Federal Government

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,
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/10/26/politics/p200402D53.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/12937609p-13593810c.html
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/5094/2/
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.

http://tracypress.com/content/view/5078/2/
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/breaking_news/15855683.htm
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
http://releases.usnewswire.com/GetRelease.asp?id=75109
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."

Grist
Pom and Jerry...Amanda Griscom Little
http://www.grist.org/news/muck/2006/10/26/pombo_race/index.html?source=daily
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
http://www.jerrymcnerney.org/press_story.asp?id=37
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
http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/state/15842761.htm
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
http://www.sacbee.com/endorsements
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061025&Category=OPED01&ArtNo=610250312&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/5063/2/
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/25/BABADIGEST22.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/25/MNGBOLVHGM1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/email/news/15842957.htm
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061024&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=610240317&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/5035/2/
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/n/a/2006/10/24/politics/p131153D67.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/2006-10-22-california-house_x.htm
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
http://www.theledger.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061023&Category=NEWS&ArtNo=610230358&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/102006U.shtml
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.

FYI
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061022/NEWS01/610220330/1001
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061022/OPED02/610220310&SearchID=73260638378225
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12921084p-13578330c.html
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/21/EDG6PKE3NA1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/columnists/perspective/15815102.htm
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
http://www.msmagazine.com/summer2006/saipanrevisited.asp
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
http://www.house.gov/georgemiller/abramoff2.html
Abramoff-Congress Scandal Includes Labor/Immigration/Electoral Abuse in U.S. Territory...Congressman George Miller
MEMORANDUM
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
http://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/42544.html
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
http://tracypress.com/election-2006.html
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
http://www.capitolweekly.net/opinion/article.html?article_id=1057
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/19/EDG6PKDVUQ1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/19/MNG7LLS1041.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=4515322&siteId=181
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
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/10/19/opinion/19thu3.html?pagewanted=print
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
http://www.sacbee.com/110/v-print/story/41112.html
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
http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2006/10/14/opinion/editorials/edt_pombo_061014.txt
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
http://tracypress.com/perfect-plolitical-storm.html
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
http://tracypress.com/very-poor-rich-man.html
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
http://tracypress.com/rude-activists.html
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
http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=4509971&siteId=181
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/community/15786451.htm
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
MATT TAIBBI
http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/story/12055360/cover_story_time_to_go_inside_the_worst_congress_ever
Ten Worst Congressmen
7. ENEMY OF THE EARTH
DICK POMBO (R-CALIF.)
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061017&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=61016023&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/fall-cleaning.html
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/17/EDG6PKDVMQ1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.insidebayarea.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=4499730&siteId=181
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/15778222.htm
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
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12901218p-13560663c.html
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
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/15770706.htm
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
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-op-quinn15oct15,0,6297648,print.story?coll=la-news-comment-opinions
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061015&Category=OPED02&ArtNo=610150307&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/local/15765751.htm
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/special/2004/elections/story/12897389p-13556929c.html
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

http://www.lodinews.com/articles/2006/10/14/opinion/editorials/edt_pombo_061014.txt
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
http://tracypress.com/pombo-s-account-is-most-plausible.html
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
http://tracypress.com/power-corrupts.html
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/community/15748935.htm
"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
----------------------

Reference:

Measure G must pass to secure federal dollars...Dennis Cardoza
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12849549p-13532887c.html
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
http://www.sunlightfoundation.com/node/793
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
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Oct. 4, 2006

Bush campaigning in Valley...Ben van der Meer, Modesto Bee
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12835577p-13520643c.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20061004/NEWS01/610040321/1001
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
http://www.recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061004&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=610040317&SectionCat=NEWS25&Template=printart
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061004&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=610040319&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4509/2/
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/04/MNGI9LHUQV1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/community/15674775.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
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
http://www.contracostatimes.com/mld/cctimes/news/15666363.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
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
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/la-fi-labor4oct04,1,4382150,print.story
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
http://www.latimes.com/news/politics/la-na-bush4oct04,0,6820607,print.story?coll=la-headlines-politics
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
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/03/AR2006100301391_pf.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061002&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=610020312&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/10/02/MNGHQLGL9P1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20061001&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=610010319&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4445/2/
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
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/09/29/AR2006092901433_pf.html
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4428/2/
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4398/2/
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/29/MNG4VLF7N81.DTL&type=printable
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4383/2/
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.
http://www.eenews.net/search/stories/?keyword=pombo&from_month=09&from_day=26&from_year=2006&to_month=09&to_day=27&to_year=2006&Submit_from_index=Search%21?
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
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12778094p-13470868c.html
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4349/2/
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
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12774366p-13467371c.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060923&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=609230327&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://tracypress.com/content/view/4248/2/
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12785879p-13478049c.html
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
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/story/12786191p-13478313c.html
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
http://www.sacbee.com/110/story/29845.html
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12777978p-13470708c.html
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/12774415p-13467443c.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060924/OPED02/609240307&SearchID=73257838248384
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12767877p-13460874c.html
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12762086p-13456203c.html
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/22/BAGHNLAO5E1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060921&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=609210342&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/special/150/story/12749797p-13444961c.html
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/special/150/story/12749818p-13444972c.html
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12717970p-13413996c.html
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

9-14-06
NRDC Press Release...9-13-06
Attachment:
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
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12713171p-13409800c.html
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/12713238p-13409904c.html
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
http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/12713227p-13409910c.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060914/NEWS01/609140344/1001
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
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12708691p-13405707c.html
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
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12708700p-13405719c.html
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
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060913&Category=NEWS01&ArtNo=60913002&SectionCat=&Template=printart
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
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/09/13/BAGG9L4KHQ1.DTL&type=printable
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
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/12704925p-13402258c.html
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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Corruption and incompetence reported at Interior Department

Submitted: Sep 17, 2006

Top Department of Interior watchdog, Inspector General Earl E. Devaney, testified last week before a House subcommittee that Interior was corrupt and incompetent.

"Simply stated, short of a crime, anything goes at the highest levels of the Department of the Interior, Devaney told the House Government Reform subcommittee on energy and resources.

"I have observed one instance after another when the good work of my office has been disregarded by the department," he continued. "Ethics failures on the part of senior department officials -- taking the form of appearances of impropriety, favoritism and bias -- have been routinely dismissed with a promise 'not to do it again.' ''

Devaney reported that through bureaucratic neglect, incompetence or "stovepiping," billions in royalties owned the federal government have been lost on deep ocean oil wells. When department officials discovered the error in the contracts, they tried to cover it up, Devaney told the subcommittee.

These charges ought to concern the San Joaquin Valley because Interior controls the Bureau of Relamation, Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, National Park Service, Minerals Mangement Service, US Geological Survey, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. These agencies have major responsibilities in the Valley on issues as diverse as last week's Friant Dam settlement agreement, enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, Yosemite National Park, oil and gas leases, geological mapping and Indian casinos.

Officials at Interior are under relentless pressure from chairman of the House Resources Committee, Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy, other members of his committee like Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear Slayer-Merced, their contributors and other special interests. The public has witnessed examples of Interior officials giving in to that pressure. However, Devaney said his office was under constant pressure from congressmen and senators, special interests and Interior officials, yet he managed to do his job at least in this report. Yet, without an investigative article by the New York Times in March, he might not have had the political support to do it.

"I have unfortunately watched a number of high-level Interior officials leave the department under the cloud of OIG investigations," Devaney said, referring to the Office of Inspector General. "Absent criminal charges, however, they are sent off in the usual fashion, with a party paying tribute to their good service and the secretary wishing them well, to spend more time with their family or seek new opportunities."

The Times reported Sunday:

Three years ago, Devaney scathingly criticized the Interior Department's auditing program for oil and gas royalties. Beyond finding that investigators had missed millions of dollars in underpayments, his office uncovered evidence that agency auditors had lost key files and then tried to fool investigators by forging and backdating the missing documents. In an acid rebuke of the agency, Devaney noted that the agency gave a bonus to the official who came up with the false papers.

We hope the government reform committee might oversee Interior and members of the resources committee who require constant watching.

-------------

References:

September 13, 2006: Chairman Issa: Interior Cover-up Prevented Price Threshold Omission from Being Fixed
http://reform.house.gov/ER/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=50033

Interior Dept. blasted for ethics breaches
Agency officials accused of ignoring cover-ups, cronyism
- Edmund L. Andrews, New York Times
Thursday, September 14, 2006

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Historic settlement on the San Joaquin River

Submitted: Sep 13, 2006

The Natural Resources Defense Council and the Friant Water Users Authority reached an unprecedented settlement agreement Wednesday to restore the flow of the San Joaquin River. NRDC, representing a number of local, state and federal environmental groups, and the FWUA had been at war in court for 18 years.

"Bringing the San Joaquin River back to life will be one of the greatest restoration projects ever undertaken in the United States,” said Peter Moyle, professor of Fisheries biology at UC Davis.

A 60-miles stretch of the river in western Fresno County has been dry since the dam was built in the late 1940s due to irrigation diversions south in the Friant-Kern Canal and north in the Madera Canal.

The settlement agreement documents were handed at 9 a.m. Wednesday morning to the court of Judge Stanley Karlton, United States District Court, Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division.

It is anticipated that the increased flows to the river will be enough to provide for both spring and fall runs of Chinook salmon. Before the Friant Dam was constructed, creating Lake Millerton at the base of the Sierra foothills east of the City of Fresno, the San Joaquin River was the southernmost range of the Chinook.

“As a farmer who grew up on the San Joaquin River, I know that salmon and farming can coexist-I’ve seen it,” said Walt Shubin, Fresno County raisin farmer.

Between now and 2026, between 15-20 percent of the water formerly flowing to long-term Friant irrigators will go to restoring the river. A number of financial devises, which the settlement agreement suggests in draft federal legislation should be under the control of the secretary of the Department of Interior, will pay for restoration of the river channel and flood control downstream of the Friant Dam. Rep. George Radanovich, R-Mariposa, chairman of the House Resources Committee Subcommittee on Water and Power, has already scheduled in hearing to hear this suggested legislation. Both sides expressed optimism Wednesday that the House could pass it before the end of the year. According to the settlement, the agreement is void-able if the resources committee – chaired by Rep. Richard Pombo, R-Tracy – does not approve the bill.

Kole Upton, representing the 15,000 farmers on about one million acres and a number of towns in FWUA, already experienced in conjunctive use techniques, expressed optimism that the irrigators would find the right combination of recirculation, recapture, reuse and exchange or transfer programs to continue farming. He said the irrigators needed certainty about the amounts of water they would receive, which the settlement gives them.

The settlement proposes that about $11 million per year in fees currently paid by the irrigators will be dedicated to river improvement; the proposed legislation (part of the agreement) could produce an additional $250 million in federal funds, either through bonding, guaranteed loans or other financing. The settlement also anticipates financial participation by the state of California. Greg Wilkerson, attorney for FWUA, said the $5.4 billion Clean Water and Coastal Protection Bond Act of 2006 (Prop. 84) contains $100 million earmarked for San Joaquin River restoration.

After the press conference, Hal Candee, lead attorney for NRDC, released an orphaned Red-Tailed Hawk, raised by the San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center before a crowd of about 50 people from the media and parties to the lawsuit.

What people are saying about the settlement agreement:

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. – Lydia Miller, president, San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center

… Over 150 mile4s of river will once again provide vital habitat for not only salmon but for a wide array of other nativ3 fish, plants and wildlife. Restoring one of California’s long lost salmon runs will be 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. – Peter Moyle, professor of fisheries biology, UC Davis.

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. A restored San Joaquin River will literally bring back to life one of California’s greatest salmon rivers. Our fishing communities deserve a little good news. – Zeke Grader, executive director, Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermen’s Association

Drying up the San Joaquin River harmed more than fish. It virtually destroyed the water supply for farmers in the Delta. Restoring the San Joaquin River will help rectify a national disgrace by restoring fisheries and improving water quality, benefiting farmers along the San Joaquin River and in the Delta. Restoring the river is good for farmers, the Delta and all of California. – Dante Nomellini, manager and co-counsel, Central Delta Water Agency.

This settlement represents the triumph of optimism and collaboration among the parties. A jointly supported restoration plan is the best outcome for all. It reverses a historic wrong by reviving a living San Joaquin River for the California public, which owns this important resource. This agreement also demonstrates that the laws protecting the public’s rivers are alive and well. – Philip Atkins-Patterson, outside counsel for the NRDC Coalition, Sheppard, Mullin, Richter and Hampton LLP

The San Joaquin River is the missing limb of San Francisco Bay. Dewatering the river severed the connection between the Bay and a critical part of its watershed. Restoring flows and salmon to the San Joaquin will not only revive a great river but also improve water quality and habitat conditions in the Bay, at a time when it is facing unprecedented threats. – Gary Bobker, program director, The Bay Institute

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. State and federal agencies would do well to consider the elements of this settlement as they begin to fashion a vision for the future of the Bay-Delta estuary. – Bill Jennings, executive director, California Sportfishing Protection Alliance

…this agreement to restore the San Joaquin can bring back this important part of our natural heritage. In fact, restoring flows for salmon could be the best thing to happen to our overdrafted aquifer in Fresno and Madera counties in 60 years. Walt Shubin, Fresno County raisin grower

The settlement shows the remarkable things that people can accomplish when they work together to restore damaged ecosystems. Trout Unlimited and its 15,000 California members are thrilled that this historic agreement puts California on a course to bringing salmon back to this once-mighty river. – Chuck Bonham, senior attorney, California director, Trout Unlimited.

Some irrigation districts north of Fresno, who unsuccessfully tried to enter the settlement meetings before the agreement was reached, have expressed concerns about its impacts on them and are lobbying for a say in decisions during the implementation stage of the agreement.

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Responsibility for Valley air pollution

Submitted: Sep 04, 2006

The defeat of legislation to expand the board of the San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District to include members from three cities and two public members, a physician and an environmental expert, appears to be such a story. This bill (SB999) was introduced more than a year ago and went through 10 votes and 10 analyses before it was defeated. A majority of Valley legislators voted against it although it was sponsored by one of their own, state Sen. Mike Machado, D-Linden. other regional air boards have physicians and environmental experts on them.

Hear what the Assemblywoman from his own county said of the bill:

Assembly Member Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy, called the bill a "solution in search of a problem," adding during floor debate Tuesday that "there is no evidence that the current system is broken."

This a barbaric statement. One is six children in Fresno have asthma, triple the national average.

In 2001, the federal Environmental Protection Agency downgraded Valley air quality from "serious" to "severe" non-attainment

In 2003, the state Legislature took away agriculture's exemption from air pollution regulation.

In 2004, the EPA downgraded the Valley air quality from "severe" to "extreme" non-attainment, a category previously "attained" only by Los Angeles, until recently the worst air pollution basin in the US. But, there was a kicker to this downgrading. At the "severe" level, federal highway funds would have been cut off. At the basketcase "extreme" level, they weren't. The Valley was put on a tight schedule to come up with a plan. Given the record of the Valley air board to come up with and to implement plans, as well as enforce existing regulations, the public has a right to be highly cynical about this plan.

Now, the San Joaquin Valley is considered to be as bad an air basin as Los Angeles, thanks in large part to the Valley air board, composed of eight county supervisors and three city council members.

Meanwhile, despite the dominant roll of cars and trucks in producing air pollution, these same eight counties are embarking on a regional transportation plan under the auspices of CalTrans. Four of the eight counties currently have transportation sales tax measures before the voters, which will increase sales taxes to generate matching funds to attract federal highway funds, primarily, and secondarily, funds to repair existing streets and roads. Focusing on traffic congestion caused by irrational, extreme urban growth, a proven danger to the health of our most vulnerable citizens -- children and the elderly
-- they want to build more roads and streets to stimulate more growth.

These same eight county boards of supervisors who control the Valley air board approve the lion's share of the new subdivisions being built. Most of those subdivisions are being built on prime farmland. When the Farm Bureau joined the Building Industry Association and the Chamber of Commerce, landowners, not farmers, were speaking.

They want nothing -- even a mounting public health crisis -- to interfere with their right to sell land to developers.

What Machado wanted to do was let a little "sunshine" into the decision-making process of the Valley air board. Originally, he wanted four new members. He compromised on two, out of a board of 13. The special interests prevailed. Democrat Assemblywoman Nicole Parra, D-Hanford, joined Matthews in crossing the partisan line.

This weekend, Dan Walters (Sacramento Bee political columnist) interviewed a termed-out moderate Republican, a physician who will be returning to his medical practice.

As Richman sees it, "the system is corrupt," not in the conventional sense of under-the-table payoffs, but in having lawmakers so beholden to powerful interest groups -- business, labor, Indian tribes, etc. -- that, with term limits and gerrymandered legislative seats, they utterly control who can run and get elected to the Legislature. And because term limits induce lawmakers to be constantly seeking other offices, they must kowtow to the interest groups that have life-and-death power over their careers.

Dr. Richman voted against SB 999, and he cannot even keep his political logic straight for a short paragraph. Special interests maintain control over the careers of our corrupt local, state and federal legislators through money; whether it is below-the-table just before a vote or above-the-table during the next campaign, the legislators are still selling their votes.

Richman doesn't sound nearly as much like the victim of a corrupt system as he does like an ordinary hypocritical politician with a remarkable lack of self-awareness. But it makes an interesting column.

For the Valley however, far more important than the system is the immediate air pollution crisis. Even the UC Merced, from whatever mixture of motives, sees this crisis. Regardless of how much special interest money political candidates are gathering for their fall campaigns, there are other numbers that are more important, at least to the people of the Valley.

These are American Lung Association national air-pollution rankings from 2004.

Metropolitan Areas Most Polluted by Short-term Particle Pollution (24-Hour PM2.5)

2. Fresno-Madera
3. Bakersfield
8. Sacramento, etc.
9. Visalia-Porterville
11. Modesto
12. Hanford Corcoran
15. Bay Area- 27 percent comes to Valley
23. Merced
-------

Metropolitan Areas Most Polluted by Year-Round Particle Pollution(Annual PM2.5)

2. Visalia-Porterville
3. Bakersfield
4. Fresno-Madera
9. Hanford-Corcoran
17. Modesto
18. Merced (equal to NYC)

Top 26 U.S. Counties Most Polluted by Annual Particle Pollution (Annual PM2.5)

4. Tulare
5. Kern
6.Fresno
22. Merced = NYC

Metropolitan Areas with the Worst Ozone Air Pollution

2. Fresno-Madera
3. Bakersfield
4. Visalia-Porterville
6. Merced
7. Sacramento, etc.
8. Hanford-Corcoran
20. Modesto

Counties with the Worst Ozone Air Pollution*

2. Fresno
3. Kern
5. Tulare
8. Merced
10. Kings
12. Sacramento

No rural region in the nation approaches these levels of air pollution. After paving over the Valley, plutocrats will be climbing into their airplanes and escaping to some pleasant place, leaving us with a steadily worsening crisis. We've run out of time for hypocrites and crooks in office.

Bill Hatch
------------------------

References:

1. SB 999, http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/
2. Air board expansion fails in the Assembly, Fresno Bee, Aug. 31, 2006
3. http://www.epa.gov/region9/air/sjvalley/
4. California State Assembly Passes Landmark Clean Air Bill, September 11, 2003,
http://www.earthjustice.org/news/press/003/california_state_assembly_passes_landmark_clean_air_bill.html
5. EPA agrees to lower smog rating for Valley, Fresno Bee, April 11, 2004
6. San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Worsens, Union of Concerned Scientists USA, Feb. 3, 2005
7. In Central Valley, Angelides Vows to Take On Childhood Asthma, Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2006
8. A citizen-politician's frustration underscores Legislature's woes, Sacramento Bee, Sept. 3, 2006
9. http://www.valleyair.org/Board_meetings/HB/agenda_minutes/north/Minutes/HB-NR-Minutes-2006-February-1.pdf
10. CRS Report to Congress, California's San Joaquin Valley: A Region in Transition, Dec. 12, 2005

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Oily Pomboza slithers through town

Submitted: Sep 02, 2006
Cardoza is co-sponsoring a bill that would open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration and earmark the federal income from it for alternative energy development. - Modesto Bee, Aug. 23, 2006

Of course the principle sponsor of the bill is Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy. We pondered the Pomboza's co-sponsorship of this bill and considered upgrading their party affiliations to suit their growing arrogance and destructiveness. Pombo should now be called Whale Slayer, and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear Slayer-Merced.

While covering a complicated debate about milk nutrition at the state Capitol in 1999, I asked Cardoza, then chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, how legislators, very few of whom are scientists, deal with conflicting expert scientific testimony. He replied that not all scientific testimony was always the best, leaving unanswered how legislators judge between the best and the rest. In that case, an Arizona dairy processor was trying to crash the California skim milk market with lower-standard federal skim milk. The Arizonan had a lot of money and Southern California was rapidly losing its dairies in Chino and San Diego County. However, he was going against the biggest dairy state in the nation.

His argument that there was no difference between the nutritional quality of federal standard skim milk and California standard skim milk was found not to have been the best science.

After several days of reviewing clips on the so-called 2007 Farm Bill and the Pomboza's recent, perfectly coordinated tangents, I recalled the story, the tedious research, the mountains of material presented by the California dairy lobbyist and the Assembly ag committee's chief consultant, and my editors' irritation at the convoluted results. Yet, no one asked the simple question: if it's good enough for 49 states, why isn't it good enough for California? Presumably this was because Cardoza represented our district, was the chief of Assembly ag, and Merced is the second largest diary county in the nation. The debate was about market share, not science.

The same was true about Cardoza’s plan to mitigate the loss of farmland caused by UC Merced and its induced growth through the Williamson Act, which turned out to help developers holding farmland as much as it has farmers in his district.

On Aug. 23, Cardoza, now a congressman and a member of the House Committee on Agriculture, held a breakfast at the Stanislaus Agricultural Center where, in an address supposedly focused on the 2007 Farm Bill, he spoke almost exclusively about alternative fuel sources, mainly ethanol. Two days later, Pombo, appointed vice chairman of the agriculture committee in March, held a workshop in Stockton on alternative fuel sources, centered on a proposed site for a biodiesel plant. At present, Pombo remains chairman of the House Committee on Resources, where Cardoza also serves.

Little if anything was reported about either congressman addressing local farm issues, even dairy subsidies, let alone cotton and rice. Cardoza waxed rhapsodic about alternative energy, the Modesto Bee reported:

The upcoming federal farm bill provides a chance to pursue alternative energy sources, Rep. Dennis Cardoza said Tuesday.

Cardoza, speaking to about 75 people at the Stanislaus County Agricultural Center, said the bill could promote ethanol and other fuels extracted from corn, dairy manure, cottonseed and other farm sources.

The legislation would outline five years of spending on agriculture and nutrition. Cardoza said the bill, which he is helping to craft as a member of the House Agriculture Committee, could include a section on energy.

The Merced Democrat said farmers in the upper Midwest are prospering because of ethanol production from their corn, and windmills and solar energy systems on their land.

Huh? So what? The highest priority in Cardoza's district is saving farmland from urban development. To legitimately represent farming in his district, he had to address Farm Bill programs that might help arrest slurb.

The most obvious effect of more Midwest corn and soybeans going into ethanol is a rise in corn and soybean prices California dairymen import from the Midwest. According to one Merced dairyman, they are already receiving a $15/ton fuel surcharge from the railroads to account for higher fuel prices.

So, given that Cardoza is just babbling to an audience of Washington energy lobbyists about the 2007 Farm Bill, let's drift back to the money and see if anything is revealed. According to the Environmental Working Group's farm subsidy databank, corn is the commodity that receives the largest amount of farm subsidies: $42 billion from 1995-2004, while dairy program subsidies amount to only $3 billion. We would have thought, in the second largest dairy-producing congressional district in the nation, the congressman might have spoken about raising that a bit.

But, there is another factor that probably provided the primary guidance for Cardoza's remarks – he lives in Pombo's hip pocket. At a workshop on alternative energy attended by the US Secretary of Commerce, Pombo took aim at next year's energy bill to say that the federal government must help private energy companies develop alternative fuel supplies. Presumably, this means tax credits and subsidies. However, it might also mean that Pombo is in the tightest race of his career against a wind energy consultant, Jerry McNerney. McNerney, a Democrat, has already been endorsed by US Army Gen. (ret.) Wesley Clark and Pombo's two Republican primary opponents, Tom Benigno and Pete McCloskey. Pombo, is a crook, voted one of the 13 most corrupt members of US Congress, who should have gone the way of Tom DeLay, has been blasted by the New York Times, the San Jose Mercury-News and the Sacramento Bee for his corrupt, lawless activities as chairman of the resources committee.

Given the stench of corruption surrounding Pombo, it is a certainty that it extends to Cardoza, the rear end of what some local dairymen call the "Pomboza."

We inquired into the subject of biofuels, the ostensible reason for Pombo's all-day theater at the Port of Stockton, because it did not quite ring true to us that the Pomboza is now promoting small, independent entrepreneurs to replace the large energy companies.

In fact, it occurred to us that whatever happens in the upcoming energy bill, it will -- probably regardless of what party controls the House at the time -- be dominated by the Bush/Cheney administration, committed to the obscene profits of oil and gas company top executives.

We did not have to look any farther than the UK Monsanto website for the answer to our question in its informative article about biodiesel. When Rudolph Diesel first demonstrated his engine at the 1900 Paris Exposition, he ran it on peanut oil. He designed the engine to run on a variety of fuels so that farmers far from a source of petroleum would be able to use locally produced vegetable oils. He was quite possibly murdered by agents of oil interests for this fuel promiscuity. Fascinating as the fate of Diesel was, more to the point was the observation made by an executive of a Colorado biofuel start-up, SunFuels, who expressed confidence "big oil" would not try to suppress them:

"They are going to need us once they need to improve their fuel because of the EPA's requirement to remove sulfur from diesel," Lafferty says. "The big boys let the little boys-like us-hash it out, work out the kinks, then buy us out. It's a common trend."

In other words, the Pomboza, acting at the direction of the energy corporations, gets as much R&D subsidy and credits as possible for the entrepreneurs to work out the price, then the energy corporations buy them out. What looks like a pitch for the creative innovation sparked only by economic competition is a front for the oil cartel's control of the creators, the government, the politicians and the market.

Lafferty's remark provided context for the comments of a biofuel executive attending the Port of Stockton workshop, where nothing but a biofuels plant site has yet been proposed:

American Biodiesel Chief Executive Office, Lisa Mortenson, who led the tour of the proposed facility, applauded the renewable energy incentives in the last energy bill.

By extending a biodiesel tax credit, you have given our investors confidence, she said. It is very important to have that commitment at the Federal level.

(In other words, without sizeable federal subsidies, this industry will not begin.)

American Biodiesel's website announces that it will begin construction by mid-2006 on a biodiesel plant in Toledo, Ohio. It's main investor is Michigan-based Delta Fuels, a high profile Clean Air Act violator. American Biodiesel also announces it will produce a 100-percent biodiesel product but will also produce blends

Biofuels produce less greenhouse gases. Depending on the blend, biodiesel is somewhat cleaner than ethanol, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

It is instructive, however, to ask the question: how does this help California? If we converted our entire shrinking farmland acreage to the production of corn and soybeans to take advantage of the new market for biofuels, would we be better off?

Not only would our economy certainly not be better off, but an argument proposed by UK Guardian science columnist George Monbiot suggests that biofuel is one of the most dangerous enthusiasms of the times. Markets, he points out, are not about people; they are about money. The exploitation of natural resources in a finite world reaches a finite end, and there is an immense cruelty when, on the anticipated global level, land committed to subsistence farming is converted into biofuel production. He noted the tremendous destruction ongoing in Malaysia as forests are burnt to make way for palm-oil groves, which will soon wipe out an entire suite of rare and endangered species starting with the Orangutan. He noted huge destruction of Brazilian rain forests for the production of soybeans for livestock feed. He predicted that UK Prime Minister Tony Blair’s plan to turn Africa into a biofuel plantation would cause immense human suffering and starvation. He concluded his investigation into the subject with these words:

We need a solution to the global warming caused by cars, but this isn’t it. If the production of biofuels is big enough to affect climate change, it will be big enough to cause global starvation.

About the time Pombo was holding his workshop on alternative energy, farmers and developers in his district were trying to reach some accommodation about mitigation for farmland loss. They failed, as usual and as badly as the state Legislator failed to produce a flood bill that would provide responsible local land use policy, including fiscal responsibility for land-use decisions, and would at the same time appease the insane greed of developers.

So, what happened politically in the north San Joaquin Valley last week? This latest performance was straight Pomboza Theater of Diversion. People here, as everywhere in the nation, want to know how to get out of Iraq before we leave an army there, as Napoleon once did in Egypt. Farmers, naturally, want to know what is in it for them in the new Farm Bill. Many people were appalled by Israel’s invasion of Lebanon, particularly by the unexploded cluster bombs left in the last 72 hours of hostilities, when Israel knew the war was ending. Already, these unexploded bomblets have claimed nearly 100 victims. Growing numbers of people from all political persuasions, many of them Jews, think Israel is guilty of major war crimes in that assault. Bush’s popularity has not been out of the mid-30-percent range for weeks. Yet Democrats, even a Democrat like Cardoza, running unopposed, will not stand up.

A friend counseled me that there are many people these days who don’t know the difference between right and wrong and have no moral fiber. Perhaps that’s the answer and perhaps it can be extended to a majority of the members of Congress.

What we may be witnessing here is a large group of elected officials who have enormous power, given the nation in which they serve, without any idea of how to use it for anything but bad purposes because ideologically they don't believe in government and are hopelessly bought by special interests with single issues and no responsibility for intelligent compromise to produce wise policies.

Thomas Frank, author of What’s the Matter with Kansas, put it this way:

What we have watched unfold for a few decades, I have argued, is a broad reversion to 19th-century political form, with free-market economics understood as the state of nature, plutocracy as the default social condition, and, enthroned as the nation’s necessary vice, an institutionalized corruption surpassing anything we have seen for 80 years. All that is missing is a return to the gold standard and a war to Christianize the Philippines.

Nick J. Rahall, II, Ranking Democrat on House Resources Committee spoke against the Deep Ocean Energy Resources Act, enthusiastically supported by Pombo, the chairman of the resources committee. Rahall is from West Virginia, where they know more about human costs of energy production, worker exploitation and corporate greed than the Pomboza will ever comprehend. It is so utterly unlike any political discourse we will ever hear in this region and it is the voice of a patriotic American, I quote it in full. Rahall names the national enemy to which the Pomboza sold its soul.

Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I rise in opposition to the pending legislation on the basis that I am unwilling to vote against America’s energy independence.

This bill would continue to mortgage our Nation’s future to a handful of multinational oil conglomerates. It demands a continued addiction to a petroleum diet. It would only further enslave us, as a Nation, as a society, to the oily ways of the past, which do not bode well for our energy future.

It is telling that the so-called "Energy Week" proclaimed by the Republican Majority consists of a single piece of legislation that would only further shackle the Nation to the whims and caprices of the petroleum industry.

It is telling that this is their idea, as it has been all along, of what energy
independence means.

As Paul Revere did on that famous midnight ride, those of us opposed to this ill-conceived bill are raising an alarm.

The drumbeat that we hear pounds out a call of freedom.

Freedom to be done with those who profit and plunder at the gas pumps throughout this country. Freedom from the price gougers, and freedom from the merchants of profit and power over our American values. And the freedom to devise new and alternative fuels to our petroleum dependency.

It is time to stand up and be counted. To hoist up the flag and salute it. To strike a
resounding chord that will reverberate across this great land of ours.

I say to my colleagues that today is truly Independence Day here in the House of
Representatives for we are given an opportunity to vote against this bill.

And vote against it on the following grounds.

First, it would improperly and, perhaps unconstitutionally delegate to the coastal States virtually all decision-making powers over the disposition of a federal resource. It says to all of the other owners of our offshore waters and energy resources – whether they reside in Arizona, Idaho, Ohio or West Virginia – that you have no say in the matter. No say whatsoever. That we are going to vest all of the power with a few, to the detriment of the many.

Second, it would grab the second largest source of income to the Federal government after personal income taxes, yank this revenue out of the Treasury, and redistribute it to those few.

Let us be clear. This bill would reallocate existing revenue from OCS oil and gas leases to willing coastal States. Not just future, potential, revenue streams but also those currently being dedicated to the benefit of the Nation as a whole.

It would rob the majority of the American people, and bankrupt the Land & Water Conservation Fund so cherished by communities and localities across this great land.

According to the Administration, the revenue sharing provisions of this bill alone, alone, would constitute a $74 billion hit over the first 15 years.

Envision this massive raid on America’s resources and what it will mean to the average American.

Third, this bill would deprive most of us of jobs and economic benefits in most of our regions.

Those of you from the Midwest – from the cornbelt – forget about ethanol. This bill demands petroleum. Vote for it, and you vote against your interests. You vote against jobs in your region, and against the economic benefits the production of ethanol brings to your farmers.

Those of you from the coalfields – where we have sought for many years to broaden our employment base, and to reduce our Nation’s petroleum fixation, with liquid fuels made from coal – vote for this bill and you are voting against the future of your coal miners.

With a Nation hard and fast on a petroleum diet for decades to come brought forth by the pending legislation, the widespread commercialization of coal-to-liquids technology to fuel our vehicles will continue to be an elusive goal.

I have never forsaken the coal miners in my Congressional District, and I am not about to do so now.

And fourth, this bill is simply not necessary. Under the Bush Administration alone, the Interior Department has offered leases covering 267 million acres of the OCS (Outer Continental Shelf-BH). Industry has only sought to acquire 24 million of those acres. Contemplate that for a moment. There are still 243 million acres available for leasing that the oil and gas industry has not yet seen fit to bid upon.

In all, in total, over 40 million acres of the OCS are under lease and less than 7 million of those acres are in production.

Is there a crisis in the OCS? Is there evidence that legislation such as that before us, which shreds long-standing moratoria, is needed?

The facts tell us not.

Those who bring forth this legislation represent an era that should now be in our past, seeking to place all our eggs in a black basket woven of petroleum.

They would defend the predominance of Big Oil, those with wealth and power, over our energy destiny.

Those of us opposed to this legislation bring with us the conviction that there are limits to what the American people will suffer for the sake of profit and power.

This is indeed a turning point for America. I urge the defeat of the pending legislation and reserve the balance of my time.

Nope. I don’t buy the Pomboza Theater of Diversion. This four-footed thing in humping along into the pockets of Big Oil. This is bad for the 11th and 18th congressional districts of California and for the nation.

If the San Joaquin Valley had the character of Appalachia and not just similar economic problems, we would not elect representatives like Cardoza and Pombo. But as long as we act like political chumps, the Pomboza is what we deserve.

Bill Hatch
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References

1. Cardoza promotes farm-based fuels, Modesto Bee, Aug. 23, 2006
2. Interior secretary travels to ANWR to promote oil drilling, Associated Press, Sept. 1, 2006
3. Environmental Working Group Farm Subsidy Databank, ewg.com
4.Incumbency has its privileges for Pombo, Stockton Record, Aug. 24, 2006
5. Experts buzzing at Port of Stockton, Inside Bay Area, Aug. 25, 2006
6. www.votepomboout.org
7. www.jerrymcnerney.org
8. It's like oil and water, Stockton Record, Dec. 21, 2005 12-21-05
9. The Biodeisel Revolution, http://www.monsanto.co.uk/biofuels/, July 12, 2002
10. Pombo named vice chairman of ag committee, Ag Alert, California Farm Bureau, March 22, 2006
11.Feeding Cars, Not People, www.monbiot.com, Nov. 23, 2004
12. Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll Announces Six State Class Action Filed against Bayer, CropScience, Aug. 28, 2006
13. Plan to save SJ ag land is discussed, Modesto Bee, Aug. 23, 2006
14. 'New Democrats' Rendezvous With Oblivion, New York Times, Sept. 1, 2006
15. Statement by U.S. Representative Nick J. Rahall, II, Ranking Democrat - House Resources Committee, Floor Consideration of H.R. 4761, June 29, 2006
16. americanbiodiesel.net

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The Shrimp Slayer’s black-box future

Submitted: Aug 21, 2006

The new Silicon Valley of Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, we suggest, is simply another flak attack on his weary constituents, who are slowly beginning to realize up what creek he has led them.

First, let's remember a little history: every major growth project in California for the last 30 years has somewhere in its pitch that it is going to be the new Silicon Valley of Nameyourburg. Second, let us recall the brave words of our culture's newest intellectual elite, as they contemplated the glories of the real Silicon Valley (during a period of growth rather than recession, when you could buy BMWs on every weedy corner used car lot), and declared the "end of history." The content of the famous declaration was that capitalist technology had triumphed over all and any problem could be fixed by a new black box.

Surely, the last refuge of scoundrels in the American political classes is this black-box future, which, if again we call upon human memory and awareness, does not yet exist. Therefore, choices made based on its assumption, amount to selections among fantasies. If, however, you are a member of that political class who has done everything in his power to corrupt local, state and federal environmental law and regulation to establish a university in your district, and this university is floundering in a seething mass of consequences for irresponsible, incompetent planning, led until the end of the month by a chancellor some begin to think is deranged, perhaps you think your best choice is to take this campus by the hand and leap together into the void of the black-box future.

The introduction of a bill in Congress to make solar panels a standard option on all residential development throughout the US (yeah! even Buffalo NY) strikes us as being in the same vein of pious posturing as Cardoza’s bill in Congress to put corrupt congressmen in prison, just another example of the well known substance from Shrimp Slayer Central.

For sincerity, go to his two bills to destroy the natural habitat designation in the Endangered Species Act and his "bipartisan" co-sponsorship, with Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy of a bill to gut the entire ESA.

At the moment, Cardoza seems to be struggling to get out of being considered the nether part of the ESA-devouring Pomboza, which has failed so far. To this end, he has gone off to make whoopee with Westlands Water District, he's sponsoring a fundraiser for the opponent of state Sen. Jeff Denham, R-Merced (who dared introduce legislation to try to make the University of California more forthcoming about executive compensation), and now he wants to solarize the Central Valley through federal legislation -- creating a fund for UC Merced to take the lead in development of the next solar black box.

In short, do anything but face the rapidly deteriorating present in which the overbuilt housing market is rapidly crumbling, leaving a social wasteland in its wake.

Yo, Denny: the roof is only a problem for water quality and supply. The cars in the garage and on the street are the problem, and there are more and more of them, particularly on the north side, while the streets of the rest of the city are full of dope-dealing bicyclists.

As a state legislator and now as a congressman, nobody left in office has had more to do with creating the rapidly deteriorating present than Dennis Cardoza, except for the motley crew on the Merced County Board of Supervisors, with whom Cardoza shares adjoining offices. He runs for reelection unopposed, a nominal Democrat, because Republican developers in his district can find nothing wrong with his record or his willingness to serve them.

But, if he is serious about making his district the Silicon Valley of Solar Power, we have a few suggestions.

· Require all vehicles passing through Merced County to be solar-powered cars and trucks.

· Require Union Pacific and Santa Fe to run only solar-powered locomotives through Merced County.

· Require as a condition of permit approval, that the Riverside Motorsports Park become the Solar NASCAR of America, running only races between solar-powered vehicles and, of course, admitting only customers arriving in solar-powered vehicles.

· Require that the Wal-Mart distribution center be powered entirely by solar energy and that the thousand or so trucks coming to and going from it each day be likewise solar-powered.

· Require all staff, faculty, and students of UC Merced drive only solar-powered vehicles.

· Require all developers, construction workers, realtors and new homebuyers in Merced County to drive only solar-powered vehicles.

If that seems impractical -- the Shrimp Slayer's staff would say the political timing isn't right and such a course is not growth inducing -- there is one practical matter that can take some of the pressure off existing residents of the county. As a result of the state Supreme Court's recent decision in Marina et. al v. CSU Monterey Bay, state agencies (like UC) must pay for their off-site environmental impacts.

So, why is the county, under the ruse of Merced County Association of Governments, having been rejected in the primary, bringing back another measure to raise sales taxes to pay for transportation, including $10 million for the Mission Interchange -- Gateway to the UC Campus Parkway?

To begin, this measure, like its two unsuccessful predecessors, is NOT about fixing crumbling city and county streets and roads. It is about building new roads to accommodate new growth, particularly what the absconding UC Merced Chancellor calls “smart growth” induced by the campus.

Why, in fact, should the existing residents of Merced County have to pay one dime for the entire UC loop road -- from Atwater to the campus and down to the Mission Interchange? In its letter to the court in support of CSU, UC said it stood to lose $200 million in Merced if the court decided against the argument that state agencies are not required to pay for off-site environmental impacts. That $10 million for the Mission Interchange should come UC's $200 million. The rest of that loop road should be paid by UC, not existing Merced residents.

Or, to put it more bluntly: why doesn't development pay for itself?

Vote no on whatever they're calling the measure this week (I believe it will be called Measure G in November) to increase your sales taxes. Stay in the present. Do not follow the Shrimp Slayer into the black-box future.

In fact, what the Shrimp Slayer has done for Merced during his professional political career in the state Assembly and in the House of Representatives is to support every development from UC onward, cashing in personally on a few land deals along the way to establishing himself as one of the major Developer's Democrats in Congress.

As the bills come due and the consequences of this reckless path become obvious, the Shrimp Slayer seeks to hide in the black-box future, piously intoning his environmental commitment as he does it.

On the other hand, miracles happen every day. Perhaps he means it and perhaps this is a kind of personal atonement. If so, good. But, the fact is that as a result of the policies and activities of the Shrimp Slayer and others, the north San Joaquin Valley is rapidly becoming a continuous slurb, instead of remaining the valuable farmland and agricultural economy it has been.

The idea that agriculture has a future is nothing new, particularly in the Valley. The present agricultural economy must be given a chance to evolve. But, in a surfeit of greed and stupidity, fomented by irresponsible leadership and this witless UC project, it is in extreme danger of simply disappearing under the developer’s blade.

Concentration of solarizing hundreds of thousands of new homes on this fine land is the lazy, wrong way of looking at “development.”

It is a mystery why an area that has benefited so enormously from agricultural development for more than a century should have produced a generation that hates agriculture so much that today’s leaders and many of their followers will not defend it beyond cloying lip service.

Bill Hatch
----------------------------------------------------

Notes:

8-19-06
Merced Sun-Star
Cardoza wants renewable energy to be Valley focus...Corinne Reilly
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12608951p-13314619c.html
With his new solar energy bill and leading solar technology experts at UC Merced, Rep.
Dennis Cardoza said Friday he believes the Central Valley is well equipped to become a
national leader in renewable energy. "We believe it's time for a new energy source, and we believe in solar power," said Cardoza, D-Merced. "We can make the Central Valley the Silicon Valley of renewable energy." Cardoza's bill -- dubbed the Empowering America Act -- seeks to make solar power affordable for all Americans. And, he said, building the solar technology industry locally would vastly expand the Central Valley's economy. "This is an environmental issue, but it's also more than that," said Cardoza. "I'm confident the Valley will lead the way in this next generation of energy technology."

8-20-06

County may clip mega-lot divisions...Garth Stapley
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12612810p-13318380c.html
Town hall meetings to gather public comment on the draft document are scheduled Sept. 12 in Stanislaus County Agricultural Center's Harvest Hall, 3800 Cornucopia Way, and Sept. 18 at Bonita Elementary School in Crows Landing. Both meetings start at 6:30 p.m. Proposed changes in Stanislaus County's growth policy would give leaders more power to slow a rush on creating ranchettes. Alarmed at increasing requests for manor homesites in rural areas, DeMartini spearheaded a rewrite of the agricultural element to the county's general plan. The most sweeping change would clamp down on a recent proliferation of estate ranch-ettes, loosely defined as home-sites larger than city lots...proposed revision would make it easier for county leaders to deny requests to split large agricultural tracts into 40-acre parcels. More than 33,000 ranchettes have compromised genuine farming on 178,000 acres in 11 valley counties from Sutter to Kern, the American Farmland Trust determined in an April report. Ranchettes account for 25 percent of urban areas but house only 2 percent of the valley's population, according to the report. Revisions also would do away with references to soil quality, because advanced techniques allow production on poorer ground, DeMartini said.

Businesses looking for ways to avoid the traffic crunch...Adam Ashton
http://www.modbee.com/local/v-v2storylist/story/12612718p-13318289c.html
Valley trucking companies simply can't afford to get stuck in traffic jams on Highway 99
or on their way there. Some are moving closer to Highway 99, and others are installing
computer equipment to help drivers circumvent traffic jams...companies that would bring
hundreds of jobs to valley communities are demanding road improvements upfront to
guarantee easy highway access. Two distribution centers Stanislaus County recently lured Kohl's Department Stores and Longs Drugs Stores - chose a spot near less-crowded
Interstate 5 in Patterson. The county had to throw in road improvements to seal the deal.
Merced is working on a similar agreement for a proposed Wal-Mart distribution center off Mission Avenue. The proposal could lead to a center handling 900 truck trips each day. If it's built, it would hook up with a new interchange at Mission Avenue under construction and a leg of Merced's Campus Parkway - a road that would carry traffic from the highway to the University of California at Merced. Merced Assistant City Manager Bill Cahill said those improvements would benefit a group of distribution centers near the proposed Wal-Mart site. Getting them highway access is a key to the area's development. "The nature of distribution requires access to freeways and good transportation systems," he said.

8-18-06
Modesto Bee
Count on sprawl as usual if Stanislaus movers and shakers have their way...Eric Caine
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/12603320p-13310174c.html
Despite the buzz about regional planning and periodic announcements to the effect that
"we've got to save our precious farmland," valley politicians are sending a loud and clear
message that when it comes to growth, they prefer that public discussion and influence be
even further out of bounds than our sprawling cities and suburbs...palpable fear that
voters might put limits on development, and that would mean real problems for any number of projects and plans that dominate the agendas of politicians, landowners and developers. Politics and profit do indeed go hand in hand, but to hear Simon, it's almost as though he never accepted those large campaign contributions from the likes of Don Panoz, whose financial interest in Diablo Grande has been well-served by political support from Stanislaus County supervisors, including Simon. Lost in the discussion of disappearing farmland and politics as usual is a valleywide comprehension of the ongoing harm our sprawling growth is causing quality of life. And unless we get a handle on sprawl, we're in for a repeat of the Los Angeles basin, on an even bigger scale. Until then, we can watch dozens of tracts of farmland, like in Salida, go under the pavement, as citizens ponder what happened to their right to participate in the making of their world.

8-17-06
Merced Sun-Star
School district OKs $40,000 for mailers...Doane Yawger
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12598204p-13305642c.html
CASTLE -- Merced Union High School District trustees approved a $39,550 contract with a Sacramento consulting firm to prepare and distribute three direct-mail fliers to voters for the district's November bond measure. William Berry Campaigns Inc. of Sacramento was retained to design, print and distribute about 16,000 fliers to households explaining the $104 million general obligation bond measure. Michael Belluomini, the district's director of facilities planning, said while school districts are prohibited by law from campaigning in favor of passage of bond measures, they are allowed to spend public resources to provide fair and impartial information to voters. Save Atwater Fix Education Coalition in Atwater...unnamed circulator ... urges residents to tell trustees to "stop paying for political consultants and lawsuits." alleges mismanagement of funds, overpaid
administrators and high-priced political consultants and lawyers come at a tremendous cost to the school district, especially when there are underpaid teachers, high attrition rates and gang violence. Trustee Robert Weimer said he has attended several bond measure committee meetings in the evening. He said it is going to be an intense election but hopefully Measure E will be successful. Costs for the three Berry-designed fliers will be paid from the general fund, Belluomini said.

8-14-06
Los Angeles Times
Bending Prop. 13. California voters have been restoring taxes, including on property, bit by bit...Editorial
http://www.latimes.com/business/taxes/la-ed-property14aug14,1,4469539,print.story
PROPOSITION 13 AND THE TAXPAYER REVOLT launched in 1978...politically untouchable for nearly three decades. The measure made it clear that Californians had lost faith in their government's ability to tax and spend judiciously. It stemmed the revenue flow to Sacramento, to counties and to cities, but the hunger for California-quality services - schools and libraries, hospitals and police, roads and bridges, parks and pools, even zoos and museums - remained unabated. So voters began to selectively restore taxes, one at a time, for clearly delineated programs. We have done it slyly...to convince ourselves that we are not really rolling back Proposition 13. With state bonds... We tax ourselves directly for some programs, like transportation. In 1990, voters doubled the gasoline tax. Loopholes remained, allowing Sacramento to divert transportation money for other uses in the event of fiscal crisis. But voters believed that their lawmakers were abusing their power to grab the money and passed a bevy of measures to make sure that the money remains essentially a user fee that can be applied only to transportation. A measure on the Nov. 7 ballot attempts yet again to guarantee this money is used for its intended purpose. But even if it passes, lawmakers will find other loopholes. That's what legislators do. We also impose new taxes on people we don't like much... Now we are going beyond simple ballot-box budgeting and repadding our property tax bills, mostly with local bonds. Unlike deceptively pain-free state bonds, city and county debt to finance schools, libraries and police stations get charged to property owners. As we gradually layer onto ourselves the property taxes we once slashed, we are compelled to reflect on what we are doing. We have distorted not just property taxes, but our entire tax and budgeting system. Our governance, in fact. Some of this fall's tax and bond measures may make sense, given our predicament. We must adopt new bonds and taxes to pay our bills, even as those measures produce larger bills down the road. But the time is near when voters and their elected representatives must have a frank conversation about untying the budget knot we began knitting together soon after adopting Proposition 13.

8-9-06
Merced Sun-Star
Measure to be voted on...Measure G
Wednesday, August 9, 2006 E9 CALSSIFIED Merced Sun-Star, Merced, Calif. Notice is given that a special County 00711A on Tuesday, November 7, 2006 for the purpose of submitting to the qualified elector or the County the proposition set forth in the following measure to wit. Merced County Traffic Relief, Road Repair and Safe Streets Measure G:-- a one half cent sales tax for 30 years. Notice is given by the County Clerk of the County of Merced that Friday August 18, 2006 is the final date arguments for and against the measure appearing upon the ballot may be submitted to the County Clerk for printing and distribution to the voters of the County of Merced as
provided by law.

8-5-06
Modesto Bee
Proposition makes bond moot...John G. Wetzler, Modesto...Letters to the editor
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/letters/story/12549804p-13261166c.html
Proposition 42 requires that revenues resulting from state sales and use taxes on the sale of motor vehicle fuel be used for transportation purposes. Starting in 2008-09, about $1.4 billion (before the current raise in gas prices) in gasoline sales-tax revenues, increasing thereafter, would be used for state and local transportation purposes.
With Proposition 42 now in effect, why do we need a state or local bond for transportation?

8-2-06
Modesto Bee
Tax increase for roads lands on ballot...Garth Stapley
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12533230p-13246736c.html
Voters in Stanislaus, San Joaquin and Merced counties will decide Nov. 7 whether to raise their sales taxes to help pay for road and rail projects. Supervisors in Stanislaus and
Merced counties on Tuesday formally placed the matter on their respective November
ballots. Merced County supervisors haven't decided whether to leave their item as Measure O or step out of sequence. Voters in that county in June turned down an identical proposal called Measure A. Supervisors decided Tuesday to give it another go to avoid missing out on proceeds from a huge transportation bond going before California voters Nov. 7.

MCAG
Public Support puts Transportation Measure back on Ballot in November 2006...Press
Release...Press Release
http://www.mcag.cog.ca.us/newsrelease/2006/080106TM.pdf
Merced, California, Aug. 1, 2006 – For the second month in a row, county residents stood one by one before the MCAG Governing Board to tell their stories of why a transportation measure was badly needed in Merced County. On July 20, after more thoughtful discussion – this time among Board members – the Board, with Merced Councilman Bill Spriggs as chair, voted unanimously to put the measure back on the ballot in November, where other ballot items, such as several statewide bond measures, will bring more voters to the polls. "In June, the majority of voters showed that they wanted a transportation measure," said MCAG Executive Director Jesse Brown. Brown pointed out that members of any other organization would not be happy if 62% voted for a project to benefit their community but couldn’t go forward because a few voted against it. The MCAG Governing Board hopes that the transportation measure will be a main source of funding for local projects, including repair and maintenance of local roads.

7-25-06
Merced Sun-Star
Measure A may make return trip to ballot...Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12498850p-13214958c.html
Despite a poll conducted this month that says the half-cent sales tax that failed in June
will do even worse if it is put up for a vote later this year, Merced County officials
decided last week to place it on the November ballot. They say the measure, which would
raise $446 million over 30 years to fix roads, will get the required two-thirds vote this
time because more people will show up to the polls in November than in June. Measure A's failure...stunned many of its supporters. A much more attractive November ballot includes billion-dollar infrastructure bonds and a governor's race is sure to draw more voters. MCAG board members, which includes all five county supervisors and an elected official from each of the six cities in the county, say the county has a one-shot chance at taking advantage of $1 billion that will be set aside for "self-help" counties if voters approve the state bond measures on the November ballot.Sacramento-based Jim Moore Methods...polled 400 county residents earlier this month about the possibility of a November sales tax, concluded that the measure would get only 58 to 66 percent of the vote. "I would not recommend going forward with Measure A again this November," Jim Moore wrote in a letter to Brown. "The survey clearly shows that a November 2008 election date would provide Measure A with the next best chance for passage." If voters reject the measure again in November, it would be the third time a transportation sales tax would fail in Merced County in the last four years.
New measure:
• $10 million for Phase One of the Campus Parkway
• $85 million to widen Highway 99 to six lanes throughout the county
• $10 million for the Highway 152 bypass in Los Banos
• $8 million to widen Highway 59 from 16th Street to Black Rascal Creek
• $8 million to replace the Highway 140 Bradley overhead
• $6 million for Dos Palos street reconstruction

7-22-06
In Brief...Scott Jason
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12487775p-13204301c.html
People can give opinions...Merced County residents are being asked to give their thoughts on the area's future through 10 community workshops. The meetings are the first step in updating the county's general plan. There will be presentations about the plan, as well as about the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint Project, which is being led by the Merced County Association of Governments. The first meeting is at 7 p.m. Monday at the Hilmar Community Center. All eight valley counties are participating in the San Joaquin project, which aims to develop a plan for the future of the valley. The general plan discussions will include issues like agricultural land preservation, land use and development, street and highway systems, environmental resources protection, economic development, water supply and public infrastructure, according to a Merced County press release.

7-13-06
Modesto Bee
StanCOG board agrees to put transportation tax on ballot...Inga Miller
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12444598p-13165725c.html
The Stanislaus Council of Governments swiftly agreed Wednesday to put a half-cent sales tax on the November ballot. Dubbed "Measure K"..., it would raise a projected $1.02 billion over 30 years for a raft of projects including commuter rail service, highway and interchange improvements and road maintenance. Jim DeMartini criticized the spending plan, and Tom Mayfield criticized brochures touting the measure as too optimistic about how far money would go. They ultimately voted to approve the measure, however. The supervisors have to vote again, this time to formally ratify the measure for the ballot. Though eight of the nine cities support the measure, the Oakdale City Council declined Monday to take a position. The plan doles out the road maintenance money by population. Modesto would get the lion's share at 41.2 percent, the county would get 22 percent and the remainder would be divided among the other cities.

7-12-06
Merced Sun-Star
Measure set up for failure...Maria Giampaoli, Le Grand
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/letters/story/12439985p-13161477c.html
I knew the day the Merced County Board of Supervisors, with the help of the Planning
Department, voted against a Guidance Package B to the general plan (a small measure that would have protected agriculture land and small unincorporated cities against invasion by developers) that Measure A would fail. Our board on a 4-1 vote and now a 3-2 vote has appeased only two entities in the last 10 years: UC Merced and developers. Agriculture preservation is scrutinized continuously. Equal blame should be placed on the Department of Fish and Game and the Army Corps of Engineers who throw the fairy shrimp in our faces... In the future all social infrastructure issues should be dealt with credibility and I'm sure the voters will respond in a positive manner at the polls.

Merced County Planning Commission agenda
http://web.co.merced.ca.us/planning/pdf/commissionarchive/2006/07122006.pdf
VII. GENERAL BUSINESS
The San Joaquin Valley Regional Blueprint is a planning effort envisioned to support long range regional planning. The goal of the Blueprint process is to develop a preferred
future growth vision for the San Joaquin Valley region. The public outreach for the
planning process has been created with the intent to build a regional vision by developing
local and regional collaboration from the bottom up.

Modesto Bee
Sales tax bump gets supes' OK...Tim Moran
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12440099p-13161665c.html
The proposed half-cent sales tax for transportation in Stanislaus County got a name —
Measure K — and some criticism Tuesday from county supervisors...$1.02 billion over 30 years for road and transportation projects. The spending plan, which is based on
population, would give Modesto 41.2 percent of the $250 million earmarked for road
maintenance. The county would get 22.7 percent. Supervisor Tom Mayfield criticized a
brochure funded by StanCOG and the Stanislaus Economic Development and Workforce Alliance, a public-private economic development agency, for overselling what the sales tax could accomplish...Little of the money would be spent on rural and collector roads that carry the most traffic... The Oakdale City Council agreed to take no action on the
transportation tax at its meeting Monday night, a move interim City Manager Steve Kyte
said is the council members' way of expressing their frustration with StanCOG. Though the board endorsed the plan, a separate action is required to put the measure on the ballot.

7-8-06
Merced Sun-Star
No more money for roads...Robert C. Sherwood, Los Banos...Letters to the editor
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12425129p-13147545c.html
Editor: Measure A failed because more than 33 percent of those who voted believe that more money collected on a half-cent sales tax countywide should not be used to fix our horrible roads. We have the absolute worst, rotten dysfunctional state government of all the 50 states. These contemptible parasites spend every dime that we pay in taxes and demand more. They coerce our local city and county officials into selling us on the idea that more sales tax will get us some of the roads we need after we have already paid twice over for them. We even have an "Association of Governments" in Merced County, for what? The state of California gets most of its money from property tax, sales tax and state income tax. All of the state revenues are higher than ever before. Yet it is not enough. It's
never enough. Why should we Merced County taxpayers pay to bypass Los Banos State Highway 152 and widen state Highway 99 through Merced? Those are state highways and are the responsibility of the state of California. To those who had the wisdom to vote no on Measure A, thank you. To those who voted yes, I say "giving more money and power to government is like giving whiskey and the car keys to teenage boys."

6-29-06
Merced Sun-Star
Hundreds help map Valley's blueprint...Russell Clemings, Fresno Bee
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12385361p-13111938c.html
FRESNO -- Land use planning seminar...650 people attended the kickoff of a two-year effort to define what the San Joaquin Valley will look like 20 years from now...San Joaquin Valley Blueprint project will spend $2 million in state funds to plan for a population that is expected to double by 2040. By late 2007, the effort is expected to publish a set of goals for areas such as transportation, economic development, housing and environmental protection. Other products will include plans for better coordination of major infrastructure, such as highways, with local land use decisions, and a joint pool of data to analyze planning decisions and their effects. ...it is likely to meet with skepticism
if not resistance among local leaders reluctant to cede control over land use and related
matters. Mark Baldassare, director of a newly released Public Policy Institute of
California survey of 2,000 Valley residents, said the results showed widespread public
support for regional planning to deal with issues such as air pollution, population growth
and loss of farmland.

Modesto Bee
Proposed half-cent road tax gains speed with Turlock's approval...Michael R. Shea
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12385475p-13112068c.html
TURLOCK — The City Council backed a $1 billion countywide traffic plan. Voters likely will have their say on the tax in November's election. The Stanislaus County Council of Governments has proposed a half-cent sales tax increase that could bring $34 million a year over 30 years to pay for road improvements. But before the plan reaches the taxpayers it needs city, then county approval. Turlock joined Hughson, Riverbank, Patterson and Newman in voting in favor of the plan. The plan needs nods from five of the nine councils, representing more than 50 percent of the county's city-based population...consumers would pay 7.875 percent sales tax, up from 7.375 percent. The lion's share of the money would be dedicated to maintenance and improvement projects.

6-28-06
Modesto Bee
Valley worried about growth...Adam Ashton
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12380798p-13107739c.html
Increasing numbers of valley residents say they are concerned about growth and are willing to limit development to preserve agriculture and environmentally sensitive areas,
according to a new survey from the Public Policy Institute of California. Those results
tell Carol Whiteside, president of the Great Valley Center in Modesto, that people want
solutions to growth-related problems they experience - whether it's snarled traffic or
unhealthy air. The institute's survey shows people increasingly concerned about traffic
congestion but not necessarily willing to support a sales tax measure to raise money for
road improvements. It also indicates people distrust the way governments spend tax money, with 64percent saying "government spending money on the wrong things" is a major problem. In the Northern San Joaquin Valley, 41 percent of those surveyed said the area is going in the wrong direction, up from 32 percent in 2004. In the greater Central Valley, 37 percent said the region is going in the wrong direction. 73 percent of Central Valley residents favored slowing development to protect wetlands, rivers and other environmentally sensitive areas. Similarly, 65 percent said they favored limiting urban development to protect farmland.

6-27-06
Merced Sun-Star
Eight counties to meet for blueprint planning...Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12376475p-13103689c.html
Eight area counties, including Merced County, will join up for their first regional
"blueprint" planning session on Wednesday in Fresno... costs $30 to attend and includes a
lunch, will go from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Fresno Convention Center.

6-26-06
BadlandsJournal.com
Letter to the Merced County Board of Supervisors on the General Plan Update

process...6-20-06
http://www.badlandsjournal.com/?p=140
There is the Merced County Association of Governments (McAg, as some locals call it) which claims the land-use authority to act as the lead agency and planning department for an entire transportation plan for the county. Although MCAG tries, and reported having spent $420,000 on its latest multi-year campaign to get Merced County citizens to raise their sales taxes to pay for UC’s roads, it has still not added successful political campaign
consulting to its resume of expanding powers. McAg’s latest transportation plan would
remove 2,000 acres of Valley agricultural land. Now, what has that got to do with the
county’s existing General Plan?

6-25-06
BadlandsJournal.com
The desperation of MCAG
http://www.badlandsjournal.com/?p=156
Last week the Merced County Association of Governments decided to put Measure A, the transportation sales tax defeated in June, back on the ballot in November, despite a poll that indicated it might not do any better then than it did either in June or in 2002. The
MCAG, composed of all five supervisors and one elected official for each of the six
incorporated cities in the county, in their judgment overrode the poll results, declaring that the November election will draw more voters than the primary did. The Merced Sun-Star opined without attribution that:...

Fresno Bee
Measure C votes set to begin...Russell Clemings
http://www.fresnobee.com/local/story/12369664p-13097113c.html
The effort to renew Fresno County's half-cent Measure C transportation sales tax will kick into high gear this week as the county and its 15 cities begin a monthlong series of
ratification votes...$1.7 billion, 20-year extension plan...hints of a possible court
challenge from one of the holdouts, the Valley Taxpayers Coalition, represented by former Fresno City Manager Jeff Reid. At the policy board meeting, Reid raised a number of objections to the board's handling of an environmental impact report on the spending plan. Sierra Club's Tehipite chapter..."Our immediate feedback is that we want to see the ballot language," "We want to make sure the voters are not being misled" on the extent of potential air quality benefits from the Measure C extension said the chapter's
representative, Kevin Hall.

Support Measure C...Editorial
http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/12369655p-13097111c.html
"What if," the commercial begins, "there was no Measure C?" If all goes well, by the end of next month 15 city councils in Fresno County and the Board of Supervisors will have voted to approve Measure C, an extension of a half-cent transportation sales tax. But the first Measure C has lived up to its promises... Extending Measure C for another 20 years also would mean capturing additional matching funds from the state and federal governments. The extension differs from the original measure in several ways. The 1986 version allocated almost three-quarters of the money to major street and highway projects. Now we need to balance our transportation options... The Measure C extension package is a good, balanced plan, thanks to the work of a steering committee that included experts on health, the environment, agriculture, business, government, labor, education, trucking, rural and urban interests.

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