By Patrick Porgans, Solutionist
Dan Bacher’s article regarding “First Amendment Project: barring public from filming a BDCP public meeting is illegal”, makes interesting reading, along with the First Amendment Project’s legalese as to whether a person can video-tape a public meeting.
The Department of Water Resources' (DWR) Public Information Officer, Nancy Vogel, did precisely what she is paid to do -- damage control. DWR's hyperbole, it is all about “transparency”, is simply public-relation rhetoric. When it comes to accepting meaningful public input DWR officials have a long track record of operating in a vacuum. Anyone that has had dealings with DWR officials see right through Vogel’s and her predecessor’s revolving-door 1970s “pantyhose one-size-fit-all” stretch the truth phenomenon; i.e., if one simply ignored the historical facts and DWR's lack-luster performance, and is mindful that to government employees like Vogel, it is just a job that pays the mortgage, then, perhaps this critique will assist in clarifying the department’s interpretation of transparency.
DWR's blatant disregard for meaningful public input is a well established fact; it is all a matter of public record. A classic example of how DWR welcomed public input was exemplified in the County of Butte, the major source of the SWP supply, wherein DWR officials and their water contractors treatment of citizens that opposed DWR's SWP Oroville facilities relicensing program was despicable. During those proceeding DWR told public participants that they were legally required to sign a “confidentiality agreement” that they would not discuss certain issues pertaining to its relicensing project. Planetary Solutionaries and Porgans & Associates were participants in the relicensing process, and challenged DWR to provide the legal basis for such a requirement. As it turned out, DWR just made it up.
It is general knowledge that DWR is rife with conflicts of interest, as a water purveyor and as a trustee of the public’s water project, and the manner in which it conducts the public's business and disdain for meaningful public input has and remains DWR’s modus operandi (MO). DWR will undoubtedly continue its MO, unless, someone steps up to the plate and take action to hold it accountable, which is exactly what Planetary Solutionaries have and will continue to do.