Thomas Birmingham

Ruminations on the Borba affair

 

Some unanswered questions about Westlands Water District grower Mark Borba's racial slur against President Obama and the behind-the-scenes efforts to get Westlands more Northern California water

By Lloyd G. Carter

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Prominent Westlands Grower Mark Borba resigns from board of Maddy Institute following racial slur of President Obama

 Officials of the Maddy Institute said today (April 16, 2013) that prominent Westlands Water District grower Mark Borba resigned last Friday from the board of directors of the institute.   The Institute, named after the late Kenneth Maddy, who served 28 years in the state legislature, was established in 1999.  The mission of the Maddy Institute, according to its website (www.Maddyinstitute.org)  is to inspire citizen participation, elevate government performance, provide non-partisan analysis and assist in providing solutions for public policy issues important to the region, state and nation.

  Borba, who along with his brother, farms 8,600 acres in Westlands, was voted off the board of directors of Community Hospitals in early March but hospital officials would not explain the reason.  On March 9, the Fresno Bee ran a front page story about an expletive-filled email that Borba sent to Westlands general manager Tom Birmingham, complaining about severe cutbacks in water allocations for Westlands.  In that email, Borba derisively called President Obama "Blackie" and also argued that Sen. Dianne Feinstein should have marched into the White House and demanded more water for Westlands, which may receive only 25 percent of its allotment this year.  READ MORE »

How the West(lands) Was Won, a two-part series - Part One

By Lloyd G. Carter

Editor’s note: Part one of this series addresses the merits of Westlands Water District’s breach of contract claim in the U.S. Claims Court in Washington, D.C. Part Two addresses the Denver law firm hired to represent Westlands and its far flung political connections.

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     In the wake of the public relations debacle over the brief hiring of former federal judge Oliver Wanger, the Westlands Water District has now hired a high-powered Denver, Colorado law firm with close ties to Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar and political tentacles reaching to the highest levels of both the Democratic and Republican parties.

     Westlands, on January 6, 2012, quietly filed a complaint in the U.S. Court of Claims in Washington, D.C. claiming the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation breached its 1963 contract with Westlands by failing for decades to build a drainage system to carry away Westlands’ toxic waste waters to the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. There was no Westlands press release on the Court of Claims suit and no mainstream media picked up the story for almost a month.  READ MORE »

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