westlands water district

DADDY'S MONEY

"The case has lately turned into a mud-slinging-fest that, despite the legal verbiage necessary of court documents, reads like a soap opera scandal."

Denver Post July 3, 2013 article on
bankruptcy case of insider trading
suspect Roger "Mr. Fast Lane" Parker,
business associate and client of 
Westlands Water District
lobbyist/lawyer Norman Brownstein

By Lloyd G. Carter

                                In every American city there is at least one, and usually more than one, power elite group which wields great influence and power over civic, economic and political affairs.  There are at least two types of individuals in those power elites: People who inherit or marry into great wealth, and self-made multi-millionaires or billionaires.   In Fresno, that elite is centered around dynastic agribusiness clans and real estate developers, who have no problem plowing up productive orchards and vineyards to make way for cookie cutter subdivisions.  READ MORE »

Westlands officials ponder big buy-in on Bay Delta Conservation Plan

 

By Lloyd G. Carter

               Westlands Water District directors Wednesday (Nov. 20) hosted a workshop on the controversial Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and were told by California Department of Water Resources (DWR) officials the big federal water district in western Fresno and Kings counties may have to pony up $162 million over the next three years for pre-construction planning.

               DWR Director Mark Cowin told Westlands directors DWR will need $500 million over the next three years to finance pre-construction engineering and other studies while the BDCP undergoes expected court challenges by environmentalists and Northern California/Delta farming interests.  The BDCP document now runs over 30,000 pages.  Westlands directors should decide by January 2014 if they wish to opt in, Cowin said.  READ MORE »

Westlands' 101st Senator

By Lloyd G. Carter

               Not only is lawyer/lobbyist Norman Brownstein collecting a $20,000 a month retainer from the Westlands Water District in western Fresno and Kings counties (western San Joaquin Valley) but his law firm is heavily invested in a Mojave Desert groundwater mining scheme while simultaneously representing the San Diego Water Authority, which wants to buy that precious groundwater.  Does anyone see the potential for a conflict of interest here? And do any of those hard-pressed Westland growers wonder where their money is going as they see their water supply continually cut back?  Other than adding three Brownstein attorneys to the cadre of water attorneys Westlands already employs, what, exactly has Brownstein done for his fat Westlands monthly paycheck?

 READ MORE »

Selenium impacting health of honey bees

Selenium, a trace element that can be toxic under certain circumstances, has been linked to adverse health impacts in honey bee populations, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California-Riverside.  To read the full report click here:http://ucrtoday.ucr.edu/18085. Selenium in farm drainage water generated on the west side of the San Joaquin Valley poisoned  birds at the Kesterson National Wildlife Refuge 30 years ago.  Despite the potential dangers from farming high selenium soils the State Water Resources Control Board has continued to allow these lands to be irrigated and drainage waters to be dumped in the lower San Joaquin River.

 

Judge lifts temporary restraining order blocking water releases on the Trinity River to protect migrating salmon

     The significantly lower volume of water now projected to be involved and the potential and enormous risk to the fishery of doing nothing, the Court finds it in the public interest to permit the augmentation to proceed.” (Page 19.)

By Lloyd G. Carter

               Fresno Federal Judge Lawrence O'Neill Thursday (Aug. 22) lifted a temporary restraining order blocking releases of cold water from Trinity River reservoirs intended to help migrating salmon avoid an Ich parasite infestation similar to one on the Klamath River in 2002 that killed over 34,000 adult salmon.

               In a 19-page ruling, O'Neill, following two days of testimony from expert witnesses, lifted the temporary restraining order and denied a permanent injunction sought by Westlands Water District in Fresno County and by other federal irrigation districts north of Westlands.

               The judge ruled:

 READ MORE »

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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Westlands Exagerrating Water Cutback Impacts

  Dr. Jeffrey Michael says the Westlands Water District and Rep. Jim Costa are exagaretting the impacts of water cutbacks to the nation's largest federal water district.  Westlands may only receive 20 percent of its requested amount of water this year and claims it will be impacted worse than 2009, when Westlands supplies were held to just 10 percent.  Dr. Michael is director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of Pacific in Stockton.  You can read his blog here: http://valleyecon.blogspot.com/

  Jim Costa, a Democrat, represents the Westlands area and wrote a letter to U.S. Bureau of Reclamation commissioner Michael Connor on March 3, claiming the cutbacks, due to dry year conditions and court ordered protections for Delta fish, including smelt and salmon, will cost his region's economy $2.2 billion.   Thomas Birmingham, general manager of Westlands, estimated economy losses of "more than $1 billion", in a March 22 press release,  more than a billion less than Costa's prediction.  Neither Costa or Birmingham revealed the source of their numbers or how they define "region."    READ MORE »

Prominent Westlands Water District Grower Mark Borba calls President Obama "Blackie" and also slams Sen. Dianne Feinstein

 The Fresno Bee reported today (April 9, 2013) that prominent Westlands Water District grower Mark Borba was removed as chairman of the board of directors of Community Medical Centers because of his use of a racial slur about President Barack Obama in an email exchange with Westlands general manager Thomas Birmingham.  The Bee reported Borba called President Obama "Blackie" in an obscenity-laced email (The Bee called it a "rant") about Westlands' water supply problems.  The Bee story can be read at http://www.fresnobee.com/2013/04/08/3249151/community-medical-centers-board.html.

 Borba, who declined to be interviewed by the Bee, recently sent an email to the original email recipients and hospital board members and officers, expressing regrets for his slur of President Obama and his use of obscenities. Birmingham was not quoted in the Bee article.

"The language I used was hurtful to many people and it embarrassed my friends and colleagues. My language was inexcusable and I am greatly embarrassed by it myself," Borba wrote in the email, according to the Bee.  However, hospital officials concluded he could not stay on the board.  READ MORE »

How the West(lands) was won, Part Two

By Lloyd G. Carter

 

        If there are unwritten charter memberships in the Hydraulic Brotherhood, the Westlands Water District and the Denver, Colorado law firm of Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck undoubtedly have honored places. It's not just that Westlands, a public agency, owns a $31 million world class trout fishing resort, which it makes available to its growers at $4,200 to $7,000 a week. It's more the fact that Westlands, the largest (in acres not farmers) and most politically connected federal irrigation district in America, and Brownstein, one of the largest and most politically connected water law/lobbying firms in the nation, are partnering in Westlands' billion dollar lawsuit against the government

       And that bodes ill for the American taxpayers and the environment.

 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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