Campaigns & Elections magazine defines astroturfing as a "program that involves the manufacturing of public support for a point of view in which either uninformed activists are recruited or means of deception are used to recruit them." In other words, rich people with a lot of money but no popular support for their cause (getting richer), will create the illusion of broad public support by half truths, manipulation, disinformation, spin doctoring, creating false impressions, and cash. It also involves ghost writing op-ed columns and letters to the editor from little people, to generate the perception there is widespread public support for the client’s position. Grassroots is bottom up. Astroturf is top down.—Lloyd G. Carter, “The PR Firm from Hell, Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood, June 30, 2009, Community Alliance newspaper, http://www.lloydgcarter.com/content/090629251_the-pr-firm-from-hell
"Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!" Aesop
The Boy Who Cried Wolf
There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"
The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.
"Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill.
Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.
When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!"
But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.
Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"
But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.
At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.
"There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?"
An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village.
"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"
San Joaquin Valley farmers take drastic measures to deal with drought…Robert Rodriguez…1-19-14
San Joaquin Valley farmers are idling thousands of acres, bulldozing hundreds of trees and shifting production of some crops out of the area as the state enters its third straight year of dry weather.
The lack of rain and snow has depleted reservoirs and reduced streams and rivers to drastically low levels. The parched conditions have forced farmers to make critical decisions about how best to use what little water they have.
The crisis spurred Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday to issue a disaster declaration, allowing state agencies to re-examine policies for how water is managed and distributed among competing interests, including the environment and agriculture. It also raises the possibility of federal relief to offset any losses.
The drought already has caused some farmers to take drastic measures by whittling the number of acres they farm. Others worry about the ripple effect the drought will have on workers and the rural communities that are dependent on the region's multibillion-dollar agriculture industry.
The 2009 drought caused thousands of acres to be idled in the Valley and hundreds of workers to be laid off. Without jobs, unemployed workers filled food lines in communities like Mendota.
"We know what is coming," said Robert Silva, mayor of Mendota. "Unless farmers get the water they need, things will get ugly."
Pulling trees out
Third-generation farmer Skip Sagouspe of Firebaugh stood in a field of uprooted almond trees last week, having made the decision several months ago to tear out the trees as a water-saving step.
He farms in the Westlands Water District, which is expected to receive little to no surface water this year. District officials estimate that 200,000 acres out of 600,000 acres will not be farmed because of the shortage of water.
Tom Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, said he hopes the governor's declaration will help mitigate some of the drought's impacts, but it does not address the larger problem of chronic supply shortages.
He said the state must invest in new water supply infrastructure, including storage and conveyance, and fix problems in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, where Westlands gets its water supply.
Sagouspe said he was left with few options, other than to rip out 160 acres of trees, about 10% of his total acreage. He made the decision after realizing the prospect for water was drying up. He will have to rely on the less desirable water pumped from deep wells. The brackish water is high in salts and other minerals that can be especially hard on almond trees.
The last of Sagouspe's uprooted trees were being chipped and shredded last week. "You hate to do something like this, but we had to find ways to save water," Sagouspe said. "Now after realizing we may not get any water, it was the best decision we made. We should have taken more out."
Sagouspe is not alone in taking out almonds, one of the fastest growing and lucrative crops on the west side. But without adequate surface water, even almonds, especially older trees, become easy targets for removal.
Sagouspe says one of his neighbors removed 1,200 acres of almonds and not far away a 500-acre block was taken out.
Fresno County agriculture officials say it is unlikely the region will break any crop production records this year. The county ranks as the leading farming area in the state, generating a total crop value of $6.5 billion in 2012, the latest year evaluated. But the drought is expected to put a pinch in production this year.
Les Wright, Fresno County agricultural commissioner, said the lack of water has made it difficult for ranchers to find enough natural grasses to feed their cattle.
"What is out there is probably 2 years old and does not have a lot of nutritional value," Wright said. "Cattle are being sold earlier than they normally are and at a much lighter weight."
To supplement the sparse rangeland, cattle ranchers are spending additional money on hay.
Also expected to take a hit will be the county's lettuce crop. During the spring and fall, the fields around Huron supply a majority of the head lettuce sold in the United States.
Typically, the county's fall lettuce crop ranges from 9,000 to 12,000 acres. But this fall, only 4,500 acres was planted.
"When you don't have enough in your water budget, this is what happens," Wright said.
The Clark family is fallowing about half of its 1,200 acres of row crops.
The Clarks have farmed cotton, tomatoes, garlic and onions. This year, they will put their efforts into onions, garlic and tomatoes — crops that they can irrigate with well water.
Sarah Woolf, a family member, said there is a market for crops that can be processed and sold as ingredients or spices.
"We are now getting calls from processors asking if we can grow for them," Woolf said. "The problems is we have the land, we just don't have the water."
Woolf said the higher prices that desirable crops fetch will help, but won't make up the loss in revenue from not farming their entire 1,200 acres.
"We are still paying for the same amount of land and our fixed costs are still there," Woolf said. "I don't anticipate our overall returns to be outstanding this year."
The drought has forced one Valley food processor — Olam International — to shift some of its production to other parts of the state to maintain a supply of product. The company is a major source of dehydrated garlic, onions, peppers and specialty vegetables.
A large share of its raw product is supplied by west-side farmers who are using their limited water resources on permanent crops, including nut trees and grape vines.
To offset the loss in west-side acreage, the company has contracted with growers in the Sacramento and Imperial valleys where water supplies are more plentiful.
"We are committed to California and have made a huge investment, but these dry cycles are making it tough on business," said Dave Watkins, senior vice president of Olam's agriculture operations.
"Our goal is to evaluate all our options to keep our momentum going. And we will turn over every rock to make sure we get the raw materials we need."
For some farmers, the only option for keeping their farms going is digging new water wells. In Kern County, nut and corn farmer Greg Wegis has drilled three new wells at a cost ranging from $250,000 to $300,000 apiece.
"This is going to be an expensive year to get through, but all our neighbors are going through the same thing," said Wegis, who farms 9,000 acres of almonds and pistachios. "We have too much invested in this operation to let things go."
While Wegis was able to get his wells drilled in time for this season, others are being put on a waiting list.
Well drilling up
"To say that we are busy right now is a huge understatement," said Kim Hammond, a co-owner at Arthur & Orum Well Drilling in Fresno. "We have six rigs and two crews that are running 24 hours a day."
Hammond said customers who contact their office now will have to wait until March or April for a new well.
"And it isn't that we are getting a lot of new customers. What's happening is that people are going deeper with their existing wells," Hammond said.
Deeper wells also mean higher electricity costs for pumping the water out. And it raises a concern about depleting underground resources.
"We are pumping more out, but we are not recharging the supply," Woolf said.
Sagouspe, whose family used to farm only row crops, says it is tough to remain optimistic about the future.
"I have a son who is really interested in farming and it is really sad that we just can't farm the way we used to," Sagouspe said. "It seems like it is a fight for everything — a fight against regulations, a fight against government and now a fight for water."
"We know what is coming. Unless farmers get the water they need, things will get ugly." — Robert Silva, mayor of Mendota
EDITORIAL: Put water bond on the ballot…1-19-14
Gov. Jerry Brown's declaration of a drought emergency on Friday was a tepid first step to help farmers and their workers throughout California. The declaration frees the state's water managers to more quickly move what scant water there is to rights-holders. It also qualifies farming interests for federal programs that help with unemployment and financial losses.
But, as this third consecutive year of dry conditions has exposed, California's antiquated water system is in dire need of increased storage. Unfortunately for the 38.3 million residents of our state, Brown's overwhelming water focus has been on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and its $25 billion twin-tunnels water delivery project.
We agree with the governor that the delta's imperiled ecosystem must be restored and that the state's water conveyance system needs to be improved — both of which are BDCP goals. The reality is, lawsuits and strong opposition will block the project for many years, if, indeed, dirt is ever turned on the twin tunnels.
Increased water-storage capacity, however, is an immediate need, especially with climate-change scientists predicting that California will experience wildly fluctuating weather cycles. The state faces the possibility of seeing record rainfall in short bursts, followed by long dry spells — such as the one we are experiencing now.
We need more places to store rain and snowmelt in wet years. Among the possibilities: building a new dam at Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin River, raising the height of dams in Northern California and creating new underground water banks.
Given California's projected population growth (51 million residents in 2050), we will need all of these projects, as well as increased conservation measures.
It's clear, however, that Brown doesn't see California's future through this prism. In his 2014-15 budget, the governor rolled out his five-year, $56.7 billion infrastructure plan. It didn't include the $11.1 billion water bond the Legislature agreed upon in 2009 but has twice declined to place on the ballot.
Our recommendation is that the Legislature review the bond, remove pet projects used to woo lawmaker support in 2009 and put it before the voters in November. We also urge Brown to come out strongly in favor of the water bond — just as he worked hard to gain voter approval in 2012 for tax increases to get the state's financial house in order.
Many environmentalists oppose dams, saying they are harmful to wildlife and habitat. But well-planned and well-placed dam projects can solve or at least limit many environmental problems. By capturing more water, these is less need for more intrusive infrastructure projects.
Another criticism of dams is that they are expensive. Given what water will cost in the future and the economic losses California will suffer if it doesn't increase storage capacity, a dam at Temperance Flat, for example, would end up being a bargain.
This historic drought is causing millions of Californians to pay close attention to water and contemplate a future without it. They deserve to have the opportunity to vote on a water bond that includes more water storage this November.
We are confident that voters will agree with us that a balanced approach to water is good for all of California.
"Chinatown" all over again
Submitted: Aug 20, 2009
Badlands Journal editorial board
On June 6, 2008, Badlands Journal editors wrote an article comparing the 1974 movie classic, "Chinatown," with the campaign against the ecology of the Delta and for a peripheral canal and more dams fomented by Westlands Water District, finance, insurance and real estate interests and the Hun, our governor. At the time we were taking a measure of the rhetoric being used to frighten residents of the state already made anxious by the collapse of the speculative real estate bubble. This week, the California Sportsfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) has discovered an internal Westlands memo showing that all the time last year that Westlands was crying DROUGHT!, it was storing hundreds of thousands of acre-feet of water, just as LA was – as was observed by the San Francisco Chronicle's veteran outdoors reporter, Tom Stienstra, on October 26, 2008. The Westlands memo is only the most recent evidence that begs the lie behind the high-priced propaganda campaign for a peripheral canal and new reservoirs on theSan Joaquin River and in Colusa County.
Gov. Schwarzenegger is calling the year's lack of rain and snowfall a drought of epic proportions and points to the low lake levels to prove it. The answer, he says, is passing a $9.3 billion water bond next year to build a peripheral canal and several new reservoirs in a program designed to send more water to points south.
The facts are that the past two years are only the ninth driest two-year period in the past 88 years, and that California routinely experiences such periods once every 10 years, according to the Department of Water Resources.
What happened last year is that water managers were betting on a wet spring. When it didn't happen, many lakes were drained down to nothing in order to send water to L.A. and farmers.
Shastina, tucked on the north slopes of Mount Shasta, is a testament to this bad bet. In the past two summers, water was drained from the lake to irrigate hay fields in the ShastaValley as if there was no end in sight to the water available. The lake hit bottom last month. So when you drive up to the boat ramp, all you can see is exposed lakebed. This isn't a drought. This is a created shortage.
True droughts are measured by soil moisture, and in some cases, water levels at wilderness lakes. In a true drought, soil moisture is so low that plants go into artificial hibernation to protect themselves, as in 1992, and that has not happened. Up in the high country, most wilderness lakes - outside the reach of water-grabbers - are full. Even more telling is that along Interstate 5 near L.A., Pyramid Lake, which gets water from Northern California, is 97 percent full right now. -- San Francisco Chronicle, "Drought, or water heist?", October 26, 2008
The campaign for more dams and a peripheral canal built up steam going into the Senate approval of the San Joaquin River Settlement, which, after three years of obstruction by Valley congressmen, was finally approved on January 15, 2009. This year we have been plagued by an aggressive astroturfing operation, the Latino Water Coalition, guided by the international PR firm, Burston-Marsteller (see details at the indispensable Chronicles of the Hydraulic Brotherhood/lloydgcarter.com, "The PR Firm from Hell," and "Thirsty Down in Nobama County").
All the while, Westlands Water District has been hording water in private while screaming drought and destruction in public.
Although there is a drought, it is relatively mild compared to others we've had in the last 30 years. But there has been a campaign going on for several years to get another $10-15 billion bond to build the canal and the dams. In "Chinatown," the private investigator discovers that LA Department of Water and Power has been hording water and releasing it around the county in the middle of the night while claiming there was a"drought," in fact manufactured for a real estate scam.
The contemporary "Chinatown" campaign stumbles blindly forward every day:
Sen. Dave Cogdill, R-Modesto, vice chair of the Senate Natural Resources and Water Committee, expressed frustration over missed chances at approving a water bond in recent years.
"All we continue to do is talk, and meet, and submit bills, and argue over them and get absolutely nowhere," Cogdill said. "And the problem isn't going away, it's not on hold. And today, as we speak, there are people in this state who are suffering because of our inefficient and inadequate water system." -- Capital Press, August 20,2009
Westlands Hoards Surplus Water While Farmworkers Suffer...Dan Bacher
The California Sportfishing Protection Alliance (CSPA) today called for an investigation into the hoarding of surplus water by the Westlands Water District while farm workers on the west side of the San JoaquinValley are struggling to pay their bills and put food on their table.
Over the past several months, the mainstream media and right wing demagogues such as Sean Hannity have reported "heart rendering" stories about the Westlands Water District having to fallow fields, putting farmworkers out of work and placing farms in jeopardy because of a lack of water.
Today the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance District (CSPA) countered the lies behind Westlands' cynical astroturfing campaign by revealing that the district has been "squirreling away" surplus water it can't use.
CSPA has discovered a Westlands' information bulletin dated 23 July 2009 revealing that the giant irrigation district, considered the "Darth Vader" of California water politics by fishing groups, Indian Tribes and environmental organizations, has been hiding considerable carryover storage from last year and is adding even more this year. The group is calling for an investigation into Westlands' surplus water and possible surplus water hidden away by other water districts.
“The idea that Westlands Water District has been hoarding surplus water it can't use while farm workers have been paid to hold vocal protests around the Central Valley accusing Congressman George Miller and federal agencies of starving farmers in order to protect Delta smelt is outrageous," said Bill Jennings, CSPA executive director. “Perhaps Congressmen Devin Nunes and Dennis Cardoza can use their influence to persuade Westlands to share some of their stored water wealth to benefit those less fortunate. Clearly an investigation is needed to see who else might be hoarding surplus water.”
At the end of 2008, Westlands had some 233,998 acre-feet (AF) of water stored in other facilities that it didn't need, according toJennings. Some 93,700 AF of that stored water was used through June 2009. However, the export pumping restrictions caused by the Delta Smelt Biological Opinion ended 30 June and the State and Federal Projects have ramped up pumping.
Westlands has made firm commitments to acquire 141,522 AF of supplemental water and is requesting additional supplies. Consequently, Westlands staff projects that the District will end the water year with approximately 275,000 AF of water it is unable to use.
The disclosure of the hoarding of water by Westlands occurs as the water district and its front group, the Latino Water Coalition, has been campaigning to give a "human face" to corporate agribusiness by busing hundreds of farmworkers to "rallies" and "marches" in Fresno,Sacramento and Concord demanding increased pumping of water from the Delta. However, no farmworker organizations, including the United Farmworkers are supporting these efforts, organized by the public relations firm Burston-Marsteller, notorious for campaigns to cast a "democratic" image to dictatorships around the world for decades, and numerous corporate greenwashing campaigns.
Arturo Rodriguez, president of the United Farm Workers of America, the 27,000-member union founded by Cesar Chavez, blasted the Latino Water Coalition's so-called "March for Water" this April for being an event organized by corporate agribusiness.
"In reality, this is not a farm worker march, '' Rodriguez told the New Work Times on April 17. ''This is a farmer march orchestrated and financed by growers.''
The bulletin also points out that the Banks pumping plant of the State Water Project has been pumping about 1,000 AF of Central Valley Project daily. "Of course use of the 'Joint Point of Diversion' (JPOD) is illegal and violates D-1641, the State Water Resource Control Board's (State Board) order implementing the Bay-Delta Plan. D-1641 explicitly prohibits use of JPOD when south Delta salinity standards are being violated," noted Jennings.
Presently the running 30-day average for electrical conductivity, the measure of salinity, at Old River near Tracy is 1.02 umhos/cm. The water quality standard for this period is 0.7 umhos/cm to protect Delta agriculture. South Delta salinity standards have been continually violated the last seven months, imperiling Delta fish populations and Delta farms.
Jennings said the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR) and California Department of Water Resources (DWR) have been ignoring the Cease & Desist Order issued by the State Board in 2006 for violation of south Delta salinity standards. Recently, they requested an extension of the compliance schedule for that Cease & Desist Order beyond the 1 July 2009 deadline.
CSPA was a party in the June 2009 State Board evidentiary hearing regarding the DWR/USBR request. Even though the State Board declared in 2006 they would not again extend the compliance schedule, they are expected to shortly issue a decision extending the schedule and excusing past violations. CSPA is prepared to sue over the Board's continued refusal to enforce the Cease & Desist Order. However, the prohibition against using JPOD while standards are violated was neither raised nor discussed in that hearing.
"Earlier this year, the State Board held hearings to consider a relaxation of Delta outflow standards because they were being violated," Jennings state. "While April rains eliminated the need for relaxed standards, the Board refused to penalize the USBR and DWR for violating existing standards. In June, the USBR acknowledged that Vernalis flows were only about 59% of required flow. Again, the State Board took no action. Water quality standards in the southern Delta have been consistently exceeded since last December."
Jennings observed that, “the State Board continues to look the other way as virtually all of the standards protecting the Delta and its collapsing fisheries are ignored and DWR and USBR violate the law in order to supply Westlands with water they can't use.”
"CSPA remains concerned about the plight of unemployed farm workers, even as we note that data from the California Economic Development Department and annual reports from County Agricultural Commissioners reveal that both farm labor employment and the value of agricultural production has increased in the seven south-of-Delta counties over the course of the drought," emphasized Jennings.
WESTLANDS WATER DISTRICT
3130 N. Fresno Street, P.O. Box 6056, Fresno, California, 93703-6056
(559) 224-1523 FAX (559) 241-6277
July 23, 2009
This notice contains important information about the following:
· July 21 Board Report
· Biweekly Conference Call Regarding Water Supply and Operations
· Water Supply Update
· Supplemental Water Supply Update
· Surplus Vehicles and Equipment for Sale
July 21 Board Report
Biweekly Conference Call Regarding Water Supply and Operations
General Manager Tom Birmingham has begun holding a biweekly conference call on
Thursday at 8:00 a.m. to inform landowners and water users of developments regarding water supply and operations. To have your name placed on the participant list to receive call-in instructions, please contact Sarah Woolf at (559) 341-0174.
For those unable to call-in, the operations report provided during the call will be posted
on the District’s website,
www.westlandswater.org org, at the Water & Power – Water Supply –
Project Operations tab, no later than the following day.
Water Supply Update
, Water users’ demand for surface water have been at historic lows this year; 93,700 acre-feet of the 233,998 acre-feet rescheduled from 2008 have been used through June. Staff projects that the District will end the water year with approximately 275,000 acre-feet unused. This unused water will consist of the 2009 CVP allocation and 2009 District Supplemental Water purchases.
Approximately 60,000 acre-feet of non-Project Supplemental Water will be stored under Warren Act Contracts, while the balance will be stored under the Bureau of Reclamation’s CVP rescheduling guidelines. The District expects Reclamation to issue these guidelines around August 1, and water users will be notified when they are available for review.
The restricted pumping period under the Delta Smelt Biological Opinion ended June 30, and Jones Pumping Plant increased exports, which totaled 108,000 acre-feet as of July 15. Further, on July 9 the State received authorization to increase pumping capacity at Banks Pumping Plant by 500 cfs, up to 7,180 cfs. Since then, Banks has been pumping CVP water at a rate of about 1,000 acre-feet per day. Federal storage at San Luis Reservoir briefly went negative earlier this month, but has recovered to 2,000 acre-feet as of July 21. Total storage in San Luis is currently about 380,000 acre-feet.