In a puff piece about Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, leader of the Assembly minority party, Dave Cogdill Sr. had this to say about one of the best laws in the nation for protecting natural resources and the human environment.
The California Environmental Quality Act, as well-intentioned as it might be, is merely a legal tool that businesses and private organizations can use to stop a project that stands in the way of their own agendas. It is appalling that businesses have to estimate legal costs into their budgets just to prepare for the onslaught of lawsuits that will come their way. This is absorbable for larger organizations that have the knowledge and resources to manage such challenges. Unfortunately, most families hoping to open a business do not have such tools at their disposal and cannot fight back. -- Dave Cogdill Sr., Modesto Bee, Nov. 8, 2014
This opinion is brought to us from a Modesto Republican who served six years in the state Assembly, rising to the position of minority party floor leader, and, after moving on to the state Senate, served as Republican leader in 2008-09, before going where the money is, becoming CEO and president of the California Building Industry Association, one of the most powerful lobbying forces at the state and local level in California.
The opinion of Cogdill et al about CEQA is as clear an expression of developer denial of law, fact and history as we have seen in recent years. It was during Cogdill's illustrious career in the state Legislature that the real estate boom boomed loud in the north San Joaquin Valley, and then busted with a thud heard around the nation. His beloved hometown, Modesto, vied for several years, with the home county of the great former Rep. Richard Pombo, Real Estate Rancher-Tracy, and in the congressional district of former Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced. The only law on the books (except those which, with extensive investigations never done, dealing with mis-, mal- and nonfeasanse of public officials) that might have lessened the damage the Cogdill's developer clients did to this region is CEQA -- if local land-use authorities had not routinely overridden it for "economic" reasons. So, finance, insurance and real estate special interests reaped massive profits while the same local land-use authorities have either declared bankruptcy or have narrowly escaped it, while unemployment more than doubled between 2008 and 2012.
We wish Olsen a happy career in Sacramento and hope that when she is termed out she will become the first woman to be the president and CEO of the state BIA. - blj