State Government

A client for Cruz?

Submitted: Feb 07, 2007

Build the rooftops and the lobbyist may come.

Build a mile-long, illegal 42-inch pipeline to your sewer plant on County land without a County permit, maybe you need the former state Assembly Speaker and Lt. Governor as your lobbyist.

But can Livingston, not the wealthiest community in Merced County, afford Bustamante? It leads the public to consider whether it is the people behind the sewer line and the development it could induce who are paying for the long-time state elected official. If the Merced County fix is no longer as secure as it was when former Bill Lockyer was state Attorney General, who knows, people could be asking questions.

Another question is Livingston's alleged motive for hiring a lobbyist -- more better Highway 99 improvements around Livingston. Perhaps the one thing Livingston actually has is the best stretch of 99 in the county. So, the public can safely discount this as the reason for hiring a lobbyist and consider other regional transportation plans as the more likely target, like the Big Beltway that will exit Highway 99 between Livingston and Atwater, run through prime farmland to UC Merced, then down the Campus Parkway to the WalMart distribution center. Other plans for expanding roads from the Livingston area toward Stevinson, fitting in with development plans of the Kelley and Mike Gallo families are also likely topics of conversation between the former Lt. governor and the new generation of legislators.

Livingston may need Bustamante, not the worse politician from the Valley to have served in the state Legislature and Executive. But why would Bustamante want to launch his new lobbyist career representing Livingston?

To get closer to money, the mother's milk, Cheerios and New York steak of politics.

Badlands Journal editorial staff
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2-6-07
Merced Sun-Star
Livingston may hire lobbyist Bustamante...Scott Jason
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/13267202p-13900255c.html
After more than 30 years in politics, former Lt. Gov. Cruz Bustamante remained guarded last month about his career after leaving office. But the Sacramento insider is returning to the political arena, this time on the other side of the table. The Livingston City Council will consider hiring Bustamante, 54, tonight to lobby Sacramento leaders with hopes that their multimillion-dollar highway construction plans will be fast-tracked. Livingston could be the second Merced County city to hire a lobbyist this month to maintain a presence in Sacramento. Merced's City Council awarded a $65,000 one-year contract to Townsend Public Affairs, an Irvine-based lobbying firm, Monday night. Two contract options with Bustamante will come before the City Council. One is for six months at $10,000 a month. The second is a two-year contract with the first six months at $10,000 a month, which decreases to $7,500 for the remaining 18 months.

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A reliable man

Submitted: Dec 31, 2006

A day after triumphantly ramming the Riverside Motorsparts Pork project through the Merced County Board of Supervisors, the Merced public was amused -- what else could it be? -- to learn that Board Chairman Mike Nelson had been appointed chair of something called the San Joaquin Valleywide Air Pollution Study Group. He already serves on the governing board of the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District. As near as we can figure, this study group is associated with either the San Joaquin Valley Partnership or the San Joaquin Valley Blueprint, and with a group of countywide transportation agencies -- in other words, with one or more of the shadowy layers of regional quasi-governmental bodies lying over the Valley like stacked layers on a GIS map of proliferating decision makers, each farther than the last from public accountability.

Nelson can be relied upon to obstruct every state and federal air pollution regulation standing in the way of the slurbification of the San Joaquin Valley. As he said of the racetrack, it will be his political "legacy."

The federal Environmental Protection Agency has designated the Valley as one of only two severe non-attainment air basins in the nation, the other being Los Angeles. If the Valley doesn't meet standards by 2013, it could lose millions in federal highway funds and face even stiffer regulation. California Air Resources Board and the local air control district estimate that this air basin will fall short of 2013 targets by 50 to 80 percent. Although agriculture has made real improvements on stationary sources of emission, mobile sources account for by far the largest amount of air pollution in the Valley.

Valley environmental and civic groups filed suit last week against the EPA, alleging that the agency based its most recent decision about Valley air quality on cooked data. (It is a strong affirmation of human intelligence that petitioners in this suit believe the Bush EPA even knows what data are, at this point in the Great Crusader's reign.)

The Valley has one irreducible problem: it cannot grow without adding more air pollution unless it decides to go to transport by bicycle, ox cart and one-horse shay. The Valley economic response to this inconvenience has been to play host to a huge speculative housing boom, now busting about our ears, its credit fallout still to be determined. The Valley political response has been a concerted attack by its political classes on any and all environmental law, regulation and state and federal agencies. This attack was epitomized by the late, unlamented Pomboza, the duo of congressmen from the north San Joaquin Valley who tried, in return for sizeable contributions from a handful of developers, to gut the Endangered Species Act. Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced, the hindquarters of the late Pomboza, had tried twice before to gut provisions in the ESA that established critical habitat areas for endangered species, with focused attention on the 15 endangered species that live in or around vernal pools.

The Valley politicians, slavishly quoted by the Valley media, spare no opportunity to blast people trying to protect vernal pools and their species. To which, one will reply that the lines between protecting endangered species and protecting public health and safety are drawing too close together for comfort. Every acre containing vernal pools that is kept in grazing is an acre that is not producing air pollution.

Other Valley counties, perhaps somewhat chastened by childhood asthma rates three and four times the national average, have turned lately to the corrupt cowboys of Merced to lead them on these proliferating groups, boards, partnerships and blueprints emanating from a state legislature as firmly in the grip of the finance, insurance and real estate sector (FIRE) as a century ago it was in the grip of the railroads.

Right now, it looks like FIRE, Inc. is promoting Nelson to trail boss for his fine work of ramrodding the Riverside Motorsparts Pork project through by ambushing the public process at every turn in the trail.

One can hear the comments in the financial, insurance and real estate boardrooms: "Mike Nelson, a reliable man."

How else is the public expected to understand this appointment?

Bill Hatch
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Merced County...Press Release...12-20-06
http://www.co.merced.ca.us/newsletter/documents/NewsRelease122006-NelsonAirDistrict.pdf

SUPERVISOR NELSON APPOINTED CHAIR OF AIR STUDY GROUP
Valleywide Group to Study Air Quality Issues Facing the Region

MERCED – Merced County Supervisor Mike Nelson has been appointed to Chair the San Joaquin Valleywide Air Pollution Study Group. Supervisor Nelson already serves on the Governing Board of the San Joaquin Valley Unified Air Pollution Control District.
Supervisor Nelson commented, “I’m honored to Chair this important study group, which affects all the residents of the San Joaquin Valley. I’m particularly pleased that I’ll be able to continue to expand and push for the priorities of Merced County, as part of the overall plan for the San Joaquin Valley. I look forward to working with the members of the study group.”
The Valleywide Air Pollution Study Agency is a cooperative research effort on behalf of Fresno, Kern, Kings, Madera, Mariposa, Merced, San Joaquin, Stanislaus, and Tulare counties. It was formed in 1986 to develop and direct air pollution studies on ozone and other air pollutants affecting the San Joaquin Valley and adjacent air basins.
For more information regarding Merced County, please visit our website at www.co.merced.ca.us

12-29-06
Merced Sun-Star
Fresno Bee
EPA sued for Valley air ruling.
..Bee staff and wire services
http://www.fresnobee.com/263/v-printerfriendly/story/21345.html
The environmental law group Earthjustice filed the lawsuit on Wednesday in the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of the Latino Issues Forum, Medical Advocates for Healthy Air and three chapters of the Sierra Club. Plaintiffs are asking the court to review the Environmental Protection Agency's finding that the Valley's air was no longer polluted by PM-10 — tiny pollution particles just 10 microns wide — because it hadn't violated the PM-10 standard in three years...they also planned to file a separate petition today with the EPA asking the federal agency to reconsider its own finding. Environmental groups previously had accused the EPA of ignoring data from certain air pollution monitors in making its decision because the monitors were not officially part of the federally sanctioned network. The new accusation involves three other monitors, which the EPA does recognize. The Earthjustice petition to the EPA said high levels of small particles were detected at the three monitors on Sept.22, about a month before the agency ruled that the Valley had met the standard for the prior three years. San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District Planning Director Scott Nester defended the EPA's action... Hall complained that even if the environmental groups prevail in court, the EPA's October finding will put an indefinite hold on further controls. "Our fate is in the hands of the Bush EPA,"...The agency's action, he said, "stops the rulemaking...

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Comments on Measure G

Submitted: Nov 04, 2006

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Hatch

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Letter to Merced County Planning Commission regarding the Riverside Motorsports Park final environmental impact report

Submitted: Oct 25, 2006

The following letter, partially read at the public hearing before the Merced County Planning Commission, remained in a basket beside the podium for speakers -- unread, therefore unconsidered by the commission -- for the duration of the hearing at the end of which the commission approved the EIR, General Plan amendment, zoning change and four other items on the project.

Bill Hatch
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Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net

Steve Burke
Protect Our Water
3105 Yorkshire Lane
Modesto, CA 95350
(209) 523-1391, ph.

Mr. James Holland October 25, 2006
Merced County Planning Department
2222 M Street
Merced, California 95340
Fax: (209) 726-1710

Merced County Planning Commission
2222 M St.
Merced CA 95340
Tel: 385-7654 Via Hand Delivered

Re: Merced County Planning Commission Public Hearing on General Plan Amendment Application No. GPA03-005 and Zone change Application No. ZC3-007, Merced County Board of Supervisors’ Oct. 24 Public hearing to consider the issuance of a proposed decision and findings regarding the Airport Land Use Commission's Finding as to consistency between the Airport Land Use Plan and the Riverside Motorsports Park Project, RMP Master Plan, staff reports, findings, resolutions, and overrides.

Merced County Planning Commissioners:

This comment is made at the Merced County Planning Commission Public Hearing on Application No. GPA03-005 and ZC3-007, Oct. 25, 2006.

We challenge the propriety of the Merced County Planning Department to put this item before you today because the whole of the Riverside Motorsports Park project is dependent on an item heard but not decided yesterday by the county Board of Supervisors: Public hearing to consider the issuance of a proposed decision and findings regarding the Airport Land Use Commission's Finding as to consistency between the Airport Land Use Plan and the Riverside Motorsports Park Project (attached find our letter and attachments submitted to the board on Oct. 24).

First of all, we believe that RMP developers and Merced County were able to successfully lobby CalTrans into temporarily shrinking the size of the real hazard zone to 6,000 feet around the Castle airfield and that, once the racetrack is approved and built, the state will reinstate the original 10,000-foot zone.

For the commission to come to a decision today on this RMP application risks multiple violations of public process, which began when the board held a hearing yesterday on this illegally segmented, intrinsic element of the RMP application.

Yesterday’s board of supervisors’ hearing violated public processes and environmental review.

The staff report on yesterday’s public hearing on the proposed decision regarding the ALUC’s findings was so flawed that supervisors’ were not sure what they were voting on. One supervisor agreed to vote affirmatively only after it was explained that she would not be voting for an override of the ALUC’s consistency findings, but that she was only voting on a proposed decision that must be reviewed by the state Department of Transportation and the ALUC over the next month. In fact, the board was directed by staff to vote for an override.

“Proposed decision: Based on the foregoing recitals and findings, the Board of Supervisors overrules the ALUC Oct. 1, 2003 finding of inconsistency between the RMP project and the ALUP.” – Staff report on Board of Supervisors’ Public Hearing # 2, Oct. 24, 2006.

However, another glaring error occurred in the conduct of the board’s Oct. 24 meeting during the public comment period before the public hearing on the ALUC’s findings was even opened. The public packed the room and the lobby. The board chairman did nothing to stop them or direct the testimony to the proper time. Therefore, the bulk of the testimony given by both sides in the public-comment period will not become a part of the record of this public hearing. This raises even deeper concerns about the validity of the hearing.

We believe that legally compliant public process requires that the County incorporate the oral and written testimony given both during the public-comment period and during the public hearing and that the testimony be forwarded to the state Department of Transportation, the ALUC and the Federal Aviation Administration.

The issue of the override, upon which the RMP project depends, has not been decided and the validity of the board’s vote is in question. Therefore, the commission cannot know what it is voting on today and should not vote on the RMP application. If it does vote on the application, it will be complicit in a flawed public process and a flawed environmental process, because the ALUC’s findings and decision is intrinsic to this project and is being illegally segmented.

The public is constantly criticized for submitting material at public hearings. In this case, the County and the developers waited until a day before the planning commission public hearing on the RMP final EIR to railroad the board into overriding a local agency decision of such major importance that without it the project can’t go forward.

The Castle Master Plan, adjacent municipal and community plans, and the county General Plan updates have just begun. The purposes of these plans and their goals and guidelines are to act as reference points for judgment on new projects. These plans are crucial for guidance on projects with impacts the size of RMP, a regional motorsports facility adjacent to the longest airport runway in the San Joaquin Valley and a federal penitentiary, in the middle of one of the nation’s two worst air pollution basins.

General and specific plans are effectively the only means the present Merced County public has to defend its future against rampant growth. Deciding on these projects before these new plans have been adopted is similar to another example of county planning leadership under Robert Lewis: Hostetler’s illegal 42-inch pipeline through a mile of county land without any permit at all. Like that sewer line, RMP will determine the pattern of growth in its respective areas. Those development-driven plans will have very little to do with official “plans,” which the public pays hundreds of thousands of dollars to have prepared by trained planners. Nor is there any difference between the behavior of John Condren and Greg Hostetler in their blatant, successful efforts to influence county staff and special-interest-funded elected officials. Both of them use helicopters in interesting ways.

A letter from Condren to his investors stated:

Although it’s too early to start planning a ground-breaking party, we can report that RMP has won the support of 4 of the 5 members of the Merced County Board of Supervisors … and we may succeed in securing the unanimous support of the Board once the EIR is released.

In addition, RMP has secured the approval and support of State Senator Jeff Denham, US Congressman Dennis Cardoza, 5 Chambers of Commerce within Merced County, the City Councils of Atwater and Merced, and RMP has the support of the California Builders Industry Association. -- http://www.badlandsjournal.com/old/getarch2.php?title=RMP%20racetrack%20letter%20to%20investors

Hostetler told Supervisor Crookham in a telephone message:

Mrs. Crookham, this is Greg Hostetler calling. My cell number actually is 704-13** if you need to call me. I’m on a cell phone cause my other battery I’m trying to save that, preserve it you know. I’m into preserving things too from time to time, but anyway, uhm, I’m just calling you, uh, to let you know that…ah if you don’t already know… that we’ve had a lot of drama and trouble in the county … everywhere I do business [inaudible] apparently I guess because of Mrs. uh…Mrs. Deirdre Kelsey ah… thinks staff may need some help, because she’s climbing all over them… using [inaudible] staff for her personal pit bulls…trying to bite our people, and our staff — this is my opinion — causing a lot of drama in Livingston, for the City of Livingston and we’re trying to uh in the progress of uh in the process of installing a sewer line over there. If you haven’t talked to Dee Tatum, he could fill you in on what’s going on over there. But uh this probably will not end any time soon. So, I just wanted to give you the update, and if you could give staff any help I’d appreciate it… Thank you! -- http://www.badlandsjournal.com/?p=84

In the RMP project before you today, a similar corrupt pattern is evident: county Planning Director Robert Lewis is an officer of the ALUC, a direct conflict. Mr. Lewis is a very interested party in this project.

The RMP project is another perfect example of how Merced County does business and calls it government.

The county Planning Department has consistently failed to present the public with clear statements of the public processes involved in its projects. For example, the County cannot plead ignorance for its systematic failure to notify federal resource agencies on environmental review processes. The County knows the maps for habitats for endangered species like the San Joaquin Valley kit fox, and the County knows where Critical Habitat and Recovery Plan areas are located. The County understands that analysis of environmental impacts in Merced County cannot ignore compliance with federal regulations. The County also understands that it cannot indefinitely defer rapidly mounting quantities of unmitigated environmental impacts.

The Merced County public has raised the issue of living wages and health benefits in connection with Wal-Mart. We are also concerned that no one in this corrupted process of the RMP project has addressed the issue of union labor or benefits for non-union labor.

The Merced public understands that RMP and Wal-Mart are the anchor tenants for both ends of the UC Merced loop road. This isn’t planning. It is an absurd level of environmental destruction and it threatens public health and safety.

Yesterday’s board hearing segmented an essential part of the whole RMP plan away from environmental review as well as segmenting the timeline for public hearings on this project. Improper segmentation of the RMP project has occurred on four levels:

· Administrative: the ALUC decision, an essential element in the RMP project, has been improperly segmented from the whole of the project;
· Environmental: the ALUC decision is a part of the project as a whole and requires environmental review;
· Timeline: the County and the developer broke the hearings on what is one project into two days and two different forums;
· Administrative record: the County and the developer are fragmenting the records of these hearings to create an obstacle to legal challenge.

We strongly urge the planning commission not to vote on the RMP application today. In view of the mounting number of procedural flaws in the RMP permitting process, deciding on this application will only deepen the morass of conflicts into which the county is falling as a result of this and several other major projects.

The oral public testimony made yesterday during the public-comment period at the board meeting and the oral and written testimony offered during the public hearing on the ALUC decision must be incorporated into this project. The ALUC decision is so intrinsic to RMP’s project that it cannot construct the racetrack unless that decision is overridden.

We also urge RMP proponents to voluntarily withdraw their application before the commission today for the good of the county’s public process.

Finally, we would like to express our frustration at the County for having shared our letter with the RMP developers, causing a racetrack rally at the board chambers yesterday morning, while the County did not share with the public an adequate amount of information. This offers the public no incentive to get their comments in before public hearings.

Following yesterday’s board hearing, when members of the public requested a list of any additional written comments for the hearing from a clerk at the board office, the public was presented with forms to fill out. Members of the public now make an official request that before the County shares our comment letters with developers, it must first make a formal request to whatever members of the public wrote the comments so that we can track you, as you track us. Stacking information access against the public and tracking the public must stop.

Attached you will find our Oct. 25 letter to the Merced County Planning Commission and to the county Board of Supervisors on Oct. 24, and attachments.

We reserve the right to submit additional documents at the public hearing.

Sincerely,

Lydia M Miller Steve Burke

Cc.

Federal agencies
Marsha Burch, Esq.
Babak Naficy, Esq.
Don Mooney, Esq.
James Marshall, Esq.
Rose Zoia, Esq.
Susan Brandt-Hawley, Esq.
Bruce Owdom, Esq.
Keith Wagner, Esq.
Hal Candee, Esq. NRDC
Kim Delfino, Esq. Defenders of Wildlife
Mike Sherwood, Esq. Earthjustice
John Williams
Tom Adams, Esq.
Badlandsjournal.com
Other interested parties

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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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California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 passes state Legislature

Submitted: Sep 04, 2006

The state Legislature passed a bill to address global warming.

www.leginfo.ca.gov, AB 32, Enrolled

AB 32, Nunez Air pollution: greenhouse gases: California Global
Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

This bill would require the state board to adopt regulations to
require the reporting and verification of statewide greenhouse gas
emissions and to monitor and enforce compliance with this program, as
specified.

The bill would require the state board to adopt a
statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit equivalent to the statewide
greenhouse gas emissions levels in 1990 to be achieved by 2020, as
specified.

The bill would require the state board to adopt rules and
regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum
technologically feasible and cost-effective greenhouse gas emission
reductions, as specified.

The bill would authorize the state board to
adopt market-based compliance mechanisms, as defined, meeting
specified requirements.

The bill would require the state board to
monitor compliance with and enforce any rule, regulation, order,
emission limitation, emissions reduction measure, or market-based
compliance mechanism adopted by the state board, pursuant to
specified provisions of existing law.

The bill would authorize the state board to adopt a schedule of fees to be paid by regulated sources of greenhouse gas emissions, as specified.

Nearly the same dismal roll call of Valley Assembly members that helped defeat a bill to add a doctor and an environmental specialist to the Valley air board voted against this one:

NOES

Aghazarian, Blakeslee, Cogdill, Matthews, Maze, McCarthy, Parra and Villines.

The political careers of Valley Assembly members hinge on their ability not to see air pollution, smell it, hear about it or speak its name. The believe in the Maricopa County AZ version of heaven: carpenters building houses for other carpenters.

Assemblyman Dr. Keith Richman, who declared to the Sacramento Bee this weekend that "the system is corrupt," also opposed this historic bill. He must have taken the Hypocritic Oath.

The bill passed in the Senate along straight party lines.

How does a commitment to confronting global warming violate Republican Party principles? Is the only kind of aggressive bipartisan support in this political system to be acts of destruction of environmental law, like the gut-the-ESA bill launched last year in Congress by representatives RichPAC Pombo, Whale Slayer-Tracy and Dennis Cardoza, Polar Bear Slayer-Merced, on behalf of the greediest, most environmentally destructive special interests in their districts?

The bill is fairly vague and there will be a lot of room for polluters to maneuver -- but it showed some political imagination, at least. If, however, this "vision" is allowed to overcome reality, nothing will be done about the present, the urgent, the immediate environmental problems, as local, state and federal resource agencies vie to ignore or sidestep existing law and regulation and to create firewalls against having to enforce any of them. Bellowing a vision is impressive, but in these matters a large stick is required.

The bill was opposed by the entire array of agribusiness, aggregate and shippers, the Building Industry Association, the state Chamber of Commerce and several Valley chambers.

It was supported by nine pages of impressive, diverse and prominent interests. But it is entirely possible the California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 is just a huge LA feel-good con and and a latter-day gasp of California can-do arrogance.

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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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Democracy and genetic engineering in California

Submitted: Aug 29, 2006

The Center for Food Safety alerted us tonight that a bill to prevent counties from passing any laws pertaining to seeks and nursery stock, including genetic engineered seeds, passed the Assembly last Thursday and moves back to the state Senate this coming Thursday.

This is a bill state Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter is carrying on behalf of the biotechnology industry to make sure that the four California counties that have already passed anti-GMO measures remain the only four counties that will ever have a right to defend themselves against untested, gene-polluting genetically engineered crops.

The Center for Food Safety said,

The state government currently has no regulations for genetic engineering in agriculture ... Denying local governments the right to pass laws, especially when there are no state regulations, is unconstitutional and undemocratic.

We see the critical importance of more local measures to stop the spread of unwanted GMOs in the nation's largest and by far most diverse agricultural state when considering just the latest lawsuit filed against a biotech corporation, Bayer.

Of course, Assemblywoman Barbara Matthews, D-Tracy and chair of the Assembly Committee on Agriculture, voted with biotechnology against all farmers in the state who would prefer selling non-GMO crops to those trying to sell GMO crops to consistently resistent foreign markets. This is one more example of how big money makes stupid policy that puts transnational corporate profits before people and family business.

As seen in the article below, although California grows a type of rice that has not yet been genetically engineered, California growers joined this lawsuit, arguing that GMOs have no respect for fence lines -- genetic drift and GMO contamination of non-GMO crops is as well proven as global warming and other facts inconvenient to corporate power.

This is an issue of democracy, or more properly the loss of it. Al Gore put it well recently, when he said: "Questions of fact that are threatening to wealth and power become questions of power ..." -- Gore lashes Out at Media Consolidation, Jill Lawless, Associated Press, Aug. 28, 2006.

We urge you all to contact your state senators to ask them to vote against this bill for the enrichment of the biotechnology industry at the expense of many of the state's farmers and at the expense of the political process.
------------------

Published on Monday, August 28, 2006 by the Associated Press
Gore Lashes Out at Media Consolidation
by Jill Lawless

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

US rice farmers sue Bayer CropScience over GM rice
29 August 2006
Reuters

LOS ANGELES: Rice farmers in Arkansas, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and California have sued Bayer CropScience, alleging its genetically modified rice has contaminated the crop, attorneys for the farmers said.

The lawsuit was filed in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas in Little Rock, law firm Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll said in a statement.

The farmers alleged that the unit of Germany's Bayer AG failed to prevent its genetically modified rice, which has not been approved for human consumption, from entering the food chain.

As a result, they said, Japan and the European Union have placed strict limits on US rice imports and US rice prices have dropped dramatically.

A Bayer representative could not be immediately reached for comment.

US agriculture and food safety authorities learned on July 31 that Bayer's unapproved rice had been found in commercial bins in Arkansas and Missouri. While the United States is a small rice grower, it is one of the world's largest exporters, sending half of its crop to foreign buyers.

The genetically engineered long grain rice has a protein known as Liberty Link, which allows the crop to withstand applications of an herbicide used to kill weeds.

Japan, the largest importer of US rice, suspended imports of US long-grain rice a week ago.

The US Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration have said there are no public health or environmental risks associated with the genetically engineered rice.

The United States is expected to produce a rice crop valued at $1.88 billion in 2006. US rice growers are responsible for about 12 per cent of world rice trade. Three-fourths of the crop is long grain, grown almost entirely in the lower Mississippi Valley. California, the No 2 rice state, grows short grain rice.

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COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN!

Submitted: Aug 14, 2006

Members of the San Joaquin Valley public would like to invite you to the first annual UC Pombozastan Pot Luck.

We’ve got the barrel; you bring the pork.

Public/private partnerships get preferential picnic tables behind gated, straw-bale walls, just like they did it at the old-time Condit Country extravaganzas.

The Valley public would like to invite you all to Merced to help us get this UC Merced 900-acre expansion past them damn federal environmental regulators. Our largest developer, the University of California Board of Regents, is having trouble getting a pesky little Clean Water Act permit out of the Army Corps of Engineers so they can build on land in a ESA designated critical habitat area containing the richest fields in the state of vernal pools, environment for 15 endangered species of flora and fauna, for which one cannot help but think a responsible, institution of public higher education would have secured a permit before commencing construction. The UC Regents are at least not supposed to be typical California fly-by-night developers.

But, who cares? COME ON DOWN! Bring the People’s Money, we’ll run it through UC and it will pick up your tab. Stay anywhere, pay as much as you want for breakfast, lunch and dinner, rent only the most expensive cars – if you need further instructions we can refer you to UC consultants, who can teach you also how to add that absolutely mandatory 10-20 percent on every expense chit.

COME ON DOWN and see UC Merced, which the last state Senate Pro Tem called the “biggest boondoggle ever.” – New campus still faces obstacles, William Trombley, Spring 2004, National CrossTalk, a publication of National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0204/news0204-obstacles.shtml

"I don't know why anyone would be surprised," said Patrick Callan, president of the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education, which has offices in San Jose and Washington, D.C. "It was just the wrong campus in the wrong place at the wrong time. It was pork-barrel politics and institutional arrogance that led us to this. There was a belief at UC that you could just hang a UC shingle out and that would attract students."

-- Merced: Some students at brand-new UC campus say they want out, Tanya Schevitz, San Francisco Chronicle, July 17, 2006, http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2006/07/17/BAGOLK0B6M1.DTL

And, hey, be sure to bring the People’s Money with you, because UC Merced wants all of it. UC’s talented team of tax-paid flaks and lobbyists can give you all the details. The effort will no doubt be headed by Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced. Surely, you know the Shrimp Slayer – he’s the guy who’s making Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy’s war against the Endangered Species Act “bipartisan,” on behalf of a few developers, large landowners, financial institutions and realtors in their adjoining districts. Down here we call them the “Pomboza.”

WASHINGTON — ... On Tuesday, Cardoza and Pombo split roughly $50,000 raised at a bipartisan fund-raiser sponsored by prominent developer Greenlaw "Fritz" Grupe. Grupe is active in both San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties, with subdivisions underway in Modesto, Turlock, Hughson, Waterford and Stockton.
Grupe also favors the kind of collaborative work Cardoza and Pombo have done on the Endangered Species Act and other issues. While agreeing the joint fund-raiser held at the developer's Lodi ranch was "rather unique," Cardoza said it sent the right kind of signal.
"Frankly, if we cooperated more aggressively, we would all be better off," Cardoza said.

--Valley political bonds strong, Oakland Tribune, Apr 1, 2005 by Michael Doyle, MODESTO BEE http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qn4176/is_20050401/ai_n14615689

What Cardoza calls aggressive cooperation, we call the Pombozation of the San Joaquin Valley.

COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN and watch Pombo and Cardoza pombozate the West’s federal resource agencies.

COME ON DOWN and bring us the People’s Money. We don’t have enough of it. You’ve no doubt read the Congressional report about how the San Joaquin Valley is poorer in some ways than Appalachia. We appreciate our subsidized water, our subsidized cotton, dairy and cattle industries, and all the health and human services aid you’ve been sending. But we need more of it, more and more and more of it. We can’t make it without more and more of the People’s Money down here in Pombozastan, the former San Joaquin Valley. And if we don’t get it, we’re going to pave over the largest, richest agricultural valley in the West.

So there!

COME ON DOWN!

Listen to the UC Merced Chancellor (until she quits at the end of the month)! We need a UC Merced research medical school down here to specialize in respiratory illnesses, cancer clusters, pesticide related diseases, diseases related to contaminated ground water, drug addictions, rural mental illnesses and disorders arising from bovine flatulence here in the epicenter of the dairy industry in the nation’s top dairy state. Pledge the People’s Money to build out UC Merced, which will stimulate a tremendous amount of growth because it will be the anchor tenant for development down the east side of the Valley from Sacramento to Kern counties along a planned eastside Highway 65 and an Eastside Canal.

COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN and help replace Valley life with mega-dairy subdivisions-in-waiting and slurbocracy. And while you’re at it, explain why you’re doing it, because we really don’t know and the Pomboza won’t tell. Nevertheless, Cardoza provides thoughtful continuity for the slurbocracy from his top floor offices in the Merced County Administration Building.

COME ON DOWN! We know this all sounds a little grim, but we want to assure you that the Valley is a really funny place. We’ve got comedians galore here in Merced. Consider the UC Chancellor Until the End of the Month, Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, for example. She had the whole Valley rolling on the floor in helpless mirth this week, when she told the McClatchy chain reporter:

"I needed to make (congressmen) aware that this is the beginning of the process," Tomlinson-Keasey said. "People speak out all the time and say their opinion, (but) I have talked with the Corps, and they have assured me they will play by the rules."

Choking back life-threatening guffaws, members of the public asked: “What rules could she possibly be talking about?”

Surely, she could not be talking about local, state or federal environmental law and regulation. Beyond urging the Pomboza onward to alter it to suit UC’s needs in eastern Merced County, she has no tolerance for it.

Surely, she could not be talking about the rules of good taste, whose university campus sponsors a yearly Fairy Shrimp Festival, hosted in its inaugural year by the unemployable son of a recently ousted provost.

Surely, she could not be talking about those rules of candor said to govern testimony before legislative committees.

Surely, she could not be talking about regulations governing the rehabilitation of wildlife, when she purloined a bobcat for the UC Merced mascot that should have been rehabilitated and released back into the wild.

Surely, she must be speaking about the UC RULE: UC is sovereign and gets what it wants.

Another great Merced comedian is the businessman Mr. UC Merced, Bob Carpenter, who appeared in the pages of the Los Angeles Times this morning:

So why didn't the university secure permission to build the entire campus before beginning work? "It's easy to criticize after the fact," said Bob Carpenter, a Merced resident who has helped with university planning for 18 years. "But you could argue that if you wait until all the I's are dotted and all the Ts are crossed, probably no projects would ever get done."

But then, the chancellor, not to be trumped in the comedy game by a mere UC Merced booster, even if Carpenter could be called, justly, The UC Merced Booster, concludes:

She expects the Merced campus to infuse the area with a smart-growth population and jobs. "We're contributing enormously to the community."
"We believe we deserve an Olympic gold medal, and not have every bump being foreseen as some Mt. Everest to climb."

An Olympic gold medal, some would say, requires a sports team of some sort. The UCM Golden Bobcats are undefeated so far, but they remain in smoky backrooms rather than taking the field in any sport in which they would have to play by any rules other than their own.

UC built the first phase of the Merced campus without getting a Clean Water Act permit. They spent millions in state public funds on conservation easements to mitigate for wetlands habitat, as the result of backroom deals in the state Capitol between the governor, congressmen, state legislators vying to see who was the Biggest Mr. UC Merced of them all, state and federal resource agency officials, The Nature Conservancy, the Audubon Society and other prominent state and national level environmental sluts. Yet, today, when federal agencies look at these easements, they discover many of them aren’t on the right land and have no financial mechanism for monitoring. In some cases, landowners are under the impression they can take millions in public funds for easements yet refuse to let resource officials on the land to monitor the condition of the natural habitat.

COME ON DOWN! The pombozated federal resource agencies are holding a raffle on our remaining natural resources, wildlife habitat and wetlands – piece by fragmented piece.

COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN! Watch the Developer Dutch Auction on San Joaquin Valley land-use planning.

COME ON DOWN! Watch the sales-tax increase sweepstakes so that the Valley can match funds with the federal government on new freeways, highways and loop roads to stimulate even more growth, as the rural county roads crumble before your eyes. Come on down and watch them fill the potholes in front of the Merced County Association of Governments office!

COME ON DOWN and learn the mystical process of making plans to make plans to make plans to make plans and get public funds to do it.

COME ON DOWN and listen to some whoppers about the Merced County water supply plan, which ain’t, but they all say it is.

COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN and observe, first hand, the latest design in up-scale yuppie labor camps – zero lot lines, no yards, parks and play areas closer to the freeway than to the home. Watch childhood asthma develop before your very eyes as you are stalled in freeway traffic.

COME ON DOWN and join the fun, if you want to play by the rules UC, the Pomboza, the developers and our wise, far-seeing local governments make up as they go along for the benefit of themselves and their families.

COME ON DOWN! We got a lake to sell you full of Anglo rowing teams.

COME ON DOWN! Maybe you can be an early student in UC Merced’s Coelho Institute of Honest Graft (and public policy), or the McClatchy/Singleton School of Conglomerate Media Management, or study the nanotechnology of nuclear weapons triggers. If you’re lucky and everything goes right, you might get a joint appointment with UC Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to study Ebola and Anthrax in a genuine safety level 4 biowarfare lab.

COME ON DOWN TO POMBOZASTAN!

We got the barrel; you bring the pork.

Badlands editorial staff
---------------------------

Notes:

Los Angeles Times
Wetlands give UC Merced growing pains...Tanya Caldwell
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-merced13aug13,1,7214931,print.story
University of California Merced - which cost more than $500 million and took nearly 20 years to plan - still lacks federal permission to build on wetlands near the fledgling campus. UC Merced is developing 105 acres as part of Phase I of the campus and plans to build Phase II on 805 adjoining acres it purchased near Lake Yosemite...that second parcel includes 86 acres of federally protected wetlands. Now, university officials are hoping for an environmental permit to destroy the vernal pools on those wetlands and build, among other things, institutes to study the environment and energy. So why didn't the university secure permission to build the entire campus before beginning work? "It's easy to criticize after the fact," said Bob Carpenter, a Merced resident who has helped with university planning for 18 years. "But you could argue that if you wait until all the I's are dotted and all the Ts are crossed, probably no projects would ever get done." That's true especially in the era of the federal Clean Water Act, which demands permits before wetlands can be destroyed, said UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey. "I think we've shown that this is a very reasonable site." The Corps released - and then swiftly rescinded - a draft environmental impact statement detailing concerns about losing the vernal pools. Corps officials said the draft was incomplete and had been released prematurely. They expect to issue an official draft in a few months. But the draft has already created a buzz in Merced, where the Merced Sun-Star and Fresno Bee ran stories July 29 in which a Corps official said a permit for the university's preferred expansion plan "will not likely be granted." Kevin Roukey, the Corps' senior project manager...quoted in the Sun-Star...the site's vernal pools have "basically been determined to be the best in the state, and maybe even the country." Some local environmentalists, such as Carol Witham, have threatened to sue if the Corps grants the permit despite what she calls the university's "flagrant disregard for federally protected land." "They assumed that by having the campus there, that they can force their way into building the rest of the site," Witham, founder of the website vernalpools.org, said of university officials. "We advised them early on that they should've done all of their permits ahead of time. They're essentially gambling with the taxpayers' money." Saturday - the chancellor released a statement saying that Roukey's evaluations "represent the personal opinions of a single individual" and don't foretell the Corps' final decision. Corps officials later agreed and said it was too early to predict what would happen at UC Merced. They added that concerns found in the report wouldn't necessarily be a deal-breaker for the university's proposals. For years, the chancellor said, the Central Valley has been "underserved." She expects the Merced campus to infuse the area with a smart-growth population and jobs. "We're contributing enormously to the community."
"We believe we deserve an Olympic gold medal, and not have every bump being foreseen as some Mt. Everest to climb."

Sacramento Bee
Comments...Pressure's on for UC campus expansion
http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/nation/story/14292794p-15132061c.html
Should have located it at Castle...blindman at 3:37 PM PST Friday, August 11, 2006 wrote:
The infrastructure for a new community exists near Merced - it's the abandoned Castle AFB. As usual, UC administrators demostrate that those in ivory towers have little practical sense. A castle location would have been cheaper, and demostrated better overall stewardship of open space.

Stockton Record
Let's get serious...Editorial
http://recordnet.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?Date=20060813&Category=OPED01&ArtNo=608130306&SectionCat=&Template=printart
More Californians are classified as being poor than at any time in the state's history. Only the Great Depression of the 1930s compares. One of every two public-school students is from a family that qualifies for federal aid. That's a staggering 50 percent. Poverty isn't an ethnic problem. It knows no skin color. It's not confined by geography. People can't build enough gated communities. Poverty crosses every line and creeps into every area of life. Those mired in poverty struggle through each day trying just to survive, unable to do anything meaningful to elevate themselves or their families. Too many leaders...consider progress to be more houses and businesses without adequately accounting for a deterioration in the quality of life for those unable to participate fully in that growth. Obviously, it's difficult to develop a truly meaningful blueprint for change, but we have to try. It's even harder to convince the comfortable and affluent that breaking the cycle of poverty is in their best interest, too. If we don't, an ever-widening gap between rich and poor will reshape California and San Joaquin County in regrettable and regressive ways.

Inside Bay Area
UC, lab, want to build huge biodefense lab...Ian Hoffman
http://www.insidebayarea.com/search/ci_4176406
On rolling, grassy hills between the Bay Area's cities and the farms of the Central Valley, the University of California and scientists of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory see a sprawling biodefense lab as large as two Wal-Mart Supercenters. The University of California and Lawrence Livermore lab are proposing construction in the middle of the lab's Site 300, a once-remote explosives testing area. University officials have rounded up endorsements from the mayor of Livermore to U.S. Rep. Ellen Tauscher, and from the state Food and Agriculture Secretary A.G. Kawamura to the California cattlemen's and poultry associations. Much of the new lab would operate at Biosafety Level 3, a category of biocontainment used for plague and tularemia. But some of the lab, perhaps a fifth or more, would operate at Biosafety Level 4, the highest level of biocontainment. BSL4 is reserved for diseases having no known vaccine such as Ebola hemorrhagic fever, foot and mouth disease or avian flu and requiring researchers to wear "moonsuits" inside airlocked labs. Federal officials have not elaborated on exactly which microorganisms would be studied in the new lab and the degree to which those germs would be modified. The university rejected a request by Tri-Valley Citizens Against a Radioactive Environment, a Livermore lab watchdog group, for a copy of its proposal. Twenty-nine teams, mostly led by U.S. universities, leaped to make proposals. On Wednesday, the Homeland Security Department narrowed the list to 18 teams in 11 states. A smaller list of semi-finalists will be visited by federal officials in October, and the finalists will be evaluated in a full, environmental impact study over the next year, with a final decision in July 2008 and operations in 2013.

Santa Cruz Sentinel
Tensions mount over USCS growth...Shanna McCord
http://www.santacruzsentinel.com/archive/2006/August/13/local/stories/01local.htm
The battle to stop UC Santa Cruz from expanding student enrollment by nearly 50 percent to 21,000 in the next 15 years, along with 2,000 new faculty and staff members, came to a head this week. The University of California threatened to sue the city unless two measures were pulled off the November ballot that seek to stop growth identified in the long-range development plan without UCSC paying its share of impacts on city services such as water, housing and transportation. Almost in the same breath, UC last week offered the city a proposal if the ballot measures were halted. Details of the proposal were not released publicly. The City Council, during a special closed-session meeting Wednesday, unanimously rejected the University of California's proposal and agreed to move forward with the ballot measures even if that means a lawsuit looms. It won't be known exactly how much the city is seeking from UCSC for mitigation costs until a final environmental impact report for the long-range development plan is certified. Since UCSC's long-range development plan of 1988 was written, the university has paid the city roughly $1.2 million to help cover off-campus impacts on infrastructure, including water pump upgrades, a new traffic signal, new turn lane and widening Mission Street. Looking at UCSC's projected water use in the future shows increased demand of 500,000 gallons a day, bringing total daily use at the campus to 2.5 million gallons, which Kocher says the city doesn't have the capacity to provide. To meet the increased water demand, Kocher said UCSC would be forced to rely on the proposed $40 million desalination plant. The additional 500,000 gallons a day for UCSC represents about one-fifth of the desalination plant's estimated capacity, which Kocher said would mean the university should contribute one-fifth of the cost - $8 million - toward its construction and operation. City and county leaders won confidence that the Santa Cruz ballot measures would be less at risk of drawing a lawsuit after the state Supreme Court recently ruled that California State University can't skirt its obligation to pay for off-campus impacts associated with growth.

8-10-06
Merced Sun-Star
UC Merced seeks aid of lawmakers. University looks to Congress to allow expansion plans...Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12569266p-13279371c.html
WASHINGTON -- UC Merced advocates are turning the political dials to avoid permit problems with the Army Corps of Engineers...university's chancellor is calling members of Congress. Lawmakers are leaning on the Corps...all in hopes of salvaging a 900-acre expansion plan favored by the university. "This project is too important to face setbacks over communication," Jennifer Walsh, chief of staff for Rep. Dennis Cardoza, D-Merced... The joint university and congressional maneuvering follows a warning - since disputed - that UC Merced's preferred expansion plan probably won't get a permit... Tomlinson-Keasey stressed that Roukey's comments should be considered personal and not a foreshadowing of the final Corps decision. "I needed to make (congressmen) aware that this is the beginning of the process." "People speak out all the time and say their opinion, (but) I have talked with the Corps, and they have assured me they will play by the rules." One San Joaquin Valley congressional tactic now is to ensure that officials more senior than Roukey are engaged in the project, one congressional staffer explained. This entails enlisting officials both at Corps headquarters in Washington and California. "Political pressure has driven a lot of this project from the start," said Carol Witham, founder of the Sacramento-based organization called VernalPools.org. "The draft as originally written would not have withstood a legal test,..."but I think they were under pressure by the university." The university's stated position is that the alternative campus sites are "not reasonably available, obtainable or practical because they would require the acquisition of dozens of new tracts of land, in contiguous parcels, from many different owners, at a cost of more than $100 million in new taxpayer outlays."

8-4-06
San Francisco Chronicle
UC barred from deciding pay packages in private...Patrick Hoge
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/08/04/BAGENKB8LT1.DTL&type=printable
An Alameda County judge has given The Chronicle a partial victory in a lawsuit by ruling that a committee of the UC Board of Regents cannot decide behind closed doors whether to recommend pay packages for top officials...said the University of California's regent committees cannot make "a collective decision'' in closed session on possible future action to be taken concerning compensation matters. Superior Court Judge Winifred Smith ruled against The Chronicle, however, on other elements of the newspaper's lawsuit, which sought to force the regents' compensation committee to meet in public when it discusses pay for its top 20 officials...said discussion of compensation in closed meetings is legal under state law if no action is taken. She also declined to order UC to tape future meetings of its Committee on Finance and Special Committee on Compensation...also rejected The Chronicle's request that UC be compelled to divulge minutes and other records from previous committee meetings that dealt with compensation. Assemblyman Leland Yee, D-San Francisco, introduced a bill, AB775, that would require UC to open its compensation meetings. The bill -- opposed by UC officials -- passed the state Senate Education Committee, and is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Appropriations Committee on Monday.

City officials blast UC development proposal...Rick DelVecchio
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2006/08/04/BAG2AKB7KU1.DTL&type=printable
UC Berkeley's planning for a new sports and academic complex is flawed because it doesn't deal with the impact of a major disaster in a remote part of campus split by the Hayward Fault and fails to seriously look at alternatives... Cal's draft environmental impact report describing the Southeast Campus Integrated Projects should be redone because it lacks detail on the impact of the developments described in it and on possible alternatives, City Manager Phil Kamlarz said in a letter to campus planners. Despite the university's name for the plan, the projects aren't really integrated and are being presented in a way that's against the spirit of state law requiring detailed environmental review, Kamlarz said.

7-21-06
San Diego Union-Tribune
UC regents retroactively approve lucrative compensation packages … Eleanor Yang Su
http://www.signonsandiego.com/uniontrib/20060721/news_1n21uc.html
SAN FRANCISCO – University of California regents retroactively approved lucrative benefits and payouts yesterday to dozens of UC executives whose compensation had been criticized in recent months as being in violation of university policy.
In one instance, regents decided to not only retroactively approve but also continue a monthly payment to UC San Diego Medical School Dean Edward Holmes, whose case was highlighted in a state audit in May as problematic.
The state audit had found that Holmes had been overcompensated $128,649 since 2002 because he had received an extra $5,000 per month to offset money he paid to UC San Diego for earnings from his external board service.
UC policy requires certain health science employees who receive stock from corporate boards to provide a percentage of the value of the stock to the university. Even after Holmes fulfilled his percentage, UCSD continued to pay him the additional money per month, according to the audit.
Yesterday, regents defended their decision to continue paying Holmes and many others, stating that they are underpaid compared to their peers at other universities.
“What happened here was not that someone received money that they should not have received,” said Regent Judith Hopkinson. “What happened was there was money that was approved at a level that didn't include regent approval.”
Hopkinson added that in Holmes' case, he was promised that the extra income would be part of his permanent salary. His current annual salary is $453,400.
“He was entitled to it,” Hopkinson said. “It was the honorable thing to do because he was represented that this, in fact, was his new salary.”
Regents, however, have decided to seek repayment in at least two situations. Regents authorized the university to negotiate some repayment by UCSD Senior Vice Chancellor Marsha Chandler for an $8,916 auto allowance she inappropriately received while on sabbatical in the 2004-05 fiscal year. The allowance was paid in violation of UC policy, according to the regents item …

8-10-06
Merced Sun-Star
Sheriff's brother evaded DUI jail time...Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12569265p-13279409c.html
When Sheriff Mark Pazin's brother showed up to court in March to be sentenced for a drunken- driving arrest last year, a judge told him he had to pay a fine and take a class. It turns out that despite a policy to almost always bring DUI offenders to jail -- or at least fingerprint and photograph them -- after they are arrested, Merced police decided to forego that procedure with Pazin, the Sun-Star has learned. Instead, police reports show, an officer called the sheriff on a December night and told him to pick up his intoxicated brother. Booking information would have been sent to the state Department of Justice, said David LaBahn, who heads the California District Attorney's Association. In this case, Richard Pazin's arrest file will be "incomplete" and without a photo and fingerprint -- leaving open the possibility that his 2005 DUI conviction could be challenged if he was caught driving drunk again, LaBahn said.

Maneuvers on measures reveal who pulls strings...John Michael Flint
http://www.modbee.com/opinion/community/story/12569317p-13279474c.html
Item 1 — Our Board of Supervisors recently made sure the "Stamp Out Sprawl" measure would not appear on the November ballot. The maneuver, though sleazy and cynical, was entirely legal — and it produced an outpouring of shock, outrage and criticism. What do the following have in common: Bruce Frohman, Denny Jackman, Balvino Irizarry, Carmen Sabatino? All faced opposition from candidates funded by real-estate developers. All were handily defeated
Item 2 — A week after derailing the sprawl measure, the supervisors voted to put the long-awaited road tax (Measure K) on the November ballot, and anyone who tells you this isn't a cost of growth is shining you on. It will be promoted relentlessly - by the Chamber of Commerce, the real-estate industry and this newspaper... Also answered, as if it weren't already obvious, will be the question of who really pulls the strings hereabouts.

Modesto Bee
Officials seeking help with growth...Tim Moran
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/12569320p-13279458c.html
Stanislaus County's mayors and county supervisors say they want to wrestle control of the county's future from big developers, but they need to hire someone to help them do that. The mayors and supervisors have been meeting to develop a blueprint for what the county should look like in 50 years — where it should and shouldn't grow and what kinds of public facilities will be needed to handle that growth. Supervisor Jim DeMartini said such plans need to protect farmland from developers. "The problem is, some developer comes in from out of town, options a bunch of land, and pressures the council to grow another way … They really only care about the land they control," DeMartini said. "We really need to work together."

Tracy Press
Bioterror...Eric Firpo
http://www.tracypress.com/local/2006-08-10-Bioterror.php
A bomb test site in the hills upwind of Tracy has made the “short list” of 18 spots where a research laboratory might be built to help protect against bioterrorism, the Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday. Homeland Security is looking for a spot to build a 500,000-square-foot research lab to replace a similar, but antiquated, laboratory at Plum Island in New York, which was built in the 1950s. The University of California asked to run the new lab at Site 300, 7,000 acres in the hills west of Tracy that’s part of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. Homeland Security said the UC has made the first cut, along with 17 other applicants in 11 states. Now that Site 300 has cleared its first hurdle, the anti-nuclear group Tri-Valley CAREs is launching an effort to prevent it from being built west of Tracy...group fears the new lab will research bioweapons, since it will have Level 3 and Level 4 labs...says a nuclear laboratory is no place for a biological laboratory because it sends a message that the lab will be used to develop offensive bioagents instead of trying to defend against them.

8-9-06
Merced Sun-Star
Director of university dining hall out of job...Corinne Reilly
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12564634p-13275230c.html
UC Merced's director of dining and retail services has resigned following an investigation by UC auditors that determined he used university vehicles for personal business, purchased food for his private catering business using UC credit accounts and regularly took food from the university without payment. Prompted by a whistleblower complaint, the university began examining possible policy violations by Thomas Welton in April. Welton told investigators he was unaware of a university policy that prohibited personal use of university cars, used university credit accounts to purchase nearly $2,500 in merchandise, much of which he used for his private catering business, investigators found. Vendor records showed that Welton's wife -- who isn't employed at UC Merced -- signed for some of the purchases. While Welton eventually paid vendors for the purchases, he used university credit to delay personal payment, and only made the payments after the university's investigation began.

8-8-06
Merced Sun-Star
County violating sell-back policy...Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12560598p-13271482c.html
An investigation that the Merced County Retirement Board launched last month to look into the legality of new perks given to the county's CEO has found something even more troubling: The county has been overpaying 25 retired employees -- mostly top-level managers and elected officials -- by thousands of dollars each year... inquiry found that the county has been violating the terms of a 2000 legal settlement -- known as the Ventura Agreement -- that limits the number of vacation hours county employees can "sell back" to boost their pensions. San Francisco attorney, Ashley Dunning said in an interview that the Ventura Agreement "could not be clearer" in limiting how many sold-back vacation hours can count toward pensions. Kathleen Crookham, who is the only supervisor who sits on the retirement board and voted to give Tatum the extra sell-back hours, said she also is OK with the retirement board's legal findings. "I guess if that's the legal opinion, you know what, I support it," she said.

8-12-06
Merced Sun-Star
Pension policy rips off taxpayers...Our View
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12579690p-1328813
...Merced County has decided to cut back the pensions of 25 retirees that were inflated by a complex vacation "sell-back" that boosted their final year's salary, which is used to calculate the pension payouts they earn every month for the rest of their lives. Instead of being able to sell back 240 hours upon retirement -- or even more for CEO Dee Tatum, who has a separate contract with the board -- the new limit will be 160 hours. But why stop there? We don't think county employees should be able to boost their retirements at all with this bogus vacation "sell-back," which is mandated by something called the "Ventura Agreement." It's the gift that keeps on giving -- all at taxpayer expense. And our local politicians wonder why voters turn down tax increase measures.
Sheriff wasn't involved...Michael H. Sofranek, Catheys Valley...2nd letter
I retired from the Merced County Sheriff's Department's Corrections Division. Knowing the system and knowing how the system works, I do believe the sheriff would not interfere with the process, but I do not believe that the sheriff was not aware that his brother slipped through the cracks in serving his jail time.
Sell-back hours ridiculous...Phil McDaniels, Merced...3rd letter
Let me see if I have this right: The county retirement board increases the sell-back vacation hours for the county CEO, Dee Tatum. Then, as the stink from this rises, the board decides to get a legal opinion and hire outside counsel...investigation shows... they've been committing a no-no since 2000. The first question...how much of an overpayment are we talking about and how does the board plan on getting it back? Secondly, couldn't some common sense be used next time and get a legal opinion first?

March 10, 2006
Badlandsjournal.com: Merced County Development Rodeo: Ranchwood Event

San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center and other members of the concerned public always wondered how developers in Merced County rode roughshod over local, state and federal environmental laws, regulations, agencies and its own public. But, rarely have they been granted the insight provided by this telephone message, recorded on Feb. 3, 2006.
Badlands has blocked out the last two numbers of the telephones the developer left for return calls from the supervisor he thought he’d called as a courtesy to the developer.
Mrs. Crookham, this is Greg Hostetler calling. My cell number actually is 704-13** if you need to call me. I’m on a cell phone cause my other battery I’m trying to save that, preserve it you know. I’m into preserving things too from time to time, but anyway, uhm, I’m just calling you, uh, to let you know that…ah if you don’t already know… that we’ve had a lot of drama and trouble in the county … everywhere I do business [inaudible] apparently I guess because of Mrs. uh…Mrs. Deirdre Kelsey ah… thinks staff may need some help, because she’s climbing all over them… using [inaudible] staff for her personal pit bulls…trying to bite our people, and our staff — this is my opinion — causing a lot of drama in Livingston, for the City of Livingston and we’re trying to uh in the progress of uh in the process of installing a sewer line over there. If you haven’t talked to Dee Tatum, he could fill you in on what’s going on over there. But uh this probably will not end any time soon. So, I just wanted to give you the update, and if you could give staff any help I’d appreciate it… Thank you! ...

Consult Badlandsjournal.com for a number of posts on government in Merced County, for example: Byrd sues on civil rights violations, July 28, 2006, which includes a brief filed in federal court against the county DA, the Sheriff and other county notables, and notes, including the news clips cited below:

7-15-06
Merced Sun-Star
Amid turmoil, Spencer quits…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12456073p-13175492c.html
After a tumultuous week that included a dramatic car crash, a concussion, calls from the Board of Supervisors to step down, and continuing criminal investigations by the state Attorney General’s Office, District Attorney Gordon Spencer said on Friday he will resign immediately. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office said his agency will continue to investigate Spencer.

7-14-06
Merced Sun-Star
County workers get brush up on ethics…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12450025p-13170424c.html
Amid investigations by the state Attorney General’s Office and growing questions about government accountability, county officials got an earful from Graham and other ethics speakers this week. All county department heads and elected officials, as well as middle managers, were required to go to Graham’s session on Monday. Elected officials and top-level employees also had to go to a two-hour course Tuesday taught by a Sacramento law firm that reviewed accepted guidelines for government openness and accountability. But not everyone attended…four officials, including Spencer, didn’t go to Monday’s meeting… Spencer, who was in the hospital Tuesday after a car accident Monday, didn’t attend Tuesday’s session. The four no-shows Monday — Spencer, Supervisor Deidre Kelsey, Human Services Agency Director Ana Pagan and County Counsel Ruben Castillo — must go to Graham’s Aug. 24 course for low-level managers if they want to keep their allowances. Morris said Kelsey had a family emergency and Pagan had a medical emergency Monday. He said he didn’t know why Spencer and Castillo didn’t attend. Supervisor Kathleen Crookham…felt Hedlund’s session was “dull,” she was glad to attend the ethics courses. “It reinforces the kind of things we should remember,” Crookham said.

Correction…Last Updated: July 14, 2006, 02:51:25 AM PDT
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12450026p-13170466c.html
• A headline on Page A1 of Thursday’s Sun-Star about District Attorney Gordon Spencer was incorrect. No representative from the hospital said Mr. Spencer suffered a head injury.

7-12-06
Merced Sun-Star
D.A. still in hospital…Scott Jason
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12439963p-13161488c.html
The Merced County district attorney remained in the hospital Tuesday night with short-term memory loss after a rollover crash Monday night, his attorney said. The California Highway Patrol is continuing its investigation into the crash, though it doesn’t look like any charges or citations will be filed, Public Information Officer Shane Ferriera said. Spencer called his wife from Smith’s phone, and she took him to the hospital… The investigating officer interviewed Spencer at the hospital and tested him for driving under the influence…said the test includes looking for the smell of alcohol, slurred speech or red, watery eyes. Ferriera said he did not know if Spencer was given a breathalyzer test.

Panel may ask Spencer to resign from his post…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12439964p-13161513c.html
Merced County Supervisor Jerry O’Banion said Tuesday that embattled District Attorney Gordon Spencer should resign immediately to help restore the District Attorney’s Office from months of “turmoil.” O’Banion told supervisors at their meeting Tuesday that he wants the board to vote sometime soon on whether Spencer should resign. He later said the vote will be at the supervisors’ next meeting on Tuesday. “I’m not going to take any action until we have the attorney general’s report,” Kelsey said…”I’m not going to let the newspaper tell me what to do and I’m not going to grandstand for the public or for the newspaper.” “We don’t have all the facts.” O’Banion brushed aside Kelsey’s accusations
…”I don’t look at it as grandstanding, I look at it as a responsibility we have to take back a department that is in turmoil.” Supervisor Mike Nelson…when asked if Spencer should resign, he replied. “It would be nice if he would do that, yeah.”

Police chief secrecy isn’t right way…Our View
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12439980p-13161532c.html
Plenty of mystery surrounds the disappearance and alleged kidnapping of Kou Xiong, the Merced Police Department officer who was missing for two days before being located in the Madera County foothills. Now, after an internal affairs investigation by the police department, we’re told Xiong is no longer on the force. But that’s it as far as any official accounting of what may have taken place. The public deserves more of an explanation than that…police officials should divulge some reason for Xiong’s termination.

Letters to the editor:
Spencer should step down
…Mark Seivert, Merced
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12439981p-13161523c.html
Editor: How many investigations need to be done on our district attorney from the state Attorney General’s Office before we demand he step down? I think three in one year should be more than enough for anyone.
Pazin’s actions a let-down…Phil McDaniels, Merced
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12439957p-13161493c.html
Editor: With Gordon Spencer involved in Cellphonegate and SUVgate, it is not surprising to find him involved in yet another scheme as nefarious as the purchase of land of a jailed man. What is surprising is the behavior and attitude of one of his partners, the sheriff of Merced County… Sheriff Mark Pazin admits to knowing who the seller of the land was in the “final stages of the deal.” …the sheriff let the chase for big bucks place a cloud over his name and the office of sheriff of Merced County.

7-11-06
Merced Sun-Star
District Attorney Spencer injured in creek car crash…Scott Jason — Chris Collins; — Mike De La Cruz; — The Associated Press
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12435800p-13157709c.html
The Merced County district attorney was taken to the hospital Monday night after he rolled his Ford pickup truck into Bear Creek, a California Highway Patrol officer said. For unknown reasons, Spencer let the Ford F-150 pickup truck drift off the road and into the creek, he said. …CHP Web site said the victim in the crash had minor injuries.

7-8-06
Merced Sun-Star
Spencer purchased land from jailed man…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12425122p-13147572c.html
California Attorney General Bill Lockyer has launched a third investigation into Merced County District Attorney Gordon Spencer, this time examining whether Spencer committed a crime when he and a group of local investors bought a piece of property from a man who was sitting behind bars and facing charges from the District Attorney’s Office. The latest investigation comes on top of an ongoing criminal probe into Spencer’s potential embezzlement of public funds and an inquiry last December that found Spencer had impersonated an investigator. The attorney general is now looking into a 21-acre lot on Bellevue Road that Spencer, Sheriff Mark Pazin, Ranchwood Homes owner Greg Hostetler, and five other prominent locals purchased in 2004. The intersection of the two events created a clash that was “absolutely impermissible” by attorney ethics standards, said Weisberg, the Stanford law professor. “There was a conflict of interest. ” Dougherty, the county’s presiding judge, said Spencer never told Byrd’s attorney about his involvement in buying Byrd’s land. Kelsey said she always has been troubled that the sheriff and district attorney joined one of the county’s biggest developers to buy the land.

7-5-06
Merced Sun-Star
Tatum had a smorgasbord…Phil McDaniels, Merced…Letters to the editor
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12409089p-13133720c.html
Editor: Many thanks to City Editor Mike Fitzgerald for putting in words how many voters feel about the Merced County Board of Supervisors and its constant giveaway of our money to the hierarchy of county government. For someone who flew low under the radar during the Gordon Spencer matter AND the department heads’ perks matter, County Executive Officer Dee Tatum surfaced long enough for another feast at the public trough. The board members have been in office too long and have lost sight of who they work for and who their decisions should benefit.

6-21-06
Merced Sun-Star
County supervisors clarify management policies…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12347503p-13077932c.html
Board of Supervisors approved sweeping changes on Tuesday to Merced County’s policies on car and phone allowances given to top-level employees…also set new ethics training requirements and accountability standards for elected officials and department managers. It was the first official action the supervisors have taken in response to District Attorney Gordon Spencer’s misuse of government equipment…county Auditor Stephen Jones said that the county’s attorney, Ruben Castillo, had advised him that a state law giving district attorneys and sheriffs the right to charge business expenses to the county may also give Spencer legal grounds for getting both a county phone and an allowance. The revised policy means:
• The 33 “A-level managers” in the county, which includes department heads, supervisors and other elected officials, must now sign a new form each year that says they will use their own car and phone for their jobs if they choose to receive monthly allowances as reimbursements.
• The state-mandated conflict-of-interest disclosure forms that county department heads and elected officials fill out each year will now be frequently audited by an outside firm.
• All department heads and elected officials must now attend an ethics training course once a year or lose out on their phone and car allowances.

6-15-06
Merced Sun-Star
Valley politicians report lands sales, wealth…Michael Doyle, Sun-Star Washington Bureau
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12321524p-13054529c.html
WASHINGTON — San Joaquin Valley lawmakers are a diversified lot, especially when it comes to their personal finances. They own land, though not necessarily as much as they used to. They own stocks. Several have spouses pulling political salaries. Cardoza reported that, last October, he sold 6.2 acres in Atwater. The land at the intersection of Bellevue Road and Redwood Avenue brought the Cardoza & Cardoza Landholding Partnership between $500,001 and $1 million. Cardoza turned to stocks. He reported purchasing some 32 different stocks in November and December. Cardoza’s wife works as a physician in Merced.

Crookham is off the mark…Lorraine Dawson, Merced
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12321534p-13054545c.html
Editor: Some Merced County supervisors dismissed concerns that their allowances were excessive. Supervisor Kathleen Crookham said she was frustrated that questions were being asked about her pay. “It’s really unfortunate when this kind of scrutiny takes place.” “And then it’s really unfortunate when no one wants to run for office because they come under that type of scrutiny.” “Does the rest of the world have to justify what they spend? No. This is a thankless job and one you don’t get rich on.” Mercedians have a right to know where the tax revenue is spent and why. Then there was this comment in a May 2 Sun-Star story: “Supervisor Kathleen Crookham said she’s known for the past few months that (District Attorney Gordon) Spencer has been using a county vehicle while receiving a car allowance at the same time, but she said she doesn’t think it’s a serious violation.” Look no further than comments like these as to why Measure A was not passed.

6-13-06
Merced Sun-Star
OES faults Spencer over grant…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12312342p-13045915c.html
The state Office of Emergency Services says it will closely scrutinize Merced County’s use of grant funds in the future after a report it released Monday concluded that District Attorney Gordon Spencer violated the terms of an OES grant. State will monitor county closely but funds won’t have to be repaid. The report also found that the District Attorney’s Office misled OES when it said it would assign a full-time deputy district attorney to prosecuting people who committed rural crimes. The OES report found three other grant violations:… There is no set deadline for when the attorney general’s report will conclude.

Letters to the Editor…Last Updated: June 13, 2006, 01:52:58 AM PDT
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/opinion/story/12312355p-13045923c.html
County wears blindfold…James V. Haslouer, Merced…1st letter
Editor: So let me see if I understand this correctly. If you are a county employee and you jeopardize a state- funded program for your own personal pocket stuffing and accept false cell phone and vehicle reimbursements (embezzlement), you can then use those monies to compute and enhance your retirement! …who was signing the vouchers that District Attorney Gordon Spencer was submitting for five years or perhaps even longer? Pay Spencer more than $150K a year for what? His disdain for the law is obvious.Supervisors, stand up for your constituents and do the right thing.

6-3-06
Merced Sun-Star

Spencer violated Grant…Chris Collins
http://www.mercedsunstar.com/local/story/12270485p-13006930c.html
District Attorney Gordon Spencer violated the terms of a grant by driving a $27,000 SUV that he was never supposed to use, a report by a private auditing firm has found…conducted by Sacramento-based Macias, Gini and Co. The SUV, a 2005 Ford Expedition, was purchased a year ago with money from a state grant and was intended for Chief Deputy District Attorney Larry Morse. Instead, the vehicle was “assigned solely to the County’s District Attorney,” the report concluded…”could jeopardize eligibility of the vehicle” and future funding from the grant. “It basically reinforces the fact that the car was not supposed to be used by the individual who was using it,” county Supervisor Jerry O’Banion said. Last month, the state Attorney General’s Office launched an embezzlement investigation into Spencer’s use of county-owned equipment. The Office of Emergency Services is making its own inquiry into Spencer’s actions. Both investigations are ongoing.

July 16, 2006
http://abclocal.go.com/kfsn/story?section=local&id=4372012
ABC Action News 30
Fire Damages Offices at Merced County Courthouse
July 16, 2006 - A scandal forced their boss to leave and now there's a new struggle for Merced County prosecutors after fire tore through their offices over the weekend.
Investigators will begin digging out the five offices on Monday, hoping to find out what started the fire. For now, they are breathing a sigh of relief after rescuing a very important case file from the burned building.
Once the smoke cleared, investigators and county leaders got a glimpse of the damage.
"The intensity of the fire was severe. It had buckled a lot of the metal, windows had been blown out, desks, chairs and such were absolutely melted to the ground," said Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin.
Fire officials say the west portion of the building suffered the worst damage. Four district attorneys offices are ruined, two others damaged by smoke and water and two courtrooms unusable because of the intense heat.
"At the height of the firefight operations, we actually had flames I would estimate to 50 to 60 feet in the air above the building. Very major major operation," said Merced Fire Chief Ken Mitten.
The fire came just two days after District Attorney Gordon Spencer resigned in the middle of three separate investigations by the attorney general's office. His office was not in the building that caught fire and officials do not believe there is any relation between the two sudden events.
Incoming district attorney Larry Morse left the building just three and a half hours before the blaze began.
"I'm sure I was the last one to leave this building. It was close to 2:00am when I left. I didn't see anything remotely suspicious. I've been in the office until one or two for the last seven or eight days, as you are during trials," said Morse.
Morse says one of the files that burned in a felony office is the case against Tao Rivera. Police say he's the Merced gang member who gunned down police officer Stephan Grey. Luckily, Morse found a copy that was spared in his office. He has now moved it to a safe location.
He says many other criminal cases also went up in smoke, but he doesn't think any accusers are off the hook, because multiple copies are usually made on each case.
Despite the damaged courtrooms, court will go on as scheduled. Those cases set for the affected courtrooms will be moved to other buildings in the complex.
Fire damages are about $750,000

November 17, 2005
Modesto Bee
UC regents increase fees by 8 percent…Michelle Locke, AP
http://www.modbee.com/local/story/11490731p-12229564c.html
Cost of going to university has going up 89% since ‘01. The vote came amid heightened criticism of the UC’s spending after reports in the San Francisco Chronicle that the UC has paid millions in bonuses and pay hikes to top executives. …students were not happy with the hikes, demonstrating their opposition by chanting “Education, not corporation!”

Merced Sun-Star
UC tuition fees going up again…Rosalio Ahumada
http://www.mercedsun-star.com/local/story/11491100p-12229815c.html
Students will pay about $500 more per year. UC Merced Chancellor Carol Tomlinson-Keasey said she knows some students are struggling with educational costs, but the fee increases are needed right now. “We certainly don’t want to exacerbate that,” Tomlinson-Keasey said of student financial woes. About 80 percent of UC Merced’s inaugural class applied for and received financial aid, and 64 percent of those students qualified for need-based financial assistance, according to campus records.

Sacramento Bee
Fifth fee hike since ‘02 gets UC regent OK…Leslie A. Maxwell
http://www.sacbee.com/content/news/california/story/13870111p-14709573c.html
UC officials said the fee increases - part of a $2.9 billion budget that they will request from the Legislature for next year - were necessary to maintain their “compact” with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, D-Los Angeles, argued for the board to hold off on the hikes until Schwarzenegger unveils his new state budget proposal in early January. Much of the audience also was angry about recent news reports that hundreds of UC’s senior-level employees received generous housing allowances, bonuses and other perks during a budget crunch.

San Francisco Chronicle
UC president promises increased disclosure about pay packages. Task force also will consider further policy changes…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/17/BAGVTFPO5L1.DTL&type=printable
After facing days of withering criticism, University of California leaders promised Wednesday to disclose more information about how much they pay employees. ” Dynes promised that UC would: … — Provide regents with a summary of UC leaders’ total compensation once a year, including outside income. Dynes said he wasn’t sure whether that information would be released to the public. There is a dark cloud over the university that we really have to reckon with, and it speaks to the question of transparency and honesty,” Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez, an ex-officio regent, said. “There is a lot of outrage,” said Bruce Fuller, professor of public policy and education at UC Berkeley. “Is the quality of the university really tied to attracting managers, or is it tied to attracting top faculty?”

Zero hour for Los Alamos. UC has run the nation’s top weapons lab for six decades.
Will it all end this week?…Keay Davidson
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/17/MNGQ9FPOD81.DTL&type=printable
Los Alamos National Lab…climax of a four-year saga: a decision that will determine who runs the world’s most glamorous and controversial nuclear weapons lab and that also could end the University of California’s unchallenged six-decade domination of the U.S. weapons program. An announcement could come soon, perhaps even Friday. UC and its industrial partners, including San Francisco-based Bechtel National Inc., are competing for the contract against aerospace giant Lockheed Martin Corp. and its allies — the huge University of Texas system, several New Mexico universities and various industrial partners. Loss of the contract by UC would be a crushing blow to the university system’s reputation and, perhaps, to the state of California, which owes much of its international economic clout and attractiveness to investors’ perception of the state as the Nobel laureate-packed front line of scientific and technological advances. …the Lockheed-Texas team has benefited from continued leaks of bad news from Los Alamos. The latest case involved an “Occurrence Report,” which came to light late last month concerning an incident in October 2003…

UC regents boost next year’s student fees…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/17/BAGVTFPETK1.DTL&type=printable
Hours after the University of California Board of Regents voted Wednesday to impose steep fee increases on students, a regents’ committee recommended that hundreds of top university administrators get pay raises. The proposed “annual merit” salary increases, … average about 3 percent. “Even with this year’s merit increases, the salaries of many senior UC managers still significantly fall below market,” according to the statement. A recent study by Mercer Consulting found that UC offers lower salaries than other prestigious universities, though UC pay is comparable when retirement and other benefits are factored in. However, the Mercer study did not include all forms of compensation used by UC, leaving it unclear whether UC employees are paid better or worse than the average pay of their counterparts elsewhere. …Wednesday, the regents disregarded assurances from state Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez that the Legislature would likely allocate enough money to make the higher fees unnecessary

November 16, 2005
San Francisco Chronicle
Outrage in Capitol at UC pay revelations…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/16/BAG1RFP4R61.DTL&type=printable
State lawmakers demanded Tuesday that University of California leaders answer questions about UC’s growing payroll, hidden compensation and a rising inequity between low-paid employees and senior administrators and faculty. Sen. Jackie Speier, D-Hillsborough, who sits on the Senate Education Committee, “I’m not going to allow UC to become the Wal-Mart of education. The university’s money is public money. They have to be very careful. Before we do anything more with salaries, we have to have transparency.” “This is outrageous,” Denham said. “While students face rate increases every year and UC rank and file workers face salary freezes, the top UC administrators will be getting secret salary hikes. The regents should postpone their vote and let the public see the documents.”

UC’s hidden pay…Editorial
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/16/EDGODFOD701.DTL&type=printable
FOR AN institution devoted to openness and truth, the University of California is falling short. It refuses to speak plainly about the eye-popping compensation packages for its top leaders. The timing for the new salary increases couldn’t be worse. …regents are due to vote on a plan to raise student fees by 8 percent. …after fees have nearly doubled in four years. UC must explain its compensation policies more fully. It isn’t showing the openness that taxpayers expect and deserve from a public university.

Fresno Bee
UC gets $8 million to study San Joaquin Valley’s bad air…AP
http://www.fresnobee.com/state_wire/v-printerfriendly/story/11479672p-12219067c.html
FRESNO, Calif. (AP) - The University of California, Davis, will receive an $8 million federal grant to study the effects of one of the country’s most polluted air basins on public health.

11-14-05
San Francisco Chronicle…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/14/MNGDFFO1641.DTL&type=printable
The University of California may have cut student services and maintenance, but not the number of high-paid jobs created over the past two years.

Merced Sun-Star
Famers say UC helps rivals too…Olivia Munoz, AP
http://www.mercedsun-star.com/business/ag/story/11478748p-12218475c.html
UC President Robert C. Dynes met with about 35 growers… San Joaquin Valley growers expressed frustration Thursday that research they help the University of California conduct ends up helping their rivals in the global agriculture market. …also concerned that the system’s budget cuts were affecting the extension office program.

San Francisco Chronicle
Free mansions for people of means…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/14/MNGDFFO0JJ1.DTL&type=printable
For all the attention paid to university salaries, some of the biggest perks at the university are noncash items, such as free housing. At UC, the system spends about $1 million a year to maintain spacious homes for Dynes and the 10 campus chancellors. I think taxpayers would be outraged to discover the nature of this extraordinary perk,” said Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers’ Association. Schwartz…said the homes are important to help chancellors cover the high cost of living in California, where many chancellors otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford homes on their university salaries. Public records show that many of the chancellors already own their homes, sometimes close to campus. And at least two chancellors earned tens of thousands of dollars in extra annual income by moving into university-owned residences and renting out their own nearby homes. In addition, records show hundreds of thousands of dollars are spent on maintaining some of the estates.. “I suspect this will make it in our 2005 piglet book” of examples of government waste, Coupal said. “This is the kind of stuff that shows that at some point (government leaders sometimes) lose touch with reality.”

Services cut for students as high-pay jobs boom…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/14/MNGDFFO1641.DTL&type=printable
The University of California may have cut student services and maintenance, but not the number of high-paid jobs created over the past two years. Payroll records show that 2,275 university employees earned more than $200,000 last fiscal year, up 30 percent over two years. The number of employees making at least $300,000 annually climbed 54 percent to 496 last year. Some employees got raises. Others were hired or promoted to new posts with increased salaries. Still, the boom in top salaries comes at a time when UC leaders say they have been forced to raise student fees 79 percent over four years, increase class sizes and curtail student services to cope with cuts in state funding. “This is not something you want the Legislature to learn about,” said Velma Montoya, who served on the UC Board of Regents for 11 years until her term ended in January. “It is unfair and impolitic.”

The home used by UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau. Chronicle photo by Mark Costantini
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?m=/c/pictures/2005/11/14/mn_a9_uc00_156_mc.jpg&f=/c/a/2005/11/14/MNGDFFO1641.DTL&type=printable

More higher-paid employees on UC payroll
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?m=/c/pictures/2005/11/14/mn_higher_paid.jpg&f=/c/a/2005/11/14/MNGDFFO1641.DTL&type=printable

Monterey Herald
The teacher pay UC doesn’t discuss…System shells out millions while claiming poverty…San Francisco Chronicle
http://www.montereyherald.com/mld/montereyherald/news/state/13163302.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Despite complaints from University of California officials that the system has suffered severe cuts in state funding, prompting tuition and fee increases, many faculty members and administrators get paid thousands more than is publicly reported. ‘’We should be comparing full compensation, including the perks, not just the salary, because when you look across the country, you shouldn’t be comparing apples to oranges,'’ said Velma Montoya, an economist who served on the UC Board of Regents for 11 years until her term ended in January. ‘’It’s ludicrous to increase student fees… when you’re talking about executive officers making this much money, and no one knowing about it,'’ said Anu Joshi, a UC Berkeley graduate student and president of the systemwide UC Student Association.

11-13-05
UC’s higher profile…Editorial
http://www.fresnobee.com/opinion/story/11476112p-12215740c.html
The recent visit to Fresno by the president of the University of California underscores how the landscape has changed in higher education for Valley students in just a few years. For decades, the Valley was given short shrift by UC. Higher education was left in the hands of California State University campuses, such as Fresno State. Now UC Merced has opened, creating a new opportunity for Valley students. …the UC system is working much harder to spread the word about UC among Valley students and their families. That’s what brought UC President Robert Dynes to Fresno on Thursday…

San Francisco Chronicle
UC piling extra cash on top of pay…Tanya Schevitz, Tod Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/13/MNGHFFNMAC1.DTL&type=printable
Despite UC’s complaints that it has been squeezed by cuts in state funding and forced to raise student fees, many university faculty members and administrators get paid far more than is publicly reported. In addition to salaries and overtime, payroll records obtained by The Chronicle show that employees received a total of $871 million in bonuses, administrative stipends, relocation packages and other forms of cash compensation last fiscal year. That was more than enough to cover the 79 percent hike in student fees that UC has imposed over the past few years. The bulk of the last year’s extra compensation, roughly $599 million, went to more than 8,500 employees who each got at least $20,000 over their regular salaries. And that doesn’t include an impressive array of other perks for selected top administrators, ranging from free housing to concert tickets.

Bringing in the big bucks
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?m=/c/pictures/2005/11/13/mn_big_bucks.jpg&f=/c/a/2005/11/13/MNGHFFNMAC1.DTL&type=printable
Here are UC’s highest-paid employees based ontotal compensation. Base salary is a small fraction of their total pay.

Overall payroll
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2005/11/13/MNGHFFNMAC1.DTL&o=1&type=printable
Over the last few years there has been an increase in the UC’s payroll…2002 – 2005

Other perks include parties, gifts, travel…Tanya Schevitz, Todd Wallack
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/13/MNGQPFJ9DJ26.DTL&type=printable
In addition to their cash compensation, many senior UC employees receive significant fringe benefits. A partial list includes:
– Housing: Some employees receive free or subsidized housing near campus, including spacious homes (and in some cases, mansions) reserved for chancellors. UC also issued thousands of low-interest mortgages to administrators and faculty…3 percent interest rate. — Jobs: — Entertainment: Gifts:– Travel: Parties: Expensive parties are common.
Patrick Callan, president of the nonprofit National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education…”This is not a slush fund,'’ Callan said. “Every dollar that the university gets is public. It is a public institution. It doesn’t matter where it comes from.”

Livermore Lab’s future tied to risky laser project…Keay Davidson
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2005/11/13/MNG1AFNKRE1.DTL&type=printable
The fate of a super-laser — a multibillion-dollar project under construction at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is in serious doubt, despite Congress’ decision to grant it a reprieve. …eight years after the facility’s groundbreaking at Livermore lab, the project has cost taxpayers more than $3 billion, at least three times the projected cost, and the tab should exceed $4 billion between now and the projected completion in 2009-2010. Meanwhile, only a small percentage of the projected 192 lasers have been installed and tested. Worst of all, there is serious scientific doubt whether the laser will achieve its near-mythic goal: ignition, the holy grail of nuclear physics. ..recent study by top Pentagon advisory panel cites many technical obstacles and says there’s no assurance the project will work. The group, known as “Jason,” pointed out in a recent report that the project is rife with technical problems. This is an embarrassment that UC can ill afford at a time when federal officials are close to making a crucial decision on another one of the university system’s vital relationships with the Department of Energy.

11-12-05
Fundraiser helps MC students get to UC…Rosalio Ahumada
http://www.mercedsun-star.com/local/story/11472660p-12212399c.html
With the rising cost to earn a bachelor’s degree, students need scholarship support more than ever. The Merced College Foundation wants to make sure its transferring students have all the help they can get to attend the newest University of California campus. Currently, full-time equivalent Merced College students pay a total of about $800 per school year including campus fees. UC Merced undergraduate students pay about $7,000 in tuition per school year. But that doesn’t include housing costs that range from $14,000 to $20,000 annually.

Anxiety marks Los Alamos mood ahead of lab contract announcement…Heather Clark, AP
http://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/11472441p-12212115c.html
LOS ALAMOS, N.M. (AP) - Many people in this isolated mesa-top community are anxious or fearful about who will win a contract to manage Los Alamos National Laboratory. The main contenders for the contract are two limited liability corporations, one headed by Lockheed Martin and the University of Texas and the other led by Bechtel Corp. and the University of California… …contract worth up to $79 million. The announcement of the winner is expected by Dec. 1. Six percent of the lab’s work force resigned, up from a 4 percent annual norm over the last decade. …poor business practices at the lab led to a purchasing scandal and a series of embarrassing security and safety lapses that culminated in a seven-month shutdown, which the Department of Energy estimated cost about $367 million. UC put the cost at $110 million.

7-3-06
Contra Costa Times
A feeling of 'siege'...Julia Prodis Sulek
http://www.mercurynews.com/mld/mercurynews/news/14952474.htm?template=contentModules/printstory.jsp
Sixteen months ago, when Denton started as chancellor, she seemed like a perfect fit. If any community would welcome this openly gay academic who overcame discrimination from her earliest days in a small Texas town, who became nationally renowned for her commitment to women in science and social justice, surely it would be the progressive seaside town of Santa Cruz. Instead, she told friends, ``I'm under constant siege.'' She arrived at the university already trailed by controversy and, during her short tenure, endured unrelenting attacks. ``It wasn't any single story or any single cartoon, but it was a continuing, rolling, unending set of stories and set of cartoons; it was the continuing everyday assault,'' said Carol Tomlinson-Keasey, the chancellor of UC-Merced. When a new chancellor arrives in Santa Cruz, the community very nearly holds its breath. In this city of 55,000, the chancellor carries more prestige than the mayor or state legislators. But just weeks before her Feb. 14, 2005, start date, Denton's name was linked with scandal. The timing couldn't have been worse. While the UC president's office acknowledged it should have disclosed the deal from the start, it was Denton who took the heat in Santa Cruz. If Denton had more serious mental health issues, or her medication wasn't right, or she had other personal problems, no one is saying. But Tomlinson-Keasey knows that the problems in Santa Cruz weighed heavily.

8-2-06
Sacramento Bee
Tragedy looms over wildland debate...David Whitney, Bee Washington Bureau
http://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/story/14285230p-15098739c.htmlhttp://www.sacbee.com/content/politics/v-print/story/14285230p-15098739c.html
WASHINGTON -- Nearly 15 months after the manager of the Carrizo Plain National Monument killed herself after months of frustration on the job, the federal Bureau of Land Management is reviving the process of creating a management plan for the 250,000-acre grasslands preserve that will be forever associated with Marlene Braun's tragic death. The backdrop for the battles was more political than personal. Created by presidential proclamation just hours before President Clinton left office in 2001, the Carrizo Plain had become a battleground over cattle grazing on public lands -- an issue on which the BLM typically found itself siding with cattlemen. ... public lands, on the border between Kern and San Luis Obispo counties, are the last big patch of wild grasslands left in California and the home of the largest concentration of endangered species in the state. Some, like the giant kangaroo rat, are in direct competition with cattle. Braun had openly complained that she felt efforts to curtail grazing were being resisted at higher pay grades in the agency, and that she was suffering the fallout. Posthumously, Braun prevailed.

4-1-05

CRS Report for Congress: California’s San Joaquin Valley: A Region in Transition, Dec. 12, 2005, Tadlock Cowan, Coordinator, Analyst in Rural and Regional Development Policy, Resources, Science and Industry Division

Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process, Brooks Jackson, 1990

“This is the tragic story of one of the most fascinating characters in recent Washington history, Congressman Tony Coelho of California (D-Merced) … He rose to power in the house by collecting millions of political dollars for the Democratic party from whatever sources were at hand, creating a modern political machine in which money and pork-barrel legislation replaced the old Tammany Hall patronage …” p. 3

As Coelho himself says, “the system buys you out.” The system doesn’t require bad motives to produce bad government. P. 320

Italics added.

| »

State Supreme Court decides for City of Marina against CSU

Submitted: Aug 01, 2006

The California Supreme Court yesterday decided the Marina, City of v. Board of Trustees (CSU) case in favor of Marina. The state high court found that the argument of California State University, Monterey Bay that state agencies have no obligation to pay for off-site mitigation, defined in environmental impact reports arising from their construction or expansion, was without merit.

The San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and the Central Valley Safe Environment Network filed an amicus brief on the side of the City of Marina, et al. The University of California filed an amicus brief on the side of CSU.

Below, you will find a newspaper article, the docket of the case, and the state Supreme Court decision.
-------------------------------

Modesto Bee
CSU must fund Monterey Bay...AP
http://www.modbee.com/state_wire/story/12526098p-13239942c.html
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - California State University cannot skirt its financial obligations to the environment if it wants to expand its Monterey Bay campus, the California Supreme Court unanimously ruled Monday. A CSU spokeswoman said trustees would negotiate a payment plan with the Fort Ord Reuse Authority and would ask California lawmakers to pick up that tab for the growing 1,375-acre campus.
----------------------

For more information on this case, please go to:
http://appellatecases.courtinfo.ca.gov/search/dockets.cfm?dist=0&doc_id=281894
--------------------------
Docket (Register of Actions)
MARINA, CITY OF v. BOARD OF TRUSTEESCase Number S117816

Date Description Notes
07/29/2003 Received: petition for review from resp Fort Ord Reuse Authority. (did not contain proper cert. of word count, counsel is sending it)

07/29/2003 Petition for review filed by counsel for resp Fort Ord Reuse Authority (word count cert rec'd)

08/04/2003 Received Court of Appeal record 1 envelope and briefs.

08/19/2003 Answer to petition for review filed by counsel for appellant (Board of Trustees of the California State University). (timely per rule 40k)

09/18/2003 Time extended to grant or deny review The time for granting or denying review in the above-entitled matter is hereby extended to and including October 27, 2003, or the date upon which review is either granted or denied.

10/01/2003 Petition for review granted (civil case) Votes: George, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, Werdegar, Chin, Brown and Moreno, JJ.

10/06/2003 Record requested requested balance of record.

10/07/2003 Received Court of Appeal record balance of record.

10/14/2003 Certification of interested entities or persons filed By counsel for Respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}.

10/15/2003 Request for extension of time filed by respondent (Fort Ord Reuse Authority) requesting to Dec. 15, 2003 to file opening brief on the merits.

10/17/2003 Certification of interested entities or persons filed by counsel for appellant (Board of Trustees of the Calif. State University).

10/20/2003 Extension of time granted On application of respondent (Fort Ord Reuse Authority) and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the opening brief on the merits is extended to and including Dec. 15, 2003. No further extensions are contemplated.

12/15/2003 Request for extension of time filed respondent requesting to Dec. 29, 2003 to file opening brief on the merits. (Recv'd fax from attorney Susan M. Popik on behalf of attorney Mary L. Hudson, counsel for respondent.)

12/17/2003 Extension of time granted On application submitted by Susan Popik on behalf of counsel for respondent and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the opening brief on the merits is extended to and including December 29, 2003.

12/30/2003 Opening brief on the merits filed by counsel for respondent (Fort Ord Reuse Authority). (40k)

01/05/2004 Received: Errata notice from counsel for respondent regarding opening brief on the merits filed 12/30/03. Provided page 50 that was missing from brief.

01/22/2004 Request for extension of time filed by counsel for appellant requesting a 30 day extension to file the answer brief on the merits.

01/26/2004 Extension of time granted On application of appellant and good cause appearing, it is ordered that the time to serve and file the answer brief on the merits is extended to and including March 1, 2004.

01/27/2004 Received Court of Appeal record two boxes

02/17/2004 Filed: application for leave to file answer brief on the merits in excess of 14000 words - from appellant.

02/17/2004 Answer brief on the merits filed with permission by counsel for appellant (Board of Trustees of the Calif. State University.

03/09/2004 Reply brief filed (case fully briefed) with permission by counsel for respondent. (tan covers - should be white) (40k)

04/06/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief from the Regents of the University of California in support of appellant

04/07/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief City of Davis in support of Respondents.

04/07/2004 Request for extension of time to file amicus curiae brief by The Coalition for Adequate School Housing ("CASH") requesting a 20-day extension.

04/07/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief by League of California Cities and the California State Association of Counties in support of respondent Fort Ord Reuse Authority.

04/08/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief by West Davis Neighbors in support of respondents City of Marina and Fort Ord Reuse Authority.

04/08/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief by San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water, and Central Valley Safe Environmental Network in support of respondent Fort Ord Reuse Authority.

04/12/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted The Regents of the University of California in support of appellant.

04/12/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed The Regents of the University of California in support of appellant. Answer is due within twenty days.

04/12/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted City of Davis in support of Respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}.

04/12/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed City of Davis in support of respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}. Answer is due within twenty days.

04/12/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in support of Respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}.

04/12/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties in support of Respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}. Answer is within twenty days.

04/12/2004 Extension of time granted To April 28, 2004 to file application and amicus brief of Coalition for Adequate School Housing.

04/12/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and Central Valley Safe Environmental Network in support of respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}.

04/12/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and Central Valley Safe Environmental Network in support of respondent {Fort Ord Reuse Authority}.Answer is due within twenty days.

04/13/2004 Opposition filed By Respondent Fort Ord Reuse Authority to request for extension of time filed by Adequate School Housing.

04/13/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted West Davis Neighbors in support of Respondents.

04/13/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed West Davis Neighbors in support of Respondents. Answer is due within twenty days.

04/19/2004 Filed: JOINT Application of ( Applt. Bd. of Trustees and Resp. Fort Ord.) for extension of time to May 18, 2004, to file one consolidated answer to amicus curiae briefs.

04/21/2004 Request for extension of time filed

04/26/2004 Extension of time granted for Appellant and Respondents to serve and file one consolidated Answer to Amicus Curiae briefs to May 18, 2004.

04/29/2004 Received application to file amicus curiae brief Coalition for Adequate School Housing.

05/03/2004 Permission to file amicus curiae brief granted The Coalition For Adequate School Housing. Answer due within 20 days.

05/03/2004 Amicus curiae brief filed The Coalition for Adequate School Housing in support of Appellant. Answer due within in 20 days.

05/18/2004 Response to amicus curiae brief filed By appellant {Board of Trustees of the California State University} to AC Briefs.

05/19/2004 Response to amicus curiae brief filed Respondent ( Fort Ord) one consolidated brief.

04/04/2006 Case ordered on calendar Tuesday, May 2, 2006, at 1:30 p.m., in San Francisco

04/21/2006 Supplemental brief filed Fort Ord Reuse Authority, respondent Sheri L. Damon, counsel

05/02/2006 Cause argued and submitted

07/27/2006 Received: letter dated July 25, 2006, regarding recent decision of a Court of Appeal case, # D046728 Fort Ord Reuse Authority, respondent Mary L. Hudson, counsel

07/31/2006 Opinion filed: Judgment reversed and the cause remanded to that court with directions to order the superior court to vacate its writ of mandate and to issue a new writ consistent with the views set forth in this opinion.Majority Opinion by Werdegar, J. joined by George, C.J., Kennard, Baxter, Moreno and Corrigan, JJ. Concurring & Dissenting Opinion by Chin, J.

Filed 7/31/06
--------------------------

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

CITY OF MARINA et al., )
) S117816
Plaintiffs and Respondents, )
) Ct.App. 6 H023158
v. )
) Monterey County
BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE ) Super. Ct. Nos.
CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY, ) M41795 & M41781
)
Defendant and Appellant. )

The Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) challenges an environmental impact report (EIR) prepared by the Board of Trustees of the California State University (Trustees). The EIR concerns the Trustees’ plan to expand a small campus into a major institution that will enroll 25,000 students. The planned expansion will have significant effects on the physical environment throughout Fort Ord, the former Army base on which the campus is located. While the Trustees have agreed to mitigate effects occurring on the campus itself, they have disclaimed responsibility for mitigating some effects occurring off campus. In particular, the Trustees have refused to share the cost of certain infrastructure improvements proposed by FORA, the base’s new civilian governing authority. FORA challenges the Trustees’ decision to certify the EIR despite the remaining, unmitigated effects as an abuse of discretion under the California Environmental Quality Act (Pub. Resources Code, § 21000 et seq.) (CEQA). Like the superior court, we conclude the Trustees have abused their discretion and thus reverse the Court of Appeal’s contrary decision.

I. FACTUAL, LEGAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

Fort Ord is a former United States Army base on the Pacific Coast, about five miles north of Monterey and 125 miles south of San Francisco. The base lies on the northern end of Monterey Bay, an important tourist destination known for its scenic beauty and historic sites. In 1994, the Department of Defense formally closed the base and transferred 27,000 acres (over 42 square miles) to a variety of governmental entities and local organizations. The closure created both problems and opportunities for the region. On one hand, the loss of one of the nation’s largest military installations threatened to disrupt the local economy. On the other hand, valuable land that for over 75 years had been exclusively controlled by the Army became available for civilian economic development.

To provide a government for the former base and to manage its transition to civilian use, the Legislature enacted the Fort Ord Reuse Authority Act (Gov. Code, § 67650 et seq.) (hereafter the FORA Act or the act). Effective May 9, 1994, the act authorized FORA’s creation and conferred upon it governmental powers and duties within the former base that prevail over those of any other local governmental entity. (Id., § 67657, subd. (c).) FORA’s general statutory purpose is “to plan for, finance, and carry out the transfer and reuse of the base in a cooperative, coordinated, balanced, and decisive manner.” (Gov. Code, § 67652, subd. (a).) The act also charges FORA with the more specific policy goals of “facilitat[ing] the transfer and reuse of the real and other property [of the base] . . . with all practical speed,” “minimiz[ing] the disruption caused by the base’s closure on the civilian economy and the people of the Monterey Bay area,” “maintain[ing] and protect[ing] the unique environmental resources of the area,” and accomplishing these tasks “in ways that enhance the economy and quality of life of the Monterey Bay community.” (Id., § 67651, subds. (a)-(d).) The 13 members of FORA’s governing board are appointed by local governments neighboring the base—Monterey County and the Cities of Carmel, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, Monterey, Pacific Grove, Salinas, Sand City and Seaside. (Id., § 67660.) Also on the board are 10 ex officio, nonvoting members, including one appointed by the Chancellor of the California State University. (Id., § 67661.)

The charter for Fort Ord’s future use and development is the statutorily mandated Base Reuse Plan (hereafter Reuse Plan), which FORA adopted on June 13, 1997. (See Gov. Code, § 67675 et seq.) The plan addresses land use, transportation, conservation, recreation and capital improvement in Fort Ord until the year 2015. (See id., § 67675, subd. (c).) Pursuant to the plan, FORA will make land available over time for a wide range of civilian uses, including residential housing, business, light industry, research and development, visitor services, recreation and education. All such development will require improvements to the infrastructure the Army left behind. Recognizing this, the Legislature gave FORA the power and duty to prepare the base’s infrastructure for civilian development. In the words of the act, FORA “shall identify those basewide public capital facilities . . . that serve residents or will serve future residents of the base territory” (Gov. Code, § 67679, subd. (a)(1)) and “shall undertake to plan for and arrange the provision of those facilities, including arranging for their financing and construction or repair, remodeling, or replacement” (ibid.; see also id., § 67675, subd. (c)(5) [Reuse Plan must include capital improvement plan]).

FORA has, as the Legislature directed, prepared a capital improvement plan identifying public facilities that need construction or improvement and projecting future expenditures for that purpose through the year 2015. (See Gov. Code, § 67675, subd. (c)(5).) The facilities FORA has identified include elements of Fort Ord’s infrastructure for transportation (mainly roadways), water supply and distribution, wastewater management, drainage, and fire protection, among other things. FORA plans to improve these facilities over the life of the Reuse Plan, as increasing land use necessitates the improvements and as funding becomes available. Funding is not expected to come through legislative appropriations. Instead, the Legislature has directed FORA to arrange its own financing as it sees fit (Gov. Code, § 67679, subd. (a)(1)), employing any of several funding methods authorized in the FORA Act. FORA may, for example, “levy assessments, reassessments, or special taxes and issue bonds” under existing laws governing public finance (id., § 67679, subd. (d)), “levy development fees on development projects within the area of the base” (id., § 67679, subd. (e)) pursuant to the Mitigation Fee Act (id., § 66000 et seq.), sell or lease land (id., § 67678, subd. (a)), and “seek state and federal grants and loans or other assistance” (id., § 67679, subd. (c)). FORA and its local-government member agencies (id., § 67660) may also provide by contract for the transfer of tax revenues (id., § 67691) and/or adopt programs of local revenue sharing (id., § 67692).

In order to determine the long-term financial viability of the Reuse Plan, FORA has prepared a Comprehensive Business Plan setting out assumptions about projected revenue and expenditures. As part of this exercise—one obviously subject to numerous contingencies given the long planning horizon—FORA has projected that it will spend $249.2 million to improve Fort Ord’s infrastructure over the 20-year life of the Reuse Plan, i.e., from 1996 to 2015. FORA projects that the largest part of its operational revenue over the same period will derive from the sale of land and from a one-time special tax under the Mello-Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 (Gov. Code, § 53311 et seq.). Other revenue is expected to come through local development fees, water and sewer fees, a grant from the federal Economic Development Administration, and the annual dues of FORA’s members.

The California State University (CSU) is the largest university system in the United States. Governed by the Trustees, CSU’s 23 campuses across the state collectively enroll 405,000 students and employ 44,000 faculty and staff. CSU Monterey Bay (CSUMB), which occupies 1,370 acres transferred by the Army to CSU in 1994, is presently the main user of the base. CSUMB opened in 1995 with 633 students, using existing military buildings, and now enrolls approximately 3,800 students, 2,600 of whom live on campus. From this modest beginning the Trustees plan to expand enrollment at CSUMB greatly over the next few decades, eventually reaching the target enrollment of 25,000 full-time equivalent (FTE ) students in the year 2030. On May 13, 1998, the Trustees approved a Campus Master Plan (hereafter Master Plan) to guide CSUMB toward this target. Under the Master Plan, CSUMB’s resident population of students, faculty, staff and household members would gradually increase to 10,350. The campus’s average daily population, which also includes students who commute, would grow to 19,000.

Together with the Master Plan for CSUMB, the Trustees also prepared and certified an EIR. The EIR is the focus of the environmental review process and, as we have explained, “the primary means” of achieving the state’s declared policy of taking “ ‘all action necessary to protect, rehabilitate, and enhance the environmental quality of the state.’ ” (Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California (1988) 47 Cal.3d 376, 392, quoting Pub. Resources Code, § 21000, subd. (a); see also CEQA Guidelines, § 15003, subd. (a).) The EIR’s more specific purposes are “to identify the significant effects on the environment of a project, to identify alternatives to the project, and to indicate the manner in which those significant effects can be mitigated or avoided.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (a).) CEQA expressly requires that an EIR accompany the Master Plan for CSUMB. “The selection of a location for a particular campus and the approval of a long range development plan are subject to [CEQA] and require the preparation of an [EIR].” (Id., § 21080.09, subd. (b).) The Trustees necessarily serve as the “lead agency” (id., § 21067) responsible for preparing and certifying the EIR (id., § 21100, subd. (a)) because they possess “full power and responsibility in the construction and development of any state university campus” (Ed. Code, § 66606) and thus final authority to approve or disapprove the Master Plan.

In their EIR for CSUMB, the Trustees have determined that expanding CSUMB to accommodate 25,000 students will have many significant effects on the physical environment of Fort Ord. CEQA requires “[e]ach public agency [to] mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that it carries out or approves whenever it is feasible to do so” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b)) and to discuss feasible methods of mitigation in the EIR (id., § 21100, subd. (b)(3); CEQA Guidelines, § 15126.4, subd. (a)(1); see also Pub. Res. Code, § 21002.1, subd. (a) [one purpose of the EIR is “to indicate the manner in which . . . significant effects can be mitigated or avoided”].) In fact, the Trustees’ EIR does identify and adopt specific measures that the Trustees have found will mitigate most of the environmental effects of campus expansion to a level that is less than significant. Full mitigation of five remaining effects, however, will require action not just by the Trustees on the CSUMB campus but also by FORA on a basewide or regional basis. These remaining effects have become the subject of this litigation.

The Trustees’ EIR describes the five remaining environmental effects, for which the Trustees have not provided full mitigation, as follows: (1) Drainage: “Construction of new buildings and facilities will increase impervious surfaces and runoff, and could result in localized drainage problems and/or flows exceeding storm drain capacities, if storm drainage facilities are not adequately sized and maintained.” (2) Water supply: “CSUMB water demand will contribute incremental demands on existing deficient facilities and/or non-existent facilities.” (3) Traffic: “Campus-related traffic will result in a decrease in level of service from D to E[ ] at the [Light Fighter] Drive/North-South Road intersection[ ] during the PM peak period in the year 2005, from D to E along Del Monte Blvd. between Reindollar [Avenue] and Reservation Road[ ] in the years 2005 and 2015, and will contribute to Highway 1 impacts in the years 2015 and 2030.” (4) Wastewater management: “Campus growth will result in increased wastewater generation that can be accommodated by the existing wastewater treatment system, but will contribute flows to currently deficient sewer lines.” (5) Fire protection: “Campus population and facility growth will result in increased demand for fire protection services.”

Before a public agency, such as the Trustees, may approve a project for which the EIR has identified significant effects on the environment, such as the Master Plan for CSUMB, the agency must make one or more of the findings required by section 21081 of the Public Resources Code. The required findings constitute the principal means chosen by the Legislature to enforce the state’s declared policy “that public agencies should not approve projects as proposed if there are feasible alternatives or feasible mitigation measures available which would substantially lessen the significant environmental effects of such projects . . . .” (Id., § 21002; see also id., § 21002.1, subd. (a).) More specifically, the agency must find that the project’s significant environmental effects have been mitigated or avoided (id., § 21081, subd. (a)(1)), that the measures necessary for mitigation “are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of another public agency and have been, or can and should be, adopted by that other agency” (id., subd. (a)(2)), and/or that “specific economic, legal, social, technological, or other considerations” render mitigation “infeasible” (id., subd. (a)(3)). When the agency finds that mitigation is infeasible, the agency must also find “that specific overriding economic, legal, social, technological, or other benefits of the project outweigh the significant effects on the environment.” (Id., subd. (b).)

In their EIR, the Trustees have identified and adopted a variety of measures they have found will partially mitigate the five remaining environmental effects noted above. Full mitigation of these effects to the level of insignificance will, however, as the EIR specifically notes, require FORA to improve Fort Ord’s infrastructure. In fact, FORA’s own planning documents take the Trustees’ plans for CSUMB into account and propose specific infrastructure improvements that will fully mitigate the expanding campus’s remaining effects on water supply, drainage, wastewater management, traffic, and fire protection. Concerning each of these effects, the Trustees have declared in their formal findings certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan (see Pub. Resources Code, § 21081) that the implementation of FORA’s proposed improvements constitutes the “specific measure to mitigate [each of CSUMB’s corresponding environmental impacts] to the level of insignificance . . . .”

As part of its long-term planning process, FORA adopted the assumption that that CSUMB would pay, as its share of the cost of infrastructure improvements, 18 annual installments of $1.139 million each, beginning in fiscal year 1997/1998 and ending in fiscal year 2015/2016, for a total contribution over time of approximately $20.5 million. At the present time, however, FORA has not imposed any tax, fee or charge on CSUMB or proposed to do so. Instead, FORA hopes to reach agreement with the Trustees on their fair share of the cost of infrastructure improvements. The Trustees, however, have refused to contribute any amount to FORA for improvements in roads and fire protection, even while finding that FORA’s proposed improvements constitute the specific measures necessary to mitigate CSUMB’s effects in these areas. Accordingly, the Trustees cannot logically find and, indeed, have not found that CSUMB’s effects have been fully mitigated. Instead, to justify certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan despite the remaining, unmitigated effects, the Trustees rely on the following three alternative findings: (1) improvements to roads and fire protection are the responsibility of FORA rather than of the Trustees; (2) mitigation is infeasible because the Trustees may not legally contribute funds toward these improvements; and (3) the planned expansion of CSUMB offers overriding benefits that outweigh any remaining unmitigated effects on the environment. (See Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subds. (a)(2), (3) & (b).)

While the Trustees have refused to contribute any amount for improvements in roads and fire protection, they are willing to contribute for improvements in water supply, drainage and wastewater management, albeit not in the amount FORA has proposed. Instead, the Trustees propose to contribute through the procedure set out in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (section 54999 et seq.). Chapter 13.7 authorizes a public utility that is providing a public utility service to a public educational agency to impose a capital facilities fee on the latter “after agreement has been reached between the two agencies through negotiations entered into by both parties.” (Gov. Code, § 54999.3, subd. (b).) The resulting dispute over the amount of the Trustees’ contribution creates uncertainty about the extent to which CSUMB’s off-campus environmental effects will be mitigated. Accordingly, to justify certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan for CSUMB, the Trustees have made alternative findings of the same type used to address CSUMB’s effects on roads and fire protection. Specifically, the Trustees have found that (1) the basewide infrastructure improvements proposed by FORA constitute the specific measures necessary to mitigate CSUMB’s effects to the level of insignificance, (2) the mitigation of CSUMB’s effects on drainage, water supply, and wastewater management are FORA’s responsibility, and (3) overriding circumstances justify certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan despite any remaining unmitigated effects.

In an appendix to the EIR addressing public comments, the Trustees explain why they have refused to contribute toward improvements in roads and fire protection, and why they have agreed to contribute toward improvements in drainage, water supply and wastewater management only through the procedure established in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.), even though these decisions will leave some environmental effects unmitigated. Whether the Trustees, in view of the unmitigated effects, properly exercised their discretion to certify the EIR and to approve the Master Plan for CSUMB depends in large part on whether they have correctly understood the nature and scope of their obligation to contribute to FORA. We thus briefly summarize the relevant portion of the appendix, which effectively defined the issues in the lower courts and anticipated the Trustees’ arguments in the present proceeding.

CSUMB’s land, the Trustees observe in the appendix to the EIR, is exempt from taxation as “[p]roperty owned by the State” under article XIII, section 3, subdivision (a) of the California Constitution. This constitutional provision has been interpreted as implicitly immunizing state-owned property from special assessments imposed by local governments, except as authorized by the Legislature. (San Marcos Water Dist. v. San Marcos Unified School Dist. (1986) 42 Cal.3d 154, 160-161 (San Marcos).) In reaction to San Marcos, the Legislature passed a law (chapter 13.7 of the Government Code, beginning with section 54999) authorizing any public agency that provides public utility services to a public educational agency to impose a “[c]apital facilities fee” on the latter “after agreement has been reached between the two agencies through negotiations entered into by both parties.” (Gov. Code, § 54999.3, subd. (b).) This law, which addresses only fees intended to “pay the capital cost of a public utility facility” (id., § 54999.1, subd. (b)), defines “ ‘[p]ublic utility facility’ ” for these purposes as “a facility for the provision of water, light, heat, communications, power, or garbage service, for flood control, drainage or sanitary purposes, or for sewage collection, treatment, or disposal” (id., subd. (d)). The FORA Act, in turn, provides that “[t]he applicability of any capital facilities fees imposed under this title [i.e., the FORA Act] to public educational agencies shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 13.7 [of the Government Code] (commencing with section 54999) . . . .” (Gov. Code, § 67685.)

Based on these authorities, the Trustees conclude in the appendix that the Legislature has in effect authorized FORA to impose fees on CSUMB for the purposes mentioned in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (e.g., water, drainage and sewage; see id., § 54999.1, subd. (d)) but not for any other purposes not mentioned (e.g., roads and fire protection). Any payment to FORA for a purpose not mentioned in the section, the Trustees conclude, even a voluntary payment made in order to mitigate CSUMB’s environmental effects, would amount to an assessment prohibited by the state Constitution, as interpreted in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, and constitute a gift of public funds. Having thus concluded that any contribution by CSUMB to mitigate the campus’s effects on roads and fire protection would be unlawful, the Trustees further conclude that to mitigate these effects is “infeasible,” presumably for “legal” reasons (see Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subd. (a)(3)), and thus not required by CEQA because, in the Trustees’ view, overriding considerations justify proceeding with the project despite the unmitigated effects (see id., § 21081, subd. (b)).

A lengthy statement of overriding considerations accompanies the Trustees’ findings certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan for CSUMB. In the statement, the Trustees reiterate the requirements of CEQA, the content of the EIR, the principal features of the Master Plan for CSUMB, and favorable public comments on the EIR. The following excerpts summarize some of the considerations underlying the Trustees’ conclusion that campus expansion will offer benefits that outweigh any remaining unmitigated effects on the environment: “The CSU has identified the need for a university in the Monterey Bay area that addresses the projected demand for postsecondary education in the state of California by accommodating 25,000 [FTE students] at buildout. CSU recognizes official projections of future increases in the number of students to be served . . . which cannot be accommodated within [the] existing system capacity of the CSU. The reuse of Fort Ord for this purpose is particularly advantageous to the CSU because of the difficulty in acquiring campus-size parcels, the value of existing development on the site, and the attractive location of the site in the Monterey area. The master plan has been designed to provide an institution that will effectively serve the mission of the CSU system.” In addition, development of the campus will offer higher education to “historically underrepresented populations and cultures of the state of California,” “foster economic revitalization of a region impacted by closure of the largest residential military training facility in the nation” and “create job opportunities for approximately 2,760 faculty and staff as well as significant additional employment in university support activities.”

On May 13, 1998, the Trustees adopted resolutions approving the statement of overriding considerations, certifying the EIR, and approving the Master Plan for CSUMB. Thereafter, FORA and the City of Marina filed separate petitions for writ of mandate challenging the Trustees’ actions. The petitions alleged, among other things, that the Trustees had (1) failed to identify and adopt existing, feasible measures to mitigate significant effects on the environment described in the EIR, (2) improperly certified the EIR and approved the Master Plan despite the availability of feasible mitigation measures, (3) improperly disclaimed responsibility for mitigating CSUMB’s environmental effects, and (4) improperly relied on a statement of overriding considerations to justify certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan.

The superior court granted the petitions, issued its writ of mandate directing the Trustees to vacate their actions certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan, and to set aside the EIR’s statement of overriding considerations. A divided Court of Appeal reversed. We granted FORA’s petition for review.

II. DISCUSSION

The question before us is whether the Trustees have properly certified the EIR for CSUMB and, on that basis, approved the Master Plan. FORA contends the Trustees’ decision must be vacated because three findings critical to their decision depend on an erroneous legal assumption, namely, that the California Constitution precludes them from contributing to FORA, even for the purpose of mitigating the environmental effects identified in the EIR, except as expressly permitted by chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.). The first two challenged findings are (1) that the Trustees cannot feasibly mitigate CSUMB’s significant environmental effects and (2) that to mitigate CSUMB’s effects is not the Trustees’ responsibility. These two findings have, in turn, necessitated the third, which is (3) that overriding considerations justify certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan despite the remaining unmitigated effects. (See generally Pub. Resources Code, § 21081.) We conclude FORA is correct and that the Trustees have abused their discretion.
We review the Trustees’ decision, as CEQA directs, under the abuse of discretion standard. (See Pub. Resources Code, § 21168.5.) For these purposes, “[a]buse of discretion is established if the agency has not proceeded in a manner required by law or if the determination or decision is not supported by substantial evidence.” (Ibid.) Although this standard would command much deference to factual and environmental conclusions in the EIR based on conflicting evidence (e.g., Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California, supra, 47 Cal.3d 376, 393, 409), no such conclusions are here at issue. At issue, rather, are the Trustees’ findings that mitigation is infeasible and that mitigation is not their responsibility. These findings depend on a disputed question of law—a type of question we review de novo. De novo review of legal questions is consistent with the abuse of discretion standard. In the context of review for abuse of discretion, an agency’s “use of an erroneous legal standard constitutes a failure to proceed in a manner required by law.” (No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles (1974) 13 Cal.3d 68, 88; see also Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors (2001) 87 Cal.App.4th 99, 118 [“questions of interpretation or application of the requirements of CEQA are matters of law”].) De novo review of legal questions is also consistent with the principle that, in CEQA cases, “ ‘[t]he court does not pass upon the correctness of the EIR’s environmental conclusions, but only upon its sufficiency as an `informative document.’ ” (Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California, supra, at p. 392, quoting County of Inyo v. City of Los Angeles (1977) 71 Cal.App.3d 185, 189.) An EIR that incorrectly disclaims the power and duty to mitigate identified environmental effects based on erroneous legal assumptions is not sufficient as an informative document.

A. Is Mitigation Infeasible?

1. Is mitigation infeasible because the Trustees may not lawfully contribute to FORA?

We consider first the Trustees’ finding that they cannot feasibly mitigate the environmental effects of their plan to expand the CSUMB campus. CEQA defines “ ‘[f]easible’ ” for these purposes as “capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21061.1.) To this list, the CEQA Guidelines add “legal” factors. (CEQA Guidelines, § 15364; see also Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subd. (a)(3).) The Trustees, by arguing the state Constitution prohibits them from voluntarily contributing funds to FORA as a form of mitigation, in effect take the position that such contributions are legally infeasible. We discuss here only the permissibility of voluntary payments by the Trustees. Some of the public financing laws that FORA has the power to invoke (see Gov. Code, § 67679, subd. (d)) would, as the Trustees acknowledge, permit FORA to assess state-owned property such as the CSUMB campus. FORA has not, however, attempted to impose an assessment.

The plain language of the California Constitution does not support the Trustees’ position that voluntary mitigation payments are impermissible. The provision on which the Trustees rely, article XIII, section 3, subdivision (a), provides simply that “[p]roperty owned by the State” is “exempt from property taxation . . . .” FORA has not imposed a tax on the Trustees. We have, however, interpreted the same constitutional provision as implicitly exempting publicly owned property from special assessments made without legislative authority. (Inglewood v. County of Los Angeles (1929) 207 Cal. 697, 703-704; see also Regents of University of California v. City of Los Angeles (1979) 100 Cal.App.3d 547, 549; County of Riverside v. Idyllwild County Water Dist. (1978) 84 Cal.App.3d 655, 659-660; cf. Regents of University of California v. City of Los Angeles (1983) 148 Cal.App.3d 451, 454, fn. 2 [questioning whether the exemption is grounded in policy considerations rather than the Constitution].) We reaffirmed this conclusion in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, 160-161, the case on which the Trustees principally rely. The Trustees, as noted, argue based on San Marcos that any payment by themselves to FORA for the purpose of improving Fort Ord’s infrastructure would constitute a special assessment prohibited in the absence of legislative authority. The Trustees find in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.) legislative authority for payments related to subjects mentioned therein, such as water, drainage and sewage collection (id., § 54999.1, subd. (d)), but not for any purpose not mentioned, such as roads and fire protection.

The Trustees have misinterpreted San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154. The decision addresses only compulsory charges imposed by one public entity on another. The case has nothing to say about a discretionary payment made by a public agency that voluntarily chooses that method of discharging its duty under CEQA to mitigate the environmental effects of its project. Because the Trustees’ interpretation of San Marcos critically underlies their position in this case, we examine the decision and its consequences in detail.

At issue in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, was the validity of a “capacity fee” (id., at p. 157) imposed by a public water district on a public school district. The specific question was whether the capacity fee was a user fee, which the school district conceded it would have to pay, or a special assessment, from which the school district was exempt under the cases cited above. The court held the school district was exempt. The purpose of the fee was not to pay for water service but to provide a source of funds for capital improvements to the water system. (Id., at p. 159.) The capacity fee thus fit the definition of a special assessment as “ ‘a compulsory charge placed by [the government] upon real property within a pre-determined district, made under express legislative authority for defraying in whole or in part the expense of a permanent public improvement therein . . . .’ ” (San Marcos, at p. 161, quoting Spring Street Co. v. City of Los Angeles (1915) 170 Cal. 24, 29.) In applying this definition, the court “look[ed] to the purpose of the fee being charged, and not simply to the form of the fee, a matter which can be easily manipulated.” (San Marcos, at p. 163.) Accordingly, the court attributed no significance to the fact the water district had calculated the charge by reference to the volume of water the school district anticipated using—a characteristic typical of user fees. While the assessment’s form thus caused it to resemble a user fee in some respects, the water district was not permitted “ ‘to do indirectly that which it could not do directly.’ ” (Ibid., quoting County of Riverside v. Idyllwild County Water Dist., supra, 84 Cal.App.3d 655, 659-660.)

In summary, the court in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, announced two holdings: the court reiterated the existing rule that publicly owned property was exempt from special assessment absent “ ‘positive legislative authority therefor’ ” (id., at p. 161, quoting Inglewood v. County of Los Angeles, supra, 207 Cal. 697, 704), and the court determined that the particular charge at issue was an assessment rather than a user fee (San Marcos, at pp. 163-165). The court found analogous support for its conclusions in prior decisions identifying “[t]he rationale behind a public entity’s exemption from property taxes and special assessments [as being] to prevent one tax-supported entity from siphoning tax money from another such entity; the end result of such a process [possibly being] unnecessary administrative costs and no actual gain in tax revenues.” (San Marcos, at p. 161, citing Eisley v. Mohan (1948) 31 Cal.2d 637, 642.) The court also acknowledged, perhaps bluntly, one of the more significant consequences of its holding: “Our conclusion does not mean,” the court wrote, “that the water district cannot collect money for capital improvements from its customers; it simply means that the private customers will pay the entire cost of capital improvements. Public entities, such as the school district, will not be required to allocate their limited tax revenues to pay for capital improvements built by the sewer district.” (San Marcos, at p. 158.)

The Legislature promptly reacted to the decision in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, by authorizing public utilities to charge public-entity customers their fair share of the utilities’ capital costs and by ratifying fees previously imposed for that purpose. Under chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.), enacted in response to San Marcos, “[a]ny public agency providing public utility service” may impose on any public agency a “capital facilities fee” (id., § 54999.2), meaning “any nondiscriminatory charge to pay the capital cost of a public utility facility” (id., § 54999.1, subd. (b)). A “ ‘[p]ublic utility facility’ ” for these purposes is “a facility for the provision of water, light, heat, communications, power, or garbage service, for flood control, drainage or sanitary purposes, or for sewage collection, treatment, or disposal.” (Id., § 54999.1, subd. (d).) Motivating these changes to the law was the Legislature’s perception that public utilities and their public-entity customers, on the whole, had not shared the court’s understanding of the law. “[M]any public entities that provide public utility service,” the Legislature explained, “have imposed capital facilities fees applicable to users of public utility facilities in order to equitably apportion the cost of capital facilities construction or expansion required by all public and private users of the facilities.” As a result of San Marcos, however, “the fiscal stability and service capabilities of the affected public utility service agencies which have in good faith collected and spent these fees for capital improvements are seriously impaired as is the ability to finance essential future facilities.” (Gov. Code, § 54999, subd. (a).)

Against this background, we may easily reject the Trustees’ argument that they may not lawfully contribute to FORA as a way of discharging their obligation under CEQA to mitigate the environmental effects of their project to expand CSUMB. The Trustees’ three-part argument may be summarized as follows: (1) Any payment by the Trustees to FORA for the purpose of capital improvement in Fort Ord is an assessment, regardless of form; (2) public agencies are exempt from assessment except as permitted by the Legislature; and (3) the Legislature has permitted assessments only for the purposes set out in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.).

The Trustees err crucially at the outset. An assessment connotes, at the very least, a compulsory charge imposed by the government on real property. (Knox v. City of Orland (1992) 4 Cal.4th 132, 141; see also Southern Cal. Rapid Transit Dist. v. Bolen (1992) 1 Cal.4th 654, 660; San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, 161; Spring Street Co. v. City of Los Angeles, supra, 170 Cal. 24, 29.) FORA has imposed no charge on the Trustees, let alone a compulsory one. As part of its planning process, FORA has made a provisional effort to estimate the Trustees’ fair share of the cost of infrastructure improvements, but FORA has taken no steps to create an enforceable legal obligation to pay. Indeed, FORA disclaims any intention to impose a charge on the Trustees and looks instead exclusively to a negotiated payment. This case is not a collection action or an action to validate an assessment. Instead, FORA claims the Trustees have abused their discretion under CEQA by certifying an EIR that improperly fails to identify voluntary contributions to FORA as a feasible method of mitigating the environmental effects of their project to expand CSUMB.

In other words, the question of payment arises not because FORA has imposed a charge (it has not), but because CEQA requires the Trustees to avoid or mitigate, if feasible, the significant environmental effects of their project (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b)) and because payments to FORA may represent a feasible form of mitigation. To illustrate the point, if campus expansion requires that roads or sewers be improved, the Trustees may do the work themselves on campus, but they have no authority to build roads or sewers off campus on land that belongs to others. Yet the Trustees are not thereby excused from the duty to mitigate or avoid CSUMB’s off-campus effects on traffic or wastewater management, because CEQA requires a public agency to mitigate or avoid its projects’ significant effects not just on the agency’s own property but “on the environment” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b), italics added), with “environment” defined for these purposes as “the physical conditions which exist within the area which will be affected by a proposed project” (id., § 21060.5, italics added). Thus, if the Trustees cannot adequately mitigate or avoid CSUMB’s off-campus environmental effects by performing acts on campus (as by reducing sufficiently the use of automobiles or the volume of sewage), then to pay a third party such as FORA to perform the necessary acts off campus may well represent a feasible alternative. A payment made under these circumstances can properly be described neither as compulsory nor, for that reason, as an assessment.

Arguing to the contrary, the Trustees emphasize the court’s statement in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, 163, that courts will identify an assessment by “look[ing] to the purpose of the fee being charged, and not simply to the form of the fee, a matter which can be easily manipulated.” Based on this statement, the Trustees argue that a voluntary payment made to fund projects that might also be funded by an assessment, such as infrastructure projects, must be considered an assessment for all purposes. The San Marcos court announced no such conclusion. Instead, the court made the quoted statement in the context of determining whether an admittedly compulsory charge was a user fee or an assessment. Nothing in San Marcos speaks to voluntary payments or purports to address or narrow any public agency’s duties under CEQA.

The Trustees also seek to draw support from the court’s statement in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, of the reason traditionally thought to underlie the rule exempting public property from taxation, i.e., that the exemption “prevent[s] one tax-supported entity from siphoning tax money from another such entity; the end result of such a process [possibly being] unnecessary administrative costs and no actual gain in tax revenues.” (Id., at p. 161.) Inviting an analogy, the Trustees point out that any payment by CSU to FORA for infrastructure improvements will reduce the amount of money available to CSU for its core educational functions. The Trustees read too much into San Marcos. While there does exist a general rule to the effect that “[p]roperty owned by the State” is exempt from taxation (Cal. Const., art. XIII, § 3, subd. (a)), no rule precludes a public entity from sharing with another the cost of improvements benefiting both. Furthermore, while education may be CSU’s core function, to avoid or mitigate the environmental effects of its projects is also one of CSU’s functions. This is the plain import of CEQA, in which the Legislature has commanded that “[e]ach public agency shall mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that it carries out or approves whenever it is feasible to do so.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b), italics added; see also id., § 21002 [declaring the same obligation to be “the policy of the state”].) Nothing in San Marcos can fairly be read as addressing, much less narrowing, a public agency’s obligations under CEQA.

The Trustees, as noted, are willing to contribute to FORA for the limited purpose of mitigating CSUMB’s effects on drainage, water supply, and wastewater management under the terms of chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.). Chapter 13.7, as already explained, contains the law the Legislature passed in the wake of San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, authorizing public utilities to charge public-entity customers their fair share of the utilities’ capital costs. Under the law, “any public agency proposing to initially impose a capital facilities fee . . . may do so after agreement has been reached between the two agencies through negotiations entered into by both parties.” (Gov. Code, § 54999.3, subd. (b).) In such a case, “[t]he public agency imposing . . . the capital facilities fee has the burden of producing evidence to establish that the capital facilities fee is nondiscriminatory and that the amount of the capital facilities fee does not exceed the amount necessary to provide capital facilities for which the fee is charged.” (Id., subd. (c).) The FORA Act expressly invokes this negotiative process by specifying that “[t]he applicability of any capital facilities fees imposed under this title [i.e., the FORA Act] to public educational agencies shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 13.7 . . . .” (Gov. Code, § 67685.)

Because FORA has not imposed or sought to impose a capital facilities fee on the Trustees, chapter 13.7 does not literally apply. That having been said, we see no reason why an agreement between the Trustees and FORA regarding a voluntary payment negotiated according to the procedure set out in chapter 13.7 for the purpose of mitigating specified environmental effects (i.e., water supply, drainage and wastewater management) would not satisfy the Trustees’ CEQA obligations as to those effects. While the amount determined by negotiation may not equal the amount FORA originally projected, for its own planning purposes, that the Trustees would pay, nothing in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code, CEQA or the FORA Act permits FORA unilaterally to determine the amount of any voluntary contribution the Trustees may choose to make as a way of satisfying their obligation under CEQA to mitigate the environmental effects of their project. To the contrary, the Trustees as the lead agency under CEQA have the power and duty to assess the adequacy of mitigation measures, subject only to judicial review for abuse of discretion. (See Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California, supra, 47 Cal.3d 376, 393.) Furthermore, nothing in chapter 13.7 of the Government Code, CEQA or the FORA Act obliges the Trustees to pay more than is necessary to mitigate CSUMB’s effects. Certainly the Trustees need not pay to mitigate effects caused by other users of the base. To the contrary, CEQA requires that mitigation measures “be ‘roughly proportional’ to the impacts of the project.” (CEQA Guidelines, § 15126.4, subd. (a)(4)(B), citing Dolan v. City of Tigard (1994) 512 U.S. 374; cf. id., at p. 391.)

Finally on this point, the Trustees argue that chapter 13.7 of the Government Code (§ 54999 et seq.) and the FORA Act (id., § 67650 et seq.), which specifically authorize FORA to impose on the Trustees a negotiated fee for certain purposes (e.g., water supply, drainage and wastewater management), suggest the Legislature must have contemplated the Trustees would have no obligation to contribute to FORA for other purposes (e.g., the cost of improving roads and fire protection). We discern in the cited provisions, however, no evidence of a legislative intent to bar the Trustees from voluntarily contributing, as a way of meeting their CEQA obligations, their fair share of the cost of improvements to roads and fire protection necessitated by CSUMB’s expansion. On this point the FORA Act, as noted, provides simply that “[t]he applicability of any capital facilities fee imposed under this title to public educational agencies shall be subject to the provisions of Chapter 13.7 [of the same code].” (Gov. Code, § 67685, italics added.) Chapter 13.7, in turn, speaks only of fees “impose[d]” (id., § 54999.3, subd. (b), italics added) by public utilities. Because FORA has imposed no fee on the Trustees, neither Government Code section 67685 nor chapter 13.7 has any literal application to the present case. Moreover, neither law purports to limit the Trustees’ independent obligation under CEQA to protect the physical environment from the effects of their project to expand the CSUMB campus.

2. Is mitigation infeasible because a contribution by the Trustees to FORA would amount to a prohibited gift of public funds?

The Trustees next argue that any payment to FORA made otherwise than under Government Code chapter 13.7 (§ 54999 et seq.) would constitute an illegal gift of public funds. (See Cal. Const., art. XVI, § 6.) The argument invokes the court’s statement in San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, that the ability of the school district in that case to “agree to pay [the disputed capacity] charge depend[ed] upon whether the [water] district ha[d] the power to impose it,” and that payment of an invalid charge “would amount to a ‘gift of public funds’ in contravention of article XVI, section 6 of the California Constitution.” (San Marcos, at p. 167, quoting County of Riverside v. Idyllwild County Water Dist., supra, 84 Cal.App.3d 655, 660.) We have, however, already rejected the central premise of this argument, which is that a voluntary payment by the Trustees would constitute an assessment.

In any event, the relevant law makes clear that a payment by the Trustees for the purpose of mitigating CSUMB’s environmental effects would not constitute an unlawful gift of public funds. “It is well settled that, in determining whether an appropriation of public funds or property is to be considered a gift, the primary question is whether the funds are to be used for a ‘public’ or a ‘private’ purpose. If they are for a ‘public purpose’, they are not a gift within the meaning of [the Constitution].” (County of Alameda v. Janssen (1940) 16 Cal.2d 276, 281.) Such a payment by the Trustees would have the public purpose of discharging their duty as a public agency, under the express terms of CEQA, to “mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that [they] carr[y] out or approve[] whenever it is feasible to do so.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b).)

3. Is mitigation infeasible because the Trustees cannot guarantee that FORA will actually implement the proposed infrastructure improvements?

As a final reason why they cannot feasibly mitigate CSUMB’s environmental effects by voluntarily contributing to FORA, the Trustees argue they cannot guarantee that FORA will actually implement the infrastructure improvements proposed in the Reuse Plan. The argument is not persuasive.
In certifying the EIR and approving CSUMB’s Master Plan, the Trustees specifically found that the infrastructure improvements proposed by FORA constitute the “specific measure[s]” necessary to mitigate each of CSUMB’s corresponding environmental impacts to the level of insignificance. The Trustees did not find that mitigation of these impacts was feasible, however, in part because of asserted doubts about FORA’s ability to fund and implement the proposed improvements. CEQA, as noted, defines a “ ‘[f]easible’ ” mitigation measure as one that is “capable of being accomplished in a successful manner within a reasonable period of time, taking into account economic, environmental, social, and technological factors.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21061.1; see also CEQA Guidelines, § 15364.) Invoking this definition, the Trustees found in the EIR as to each remaining environmental impact that “implementation of the regional mitigation . . . is currently disputed, [and that] mitigation of the impact to a less than significant level cannot be assured by CSU.”

The Trustees explained their position in more detail in response to public comments on their EIR: “Although all parties to the MOA[ ] will agree that the determined contributions by CSUMB are intended to mitigate the offsite impacts contributed by development of the Master Plan, it is acknowledged that CSUMB’s contribution represents only a portion of the funding needed to implement the regional improvements. Similar payments will need to be made by other jurisdictions contributing to regional impacts in order for the improvements to be implemented. In addition, ultimate implementation of the improvement program is under the responsibility of FORA, and cannot be controlled or assured by the University. For these reasons, . . . the [EIR] determine[s] that the significant impacts on drainage, water supply, traffic, wastewater generation, and fire protection, identified as caused by the Master Plan, will remain significant and unavoidable. These impacts will therefore require the adoption of a Statement of Overriding Conditions by the [Trustees] in compliance with CEQA.”

The presently identified, unavoidable uncertainties affecting the funding and implementation of the infrastructure improvements FORA has proposed in its Reuse Plan do not render voluntary contributions to FORA by the Trustees infeasible as a method of mitigating CSUMB’s effects. Both the CEQA Guidelines and judicial decisions recognize that a project proponent may satisfy its duty to mitigate its own portion of a cumulative environmental impact by contributing to a regional mitigation fund. Under the Guidelines, “a project’s contribution to a significant cumulative impact” may properly be considered “less than cumulatively considerable and thus . . . not significant” “if the project is required to implement or fund its fair share of a mitigation measure or measures designed to alleviate the cumulative impact.” (CEQA Guidelines, § 15130, subd. (a)(3).) Similarly, courts have found fee-based mitigation programs for cumulative impacts, based on fair-share infrastructure contributions by individual projects, to constitute adequate mitigation measures under CEQA. (E.g., Anderson First Coalition v. City of Anderson (2005) 130 Cal.App.4th 1173, 1188; Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th 99, 140.)
“Of course a commitment to pay fees without any evidence that mitigation will actually occur is inadequate.” (Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th 99, 140; see also Kings County Farm Bureau v. City of Hanford (1990) 221 Cal. App.3d 692, 727-728 [lacking evidence water would be available for purchase, an agreement to purchase replacement water did not adequately mitigate groundwater depletion].) There is, however, no reason to doubt that FORA will meet its statutory obligation as the government of Fort Ord to prepare the base for civilian development by constructing whatever public capital facilities are necessary for that purpose. (See Gov. Code, § 67679.) As noted, FORA plans to implement the improvements over a period of several years, as increasing land use necessitates them and as funding becomes available. To enable this task to be accomplished, the Legislature has given FORA a broad array of fundraising powers, including the power to levy assessments and development fees, to share tax revenue with its local-government member agencies, and to sell and lease property. (See Gov. Code, §§ 67678, subd. (a), 67679, subds. (c)-(e), 67691, 67692.) Furthermore, the law specifically directs FORA to use its powers to ensure the success of its statutory mission (e.g., Gov. Code, § 67679, subd. (a)(1) [FORA must “undertake to plan for and arrange the provision of [public capital] facilities, including arranging for their financing and construction”]), and the courts ordinarily presume that the government, in this instance FORA, will comply with the law (e.g., City of Beaumont v. Beaumont Irr. Dist. (1965) 63 Cal.2d 291, 297; Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th 99, 141).

By way of analogy, the court in Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey Bd. of Supervisors, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th 99, held that a county had adequately ensured the mitigation of traffic congestion effects by “provid[ing] for improvements to be constructed as the traffic triggering the need for the improvements exceeded a projected threshold and the funds to pay for the improvements were generated by the new development.” (Id., at p. 141.) CEQA, the court explained, required not “a time-specific schedule for the County to complete specified road improvements” (ibid.) but only “that there be a reasonable plan for mitigation” (ibid.). FORA’s Reuse Plan satisfies that criterion. The Trustees’ assumption that CEQA requires more is an error of law invalidating their finding that voluntary mitigation payments to FORA do not represent a feasible method of mitigating CSU’s off-campus environmental effects. (No Oil, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, supra, 13 Cal.3d 68, 88 [an agency’s “use of an erroneous legal standard constitutes a failure to proceed in a manner required by law”]; see also Save Our Peninsula Committee v. Monterey County Bd. of Supervisors, supra, 87 Cal.App.4th 99, 118 [“questions of interpretation or application of the requirements of CEQA are matters of law”].)

B. Is Mitigation Exclusively the Responsibility of FORA?

CEQA, as previously noted, does not require a public agency to undertake identified mitigation measures, even if those measures are necessary to address the project’s significant environmental effects, if the agency finds that the measures “are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of another public agency and have been, or can and should be, adopted by that other agency.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subd. (a)(2).) The Trustees have made such a finding with respect to the measures necessary to mitigate CSUMB’s projected effects on drainage, water supply, wastewater management, traffic, and fire protection. As to each such effect, the Trustees have found that “the specific measure to mitigate [each] impact to a level of insignificance is to implement the planned regional FORA . . . improvements,” and that “[i]mplementation of the planned regional improvements is FORA’s responsibility.”

Certainly FORA has responsibility for implementing the infrastructure improvements it has proposed. (See Gov. Code, § 67679.) Just as certainly, however, the FORA Act contemplates that the costs of those improvements will be borne by those who benefit from them. (See ibid.) A finding by a lead agency under Public Resources Code section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), disclaiming the responsibility to mitigate environmental effects is permissible only when the other agency said to have responsibility has exclusive responsibility. As the CEQA Guidelines explain, “[t]he finding in subsection (a)(2) shall not be made if the agency making the finding has concurrent jurisdiction with another agency to deal with identified feasible mitigation measures or alternatives.” (CEQA Guidelines, § 15091, subd. (c).) The Guidelines’ logical interpretation of CEQA on this point “avoids the problem of agencies deferring to each other, with the result that no agency deals with the problem. This result would be contrary to the strong policy [requiring the mitigation or avoidance of significant environmental effects] declared in Sections 21002 and 21002.1 of the statute.” (Discussion of Resources Agency following CEQA Guidelines, § 15091; see also 1 Kostka, Practice Under the Cal. Environmental Quality Act (Cont.Ed.Bar 2005) § 17.19, pp. 821-823.)

The Trustees offer two arguments in support of their finding disclaiming responsibility for the measures necessary to mitigate CSUMB’s off-campus environmental effects. Neither withstands close scrutiny. The Trustees’ first argument—that they may not lawfully contribute to FORA in view of San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154, and the constitutional exemption of state property from taxation (Cal. Const., art. XIII, § 3, subd. (a))—has already been considered and rejected. The Trustees’ second argument—that they lack the power to construct infrastructure improvements away from campus on land they do not own and control—is beside the point. Certainly the Trustees may not enter the land of others to widen roads and lay sewer pipe; CEQA gives the Trustees no such power. (See Pub. Resources Code, § 21004 [“[i]n mitigating or avoiding a significant effect of a project on the environment, a public agency may exercise only those express or implied powers provided by law other than this division.”].) CEQA does not, however, as we have explained, limit a public agency’s obligation to mitigate or avoid significant environmental effects to effects occurring on the agency’s own property. (See Pub. Resources Code, §§ 21002.1, subd. (b), 21060.5.) CEQA also provides that “[a]ll state agencies . . . shall request in their budgets the funds necessary to protect the environment in relation to problems caused by their activities.” (Id., § 21106.) Thus, as we have also explained, if the Trustees cannot adequately mitigate or avoid CSUMB’s off-campus environmental effects by performing acts on the campus, then to pay a third party such as FORA to perform the necessary acts off campus may well represent a feasible alternative.

To be clear, we do not hold that the duty of a public agency to mitigate or avoid significant environmental effects (Pub. Resources Code, § 21002.1, subd. (b)), combined with the duty to ask the Legislature for money to do so (id., § 21106), will always give a public agency that is undertaking a project with environmental effects shared responsibility for mitigation measures another agency must implement. Some mitigation measures cannot be purchased, such as permits that another agency has the sole discretion to grant or refuse. Moreover, a state agency’s power to mitigate its project’s effects through voluntary mitigation payments is ultimately subject to legislative control; if the Legislature does not appropriate the money, the power does not exist. For the same reason, however, for the Trustees to disclaim responsibility for making such payments before they have complied with their statutory obligation to ask the Legislature for the necessary funds is premature, at the very least. The superior court found no evidence the Trustees had asked the Legislature for the funds. In their brief to this court, the Trustees acknowledge they did not budget for payments they assumed would constitute invalid assessments under San Marcos, supra, 42 Cal.3d 154. That assumption, as we have explained, is invalid.

C. Do Overriding Circumstances Justify Approving the Campus Master Plan?

When a public agency has found that a project’s significant environmental effects cannot feasibly be mitigated, the agency may nevertheless proceed with the project if it also finds “that specific overriding economic, legal, social, technological, or other benefits of the project outweigh the significant effects on the environment.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subd. (b).) The Trustees, as noted, have made such a finding with respect to each of the remaining, unmitigated environmental impacts on drainage, water supply, wastewater management, traffic and fire protection.

If we agreed with the Trustees that mitigation were infeasible for the reasons given in the findings, i.e., that the Trustees may not legally contribute to FORA and that the Trustees cannot ensure that FORA will actually construct infrastructure improvements—we would give much deference to the Trustees’ weighing of the project’s benefits against the remaining environmental effects. Generally speaking, “a court’s proper role in reviewing a challenged EIR is not to determine whether the EIR’s ultimate conclusions are correct but only whether they are supported by substantial evidence and whether the EIR is sufficient as an informational document.” (Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California, supra, 47 Cal.3d 376, 407.) Moreover, an agency’s decision that the specific benefits a project offers outweigh any environmental effects that cannot feasibly be mitigated, while subject to review for abuse of discretion (Pub. Resources Code, § 21168.5), lies at the core of the lead agency’s discretionary responsibility under CEQA and is, for that reason, not lightly to be overturned. (Cf. Laurel Heights Improvement Assn. v. Regents of University of California, supra, 47 Cal.3d 376, 392 [court reviews the EIR’s sufficiency as an informative document and not the correctness of its environmental conclusions].)

In this case, however, the Trustee’s statement of overriding considerations is invalid for a reason that does not require us to reweigh benefits and detriments, or to inquire into the statement’s factual basis. A statement of overriding considerations is required, and offers a proper basis for approving a project despite the existence of unmitigated environmental effects, only when the measures necessary to mitigate or avoid those effects have properly been found to be infeasible. (Pub. Resources Code, § 21081, subd. (b).) Given our conclusion the Trustees have abused their discretion in determining that CSUMB’s remaining effects cannot feasibly be mitigated, that the Trustees’ statement of overriding circumstances is invalid necessarily follows. CEQA does not authorize an agency to proceed with a project that will have significant, unmitigated effects on the environment, based simply on a weighing of those effects against the project’s benefits, unless the measures necessary to mitigate those effects are truly infeasible. Such a rule, even were it not wholly inconsistent with the relevant statute (id., § 21081, subd. (b)), would tend to displace the fundamental obligation of “[e]ach public agency [to] mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that it carries out or approves whenever it is feasible to do so” (id., § 21002.1, subd. (b)). This conclusion does not, however, preclude the Trustees from including in a revised EIR a statement of overriding considerations regarding environmental effects as to which they have properly found mitigation to be infeasible for reasons other than those we have rejected.

III. CONCLUSION

From the foregoing discussion it follows that the Trustees must be directed to vacate their actions certifying the EIR and approving the Master Plan and set aside the EIR’s statement of overriding circumstances. The superior court’s writ of mandate does order such relief. The writ is, however, incorrect in one respect. In describing the principles that would apply should the Trustees decide to make voluntary mitigation payments to FORA, the court wrote that “CSUMB’s proportional share of the cumulative impacts on public capital facilities in the region necessary to mitigate the significant adverse environmental impacts of the CMP shall be determined by [FORA] . . . .” (Italics added.) To the contrary, having chosen not to assess the campus but instead to rely on the Trustees to comply with their CEQA obligation to mitigate or avoid the environmental effects of their project, FORA has no power to dictate the manner in which the Trustees exercise their discretion. Neither do the remedial provisions of CEQA “authorize a court to direct any public agency to exercise its discretion in any particular way.” (Pub. Resources Code, § 21168.9, subd. (c).) CEQA requires only that any mitigation measures the Trustees adopt be adequate. If FORA wishes to compel the Trustees to contribute a specific amount to infrastructure improvement projects, FORA is free to proceed by exercising the powers specifically granted in the FORA Act (e.g., Gov. Code, § 67679, subd. (d)), and in the public financing statutes to which the act refers (ibid.), to impose a formal assessment on the CSUMB campus, complying of course with the procedural requirements set out in those statutes and in the California Constitution (e.g., art. XIII D, § 1 et seq.).

IV. DISPOSITION

The judgment of the Court of Appeals is reversed and the cause remanded to that court with directions to order the superior court to vacate its writ of mandate and to issue a new writ consistent with the views set forth in this opinion.
WERDEGAR, J.

WE CONCUR:
GEORGE, C.J.
KENNARD, J.
BAXTER, J.
MORENO, J.
CORRIGAN, J.

CONCURRING OPINION BY CHIN, J.

I concur in the judgment and in most of the majority opinion’s reasoning. I write separately to explain my reasons for agreeing that the Board of Trustees of the California State University (Trustees) may not rely on Public Resources Code section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), and to express concern about the majority’s discussion of this issue.

Under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) (§ 21000 et seq.), when a certified environmental impact report identifies significant environmental effects of a proposed project, section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), permits a public agency to approve or carry out the project if it finds that “changes or alterations” in the project that would mitigate or avoid the identified environmental effects “are within the responsibility and jurisdiction of another public agency and have been, or can and should be, adopted by that other agency.”

The Trustees, who made such a finding here, argue that this provision applies because, under the Fort Ord Reuse Authority Act (Gov. Code, § 67650 et seq.) (FORA Act), the Fort Ord Reuse Authority (FORA) has “exclusive authority to plan and construct off-campus local infrastructure improvements” and “the University lacks jurisdiction . . . to build off-site improvements.”

In my view, the Trustees err by focusing on the wrong question: Whether the Trustees, acting for the California State University (CSU), have any responsibility and jurisdiction regarding actual construction of the necessary off-campus infrastructure improvements. The particular mitigation measure at issue here—i.e., the proposed “change[] or alteration[]” in the project to mitigate or avoid the identified environmental effects (§ 21081, subd. (a)(2))—is not actual construction of the improvements, but is payment to FORA to help fund the improvements FORA intends to construct. Thus, the relevant question here in applying section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), is not, as the Trustees argue, whether they have jurisdiction actually “to build off-site improvements,” but is whether they have any responsibility and jurisdiction to help fund FORA’s construction of those improvements.

Based on provisions of the FORA Act and the Education Code, I conclude that the Trustees have such responsibility and jurisdiction. Regarding the former, the FORA Act declares the “financing . . . of the reuse of Fort Ord” to be “a matter of statewide importance.” (Gov. Code, § 67657, subd. (c).) It provides that FORA’s Fort Ord reuse plan “shall be the official local plan for the reuse of the base for all public purposes, including . . . funding by all state agencies.” (Gov. Code, § 67675, subd. (a), italics added.) It directs FORA to “arrang[e] for the[] financing” of—not to finance itself —“basewide public capital facilities” such as “roads.”

(Id., § 67679, subd. (a)(1).) It also authorizes FORA to “seek state and federal grants and loans or other assistance to help fund public facilities” (id., § 67679, subd. (c)), and to “enter into contracts and agreements as necessary to mitigate impacts of the reuse of Fort Ord.” (Id., §67680.5.) These provisions demonstrate the Legislature’s intent that funding of the necessary infrastructure improvements not be solely FORA’s responsibility, and that funding be provided, at least in part, by other public agencies.

Several provisions of the Education Code also are relevant to the Trustees’ responsibility and jurisdiction. The Education Code declares generally that “[t]he mission of the public segments of higher education . . . include[s] a broad responsibility to the public interest.” (Ed. Code, § 66010.5.) Of course, payments to FORA to help mitigate significant environmental impacts of the expansion project here at issue would serve the public interest. The Education Code also declares “the intent of the Governor and the Legislature, in cooperation with the Trustees,” to “[p]lace a major priority on resolving the serious problem of impacted and overcrowded classes, not only with respect to the [CSU], but throughout public postsecondary education.”

(Id., § 66015, subd. (a).) Consistent with this declared priority, the Education Code imposes on the CSU a duty “to plan that adequate spaces are available to accommodate all California resident students who are eligible and likely to apply to attend an appropriate place within the system.” (Id., § 66202.5.) It also grants the Trustees “full power and responsibility in the construction and development of any state university campus, and any buildings or other facilities or improvements connected with the [CSU].” (Id., § 66606.) Finally, it directs the Trustees to “expend all money appropriated for the support and maintenance of the [CSU]” (id., § 89750), and authorizes them to “enter into agreements with any public or private agency, officer, person, or institution, corporation, association, or foundation for the performance of acts or for the furnishing of services, facilities, materials, goods, supplies, or equipment by or for the trustees or for the joint performance of an act or function or the joint furnishing of services and facilities by the trustees and the other party to the agreement.” (Id., § 89036, subd. (a).) Based on these provisions, I have no trouble concluding that the Trustees have both responsibility and jurisdiction within the meaning of Public Resources Code section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), to contribute to the cost of off-site infrastructure improvements needed to mitigate significant environmental impacts of an expansion project designed, in part, to address the statutorily declared “priority on resolving the serious problem of impacted and overcrowded classes, not only with respect to the [CSU], but throughout public postsecondary education.” (Ed. Code, § 66015, subd. (a).)

I do not join the majority’s analysis of this issue insofar as it relies on several CEQA provisions to find that the Trustees have jurisdiction and responsibility within the meaning of section 21081, subdivision (a)(2). (Maj. opn., ante, at pp. 34-35.) The majority cites section 21002.1, subdivision (b), which requires “[e]ach public agency [to] mitigate or avoid the significant effects on the environment of projects that it carries out or approves whenever it is feasible to do so,” and section 21106, which requires “[a]ll state agencies . . . [to] request in their budgets the funds necessary to protect the environment in relation to problems caused by their activities.” (Maj. opn., ante, at pp. 34-35.) Because these two CEQA statutes apply to every state agency, the majority’s analysis substantially limits the circumstances under which a state agency may invoke section 21081, subdivision (a)(2). It is unclear to me the Legislature intended section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), to be read so narrowly. Because my analysis depends on non-CEQA provisions, I need not, and do not, address that question.

I also do not join the majority’s analysis insofar as it appears to suggest that a public agency lacks jurisdiction and responsibility within the meaning of section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), when “the Legislature does not appropriate” money requested to pay for mitigation measures. (Maj. opn., ante, at pp. 34-35.) To begin with, the discussion is dictum. As the majority notes, there is no evidence here the Trustees have even asked the Legislature for the necessary funds. (Maj. opn., ante, at p. 35.) Thus, it is both unnecessary and premature to express an opinion about whether the Legislature’s denial of a funding request would affect the Trustees’ jurisdiction and responsibility for purposes of applying section 21081, subdivision (a)(2).

The other reason I do not join the majority’s dictum is that I question its soundness. It is not clear to me that, for purposes of applying section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), a public agency has no responsibility or jurisdiction for a mitigation measure simply because the Legislature denies a specific request for money to pay for that mitigation measure. Here, for example, even were the Legislature to reject such a request, arguably, the Trustees would still have responsibility and jurisdiction to contribute to FORA with money from the CSU’s general operating fund. Moreover, the Legislature has expressly authorized the Trustees, at their discretion and “without the prior approval of any other state department or agency,” to “sell improvements located on the land at the . . . Monterey Bay campus that was transferred” from the federal government (Ed. Code, § 89010, subd. (a)) and to use proceeds from those sales “for the purposes of building, maintaining, and funding a campus . . . at Monterey Bay through expenditures for improvements to the campus . . . .” (Id., § 89010, subd. (b).) Arguably, by virtue of these provisions, even were the Trustees to make, and the Legislature to reject, a specific appropriation request regarding the off-campus improvements here at issue, the Trustees would have “the power” to make contributions to FORA for those improvements (maj. opn., ante, at p. 35) and would have jurisdiction and responsibility within the meaning of Public Resources Code section 21081, subdivision (a)(2), to make such contributions. Because of these substantive doubts, because we need not decide the question here, and because we have no briefing on the question, I decline to join the majority’s dictum.

CHIN, J.

See next page for addresses and telephone numbers for counsel who argued in Supreme Court.

Name of Opinion City of Marina v. Board of Trustees of California State University
__________________________________________________________________________________

Unpublished Opinion
Original Appeal
Original Proceeding
Review Granted XXX 109 Cal.App.4th 1179
Rehearing Granted

__________________________________________________________________________________

Opinion No. S117816
Date Filed: July 31, 2006
__________________________________________________________________________________

Court: Superior
County: Monterey
Judge: Richard M. Silver

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Appellant:

Horvitz & Levy, John A. Taylor, Jr., Patricia Lofton; Miller, Starr & Regalia, Basil S. Shiber and Christian M. Carrigan for Defendant and Appellant.

James E. Holst, Alan C. Waltner and Jeffrey A. Blair for The Regents of the University of California as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

Miller Brown & Dannis, Marilyn J. Cleveland, Chad J. Graff and Kenneth S. Levy for Coalition for Adequate School Housing as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Defendant and Appellant.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Attorneys for Respondent:

Lombardo & Gilles, Sheri L. Damon; Law Offices of Robert Wellington, Kenneth D. Buchert; Law Offices of Mary L. Hudson, and Mary L. Hudson for Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Manuela Albuquerque, City Attorney (Berkeley) and Zach Cowan, Assistant City Attorney, for League of California Cities and California State Association of Counties as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

McDonough Holland & Allen, Harriet A. Steiner and Kara K. Ueda for City of Davis as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Law Offices of Donald B. Mooney, Donald B Mooney; Law Offices of Marsha A. Burch and Marsha A. Burch for San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center, Protect Our Water and Central Valley Safe Environmental Network as Amici Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Norma Turner, Mary-Alice Coleman and Jeffrey A. Diamond for West Davis Neighbors as Amicus Curiae on behalf of Plaintiffs and Respondents.

Counsel who argued in Supreme Court (not intended for publication with opinion):

Patricia Lofton
Horvitz & Levy
15760 Ventura Boulevard, 18th Floor
Encino, CA 91436
(818) 995-0800

Mary L. Hudson
Law Offices of Mary L. Hudson
1505 Bridgeway, Suite 206
Sausalito, CA 94965
(415) 331-7712

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