Friday, December 31, 2010

Supreme Court Terminated Governor's Last Ditch Petition to Sell State Properties

Introduction by Dan Bacher - Story by Patrick Porgans, Solutionist
Friday Dec 31st, 2010 12:55 PM
Outgoing California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and his collaborators have waged a campaign to greenwash his absymal environmental legacy through a plethora of press releases, photo opportunities and puff pieces before he leaves office. One of the most shameful examples of these efforts to rewrite history by casting Schwarzenegger in the role of "green governor" is Terry Tamminen's Huffington Post puff piece, "He'll Be Back" (

"In 'Terminator', Arnold Schwarzenegger famously utters 'I'll be back.' The world should hope that he'll be back to keep working on these issues with the unique style of public service that is the basis of his unprecedented green legacy," Tamminen claims.

In stark contrast, Patrick Porgans, a longtime advocate for the public trust, has written a superb piece exposing the Governor's last ditch petition to sell 11 state office properties to private corporations before leaving office. The plan was supposedly designed to pay off a portion of the state's multi billion deficit and increasing debt load.

"Ironically, the debt is partially the result of the Governor's 'don't raise taxes' rhetoric, while at the same time promoting and securing approval of record-amounts of General Obligation bonds," said Porgans. "The governor’s bond promotion scheme was one of the primary factors contributing to the state’s sea of rising debt." ( [California Bondage])

However, it appears that the real motive behind the attempted sale of the properties and the passage of the General Obligation bonds was to benefit rich corporations at the expense of the California public.

"Raising nearly $144 million from private contributors implies there more than a coincidental link between the campaign contributions, the sale of the property and the windfall profits that have and continued to be realized by the Governor’s supporters," said Porgans. "Critics argue that the sale of the 11 properties, along with the wholesale-General Obligation bond bonanza, which taxpayers are responsible to repay, makes the Bernie Madoff Ponzie scam look like mere child's play."

Schwarzenegger's campaign to build a peripheral canal/tunnel, a project projected to cost $23 billion to $53.8 billion, is nothing other than an effort by the outgoing Governor to enrich corporate agribusiness, southern California water privateers and corporate "environmental" NGOs such as the Nature Conservancy at tremendous expense to collapsing Central Valley salmon and Delta fish populations, fishing communities, California Indian Tribes and family farmers. Those of us who have suffered under Schwarzenegger's war on fish and the environment hope that, contrary to Tamminen's wish that "He'll Be Back," that the "Fish Terminator" will never again play any role in public policy anywhere. Read more .....

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Appeals court halts sale of California buildings

Appeals court halts sale of California buildings

Monday, December 13, 2010
A California appeals court on Monday stalled the sale of 11 state office properties to private investors, likely delaying the transaction until Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of office.
The state is reviewing the court's action and evaluating its options after the court issued the stay blocking the sale, said Department of General Services spokesman Eric Lamoureux.
"We hope that the court will move swiftly to consider this case and reach a decision," he said.

Related Content

Story: Judge OKs sale of Calif buildings in early ruling
Story: Lawsuit filed to stop planned sale of state buildings
Story: State building sales may cost tax payers more
Story: Calif. to sell off office buildings to generate cash

The move came in a lawsuit brought by two former state building authority members who say selling the properties is unconstitutional and a waste of taxpayer money.
The members, Jerry Epstein and A. Redmond Doms, were ousted by Schwarzenegger after they asked the state to perform a cost-benefit analysis and questioned the long-term consequences for taxpayers. Don Casper, a third member who was also ousted for questioning the sale, has also signed on as a plaintiff.
Monday's stay delays a transaction that had been scheduled to close this week. It's likely the sale will fall to Gov.-elect Jerry Brown, who takes over Jan. 3.

Schwarzenegger had promoted the sale of state properties as a way to generate cash to help fill the state's budget deficit. The state awarded the sale of the buildings -- including the Ronald Reagan building in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Civic Center -- to California First LLC, a consortium of investors led by a Texas real estate firm and a private equity firm based in Irvine, for $2.3 billion.
Read more ...

Monday, December 6, 2010

Delta Blues & More from Dan Bacher And Salmon Water Now

The latest from Dan Bacher And Salmon Water Now
by Dan Bacher
It has been an eventful couple of weeks for those concerned about the state of California's water politics and the fate of the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan to build a peripheral canal/tunnel has been released, a contentious legislative oversight hearing was held on the BDCP and the Westlands Water District pulled out of the BDCP.

How the Resnick Ag Empire works

Writer John Gibler investigates the agricultural empire that
Beverly Hills billionaires Lynda and Stewart Resnick have created in
the San Joaquin Valley. To read more:

U.S. Department of Interior official Responds to Westlands Criticism

 To read the letter of Interior official David Hayes click HERE!

Thursday, November 18, 2010


California has spent more than $10 billion on water projects that are contributing to the death of San Francisco Bay and the Sacramento Delta -- a special report

By Patrick Porgans and Lloyd Carter

While Californians were held captive waiting for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to agree on spending cuts and adopt a budget, state officials were throwing hundreds of millions of dollars down the drain and compounding California's water crisis.

Water officials have wasted more than $10 billion and 35 years in extended delays in their failed attempt to carry out their legal mandates to protect the waters of the state and restore the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. The result: water quality in the estuary is rapidly declining; fisheries are in crisis; and the proposed solution, an $11 billion bond act set for the ballot in 2012, will only make things worse.

The primary source of the water-quality crisis is a toxic mix of salt and chemicals discharged from lands irrigated by subsidized water delivered by the federal Central Valley Project to contractors farming on the arid west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

The salt comes from several sources. Irrigation water — particularly from the delta, where the water is somewhat brackish — contains salt. There also is salt and traces of much more toxic selenium in the soil. Industrial fertilizers add more dangerous chemicals to the mix. And since crops grown in the Central Valley don't absorb much salt and the constant flushing with irrigation water leaches the selenium out of the soil, a nasty stew starts to build up.

This U.S. Geological Survey map shows a plan by federal and state regulators to divert toxic water more directly into the Sacramento Delta. All these diversion plans ignore the fact that poorly drained land isn't suitable for farming.

If the irrigation water isn't drained off, the salt buildup in the groundwater renders the land unusable to farming. In essence, farmers have been dumping the runoff water — laden with salt and selenium, along with mercury and boron — into the San Joaquin River, which carries it back into the delta and the bay.

All this is being done as the government declares its intent to save the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary. Read more..

Down on the farm
How state water policy wiped out farming and fishing on one delta island


On Sherman Island, cow pastures have replaced productive agricultural lands

Sherman Island may barely register for motorists traveling over the Antioch Bridge and through the delta on Highway 160. Almost wholly owned by the Department of Water Resources, the roughly 10,000-acre patch of Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta flatland is barely developed, and probably home to more cows than people. It lies at the confluence of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers, where freshwater mixes with the salty seawater of the San Francisco Bay.

What isn't obvious at first glance is that Sherman Island was once host to highly productive agriculture — but as delta water quality diminished, farmers saw their crop yields plummet. Larry Del Chiaro, who formerly headed the Sherman Island Landowners Association, used to grow asparagus, wheat, barley, safflower, milo, hay, and other crops on the island. But today, like nearly all the others who previously raised crops there, he no longer has property there and has moved on. His story illustrates how California water policies have benefited one group while affecting the livelihoods of the people who live in the state's central water hub, the delta.

"I was a third-generation farmer on the island," Del Chiaro told the Guardian on a hot August day in the city of Pittsburg. "My grandfather started it. My father, his brothers, my cousins were all on the island farming." Del Chiaro majored in soil science in the 1970s and was interested in increasing crop yields, so he set up test plots and was closely monitoring their progress.

With the help of consultant Patrick Porgans and a San Francisco attorney, Del Chiaro and the 26 other Sherman Island landowners sued DWR for damages. In 1991, the state settled for $3.6 million, and the farmers were paid for not drawing water out of the delta. Soon after, DWR bought up the island. Once the water agency took control, it eliminated the need for DWR to satisfy contractual obligations to provide freshwater to the Sherman Island farmers. The farmers had cleared out, and the agency's problem was solved.

How California exports water
Did the great California drought of 2009 really happen?
11.16.10 - 6:56 pm | sfbg |
By Patrick Porgans

In 2009, the last year of the so-called great California drought, a strange thing happened: Sacramento Valley growers produced a near record amount of rice, and down south, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (Met), the largest urban water supplier in the nation, experienced record-breaking water sales. All this despite repeated mainstream media accounts in 2009 of an economy-wrecking dust bowl water shortage.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the California rice harvest in 2009 was up 9 percent from the previous year and approached the record crop of 2004.
Rice consumes a great deal of water for its dollar value and produces little net income. According to a report by the University of California, Davis, the minimum amount of water required to grow a crop of rice is about 42 inches per acre. Unavoidable losses can add to this amount — so that the amount of water consumed (or evaporated) can be as much as 100 inches per acre, depending on the soil. That appears to be enough water to drown the tallest person on earth.

The California Rice Commission, a trade group representing 2,500 rice farmers, estimates that rice uses 2.2 million acre-feet of irrigation water yearly, about 2.6 percent of the state's total water supply. According to records obtained from Met, that's equal to the annual average water it supplied to all of its 19 million customers. Read more

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Environmental Defense Fund testimony for Bay Delta Conservation Plan Hearing

Posted by: Aqua Blog Maven on November 17, 2010 at 8:11 am From the Environmental Defense Fund, this testimony by Cynthia Koehler before
Assembly Committee on Water, Parks and Wildlife on November 16, 2010:
“Chairman Huffman and Members of the Committee, on behalf of the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our thousands of California members, thank you for this opportunity to speak with you today about the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) and the outlook for the future. As you know, EDF has been a member of the BDCP Steering Committee, and my colleague Ann Hayden has been an active participant in the BDCP process, for the last five years. Attached to this testimony is a recent Opinion Editorial piece that Ms. Hayden and I wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle that very briefly outlines EDF’s view about BDCP and the direction it can take most productively going forward.

As indicated in the Opinion Editorial, EDF remains firmly committed to the BDCP process and believes that, notwithstanding important unresolved issues, it is only through this type of open, public and thorough planning effort that California will successfully restore the most important estuary on the west coast while also providing steady and sustainable supplies of water to our farms and cities. We are encouraged that even in the face of disagreements among stakeholders about how best to proceed, there is nevertheless a strong consensus that ecosystem restoration of the San Francisco Bay-Delta is a vital priority for California on par with providing reliable water supply. … “
Continue reading this testimony by clicking here.

Secretary for Natural Resources Lester Snow announces release of two Bay Delta Conservation Plan reports

Posted by: Aqua Blog Maven on November 17, 2010 at 8:22 am From the California Natural Resources Agency, this press release:
“Sacramento – Natural Resources Secretary Lester Snow today announced that two major reports on the Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) will be released in the next few weeks.
The BDCP is a comprehensive conservation plan to protect species/habitat protection and improve the reliability of water supplies in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.

“While the Delta has become the most politically contentious water management issue in California,” Snow said, “our progress in developing the Bay Delta Conservation Plan speaks to a growing consensus that we must achieve a Delta ecosystem that is more resilient and improve the state’s water supply reliability.”

Testifying before the Assembly Water, Parks and Wildlife Committee, Snow said that the BDCP Steering Committee plans to finalize its working draft Plan at its meeting on Thursday, November 18. The draft is a product of a collaborative process that has included the California Department of Water Resources, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, federal and state fisheries agencies, water contractors, environmental organizations and other stakeholders. It will reflect substantial progress towards a completed Bay Delta Conservation Plan, and identify remaining elements where scientific work and other analysis is needed. The 1,500 page draft report will be available to the public on Monday, November 21.

A separate status report and issues summary on the BDCP will be released the week of December 6, 2010. This document will include the State of California’s assessment of the issues, but will reflect the work of both state and federal agencies, water users, and the environmental community. It will also identify issues that require further resolution, including additional scientific analysis to improve upon water operations for Delta fisheries, ecological metrics to measure progress, and ongoing development of an adaptive management plan
Documents will be available at and”

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fighting to save public education: California's perfect storm

Fighting to save public education:
California's perfect storm

Across California, new alliances of teachers, students, state workers, communities of color, and working-class communities in general took on the challenge.
By David Bacon / The Rag Blog / October 25, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO, California -- The United States today faces an economic crisis worse than any since the Great Depression of the 1930s. Nowhere is it sharper than in the nation's schools. It's no wonder that last year saw strikes, student walkouts, and uprisings in states across the country, aimed at priorities that put banks and stockbrokers ahead of children.
UC? CSU? The workforce? California has a 12.6 percent unemployment rate, one of the nation's highest. The state universities dropped 40,000 students this year. UC fees have gone up 215 percent since 2000, and CSU fees 280 percent. Community college fees, once nonexistent, rose 30 percent just last year.

Hundreds of thousands of students enrolled in California community colleges are unable to get the classes they need and thousands of temporary faculty are without classes to teach. So, as in the universities, the student returns for paying higher fees are increased class size and fewer available classes.
Those cuts have an extra impact on students of color. The Los Angeles Community College District educates almost three times as many Latino students and nearly four times as many African American students as all of the UC campuses combined. Read more …

Friday, October 15, 2010

Statement on California's Budget: Temporary Fix Continues to Endanger the Poor & Vulnerable


Tuesday, 12 October 2010 16:57 

Edward E. “Ned” Dolejsi, Executive Director of the California Catholic Conference—the public policy office of the Catholic Bishops of California— issued the following statement in response to the FY 2010-2011 California state budget.

There is certainly relief that Legislators and the Governor were able to finalize the state’s budget for FY 2010-2011.  Having said that, however, the signed, sealed and delivered budget appears to be an expedient solution, which only solves the immediate problems of averting the issuance of IOUs, facilitating state borrowing, meeting payroll and paying the state’s vendors.

Sadly the Governor’s line-item vetoes introduce more problems for the poor and the vulnerable.  In his zeal to create a $1.3 billion reserve, the Governor cut funding for child-care supporting welfare to work and reduced funding for mental health programs.  The impacts of these decisions will be felt dramatically in the lives of those who are already challenged to survive in our severe economic times. Read more...........ttp://

Third World-style Fiscal Austerity is End Game of California’s 2010 Budget Dea

Third World-style Fiscal Austerity is End Game

of California’s 2010 Budget Deal

By Willie Pelote
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s decision to slash an additional $1 billion from social programs like child care and CalWORKS after a record-long budget stalemate of 100 days is another example of the fiscal austerity measures that are turning California into a Third World country.

In a statement explaining his recent line-item vetoes, Schwarzenegger said that he was trying to “build a prudent reserve” or rainy day fund.

The purpose of a rainy day fund is to provide cash in lean times or in an emergency.
With unemployment at 12% in California and record rates of poverty nationally, it would seem obvious that now is the time to tap that rainy day fund.

Instead, what Schwarzenegger has done is to siphon off money from the programs and institutions designed to protect us in the worst of times in order to save money for that rainy day fund.

This disturbing development is a preview of what Californians can come to expect, if Schwarzenegger gets his way, and voters are duped into backing yet another of his stale proposals for restricting state revenues on the ballot next year.

Should this happen, the end result would be a steady evisceration of the state’s network of social structures, something that Schwarzenegger has been trying to accomplish over the years by using his line-item veto on funding for child care, special education, and public health programs.

Instead of trying to resurrect an idea that voters soundly rejected in 2009, Schwarzenegger and the legislature should be concentrating on getting big business to pay its fair share by eliminating the billions of dollars of subsidies the state is handing out to multinational corporations.

A recent article by the San Francisco Chronicle’s Washington correspondent Carolyn Lochhead found that Sacramento could produce an annual budget surplus by simply closing loopholes in California’s tax code.

Instead, the Democratic majority has been capitulating to Republican demands to reduce taxes for multinational corporations and big business in exchange for obtaining political agreement on budgets that are transforming California into a Third World country.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

California to sell state office buildings for $2.3B, generating money for cash-strapped budget


California to sell state office buildings for $2.3B, generating money for cash-strapped budget

California selects buyer for 11 state properties

By JUDY LIN | Associated Press | Oct 11, 2010 6:11 PM CDT in Business

Top of Form
The state announced Monday it is selling 24 government office buildings _ including the Ronald Reagan State Building in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Civic Center _ to a group of private investors for $2.3 billion.

Ron Diedrich, acting director of the California Department of General Services, announced it selected the offer from California First LLC, a partnership led by a Texas real estate firm and an Orange County private equity firm.
About $1 billion of the sale will be used to pay off bonds on the buildings, leaving more than $1.2 billion to go into the state's general fund.
"After an extensive review of more than 300 bids that were received, I have determined that this offer presents the best value for the state," Diedrich said in a statement. "This sale will allow us to bring in desperately needed revenues and free the state from the ongoing costs and risks of owning real estate."
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and lawmakers included the sale as part of the state budget last week. The Republican governor said California had received solid offers to sell the 24 buildings on 11 parcels and then rent that space back for 20 years at market rates.
It's unclear how the current deal will work out for taxpayers over the long run, but there have been concerns.
The Associated Press reported earlier this year that the deal would end up costing the state $5.2 billion in rent over 20 years, perhaps saddling taxpayers with costs beyond whatever the state would net from the sale. Three of the properties already are paid off, while four others were expected to be paid off in the next five years.  Read more ….