasn't my issue." Ed Yoon, spokesman for Moveon.org and Defenders, remained unpersuaded. He believes Abramoff used campaign contributions to influence Pombo to vote favorably on bills that involved clients such as Indian tribes and the Mariana Islands, where reports of worker abuse and forced abortions would later drive Miller to demand a congressional investigation. Pombo refused to hold hearings.

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Cardoza and the UC Merced Campus Porkway

Submitted: Oct 07, 2006

Well, folks, here they are again. The Big Shots that want you to raise your sales taxes to fund the roads to their development projects have brought out Dennis Cardoza to make their arguments. Cardoza explained today in the local McClatchy Chain outlet how, if you vote to raise your sales taxes, he might be able to use it for leverage when petitioning the Federal Highway Administration, The Mother of Pork.

Unfortunately, his arguments aren't any more convincing than those in the primary election brochures that featured the farmer looking across his field to his barn, somewhere in Minnesota. Predictably, he chose two projects to emphasize -- the UC Merced Campus Parkway interchange and an interchange for highways 99 and 165, north of Hilmar.

The Campus Parkway, he says, "will be a critical element in the success of the development of the new UC Merced campus and the surrounding community."

It makes you wonder how Stanford University and UC Berkeley ever survived, surrounded by highly congested urban streets and boulevards. How on earth can UCSF compete in medical research, stuck way out there in the middle of San Francisco and its legendary traffic?

The UC Campus Parkway is for urban residential and commercial development. It is a boulevard with two anchors: the proposed Wal-Mart distribution center at the 99 end; UC Merced at the other end. We think it is going to take more than the proposed parkway to draw an adequate number of students to UC Merced and to fix the environmental problems created when Cardoza and others railroaded the UC Merced project through. In the middle, there is the proposed UC Community, a new town UC says it needs to house faculty and staff.

However, given the present state of the Merced housing market, it is being argued that UC Merced has no need to provide additional housing for faculty and staff: there are enough homes for sale at shrinking prices right here in town.

The 99/165 interchange will pave the way for development in Stevinson. The idea is that Cardoza may be able to get federal highway funds to build the interchange, which provides the transportation link to a huge proposed development by the two largest landowners in the Stevinson area. The transportation link would meet the sewer link, built by Greg Hostetler, from Livingston toward Stevinson through another parcel owned by one of the Stevinson developers. Hostetler built the 42-inch sewer trunk line entirely on unincorporated land under the jurisdiction of Merced County without any county permits at all.

But, we forget. Cardoza's Merced district office is located on the third floor of the Merced County Administration Building, right down the hall from the County Counsel's office, the Board of Supervisors' offices and the Board Chambers.

"It is a constant challenge to keep pace with our region's explosive population growth and development," intones Congressman Cardoza, Hypocrite-Merced. No politician worked harder to create this explosive population growth and development than Dennis Cardoza, opposing, dodging, and vilifying every law and regulation established to control such speculative housing bubbles all the way from the state Capitol to Washington DC. He did it for real estate profit, not for the Merced community. When it was still seeking millions to build the campus, then state Sen. Pro Tem John Burton, D-SF, accurately described UC Merced as the "biggest boondoggle" he'd ever seen, and Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters accurately described it as "nothing but a land deal."

The developers must be getting pretty desperate to trot out Cardoza at this time in the election season for another stab at passing this measure to raise your taxes to underwrite profits for rich landowners, investors, developers and banks. Just because he is essentially unopposed for his next term does not mean he is not accumulating baggage. Due to his close relationship with Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy, the corruption being exposed in Pombo's campaign is drifting south like dust from North Pombozastan, where UC wants to build a biowarfare plant full of the most toxic substances on earth.

The pathetic thing about all this is that there is no guarantee these projects will receive federal funding, This additional sales tax revenue is just "leverage," "matching funds" to sweeten the pot.

In order to secure more federal -- and often state -- funds, a sizeable local match is critical.

The reality is, given the expense of major transportation and infrastructure projects, Congress is often hesitant to approve funding in the absence of demonstrated support from the state and local level. The concern from the federal perspective is that the federal portion will be wasted if there is not sufficient local funding to help complete the project.

The passage of Measure G would greatly increase Merced County's leverage when asking Congress for increased investment in local highways. More importantly, Measure G would qualify Merced County for the so-called "matching funds" that come with a commitment of financing from local communities. The bottom line - Measure G would reap dividends far beyond the cost of the half-cent sales tax.

It's just a theory, but Cardoza and his little crew of special interests may be inviting the citizens of Merced County to waste their money. If you want to see the way federal highway pork is delivered in the House of Representatives today, you need look no farther than how House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-IL, did it on a little downstate real estate deal (see "Dennis Hastert's Real Estate Investments" below). We wonder if Cardoza, even with his Blue Dog connections, has that kind of juice.

Now, if Cardoza would rename it the Prairie Parkway II, maybe he'd get somewhere . On the other hand, in the interests of honest labeling, it should be called the UC Merced Campus Porkway.

Bill Hatch


Measure G must pass to secure federal dollars...Dennis Cardoza
In June, Measure A -- a half-cent sales tax increase to fund country transportation -- fell just short of the two-thirds support...This November Merced County voters will once again be asked to decide the fate of this important initiative (now Measure G). Obviously, none of us is eager to vote for increasing our own taxes. We pay enough as it is. I would...like to offer some insight into the role these local funds play in securing federal dollars for important transportation projects. We are all very much aware of the need for significant improvements to Merced County's roadways...constant challenge to keep pace with our region's explosive population growth and development...increasing strain on our transportation infrastructure and growing congestion...a pressing need for major improvements to our roads and highways. As your representative in Congress, one of my highest priorities is to secure federal investment for important projects in Merced County and the Central Valley. For example: $2.4 million in funding for the Campus Parkway in Merced County, critical element in the success of the development of the new UC Merced campus and the surrounding community...$1.4 million for a study to build a Highway 99 interchange between Highway 165 and Bradbury Road near the Merced-Stanislaus County border...members of Congress from the Central Valley are continuing the push to make Highway 99 an interstate... Congress is often hesitant to approve funding in the absence of demonstrated support from the state and local level...passage of Measure G would greatly increase Merced County's leverage. I understand...this is a tough decision. Voters already feel the burden of balancing your tax bill with numerous other expenses. I hope that you will consider the issues I have addressed and the benefits that Measure G could provide to the long term success of our wonderful Valley community.

Dennis Hastert's Real Estate Investments
by Bill Allison
Under the Influence -- June 14, 2006
Read more: Earmarks (see all terms)
House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert☼ has used an Illinois trust to invest in real estate near the proposed route of the Prairie Parkway, a highway project for which he's secured $207 million in earmarked appropriations. The trust has already transferred 138 acres of land to a real estate development firm that has plans to build a 1,600-home community, located less than six miles from the north-south connector Hastert has championed in the House.
Hastert's 2005 financial disclosure form, released today, makes no mention of the trust. Hastert lists several real estate transactions in the disclosure, all of which were in fact done by the trust. Kendall County public records show no record of Hastert making the real estate sales he made public today; rather, they were all executed by the trust ...

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Bush in Pombozastan

Submitted: Oct 04, 2006

Tuesday's events raised about $400,000 for Pombo, $600,000 for Doolittle and $1.2 million for the Republican National Committee.
-- Los Angeles Times, Oct. 4, 2006

President Bush came to Pombozastan yesterday to tell wealthy contributors that Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy, was a good man of the soil and that Democrats were wimps giving aid and comfort to the enemy for suggesting that suspension of habeas corpus, pedophilia, lying under oath, inventing WMDs in Iraq, torture, outing an undercover CIA agent, vote rigging and other assorted acts of his administration were illegal.

Then, there is that third message about "staying the course." According to this line, the only real American patriotic attitude is to remain steadfastly terrified in support of an unjustified war now longer than World War II, which, according to the latest National Intelligence Estimate, is creating more hatred against the US and more terrorists. Incidently, it appears to be a war we are losing for lack of troops and sufficient political support in either Iraq or the US. The only winners are the president's friends in the military contract business.

It was fitting that a president who has brought so much "moral clarity" to us all should throw his arm around Pombo -- loyal minion of the one-party Republican tyranny in Congress who is designated one of its 13 most corrupt members -- and declare him "a man who stands on principle" when in fact he is a man who stands solely for his own family's special real estate interest. It makes sense, that is, if you consider how much his audience paid for its tickets. These plutocrats have never been too interested in the Constitution. They have always regarded the political system as their own personal casino. They're just paying for those Republican tax cuts for the rich, anti-environmental policy, and farm subsidies (by any other name) to keep on rolling along.

Dennis Cardoza, who represents nobody you know socially and whose only known political affiliation is to the Blue Dog Coalition, a group of Democrat blue heelers for the right wing, is the other end of the Pomboza. Cardoza is the Blue Dog propaganda director and is reportedly off campaigning for coalition members in the red states.

Bill Hatch

Oct. 4, 2006

Bush campaigning in Valley...Ben van der Meer, Modesto Bee
STOCKTON -- President Bush cast Rep. Richard Pombo's re-election as vital to the war on terrorism and national security in a fundraiser Tuesday at the Civic Auditorium...helped raise an estimated $1 million for Pombo and Republican congressman, John Doolittle of Roseville, while trying to shore up the GOP base...two incumbents are part of a slim majority in the House that the White House wants to preserve. The president has spent the past month campaigning across the country for Republicans in competitive races. Bush again defended his approach to the war in Iraq as well as national security. His 35-minute speech also touched on Pombo's support for finding new domestic energy sources and on tax cuts that Bush said have boosted the economy. "If Rich's opponent wins, your taxes will go up. Make no mistake about it," Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, spoke only to introduce the president. The fundraiser netted his campaign $400,000.

Stockton Record
Fundraising frenzy wraps up Bush's trip to Stockton...Hank Shaw
Pombo, a seven-term incumbent, is in a tight contest against Pleasanton wind-energy consultant Jerry McNerney. Two recent polls, released by McNerney and Defenders of Wildlife, show the race to be a dead heat, and even Pombo admits this race is nothing like his 2004 drubbing of McNerney. Pombo did not give a speech during the event but introduced Bush to the sellout crowd of 650 guests, each of whom paid $250 to $2,100 to attend. Through it all, Bush said he needs partners such as Pombo; Pombo has voted with the president 86 percent of the time, according to one recent analysis. "I think it makes sense for the people from the state of California to send to Washington, D.C., a person who trusts the people of California," Bush said. "I think it makes sense to send somebody from the state of California to Washington, D.C., who knows what it means to make a living off the land - and that's Richard Pombo." Pombo's family made its fortune in ranching and real estate speculation.

Bush scenes...The Record
Sharp-dressed man...Rep. Richard Pombo's challenger, Jerry McNerney, attended the protest outside the fundraiser. Wearing a hat and suit, he was easy to find in the dressed-down crowd.
Caught on tape...Candid camera: Television reporters weren't the only ones toting cameras. Stockton police also were seen videotaping the crowd.
Momentary boost...The protesters' ranks nearly doubled when about 150 county employees marched into the plaza...

Smaller protest than expected greets president...Alex Breitler
Bush heard none of it and likely saw very little...police estimated there were about 200 (other estimates were as many as 500) - still fewer than some protesters had expected. While the group's wrath was directed equally toward Bush and Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, the guests were the ones who actually absorbed most of their tirades.

Tracy Press
Bush helps Pombo raise $400K...John Upton
President Bush worked the crowd Tuesday at a fundraiser for Rep. Richard Pombo. About 600 people paid $250 a head to listen to the president's 20-minute speech, which encouraged the campaigning congressman and scorned Democrats. In a 20-minute speech, Bush praised the congressman and urged support for his anti-terror campaign and the war in Iraq, and slammed Democrats as people who will raise taxes. “If you don’t want terrorists to attack the U.S. again, I urge you to send Richard Pombo back to the U.S. Congress,” Bush said. McNerney, who chatted with protesters while the president spoke, has said he wants to draw up a nine- to-12-month timetable for troop withdrawal...also responded to Bush’s and Pombo’s support of tax cuts. “They call them tax cuts, but the deficit spending is really putting a tax on our nation’s credit card, and that bill is going to be paid — they’re really raising our taxes, they’re just paying for them later,” he said. Bush praised Pombo for representing the 11th District, telling the audience that it could trust Pombo. “It makes sense for the state of California to trust a man who knows what it means to make a living off the land,” said Bush. Pombo returned Bush’s kind words. “This person has stood firm — he has recognized that this is an enemy that must be defeated,” he said.

San Francisco Chronicle
Bush stumps rare red areas of a blue state...Rachel Gordon, Greg Lucas
A new independent poll by the San Jose State University Survey and Policy Research Institute found that two-thirds of the state's voters disapprove of Bush's job performance, but the discontent wasn't evident at Bush's two showcased stops in Northern California on behalf of Republican Reps. Richard Pombo of Tracy and John Doolittle of Rocklin (Placer County)...the home turfs of Pombo and Doolittle have more Republicans than Democrats registered to vote. "The Republicans are in trouble. They know it, and we know it,'' said Jerry McNerney... The re-elections of Pombo and Doolittle are crucial in the Republicans' quest to retain control of Congress.

Contra Costa Times
Talk not cheap at Pombo fund-raiser...Lisa Vorderbrueggen
STOCKTON - President George W. Bush and Rep. Richard Pombo clasped each other's shoulders before a crowd of 650 enthusiastic contributors Tuesday as the president called the Tracy congressman a trusted Republican who will help stop tax hikes and protect Americans from terrorists. But outside the auditorium in the fenced-off "free speech zone," signs of the deeply polarized race roared as Democratic congressional challenger Jerry McNerney joined the several hundred protesters waving signs and chanting anti-war and pro-environment slogans, most characterizing Pombo and Bush's shared ideology as a disgrace. Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund activists wielded wooden back-scratchers -- as illustrations of the adage "You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" -- as they passed out fliers that outlined seven policies where Bush and Pombo concur, such as expanding domestic oil drilling. "It's 'Me, too' politics," Defenders spokesman Ed Yoon said. "Whatever Bush wants, Pombo says, 'Me, too.'" Despite the odds, persistent anti-Pombo forces leveraged Bush's visit to showcase the congressman's ideological compatibility with a president ...

Contra Costa Times
Rivals stress flaws in race for House...Josh Richman...Media News...10-3-06
Pombo, 45, seeks an eighth term, saying he's done much to lower taxes and cut wasteful spending; protect private property rights; reform the Endangered Species Act; ensure clean and plentiful water in his heavily agricultural district; and push a Bush administration energy policy that reduces foreign-oil dependence. Democrat Gerald "Jerry" McNerney, a Pleasanton wind-energy engineer, has made clean energy his signature issue -- both as a means of reducing reliance on fossil fuels and as an economic engine -- while also calling for affordable health care for all...paints Pombo as a paid toady of oil companies, a supporter of President Bush's unworkable strategy for the war in Iraq and as corrupt -- accused of taking contributions from disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff, trading legislative aid for campaign cash, keeping family members on his campaign payroll and misusing official resources. Pombo paints McNerney as a pandering flip-flopper on issues from energy to health care who never met a tax he didn't want to raise. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee still issues anti-Pombo information but isn't sending much money McNerney's way. As of June, about 75 percent of his campaign funds had come from individuals; most of the rest came from political action committees, primarily labor unions. Pombo, meanwhile, is a prolific fund-raiser endorsed by business and grass-roots GOP groups. As of June, about 48 percent of his campaign funds had come from individuals, and most of the rest was from PACs; because he's the Resources Committee's chairman, he gets a lot from the agricultural and energy industries.

Los Angeles Times
U.S. ruling could eliminate union eligibility for millions...Molly Selvin
A federal labor agency Tuesday broadened its definition of who is a supervisor, in a ruling that could keep millions of skilled employees from joining unions and accelerate a decades-long decline in union membership. In a long-awaited decision, the Republican-controlled National Labor Relations Board held that nurses could be classified as supervisors if they directed and oversaw other nurses. Under federal law, employees defined as supervisors aren't entitled to legal protections ensuring their right to join unions. The labor board's definition could be applied to other kinds of workers, particularly in the fast-growing service sector, where unions have made some gains in recent years even as overall union membership has declined nationally, labor experts said. The ruling was applauded by business organizations but denounced by labor groups, which called it part of a Bush administration strategy to destroy unions.

Los Angeles Times
U.S. security at stake in upcoming vote, Bush says in Stockton...Molly Hennessy-Fiske and Rome Tempest
STOCKTON — President Bush painted the midterm election as a referendum on national security at fundraising events in California on Tuesday, saying congressional Democrats failed to provide the tools he needs to fight the war on terror. "They talk tough on terror, but when the votes are counted, their softer side comes out,"... Pombo and Doolittle, tarnished by their ties to disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), have been campaigning hard in their solidly Republican districts. Bush called Pombo, chairman of the House Resources Committee, a man who "stands on principle" and supports the programs necessary to protect the country, including legislation protecting the CIA's program... Both Doolittle, an eight-term incumbent and Pombo, now in his seventh term, waged expensive primary campaigns to fend off attacks from MoveOn.org, the Defenders of Wildlife Action Fund, the Sierra Club and other groups.Tuesday's events raised about $400,000 for Pombo, $600,000 for Doolittle and $1.2 million for the Republican National Committee.

Washington Post
Stepping up attacks, Bush calls Democrats 'Softer' on terrorists...Peter Baker
STOCKTON, Calif., Oct. 3 -- President Bush ratcheted up his campaign offensive against Democrats on Tuesday with perhaps his bluntest rhetoric yet... With his party in serious trouble five weeks before Election Day, Bush shifted into full campaign mode this week, kicking off a month of frenetic barnstorming aimed at drawing disgruntled Republicans back into the fold. The two House Republicans who were beneficiaries of Bush's fundraising hail from usually safe districts, but both face serious competition this year. Reps. Richard W. Pombo and John T. Doolittle...Democratic polling suggests both are running roughly even with Democratic challengers.

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Pombozastan political update

Submitted: Oct 03, 2006
Cardoza can afford to campaign
Cardoza is a leader among the Blue Dogs, House Democrats who have staked out centrist positions on issues such as the budget. He will be spending time this fall campaigning for his fellow Blue Dogs; in part, because he can afford to. -- Modesto Bee, Sept. 25, 2006

Pombozastan, the sourthern tier, the 18th Congressional District

Dennis Cardoza, the "bipartisan" congressman from Merced who represents only the most special-special interests in his district,is taking off on a tour of Blue Dog Country, in the other land o' cotton.

However, all the subdized cotton land in the 18th CD, the San Joaquin Valley is not a Southern state.

Pombozastan, the northern tier, the 11th Congressional District

So much for Cardoza's "aggressive cooperation" with the northern tier of Pombozastan, held by Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy. Pombo appears to be in a fight for his political life without any evident public support from Cardoza, his bipartisan buddy through repeated efforts to wreck the Endangered Species Act and the Alaska National Wildlife Refuge.

But the speculation that these boys do anything in public would be naive. They like to do their aggressive cooperating in back rooms with very special interests.

Meanwhile, the president is rushing to old RichPAC's aid, having paid a visit to the Democrats' other top Republican target in California, Rep. John "Build-the-Auburn-Dam" Doolittle, the Roseville developers' personal envoy to the US Congress.

Bill Hatch

Oct. 2, 2006

Stockton Record
S.J. County prepares for Bush visit...Ellen Thompson
Stockton police for several weeks have devoted hundreds of hours to planning that feat ahead of President Bush's visit Tuesday, his second trip to Stockton. The president is scheduled to attend a $250-a-plate breakfast for Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, at the Stockton Memorial Civic Auditorium and a fundraising lunch at an El Dorado Hills country club for Rep. John Doolittle, R-Granite Bay. An unprecedented crowd of protesters gathered in Stockton for Bush's first visit. Plans for protesting Bush policies and Pombo's re-election campaign splashed across local left-wing Web sites as soon as news of his visit was announced in mid-September.

San Francisco Chronicle
Political climate in Tracy changes with new voters...Rachel Gordon
Nowhere has the area's growth been more pronounced than in Tracy -- the hometown of Rep. Richard Pombo... The question this election season is whether the large infusion of transplants from the more liberal Bay Area will change the political landscape in Tracy and put Pombo's career at risk. When Pombo first took office 14 years ago, dominating Tracy were farmland, ranches and politics rooted in a deep appreciation for private property rights and a distaste for big government. Today, the big fight at City Hall is between growth advocates and the slow-growth movement. Vast tracts of agricultural land have been paved over for housing developments, malls and new roads, and traffic jams in town during the morning and evening commute hours clog the once-quiet streets. Nonpartisan political odds-makers who track congressional contests, such as the Cook Political Report, say Pombo probably will be re-elected. Agricultural concerns are no longer at the top of the political agenda in the district. Pombo is vulnerable this election cycle, given the tough test Republicans face nationwide...

Oct. 1, 2006

Stockton Record
Pombo's race is state's toughest...Hank Shaw
SACRAMENTO - Rep. Richard Pombo is in the race of his life. A flurry of spending by national Republicans, Pombo's senior position in the House GOP leadership and his status as bogeyman for the nation's environmental movement are making the race for the 11th District the most competitive in California. Money fuels advertising. As of Wednesday, the National Republican Congressional Committee had spent $386,000 on polling, fliers and phone banking for Pombo. Only four candidates in the nation have received more help from the group, federal records show. On McNerney's side, a constellation of environmental groups are mailing fliers, phoning voters and providing ground support for the Pleasanton wind energy consultant. Democratic polls consistently show Pombo in the low 40s in approval ratings, and while the Republicans aren't sharing their surveys, they continue to pour cash into the district.

Sept. 30, 2006

Tracy Press
Give Pombo his due...Our Voice
Rep. Richard Pombo has taken criticism for doing nothing about Gulf of Mexico oil royalty issues, but the facts speak in Pombo's defense. Democrats need a wedge issue to drive 11th District voters away from the powerful incumbent Republican and to the Democratic challenger. It became a two-day media tale: the first, claiming Pombo was in the pockets of Big Oil; and the second, Pombo replying that he did begin such an inquiry in mid-Februrary that led to a remedy. What the Democrats are reluctant to admit is President Bill Clinton’s Interior Department was the “sweetheart” when it forgot to affix royalties to these 1998-99 contracts. After Pombo read The New York Times’ Valentine’s Day story on the shortfall, he began an inquiry the next morning. On June 29, a bipartisan majority of the House OK’d the changes. Yet, three months later, Miller & Company accused Pombo of not doing anything. Pombo did something, and kept the government out of court.

Washington Post
Energy Bills don't reach finish line in Congress...Steven Mufson
When oil prices punched through $75 a barrel and gasoline topped $3 a gallon five months ago, members of Congress offered a raft of proposals, ranging from more U.S. drilling to windfall profits taxes to antitrust investigations. They railed against oil executives' pay packages, and some called for higher gasoline mileage standards. Five months later, long after "Energy Week" came and went in the House of Representatives, Congress is heading home without adopting any significant legislation on energy. House negotiators, led by Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo (R-Calif.), held out for offshore drilling outside the Gulf of Mexico, while Senate leaders bluntly declared that they could not muster enough votes for that. "He keeps asking us to do something that is politically impossible for us to do," Sen. Mary L. Landrieu (D-La.) said during the week. She played a key role in forging a compromise in the Senate, and her state stands to gain hundreds of millions of dollars of royalties from new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. "I frankly wish there were more support for drilling off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts," she said, "but the political reality is that there is not. Period. The end." House leaders said that the Senate version, which would have opened up 8.3 million acres in Gulf of Mexico federal lease 181 and adjacent deeper water to the south, didn't go far enough. But talks broke down in the end over maps of the offshore state boundaries in what are now federal waters.

Sept. 29, 2006

Tracy Press
A Tracy Press report listed Jerry McNerney's out-of-state donors, but omitted Rep. Richard Pombo's out-of-state supporters, like oil companies...Chris Gilbert, Berkeley...Your Voice
John Upton presents incomplete reporting of the Richard Pombo/Jerry McNerney race in Wednesday’s story, “11th District race tops $5.5.”... he neglects to mention any that have contributed to Pombo, such as Chevron Corp., Exxon Mobil, the National Mining Association and various Indian tribes... he neglects to mention what Pombo is being hammered with: charges of corruption, voting to privatize Social Security and generally not adequately serving the 11th District.

Bush to scratch backs of loyal congressmen...John C. Chendo, Stockton...Your Voice...9-28-06
President Bush could be thanking our troops or supporting them by figuring out a new strategy for the war on terror; instead he's busy patting the backs of congressmen who've never even come close to military service. He is taking precious time out from fighting his global war in Iraq to fight in Northern California for four Republican incumbents in Congress: Reps. Richard Pombo, John Doolittle, Wally Herger and Dan Lungren. They are all politicians for more than a decade with close ties to multinational lobbyists. All four supported Bush’s veto of stem cell research...supported the president’s privatization of Social Security...supported spending money to attack Iraq...and support taking our soldiers into war by lowering federal taxes on our wealthiest corporations... All four have yet to debate their opponents for Congress in the fall election. You can support our troops by voting for our troops this Nov. 7. Vote against the multinational corporations that are price-gouging with Americans’ tax money on no-bid contracts.

San Francisco Chronicle
Races heating up for 2 GOP incumbents...Rachel Gordon
Republican Reps. Richard Pombo of Tracy and John Doolittle of Rocklin are preparing for President Bush's visit to California next week to generate campaign cash for their re-election bids... Democratic activists are urging the party faithful in the Bay Area to head to San Joaquin County and the Sacramento Valley to help unseat the incumbents. Democrats are hoping to capitalize on the anti-incumbent mood that polls have shown is bubbling nationally and could unhinge the GOP's leadership lock on Congress in the Nov. 7 election. ...the National Republican Congressional Committee has spent nearly $400,000 on the Pombo-McNerney race, and the GOP's top fund-raiser, Bush, is being brought in to help. Bush is scheduled to appear Tuesday at a breakfast fundraiser for Pombo in Stockton, where the cost to attend will range from $250 to $2,000, and at a $2,000-a-head fundraiser for Doolittle in El Dorado Hills in the Gold Country in the afternoon. Vice President Dick Cheney made a similar pilgrimage on behalf of the candidates before the June primary.

Sept. 28, 2006

Tracy Press
Million-dollar men march...John Upton...9-27-06
11th Congressional District has generated more than $5.5 million in total campaign contributions, and the dollars keep rolling in...
campaigning and a fundraiser with the president still to come, the mid-term campaign season has already seen more than $5.5 million pumped into supporting and unseating Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy. “It’s above average - control of the House is really hotly contested this year, and Pombo is one of the more vulnerable incumbents in the sense that he has these links to Tom DeLay and Jack Ambramoff,” said University of California, Berkeley, assistant professor of political science David Karol. Carl Fogliani accused anonymous donors outside the district of trying to sully Pombo’s reputation with local voters. Pombo needed to spend a lot of money to offset the money being spent against him and to correct “half-truths and innuendo.” McNerney and Pombo will share the stage just once before the Nov. 7 election - the Tracy Press Forum will begin at 7 p.m. Oct. 5 at Poet Christian School.

Sept. 27, 2006

Environment and Energy Daily
Campaign 2006: National GOP pouring funds into Pombo contest...Alex Kaplun...9-26-06...Must sign in to access article.
National Republicans appear increasingly nervous about House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo's (R-Calif.) prospects for re-election, pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into a contest that had been viewed as an extreme long-shot for the Democrats.

Sept. 26, 2006

Modesto Bee
18th District race drawing little attention ...Michael Doyle, Bee Washington Bureau and Ken CArlson, Bee Staff Writer
WASHINGTON — Dennis Cardoza ran his first congressional race under a white-hot media spotlight. Four years later, the national media is long gone. It's nothing personal. It's just that San Joaquin Valley politics have returned to normal, after Cardoza's dispatching of Rep. Gary Condit in a 2002 primary... Now Cardoza is thecomfortable incumbent, a Merced Democrat seeking election to his third House term. Cardoza said, when asked how he's campaigning this year..."I typically run the same no matter what." He is now facing political novice John Kanno, an electrical engineer who works in Stockton. "I believe that it is time the 18th District had representation that is more concerned about what's important to the Central Valley than what's important to Washington, D.C., liberals and special interests," Kanno said this week. Cardoza is a leader among the Blue Dogs, House Democrats who have staked out centrist positions... The veteran politician had $269,613 stashed away in his campaign treasury as of June 30. Kanno reported having $70,132 in available campaign cash. The 18th Congressional District reflects the aftermath of the 2002 election, when Democratic mapmakers were shaping the district after Condit's political unraveling.
Cardoza can afford to campaign
Cardoza is a leader among the Blue Dogs, House Democrats who have staked out centrist positions on issues such as the budget. He will be spending time this fall campaigning for his fellow Blue Dogs; in part, because he can afford to.

Tracy Press
Pombo hiding out...Lee Miller, Stockton...Your Voice
Congressman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, who was once in favor of a three-term limit for members of Congress, has been safely hiding out in the gerrymandered 11th District for seven terms, where he has become arrogant about issues that matter to the people. His votes are for his special interests, not ours...constituents who fund him are: big oil, oil drillers, developers and lobbyists like Jack Abramoff. I Googled Pombo and corruption and 155,000 hits come up. Votes for the people are hard to find in Pombo’s record.

Sept. 25, 2006

Modesto Bee
GOP takes no chances in Pombo's House run...Ben van der Meer
Cheney has visited, and Bush plans to, California's 11th Congressional District this year for Rep. Richard Pombo, suggesting a closer-than-normal election for the seven-term incumbent. To keep the seat safe - and also keep the House of Representatives in Republican control - Pombo's party is bringing out big guns to raise money and keep the Tracy resident's profile high, Bruce Cain said. Pombo's Democratic challenger is Pleasanton's Jerry McNerney, a renewable energy consultant who lost to Pombo decisively in 2004. "Pombo's not got a great record of delivering for the district," McNerney said. Though Pombo has easily won re-election since he first was elected in 1992, his campaign manager, Carl Fogliani, said this race is not taken for granted.

Sept. 23, 2006

Stockton Record
Oily mess ahead for Pombo...Hank Shaw, Capitol Bureau Chief
East Bay Rep. George Miller and six other House Democrats are demanding that Pombo hold "immediate" congressional hearings on what may be blooming into a full-fledged scandal at the Interior Department. Pombo says he is concerned about the latest revelations and plans to speak with the department's inspector general, Earl Devaney, before Congress recesses in October. Devaney delivered a withering assessment of a culture at the Interior Department that he says "sustains managerial irresponsibility and a lack of accountability. Topping the department's sins is what appears to be a drafting error that occurred during the last year of the Clinton administration over regulations concerning when oil companies should pay federal taxes. This blunder has cost taxpayers at least $1.3 billion. Interior Department officials said this week they will not try to recoup the loss. Add to this a series of lawsuits filed by former Interior Department auditors that claim top department officials prevented them from pursuing up to $30 million in unpaid taxes from several oil firms operating in the Gulf of Mexico;... Miller, who has been feuding with his neighbor across the Altamont off and on for years, said it should be Pombo's Resources Committee that takes the lead in any investigation. The House Government Reform Committee has been taking the lead.

Sept. 22, 2006

Tracy Press
Pombo-McNerney forum approaches...John Upton
The Tracy Press Forum on Oct. 5 might be the only chance to see Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, share the stage with his Democratic opponent, Jerry McNerney, before the November election...neither Pombo nor McNerney will choose the questions or topics that will be discussed...they will be given up to five minutes each for opening remarks, followed by about an hour of questions posed by the audience through a Tracy Press panel...forum will start at 7 p.m. at Poet Christian School, 1701 S. Central Ave.

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San Joaquin River Settlement Agreement press coverage

Submitted: Sep 28, 2006

Below, you will find a series of abstracts of newsclips about the San Joaquin River Settlement. On Sept. 13, fourteen environmental and recreational organizations and 29 irrigation and water districts and four federal agencies, submitted a settlement agreement to United States District Court, Eastern District of California. The agreement proposes a plan for one of the greatest river restoration projects in American history.

One of the most important laws considered in the federal court's decision, which forced the parties into settlement negotiations, was California Fish and Game Code, Section 5937.

The owner of any dam shall allow sufficient water at all times to pass through a fishway, or in the absence of a fishway, allow sufficient water to pass over, around or through the dam, to keep in good condition any fish that may be planted or exist below the dam. During the minimum flow of water in any river or stream, permission may be granted by the department to the owner of any dam to allow sufficient water to pass through a culvert, waste gate, or over or around the dam, to keep in good condition any fish that may
be planted or exist below the dam, when, in the judgment of the department, it is impracticable or detrimental to the owner to pass the water through the fishway.

However, much -- though not all -- of the press coverage of the settlement reflects the frontier attitude of a former manager of the Merced Irrigation District:

"The price of a water right is eternal vigilance."


Sept. 28,2006

Lawmakers settle river dispute...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Exhausted Capitol Hill negotiators agreed Wednesday on legislation to revive the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam. Establishing a new "experimental population" of salmon, while still protecting operations on local dams and water projects, were the keys to the compromise. The next big problem is time... In part, the new deal reassures water agencies that they can renew their Federal Energy Regulatory Commission licenses on the Merced and Tuolumne rivers without additional environmental requirements solely because of the new salmon population...guarantees that federal officials in protecting the salmon "will not impose more than de minimus water supply reductions, additional storage releases or bypass flows" on the water districts...agreed to devote the capital repayment from Friant water customers to the river restoration project for the next 20 years. Even so, some Valley lawmakers voiced dissatisfaction with the haggling that included environmentalists making a last-minute push for an additional concession... Merced Democrat Dennis Cardoza, while supporting the final compromise, added that "this process should never be repeated (because) legislating by lawsuit is not the way to do public policy." "I'm pleased with the progress that's been made," said Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, but "we have to look at this seriously. The Congress has to take its time; we have to hold hearings."

Valley well-represented in river-restoration talks...Editorial
In poker, you can't win if you're not at the table. The same thing is true in water negotiations. Fortunately, we had a seat - several, in fact - at the table where a deal to restore the San Joaquin River between Fresno and Merced has been worked out. Wednesday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein announced a deal... Included were some key third-party representatives. Among them was Modesto Irrigation District General Manager Allen Short, who represented the five irrigation districts - Modesto, Turlock, Oakdale, Merced and South San Joaquin - that depend on and manage the San Joaquin's tributary rivers. Joining him was Ken Robbins, a lawyer for Merced Irrigation District, and all five valley members of the House of Representatives. The negotiations on the bill are complete, but this game is not over. Getting this bill passed will require the help of the entire valley congressional delegation...it is doable.

Sept. 27, 2006

Sacramento Bee
River lawsuit ends; will restoration work?...Editorial
It took a lawsuit by environmental groups and a sympathetic federal judge in Sacramento named Lawrence Karlton to force a compromise. The question now is how will the salmon regard the settlement? They are the true judges here. And is this legal settlement the last word? Not really. Many affected parties along the river weren't at the negotiating table. Neither was Congress, which is now wrestling with coming up with the money and deciding how a reintroduced salmon population should be regulated under the federal Endangered Species Act. The end of this contentious lawsuit means the beginning of a long and delicate process -- more negotiating, more political arm-twisting and more scrutiny of river ecolology -- with the goal of accomplishing something on a scale that has never been tried before in California. Beware of anyone declaring this mission accomplished. But celebrate an important milestone for a very troubled river.

Sept. 26, 2006

Salmon may be replenished in San Joaquin River...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The negotiators returning to Capitol Hill today hope to finish crafting the legislation needed for the river's restoration. The end result of the haggling in Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein's third-floor office eventually could be an estimated 500 or more spring-run chinook salmon back in the now-depleted river...the San Joaquin River salmon would swim in the shadow of the California condor, the Yellowstone area gray wolf and Florida's whooping crane. Like them, the San Joaquin River salmon would be dubbed an experimental population -- a move that can ease regulatory burdens and soften political resistance...it's become apparent that the San Joaquin River fix likely will include declaring the newly reintroduced salmon as a "non-essential experimental population." Under an Endangered Species Act provision known as 10(j), this will set the salmon apart from other protected plants and animals. Property owners wouldn't have to worry about regulators designating their land as "critical habitat," because experimental populations don't get critical habitat. It doesn't impose new regulations on private land, though critics like Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced, say it can still depress land values. For that reason, the Bush administration sparked anxiety when it designated 450,288 acres as critical habitat for the California red-legged frog and 199,109 acres as critical habitat for the California tiger salamander.

Sept. 25, 2006

Fresno Bee
River worries flood west side...Mark Grossi
LOS BANOS - A farm road runs through the shriveled San Joaquin River where chinook salmon are supposed to swim in seven years. This peaceful farming belt may be the stage for the next legal fight over restoring the dammed and dried San Joaquin. Farmers here are afraid a restoration agreement announced this month might wind up ruining some of their land. Their lucrative crop fields butt against the old stream bed. They fear a restored river will waterlog their land and prevent crops from growing. Now their representatives are in Washington, D.C., trying to protect their interests in legislation to restore the river. Among other concerns, west-side farmers want to make sure there is enough money to properly study the effects of a restored water flow in their area. They also would like to see money set aside to pay for property damage in their area. Otherwise, they say they will have to file suit if damages occur. Aside from funding, there is another sensitive question: Will the nearby flood-control channel known as the Eastside Bypass also be used in the restoration?

Sept. 24, 2006

Stockton Record
Flow will be slow...Allen Short, Modesto Irrigation District, San Joaquin Tributary Agencies and Daniel Nelson, San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority
After 18 years in the courts, a settlement on restoring the San Joaquin River from Friant Dam to the Merced River has arrived - but only partly...still must gain the blessing of a federal judge...needs legislation authorizing the expenditure of funds for projects to finalize the settlement. The driving force behind the settlement is restoration of river flows on the San Joaquin River to allow a return of the spring-run Chinook salmon. Specifically, the final settlement resolution must include a reasonable approach to:
» Solve fishery concerns.
» Fully fund infrastructure and mitigation for restoring 142 miles of river habitat.
» Protect water rights, including groundwater, of parties not involved as well as farms, rural communities and cities that rely on the San Joaquin River and its tributaries for water.
» Guarantee that ongoing successful river and chinook salmon restoration on San Joaquin River tributaries aren't adversely impacted.
» Protect all third parties from endangered species penalties regarding reintroduced spring- run salmon.
» Provide an inclusive process for the impacted third parties to have meaningful input into the program.
Legislators and others involved must implement a balanced, long-term solution that is fair to all parties affected by San Joaquin River restoration.

Sept. 23, 2006

How is this a successful river restoration?...Cannon Michael, Los Banos...Guest commentary
Last week, when the settlement to restore the San Joaquin River was announced...I was surprised to see such positive coverage from local media...it is important for Valley residents to remember: the restoration of the San Joaquin River was not born out of a collaborative desire to bring salmon back to the river, it was brought about by litigation. The environmentalists won their lawsuit and Friant was forced into a settlement that they felt would be better than what Judge Karlton would impose upon them. NRDC has never estimated the number of spring-run Chinook salmon the restoration program would restore... My family farms along a stretch of the San Joaquin River that will be the most difficult and costly to restore, a stretch that has been termed Reach 4-b. The settlement calls for the East Side Bypass to handle some of the initial "pulse flows" required for the restoration while the capacity is increased in Reach 4-b...the bypass would be a far less costly option than creating a new channel in Reach 4-b. I am not against trying to make the restoration work, but I hope that it can be done in a balanced and fiscally responsible way.

Sept. 22, 2006

Merced Sun-Star
Politicians get a look at river restoration plan...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Negotiators are still refining an ambitious San Joaquin River restoration plan, with a tentative agreement this week to classify as "experimental" the salmon that will reclaim the river as its home. "experimental" label would mean the Merced and Modesto irrigation districts have less to fear from federal regulators. It is also a sign that river negotiators...may soon resolve completely how Congress will make the San Joaquin live again. One key solution...involves designating the newly reintroduced San Joaquin River salmon as a "nonessential experimental population." Under a rarely used portion of the Endangered Species Act, this softens the accompanying regulatory burden; for instance, critical habitat would not be designated for the salmon. Separately, negotiators seemingly outflanked a controversy over restoring a 22-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River that ends in Merced County..."upper 4-B" stretch is now depleted, causing doubts about its potential revival. Consequently, negotiators say they have agreed to call for a feasibility study... Remaining sticking points...what to do about federal hydroelectric licenses. The Merced Irrigation District's license for the Merced River Project expires in 2014, and the Modesto and Turlock districts' license for Don Pedro Reservoir expires in 2016. Negotiators must also resolve how to handle salmon in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta...

San Francisco Chronicle
San Joaquin River plan stall in House...Kimberly Geiger
Conservationists and federal water authorities have reached a compromise to end an 18-year dispute over the damming of the San Joaquin River, but House lawmakers who reviewed the agreement Thursday said they will pursue changes to the plan before passing legislation required to complete the deal. The deal laid out a scheduled release of water from the dam to restore the river over the next 20 years -- and required lawmakers by year's end to pass a bill authorizing federal funding and oversight of the project...lawmakers at a House hearing Thursday said the settlement overlooks the effects on farmers and other water agencies that were not included in the negotiations. Lawmakers concluded the hearing with a request that the parties to the settlement negotiate a compromise with third-party interests before legislation goes forward.

Sept. 21, 2006

The cost of victory...Alex Breitler
MODESTO - A resurrected San Joaquin River could prove even more expensive than originally thought - costing perhaps $1 billion - while causing unintended consequences for fish, some downstream water users claim. Flows from Friant Dam near Fresno could be too warm for migrating fall-run chinook salmon, they say. Meanwhile, repairing levees and widening a channel that hasn't seen flows in half a century could require huge investments and the retirement of thousands of acres of farmland. The settlement is not the final chapter...as officials from several water districts are expected to testify before a House of Representatives subcommittee today and ask for federal funds. This week...water districts that also rely heavily on the San Joaquin drainage - but were not a part of the lawsuit - are tempering that enthusiasm. Some have spent millions over the past few decades supporting fall-run chinook populations in tributaries such as the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. Also, they fear the sudden reintroduction of spring-run chinook, a threatened species, could mean new water and property-use restrictions under the Endangered Species Act. A summary of the settlement says that the document was tweaked to include the perspectives of others and that no "material adverse impacts" were expected to third parties.

Sept. 20, 2006

Fresno Bee
Reshaping Nature...Mark Grossi
The damming of the San Joaquin helped change the Valley floor, for better and for worse. San Joaquin River was plugged as part of the Central Valley Project, a massive plan to control flooding and provide irrigation water. The sky no longer darkens with millions of ducks and geese, feasting on the river's smorgasbord of insects...the water that no longer feeds the river has helped feed the county's growth through farming and land development. To accommodate farming, swamps and wetlands were drained. The land was leveled. On the west side, large channels were built to funnel the occasional big flows of the river around areas that flooded regularly...agriculture blossomed on 170,000-plus acres in the county as well as on an additional 800,000 acres along the Valley's east side...farming further expanded when the federal Central Valley Project began delivering water from Northern California to the west side. Tinkering with the San Joaquin began long before Friant Dam. In 1911, Southern California Edison began putting together an extensive hydroelectric system in the Sierra... Harold Tokmakian was the Fresno County planning director in the 1960s before becoming a professor at California State University, Fresno...the Valley is being eroded by "lateral expansion" -- also known as sprawl. There are other reasons, too, to value river habitat, said Bob Winter, 81, a Fresno City College biology instructor for more than a half century. For instance, the kangaroo rat might someday help medical science understand kidneys better, he said.

Planting our roots in rich Valley soil...David Mas Masumoto
Generation of farmers of all nationalities have transformed a desert into a garden. Then came the liquid gold from the Sierra: water. They could grow most anything here...So long as they had irrigation water. This liquid treasure, combined with an entrepreneurial spirit, gave birth to generations of farmers and their families. Fresno became a magnet for farmers...the land provided a refuge to a variety of crops and farming methods. Cattle ranches and dairies, wheat, cotton, grapes, peaches, plums, nectarines, vegetables, melons, row crops. Each decade brought new seeds of change. For some, the reality did not match their dreams. Nature played no favorites when destroying a harvest. Others found the greed of humans was no different in this Valley than any other place. Years passed and the pressures did not stop. Valley agriculture became part machine, part something else, what was grown in the fields now merely raw products for others to profit from. The old family farm with farmers and their families working to grow, harvest and sell a crop has almost vanished. Or are family farmers being vanquished -- caught between the forces of business and the explosion of growth? Could land be better suited to growing houses than peaches or grapes? They came as pioneers and today still cling to the land. They are desperate to use any means to maintain a way of life. Some call them fools, stubborn individuals refusing to let go of the bounty of this Valley. Most are still dreamers; that's why they still farm.

Sept. 15, 2006

Two parties at odds over San Joquin restoration costs...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- Many farmers and environmentalists now agree on restoring the San Joaquin River. They do not, however, agree on how much it will cost. Environmentalists believe $250 million will suffice. Farmers served by Friant Dam think $800 million is more like it. On Thursday, Department official Jason Peltier joined with four members of Congress, myriad staff members and top negotiators for a closed-door, Capitol Hill briefing on the ambitious San Joaquin River restoration plan... Radanovich is expressing optimism, Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, exited the briefing Thursday as angry as ever...insists there's a lot more concern bubbling beneath the public surface. Representatives of the Merced Irrigation District and the so-called "exchange contractors" from the San Joaquin Valley's West Side are crafting alternative proposals in Washington this week. They hope to modify the proposed legislation that's needed to implement the river restoration plan; for instance, to protect them from further Endangered Species Act obligations when the salmon is reintroduced. The big gap in cost estimates, for instance, stems largely from uncertainty over what standards new levees will have to meet. State regulators could get the final say, as they will eventually set the levee standards.

Sept. 14, 2006

NRDC Press Release...9-13-06
Peter Moyle, Professor of Fisheries Biology, University of California Davis..."Bringing the San Joaquin River back to life will be one of the greatest restoration projects ever undertaken in the United States. Over 150 miles of river will once again provide vital habitat for not only salmon but for a wide array of other native fish, plants and wildlife. Restoring one of California's long lost salmon runs will be a strong symbol of our willingness to make California a better place for both wildlife and people. I also anticipate that restoring flows to the river will have a positive effect on the Delta, an ecosystem in crisis. This monumental restoration effort could not come at a better time."
Zeke Grader, Executive Director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen's Association..."Over the past century, West Coast salmon rivers have been devastated by water development and other activities. This agreement provides salmon fishermen with a ray of hope...
Dante Nomellini, Manager and Co-Counsel, Central Delta Water Agency..."Drying up the San Joaquin River harmed more than fish...
Philip Atkins-Pattenson, Outside Counsel for the NRDC Coalition, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP..."This settlement represents the triumph of optimism and collaboration among the parties...
Gary Bobker, Program Director, The Bay Institute...The San Joaquin River is the missing limb of San Francisco Bay...
Bill Jennings, Executive Director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance..."This is a truly historic settlement that not only breathes life into a dead river but will measurably improve water quality and lessen human health impacts in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta...
Lydia Miller, President, San Joaquin Raptor Wildlife Rescue Center..."Restoring the San Joaquin River will benefit salmon and numerous other native wildlife species, and it will improve the natural habitat along much of the river. It will also improve the quality of life for Valley residents and provide recreational opportunities."
Walt Shubin, Fresno County Raisin Farmer..."As a farmer who grew up on the San Joaquin River, I know that salmon and farming can coexist - I've seen it...
Chuck Bonham, Senior Attorney, California Director, Trout Unlimited..."This settlement shows the remarkable things that people can accomplish when they work together to restore damaged ecosystems...

Merced Sun-Star
River plan needs support in D.C...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
WASHINGTON -- The political headwaters for the San Joaquin River now shift to Capitol Hill, where Congress is supposed to turn a river restoration plan into reality...ambitious river plan formally rolled out Wednesday relies on quick congressional action... Theoretically, the new San Joaquin River settlement could collapse if Congress doesn't act by Dec. 31. Ken Robbins, an attorney for the Merced Irrigation District, and other California water professionals will be listening closely on Capitol Hill today as negotiators brief lawmakers about the deal that until Wednesday remained under tight wraps. The Merced Irrigation District, for instance, is a "third party," because it was not part of the lawsuit. Robbins said the district worries about sufficient funding for river channel improvements, and new Endangered Species Act burdens resulting from the reintroduction of the threatened spring-run salmon by 2013. "It poses some enormous problems," Robbins said, adding that "we're going to propose some changes to (the bill.) ...This raises other problems, though, because the settlement agreement requires that the legislation be approved "substantially in the form" that it's been proposed by the original negotiators. On Capitol Hill, congressional staffers expect some changes, and suggest neither farmers nor environmentalists will be too quick to back out. Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza of Merced, while applauding the work done on the settlement, cautioned that he could not support a deal if it comes "at the expense of those not party to the legislation." Rep. Devin Nunes of Visalia, characterized the proposed legislation as a "gun to the head" of Congress.

Fresno Bee
Accord pumps new life into river...Mark Grossi and E.J. Schultz
The historic deal is finally done, and the San Joaquin River - barring unforeseen snags - will flow freely again...a settlement that will launch what could be the largest river restoration in the history of the American West. The deal, announced in front of a federal courthouse in Sacramento, ends an 18-year-old federal lawsuit... Environmentalists heralded the agreement as the beginning of a new era, not only for the state's second-longest river but also for the state's vast waterways. "This agreement provides that once again the San Joaquin will flow from its headwaters in the High Sierra all the way to San Francisco Bay," said Hal Candee, senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, the lead plaintiff in the case. The San Joaquin Valley River Exchange Contractors Water Authority, representing west-side farmers, wants to make sure there is enough money to buy land and rebuild the river where it has not existed for decades. A hydrologist for the Bay Institute, one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, said the water used for restoration could be pumped back to farmers for use in the fields after it travels through the river. Once river water reaches the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta pumps, it can be sent back through canals to farmers. "We've done it already in tests, and it works," said hydrologist Peter Vorster...

A river shall run through it...Editorial
A marathon legal battle over the fate of the San Joaquin River inched closer to a settlement Wednesday... If the deal is finally done, over time it will change the face of the Valley — and for the better, we believe. Federal funds and state bond money would be tapped to pay for the costs of the restoration, as part of a "San Joaquin River Restoration Fund" created under the deal. There are obstacles...a particular concern downstream...settlement language apparently includes a guarantee that land will be purchased only from "willing sellers... Another touchy subject is language in the settlement that appears to place a year-end deadline on Congress to pass the necessary enabling legislation. Here's hoping this deal turns out to be a model for future compromises, rather than an ephemeral aberration.

Stockton Record
Parties agree to go with the flow...Alex Breitler
SACRAMENTO - Described by conservationists as the "missing limb" of San Francisco Bay, the San Joaquin River will again flow... The resurrected river will flush out pollutants and improve water quality in Stockton and San Joaquin County, conservationists say. Fish will return, followed by recreation and tourism dollars. And the algae blooms that often turn the river's waters a sickly pea green may be diminished. Wednesday's agreement among farmers, environmentalists and the federal government ends nearly two decades of courtroom clashes over water diversions at Friant Dam... The San Joaquin will become "a living ecosystem instead of a contaminated drainage ditch," said Hal Candee, a lawyer for the Natural Resources Defense Council, which first filed suit against the federal government and agricultural water users in 1988. "The federal government for years took a callous attitude toward the river," said Dante Nomellini, a Stockton water attorney who represents water users through the Central Delta Water Agency. While some farmers were praising the restoration plan, concerns remain over how much water they will lose...plan includes several strategies to make up for that loss, including bolstering groundwater supplies during wet years, transferring water from other groups and, when possible, recirculating any excess water from the Delta. "In many respects, the litigation has been the cork in the bottle for restoration efforts on the river," said Lester Snow, director of the California Department of Water Resources. "While that litigation was pending, it's been very difficult to pursue restoration. "We can now move forward."

Sept. 13, 2006

Restoring the San Joaquin...Michael Doyle, Bee Staff Writer and Mark Grossi, The Fresno Bee
WASHINGTON - More water should start flowing down the San Joaquin River by 2009 under a long-awaited settlement... Farmers and environmentalists have worked out the details during months of negotiations. The agreement will be presented to a federal judge in Sacramento this morning, in hopes of settling an 18-year-old lawsuit...agreement includes an apparent deadline for Congress to approve by Dec. 31. Feinstein will introduce the legislation to authorize the river fixes. Outside parties not allowed to sue...draft of the legislation authorizes the federal government to buy land from "willing sellers." All environmental laws must be complied with - a blow to some water agencies hoping for exemptions. Outside parties - such as the Merced Irrigation District - can't sue if they're unhappy with how the settlement works. The proposed legislation establishes a "San Joaquin River Restoration Fund... The agreement will not automatically dissolve if the legislation strays beyond the deadline, said Friant Water Users Authority lawyer Dan Dooley.

Irrigation districts worried about costs, loss of water...Michael G. Mooney, Bee Staff writer
Stanislaus and Merced water agencies are voicing concern about an agreement to restore a 153-mile stretch of the San Joaquin River. The $1 billion plan - assuming it wins congressional approval - will be one of the largest river restoration projects in the nation's history... would send more water through the San Joaquin River by 2009 and reintroduce salmon by 2013. "We believe there should be a settlement," Garith Krause of the Merced Irrigation District said Monday, "but that settlement shouldn't add additional burdens to those of us downstream." The Modesto and Turlock irrigation districts have questioned the settlement pact, as have the Westlands Water District, San Joaquin River Exchange and the San Luis & Delta-Mendota Water Authority. Key concerns include:... Allen Short, general manager of the Modesto Irrigation District, and the others will lobby for legislation that will:... If the legislation substantively differs from what negotiators agreed to, at least one lawmaker said, the deal could fall apart.

Stockton Record
Agreement reached on river restoration (11:05 a.m.)...The Record
A historic agreement to restore water flows for salmon in the San Joaquin River below Friant Dam near Fresno while undertaking one of the West’s largest river restoration efforts was announced today by the Natural Resources Defense Council, Friant Water Users Authority and U.S. Departments of the Interior and Commerce...settlement, filed this morning in U.S. District Court in Sacramento, ends an 18-year legal dispute over the operation of Friant Dam and resolves longstanding legal claims brought by a coalition of conservation and fishing groups led by NRDC.

San Francisco Chronicle
Settlement will restore San Joaquin River...Glen Martin
The San Joaquin Rive will be restored under a settlement announced today...be announced at news conferences in Sacramento and near Fresno, is the result of years of negotiations over a lawsuit filed in 1988 by environmental groups and fishing advocates. Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of a federal gag order, told The Chronicle that the settlement between water users and environmental groups requires that Friant Dam release between 364,000 and 462,000 acre-feet of water in normal years to help restore spring and fall salmon runs. One acre-foot is equivalent to 326,000 gallons, or roughly enough to meet the annual needs of five people. Kole Upton, a farmer and chairman of the Friant Water Users Authority, said the judge's decision required everyone involved to compromise. "If you have a judgment inflicted from above, you can end up feeling like the Germans after the Treaty of Versailles." "The important thing here is that we now have a partners in restoration and mitigation, not adversaries. That makes all the difference."

Sept. 12, 2006

Modesto Bee
Be careful about restoring San Joaquin River...Allen Short, general manager of Modesto Irrigation District and represents the San Joaquin Tributary Agencies
After 18 years in the courts...a settlement of the San Joaquin River...but only partly. The driving force behind the settlement is restoration of river flows to allow a return of the spring run Chinook salmon. Millions of dollars have been expended and more than 500,000 acre-feet of water released by irrigation districts and water agencies to provide conditions in the tributaries to improve and sustain the fall run. These efforts might be severely jeopardized if water temperatures exceed safe limits for fall run salmon fry. This could happen if sufficient Friant water does not flow through the existing shallow San Joaquin River channel upstream (south) of the Merced River on its way to the delta. These efforts must be recognized and protected from any negative effects as a result of the court and legislative action needed to complete the settlement. Specifically, the final settlement resolution must include reasonable approaches to:... Now is the time to support our representatives' efforts to obtain authorizing legislation that will complete the settlement process. Legislators and others involved must be careful to implement a balanced, long-term solution that is fair to all parties affected by San Joaquin River restoration activities.

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