Badlands Journal
Cardoza refuses to hold town hall meetings on health-care reform...Badlands Journal editorial board
Denny, the musician, speaks:
Modesto Blue Dog Democrat Dennis Cardoza, who was leaving Pelosi's office as liberals were streaming in, has more uninsured citizens in his district than any district in the nation. Cardoza, who wasn't among the four Blue Dogs who negotiated the deal but supports it, said the legislation will be "like an accordion for a long time, where members become concerned and then they get comfortable and then they become concerned. Everybody who has ever gone to the doctor has an opinion on what should be in this bill."—San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 5, 2009
In a pair of dispatches to the Merced Sun-Star last week, Rep. Dennis Cardoza laid down his criteria for a health-care reform bill and announced that he would hold no town hall meetings over the congressional recess period because, in the words of his press secretary, "With what's going on now, there's no way to have a reasonable dialogue."
Cardoza is a member of the Blue Dog Coalition, which is sitting on the fence on health-care reform at the moment. His district, ours, was reported last week by the San Francisco Chronicle to have the highest number of uninsured people of any congressional district in the country. The district’s median household income, according to 2007 figures, is a little more than $34,000, putting our district at about the median for the top Blue Dog Coalition leaders. It is nearly identical to the 3rd CD of Louisiana, which, outside of New Orleans, bore the brunt of Hurricane Katrina in that state. The national median is a little more than $50,000. Where Cardoza’s district stands out, surpassing even representative Mike Ross’ Arkansas district and Charlie Melancon’s south Louisiana district, is in the poverty rate: Cardoza’s district’s poverty level was 22.7 in 2007. Ross and Melancon’s, high by Blue Dog standards, are about 18 percent. In 2007, the national average poverty level was 12.5 percent.
The congressional district Cardoza represents, ours, differs in another way from top Blue Dogs’ districts: Obama won here. Obama also won in the Maryland district where Cardoza now lives, where the median household income is $52,900 and the poverty rate is 7.7 percent.
Cardoza, whose wife was once a Merced County physician and is now a Maryland physician, gave constituents some cliches in a letter to the Merced Sun-Star on Aug.6:
The guiding principles for any measure that receives my vote include…:
The patient's right to choose their physicians.
Health care decisions determined by medical professionals and the patient.
Comprehensive coverage.
However, his top priority was: “A mechanism to improve access to care and increase the number of physicians in the Valley.”
Having moved his family’s physician to Maryland, he may be dimly hinting here that his price for voting for health-care reform for the nation is a medical school for UC Merced, paid for by federal funds. Will that improve the poverty level or the number of uninsured in the district? The Valley already has a medical school in Davis and the long-standing, significant presence in Fresno of UCSF medical school. In addition to the new hospital being built in north Merced, another hospital is now planned between Atwater and Merced.
On Aug. 8, Cardoza, announced, via the McClatchy Washington bureau, that he would not be holding any town hall meetings. Several supporters of health-care reform, meeting with his staff a week earlier, had specifically asked for a town hall meeting. Opponents of the reform have also asked for Cardoza, 50, to host such a meeting.
The tradition of town hall meetings in America is older than the Revolution.
According to Fox News, Republican and Democrat members of Congress have scheduled 300 town hall meetings across the nation, 19 in California. Rep. Pete Stark, 78, has the guts to go to Union City and Hayward, Rep. Sam Farr, 68, has the guts to go to Salinas and King City. Both Far and Stark’s offices confirmed today that they will be holding their town hall meetings. 
McClatchy asserts at the bottom of Cardoza’s no-town-hall-meeting announcement that the U.S. Capitol Police “has advised all lawmakers to cancel their town hall meetings.” Although no other news organizations have carried a similar story, the story is showing up on political blogs in different states. The only problem we found with this unattributed statement was that when we contacted the Capitol Police, they didn’t know anything about such an advisory.
It is possible the sentence was the victim of a malign copy editor but we recall how the same McClatchy Washington reporter, Michael Doyle, bought Cardoza’s story in May about why he would not be attending Michelle Obama’s commencement address at UC Merced for personal and family reasons. In fact, Doyle reported later, he was hosting a Blue Dog fundraiser at the Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore MD on Preakness Day.
And people wonder why we call him the Pimlico Kid.
On June 28, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar held a town hall meeting on federal water issues at a large, packed hall at Fresno State. It was a contentious group. At one point, the growers shouted down Salazar’s point-man on California water. Salazar took over the podium again and told them to calm down. They did.
Cardoza was on the panel of Valley congressmen, along with representatives George Radanovich, Devin Nunes and Jim Costa. Cardoza gave us an example of what he calls “reasonable dialogue”: two federal resource-agency biological opinions on the Delta “are very much erroneous … the (Delta) pumps are not the problem;” all we’re doing is “sending what’s left of California water out to sea … crippling small farming communities.” This last statement elicited from the crowd a cry of “Genocide!” Cardoza called for another “economic” plan for water like he and Julie MacDonald cooked up for the critical habitat designation for 15 endangered species during the building boom. MacDonald, a high Interior Department official in the Bush administration, was investigated twice by the department’s inspector general and forced to resign for her extensive political interference with enforcement of the Endangered Species Act, mainly in California. Unlike Costa, Cardoza even lacked the grace to thank Salazar for coming to Fresno. Cardoza, along with Nunes and Costa, concluded their remarks by telling Salazar they were “the Portuguese Caucus” in tones so aggressive the next thing you expected was for them to start throwing gang sign. Other examples of Cardoza’s version of “reasonable dialogue” include the two rallies in 2003 he held against the critical habitat designation. In Merced, only one brave soul dared speak in favor of the ESA, which Cardoza was busy trying to gut in Congress.
In early 2000, in a Sacramento restaurant, he visited the table of a local environmentalist and a reporter and, when he discovered that the environmentalist was considering opposing UC Merced, he said, “Then we will do battle!” and stalked off to the company of a gaggle of yes-men in black suits.
1999, a controversy in Merced broke out about the city’s plan to cherry-bomb nesting Turkey Vultures out of a row of eucalyptus trees in town. The migrating birds are protected by international treaty and the controversy drew international media attention, Yet, Cardoza, a state legislator at the time, ran away from the issue, his staff claiming it was “local,” and therefore he would not become involved.
The Pimlico Kid has not reached the stage of political maturity at which he could host an American town hall meeting that was not stacked with a mob holding views identical to his. Given the plight of his constituents, he should be in favor of health-care reform. But, as usual with the Kid, we are left trying to interpret what might be – if there is anything – behind the vague clichés and weird metaphors in his communiqués. Just playing the odds, we come up with the notion that finance, insurance and real estate special interests are at the bottom of it, with the recent addition of the accordion lobby.
We hope that people in the communities of the 18th congressional district will hold meeting to discuss health-care reform without the Pimlico Kid.
Badlands Journal editorial board
Merced Sun-Star
Atwater city councilman tries to make amends
Frago resigns as mayor pro tem...JONAH OWEN LAMB
ATWATER -- City Councilman Gary Frago, who sent a series of racist e-mails to city staff and others in late 2008 and early 2009, resigned his position as mayor pro tem Monday night and said he has begun sensitivity training in the Bay Area.
"I will be stepping down immediately from my position as mayor pro tem," said Frago in a prepared statement that also called for "the healing to begin."
In the statement Frago said, "I can only move forward by starting to do right."
Calls for Frago's resignation, a public dressing down, a possible recall effort and now more protests have not moved the repentant councilman to resigned from the council.
Before Monday night's meeting began, a group of protesters held signs and chanted on city hall's steps for Frago's departure.
Jeff Freitas, a member of Change Merced, which helped organize the protest, said that his group will keep the pressure on Frago and the city until things really change. Thus far, he said, the city's actions have been weak.
"Their actions have not been adequate to address the problem," he said.
The NAACP and Change Merced have both called for Frago's resignation and asked the City Council to officially censure Frago and -- before he resigned -- strip him of his mayor pro tem position.
Several people called for Frago to resign during the council meeting's public comment period.
John Mims, of Atwater, asked Frago if the Pledge of Allegiance that opened the meeting had any meaning for him. He then asked Frago if that also carried over to the part of the Bill of Rights that says "all men are created equal."
Mims finally said, "Do the honorable thing and step down."
Napoleon Washington, president of the local chapter of the NAACP, repeated his earlier calls for Frago's resignation and censure.
"We are here to say to you, Mr. Frago, you need to resign," he said.
A special meeting of the City Council will be held at 6 p.m. Wednesday in the Atwater Community Center where the council's letter of reprimand regarding Frago's e-mails will be read.
A Sun-Star story on July 17 revealed that Frago sent at least seven racist e-mails to city and county officials from October 2008 to February 2009. The e-mails denigrated President Obama, the first lady and black people in general.
While Frago has apologized, at first he said he did not regret sending the e-mails.
"I don't see where there's a story, I'm not the only one that does it," he told the Sun-Star in a story on July 21. "I didn't originate them, they came to me, and I just passed them on."
Letter: No response...OTIS C. LENTZ, Atwater
Editor: I am a concerned voting citizen who has sent six faxes, four e-mails, two phone calls, two hand-delivered letters and four regular postal service letters to my U.S. senators and U.S. congressman asking questions regarding President Obama's and Congress' proposed health plan, but have received no response.
Do they fear that they have not read all the 1,017 pages of the health plan and are unable to answer general questions?
I always was under the understanding our representatives were to be ready to serve the public, but it seems they get elected then hide, afraid to face the voters and try and pass legislation that is not in the best interest of the general public.
If they believe in this bill, then why will they not put themselves under this new health plan and do away with their superior outstanding plan that they now have for themselves? I have asked all these several questions and have received no response.
Letter: Voice your opinion...JEREMY SILVA, Merced
Editor: All we want is for Rep. Dennis Cardoza to schedule a few town hall meetings. Call his office, folks. Don't be afraid to voice your opinion. It's your duty as the true boss in this democracy.
Letter: Rethink decision...JACK MOBLEY, Merced
Editor: Rep. Dennis Cardoza voted "yes" on the the cap and trade bill, one of the most onerous pieces of legislation in our history. without having read the final bill.
Now the health-care legislation is moving swiftly through Congress and is facing mounting grass-roots opposition. There is much to discuss and much to be learned by all, but Cardoza has decided not to hold any town hall meetings in his district.
We can write, fax and call but there is a dynamic to a face-to-face meeting that apparently he wants to avoid. Effective representation of the interests of his district includes holding meetings here in the district where all the people can listen and ask questions.
The health-care bill is potentially one of the most important pieces of legislation in our nation's history and will affect every person.
It is a shame that Cardoza won't come back to his district to hold town hall meetings to get our input on such an important topic.
He should rethink his decision.
Modesto Bee
Jardine: Salmon bill thwarts gold miners...Jeff Jardine
Dan Repke of Hickman is one frustrated gold seeker.
He's been mining since 1970, sometimes with a pan and sluice box, and at other times with a suction dredge. From November to June in good rain years, he and friend Chuck Pharis of Southern California work a creek that runs through private property in Mariposa County.
They each find about an ounce of gold per year, and sell it to tourist panning outfits in places such as Columbia State Historic Park.
Repke, 61, believes his type of mining is good for the environment — or at least doesn't hurt it — because dredging leaves pits in the streambed. Those pits, he said, hold water long after a seasonal stream normally goes dry and provide extended habitat to tadpoles and other aquatic life.
And he's extracted gold nuggets contaminated with mercury — a remnant from the less restrictive mining days of the 1800s — and lead shotgun pellets out of the creek beds with his vacuum dredge.
But a judge in Alameda County last month issued an injunction prohibiting the Department of Fish & Game from issuing any more suction dredging permits at $47 apiece until the DFG completes a new environmental impact report that encompasses the state's lakes, streams and rivers.
The injunction applies only to suction dredging, and does not restrict gold panning or sluicing.
And SB 670, written by Sen. Patricia Wiggins, D-Santa Rosa, would prevent the DFG from resuming the issuance of permits until new rules stemming from the completion of the EIR are in place. That could take years, miners fear. It passed both in the Assembly and Senate last month and is headed for Gov. Schwarzenegger's desk. He vetoed a similar bill last year, but aide Lisa Page said he has not taken a position on SB 670.
The bill, proponents say, will protect fish populations, particularly the salmon runs on the Klamath River.
Dredging already is banned in the Tuolumne River because of its wild river designation. But the bill would impose rules statewide even though seasonal creeks don't offer fish habitat.
"What's Maxwell Creek got to do with salmon?" Repke asks.
A retired scientist who worked 32 years for the federal Environmental Protection Agency wrote to Schwarzenegger in support of the miners, telling him, "Suction dredge mining has little impact on the areas," and pointed out that the DFG already bans mining during the salmon runs and spawning season.
Assemblyman Tom Berryhill, R-Modesto, a member of the Assembly's Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, said he voted for the bill in committee because so much of the discussion involved the Klamath River.
"I thought it was a district bill, that it was a Klamath bill," he said. "If locals want it, that's one thing. But it was the whole flipping state."
So he opposed it during the July 9 floor vote, when it passed 63-11. Among the ayes: Berryhill's brother, Bill Berryhill, R-Ceres, and Cathleen Galgiani, D-Livingston.
It passed 31-8 in the Senate, with Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, voting against it.
Repke and other miners hope Schwarzenegger will veto the bill, one they say will crimp the cash boxes in the communities where the gold hunters go.
"They stay in hotels, they eat in the restaurants," he said. "Lots of Gold Rush-era towns, all they have is tourism."
Miners often work the Merced River at Bagby, and while they enjoy it, Repke said, he doesn't know many who have gotten rich. But with gold valued at $954 an ounce, the chances of what he calls "just a hobby" paying for itself would be better — if they could only mine.
And unless the governor vetoes SB 670 — and the court lifts its injunction — the future suction dredge mining won't lie in the value of gold itself.
It will be at the mercy of an EIR.
Cardoza should hold a town hall...STAN LINDSAY, Modesto...8-10-09
I called Rep. Dennis Cardoza's Modesto office. I was interested in finding out his position on the health care issue and when he would be holding a town hall meeting with constituents during the August recess. To the congressman's credit, he is planning on voting against the health care bill. However, he is not planning on having a single town hall meeting this month. The staff member I talked with said that he holds conference calls.
Our representatives should be easily accessible in person, especially during the August recess. I challenge Cardoza to hold at least one town hall meeting. Teleconferences are no substitute for face-to-face discussions regarding important issues.
'Come out, wherever you are!'...PETE ROBINSON, Atwater...8-10-09
I have just been told by Rep. Dennis Cardoza's staff that our Maryland- domiciled congressman will not be scheduling any town hall meetings during the congressional recess.
Dennis, come out, come out, wherever you are! Are you afraid of your constituents or are you embarrassed about your cavalier attitude toward us out here in the valley? Perhaps you have forgotten the way back here? You can always catch a ride with Nancy Pelosi. After all, she owes you. Your voting record is "money" in her political bank.
Fresno Bee
OR judge request for another month for salmon plan...The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. A federal judge has given the Obama administration another month before informing him of its plans for improving salmon restoration efforts in the Columbia Basin.
Acting on a request by NOAA Fisheries Service, U.S. District Judge James Redden on Monday set a new deadline of Sept. 15 for the agency to tell him its new position on balancing salmon against federal hydroelectric dam operations in the Columbia Basin.
The agency had said it wanted the extra month to inform the parties involved of its position.
Redden told NOAA Fisheries last May that the government has spent the last decade treading water on salmon restoration and it is time to get serious, or he will find the biological opinion developed by the Bush administration in violation of the Endangered Species Act.
A Water Grab Masquerading As Conservation Plan...Dan Bacher
California Senators and Assemblymembers are now pushing a deceptive water bill package through the Legislature that will enable Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger' to build his peripheral canal, an environmentally destructive and obscenely expensive project that will approximate the Panana Canal in length and width.
SB 12, a bill sponsored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), will set up a Delta Stewardship Council consisting of seven members - four appointed by the Governor and one each by the Senate and the Assembly, with the seventh being the chairperson of the Delta Protection Commission, according to Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta. How can Simitian allow Schwarzenegger, the worst-ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history, to appoint four out of seven seats of this council when the Governor wants to build the canal as a monument to his gigantic ego?
This is the same Governor that has presided over the collapse of Sacramento River salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, striped bass, Sacramento splittail and other species. This is the same Governor that has relentlessly fought the court-ordered federal government biological opinion to prevent Sacramento River Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales from going extinct.
This is the same Governor that has fast-tracked a corrupt, elitist and racist Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process that kicks Native Americans, fishermen and seaweed harvesters off their traditional harvesting areas off Stewarts Point and Point Arena while doing absolutely nothing to stop water pollution and the threats posed by offshore oil drilling and water pollution. This is the same Governor who continually engages in meaningless "green energy" corporate greenwashing photo opportunities while doing his best to destroy the California Delta and the people that depend on a healthy Delta to survive.
Meanwhile, Assemblyman Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) is sponsoring AB 39, a bill that includes a section on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP), a Schwarzenegger-engineered plan that fishing groups, Delta farmers and many environmental groups have blasted as window dressing for building Arnold's "Big Ditch." The bill also sets the stage for the "Stewardship Council" to implement the BDCP in order to authorize the peripheral canal.
"Thus, despite Assembly Member Huffman's press release last week in which he claims not to be advancing the peripheral canal, it looks like he is allowing a peripheral canal by connecting his bill with Senator Simitian's and giving up the Legislature's authority to allow or disallow a canal," according to Barbara Barrigan Parrilla, campaign director of Restore the Delta.
We must let the public and the Legislators know that we will not allow any legislation that supports a tainted plan like the BDCP and the peripheral canal to go through the Legislature. I urge you to attend the Million Boat Float from Antioch to Sacramento on August 16-17 and to attend the hearing on the water bills on August 18!
Here is the latest newsletter from Restore the Delta, "Delta Flows," with more information about the Delta bill package, flood control planning and the Million Boat Float. To become a member of Restore the Delta, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
Delta Flows - News from Restore the Delta, August 10, 2009
"Our major obligation is not to mistake slogans for solutions." ---Edward R. Murrow
Million Boat Float
This coming weekend, August 16th, a mass flotilla, The Million Boat Float, will leave Antioch and follow the Sacramento River to the State Capitol to show legislators how many passionate people are united to protect the Delta's waterways.
The flotilla will leave Antioch at 9 a.m. and meet in Sacramento at 7 p.m. Sunday evening for a riverfront rally.
Monday the 17th at 11 a.m., Delta supporters will hold a rally on the West Steps of the Capitol to let legislators and the governor hear their opposition to the peripheral canal, as well as to the Delta fishing and recreation communities being left out of the creation of new governance processes for the Delta.
For more information including schedules and boat staging areas, go to: http://www.millionboatfloat.org or contact Million Boat Float Coordinator Bruce Connelley at bconnelley [at] comcast.net or 925-625-7467. People near Sacramento can call 916-761-4726 or go to http://www.organicsacramento.org or http://www.northdeltacares.org.
Delta Bill Package
The Legislature has finally released a package of Delta bills, and we have until Tuesday, August 18 to look them over and get ready for a legislative hearing.
Here's what is in the package: A bill by Senator Simitian to set up a Delta Stewardship Council consisting of seven members- four appointed by the Governor and one each by the Senate and the Assembly, with the seventh being the chairperson of the Delta Protection Commission. That's just one member representing the Delta.
A bill by Assemblyman Huffman to direct the Delta Stewardship Council in developing a Delta Plan. The Delta Plan involves the standard coequal goals of water supply reliability and ecosystem protection, with concerns for Delta communities and values taking a backseat.
And of course, once water delivery is set as a co-equal goal to environmental protections, environmental protection would become secondary - which is contrary to existing Federal and State laws. The bill also includes a section on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and sets the stage for the Stewardship Council to implement the BDCP in order to authorize the peripheral canal.
Moreover, these two bills by Senator Simitian and Assembly Member Huffman, which are even numbered in a way to show that they are two interlocking pieces of a puzzle, appear to authorize a peripheral canal without any requirement to go back to the Legislature for approval. Thus, despite Assembly Member Huffman's press release last week in which he claims not to be advancing the peripheral canal, it looks like he is allowing a peripheral canal by connecting his bill with Senator Simitian's and giving up the Legislature's authority to allow or disallow a canal.
Other parts of this water package include: a bill by Assembly members Feuer and Huffman dealing with water efficiency; a bill by Senator Pavley on Delta interim actions, water rights, and groundwater; Senator Wolk's bill on a Delta Conservancy and issues regarding the Delta Protection Commission.
There is good faith material in this total water package, and there is bad faith material that capitulates to the Governor and State Water Contractors with their BDCP water grab masquerading as a Habitat Conservation Plan. Restore the Delta will provide additional analysis daily between now and August 18th.
The hearing on these bills is scheduled for 9 a.m. on August 18 in Room 4202 of the State Capitol. While we still do not know what type of public input will be allowed, we strongly urge Restore the Delta supporters to be physically present at this hearing.
Planning for Flood Control
Last week a varied group of Delta interests told the Department of Water Resources that they weren't interested in helping to develop a flood management plan for the Central Valley if they were being asked to plan around an "alternative conveyance."
Legislation passed in 2007 directs DWR to develop documents that will guide integrated flood management for the Central Valley. The core document is the Central Valley Flood Protection Plan (CVFPP), and the first step in producing that document is a Regional Conditions Summary Report. Summaries are being written by work groups in the Upper and Lower Sacramento regions, the Upper and Lower San Joaquin regions, and the Delta.
At the first meeting of the Delta Work Group in Rio Vista on August 4, consultants in charge of the process abandoned their agenda early in the day as participants argued against considering a peripheral canal as a potential regional condition. Not only would a canal through the Delta change everything in terms of hydrology affecting flood conditions, but the Bay Delta Conservation Plan has still not provided a firm plan for the canal it wants to build.
In fact, rather than a flood control plan taking the BDCP into consideration, the BDCP should not proceed until there is a flood control plan clarifying the regional situation in the Delta.
Consultants and DWR representatives agreed to take the issue to DWR Director Lester Snow and report back at the next meeting, scheduled for August 27. At that time, participants will find out whether this flood protection planning process can proceed without a bias favoring water exports. If it can, the process will be radically different from other state-sponsored planning efforts that have preceded it.
RTD advocates ensuring emergency readiness to protect the people, property, and infrastructure of the Delta and to provide for a healthy ecosystem. Its campaign platform calls on the State to consult with Delta experts to prepare and fully fund a comprehensive flood plan and emergency readiness plan.
Special thanks to Jane Wagner-Tyack for all her work on this issue of Delta Flows.
Make A Donation
Restore the Delta is working everyday through public education and citizen activism to ensure the restoration and future sustainability of the California Delta. Your general contribution can help us sponsor outreach events, enable us to educate Californians on what makes the Delta so special, and assist us in building a coalition that will be recognized by government water agencies as they make water management decisions.
Restore the Delta is a charitable 501(c)3 organization. Donations are tax deductible. For more information, go to http://www.restorethedelta.org.
Restore the Delta is a grassroots campaign committed to making the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta fishable, swimmable, drinkable, and farmable to benefit all of California. Restore the Delta - a coalition of Delta residents, business leaders, civic organizations, community groups, faith-based communities, union locals, farmers, fishermen, and environmentalists - seeks to strengthen the health of the estuary and the well-being of Delta communities. Restore the Delta works to improve water quality so that fisheries and farming can thrive together again in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.
DFG Under Schwarzenegger Capitulates Yet Again...Dan Bacher
The DFG has issued a Consistency Determination that claims the recent federal Biological Opinion for Delta smelt is consistent with the requirements of the California Endangered Species Act. "Anyone wondering whether the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has become a de facto subsidiary of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) need only examine DFG's recent Consistency Determination on Delta smelt to find the answer," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance.
The capitulation by DFG occurs in the context of Arnold Schwarzenegger's unprecedented war on fish, the environment and environmental justice advocates. The Governor and his Republican and Democratic collaborators are pushing to build a peripheral canal that will result in the extirpation of Central Valley salmon, Delta smelt, longfin smelt, green sturgeon and the southern resident population of killer whales.
At the same time, the Governor and his minions are trying to remove Indian Tribal members, fishermen and seaweed harvesters from traditional areas through the corrupt Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) process to clear a path for offshore oil rigs, wave energy projects and corporate aquaculture. The MLPA initiative, as well as the Delta Vision and Bay Delta Conservation Plan processes that advocate building a peripheral canal and taking Delta farm land out of production in order to increase exports to unsustainable San Joaquin agribusiness interests, are corporate greenwashing processes sponsored by the worst-ever Governor for fish and the environment in California history, Arnold "Fish Terminator" Schwarzenegger.
Here is Jennings' excellent article on the latest attack on fish and the environment by the Schwarzenegger regime:
DFG Capitulates Yet Again: Claims OCAP BO is “full mitigation” for species loss
Ignores more rigorous requirements of state law...Bill Jennings
Anyone wondering whether the California Department of Fish and Game (DFG) has become a de facto subsidiary of the Department of Water Resources (DWR) need only examine DFG's recent Consistency Determination on Delta smelt to find the answer. The Consistency Determination adds to the growing pile of evidence that Governor Schwarzenegger, Resources Secretary Chrisman, and DFG Director Koch have finally succeeded in placing the Department on the sidelines of fishery protection.
DFG's 16 July 2009 three-page determination found that the recent U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Biological Opinion (BO), issued pursuant to the federal Endangered Species Act (ESA), for the Operating Criteria and Plan (OCAP) for the State Water Project and Central Valley Project were consistent and met all the requirements of California's Endangered Species Act (CESA). The two projects can export more than six million acre-feet of water from the south Delta and are responsible for the massive collapse of Central Valley fisheries. The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) is responding by sending a Public Records Act request for all documents DFG used in developing the consistency determination.
The USFWS BO establishes minimum requirements necessary to prevent Delta smelt from going extinct. It is not a recovery plan and includes only minimum actions necessary to prevent the species from tumbling into the irreversible black hole of oblivion. However, CESA goes far beyond the minimum requirements of the ESA. Under CESA, DFG may only authorize take of endangered, threatened and candidate species if all of the following conditions are met: (1) the impacts of the authorized take “shall be minimized and fully mitigated” to an extent “roughly proportional” to the impact of the authorized taking on the species; (2) the proposed mitigation measures “shall be capable of successful implementation”; and (3) the applicant “shall ensure adequate funding to implement” the mitigation measures “and for monitoring compliance with, and effectiveness of, those measures.”
Minimum requirements do not equal full mitigation! Slight increases in outflow (above normal and wet years only) and requirements to create 8,000 acres of habitat (with speculative results) do not equal full mitigation. Failure to construct required state-of-the-art fish screens to replace inadequate 1950s technology screens because water contractors refuse to pay for them is not minimization of take. Failure to require monitoring of actual “take” of larval life stages and failure to establish population-level targets that trigger additional requirements does not equal minimization and full mitigation. Establishing inadequate limits on reverse flows in Old and Middle Rivers that are far less stringent than those the agencies previously testified under oath were necessary (in State Board evidentiary hearings) does not equal full mitigation. Ignoring routine violations of flow and water quality standards mandated by the 2006 Bay-Delta Plan, when the federal BO is predicated on compliance with those standards, does not equal full mitigation.
For years, DFG ignored the fact that its sister agency (DWR) lacked required “take” permits under CESA, even after they were hauled in front of a legislative committee to explain why they were failing to enforce CESA. Finally, in October 2006, an exasperated CSPA sued DWR for not having a CESA permit. On 23 March 2007, Judge Frank Roesch agreed with CSPA and issued a Writ of Mandate directing DWR to either obtain a permit or shut off the massive State Water Project export pumps. DWR applied for a consistency determination. DFG provided a list of required mitigation measures the Department believed necessary for full mitigation. DWR said no. DWR Director Lester Snow and DFG Director Ryan Broddrick were summoned to the Governor's office. DWR withdrew its request for a consistency determination and filed an appeal of Judge Roesch's decision. Long-time DFG veteran Ryan Broddrick, who had worked his way up the DFG ladder from Warden to Director, resigned in frustration.
Following Judge Wanger's decision that the existing federal Biological Opinions were grossly deficient and illegal, DWR said they would seek a consistency determination when new Biological Opinions were developed. USFWS released the new BO for Delta smelt in December 2008. Seven months later, as water agencies file multiple lawsuits against the federal BOs and populations of pelagic and salmonid fisheries continue to collapse, the new Director of DFG released a brief analysis claiming the federal BO is fully consistent with the more rigorous requirements of CSPA. The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) released its new Biological Opinion for salmon, steelhead, sturgeon and killer whales in June 2009. CSPA is informed that DFG will shortly release a consistency determination for the NMFS BO.
To sum up, the Reasonable and Prudent Measures in the federal Biological Opinions represent minimum measures necessary to prevent species from going extinct. They explicitly do not include measures necessary for fisheries restoration or full replacement of “taken” species. CESA requires far more than the federal ESA. It mandates, among other things, that fish losses be fully mitigated; i.e., replaced at roughly proportional levels to those killed by the project operations. DFG, bowing to political pressure has now concluded that the weaker measures in ESA are fully consistent with the more rigorous requirements of CESA.
Bill Jennings, Chairman
Executive Director
California Sportfishing Protection Alliance
3536 Rainier Avenue
Stockton, CA 95204
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U.S. Underwater Mortgages May Reach 30%, Zillow Says (Update2)...Dan Levy
Aug. 11 (Bloomberg) -- Almost one-quarter of U.S. mortgage holders owed more than their homes were worth in the second quarter and that figure may rise to as much as 30 percent by mid-2010 as job losses and foreclosures climb, Zillow.com said.
Homeowners are being hurt by price declines. The estimated median value for single-family houses slid to $186,500 in the period, a 12 percent drop from a year earlier and the 10th consecutive quarterly decrease, the Seattle-based real estate data service said in a report today.
“The negative-equity rate will rise and spin off more foreclosures,” Stan Humphries, Zillow’s chief economist, said in an interview. “I see a substantial downside risk to prices and don’t think we’ll see a bottom until the middle of next year.”
The U.S. housing market is being hindered even as the pace of job cuts and price declines slows. Payrolls fell by 247,000 in July, after a 443,000 loss in June, the Labor Department said. Home prices in 20 major cities declined 17 percent in May from a year earlier, the smallest drop in nine months, according to the S&P/Case-Shiller index.
Home values dipped in the second quarter from a year earlier in almost 90 percent of the 161 U.S. metropolitan areas surveyed by Zillow, the company said. Twenty-three percent of mortgage holders were underwater at the end of June, Zillow said.
Deutsche Bank Forecast
The percentage of people owing more than their properties are worth may increase to almost half of U.S. mortgage holders before the housing recession ends, Deutsche Bank AG said Aug. 5.
About 25 million homes, or 48 percent of mortgaged properties, will be underwater as prices drop through the first quarter of 2011, Karen Weaver and Ying Shen, analysts in New York at Deutsche Bank, wrote in the report.
A glut of unsold homes is also pushing down prices. The 3.8 million homes for sale in June would take 9.4 months to sell at the current pace of transactions, according to the National Association of Realtors. The inventory turnover rate averaged 4.5 months in the six years from 2000 to 2005.
More than 18.7 million homes, including foreclosures, residences for sale and vacation homes, stood vacant in the U.S. during the second quarter. That compared with 18.6 million a year earlier, the U.S. Census Bureau said July 24.
“We haven’t seen a bottom in home prices, and it could take into 2011 before we see equilibrium in the market,” said Michelle Meyer, an economist at Barclays Capital in New York.
Foreclosure Sales
In June, foreclosures accounted for 22 percent of total U.S. home sales, and 29 percent of homes sold were purchased for less than what the owner originally paid, according to Zillow.
The unemployment rate declined to 9.4 percent last month from 9.5 percent in June.
Values declined the most in Merced, California, tumbling 40 percent to an estimated $106,500, Zillow said. El Centro, California, followed with a 38 percent drop to $117,400. Las Vegas was third with a 35 percent decline to $140,500.
Madera and Modesto, in California, sank 34 percent to $144,400 and 31 percent to $140,500, respectively.
Values decreased 12 percent to an estimated $361,000 in the New York City area; 12 percent to $318,000 in Washington; 15 percent to $393,800 in Los Angeles; 13 percent to $202,400 in Chicago; 6.4 percent to $316,000 in Boston; 4.6 percent to $132,600 in Dallas; and 15 percent to $490,500 in San Francisco, according to Zillow.
Fayetteville, North Carolina, had the biggest increase in median value, rising 13 percent to an estimated $120,600. Oklahoma City gained 4.8 percent to $118,700; Binghamton, New York, advanced 4.5 percent to $112,300; Burlington, North Carolina, added 4.4 percent to $124,200; and Gainesville, Georgia, climbed 4.2 percent to $139,100, according to Zillow.
The company compiles data from multiple listing services, county assessors and recorders, as well as its users.