- Dan Tower
- Little Dog
- Lake Mendo Problems
- The Connecteds
- Dan White's Lawyer
- Yesterday's Catch
- Empty the Shelter
- Extreme Heat
- Golden Gate
- Pension Bombs
- Before the Internet
- Marco Radio
- Library Events
- Delta Lawsuits
John Daniel Tower of Alameda, California, died suddenly on May 22, 2017 of natural causes after a bike ride on his way to work. Dan was born September 26, 1948 to Roy and Vi Tower.
He grew up sailing and surfing in Santa Barbara along with his brother, Ken, and sisters Jody and Cara. He attended Santa Barbara City College where he studied construction, engineering and architecture, and worked designing and building custom homes in North San Diego County in the 1970s.
Upon moving to Mendocino in 1980 Dan continued his innovative approach to design and building. He was known as a consummate craftsman and focused perfectionist on any job he undertook.
He became a driving force in the environmental and planning protest movements in the 1980s and brought critical issues to the table during the much publicized off-shore oil hearings in 1988.
When the town of Mendocino was deliberating a significant commercial development he conceived and orchestrated an installation of full scale canvas elevations which demonstrated the plans incongruency with the town's historical district. He led a similar demonstration to protest a massive development proposed for the ocean bluffs north of Fort Bragg. He also designed the classic arbor at Fort Bragg Town Hall.
Dan moved to Alameda in the late 90s where he pursued his passion for designing and building bicycles and motorcycles. He took a special interest in cargo and electric bikes and regularly rode to work carrying his tools and materials.
Dan enjoyed living near his son and daughter-in-law Seth and Jasmine Tower in Alameda and being grandpa to his granddaughter Poppy much to their mutual delight.
In addition to Seth, Jasmine and Poppy, Dan is survived by his mother Vi, his brother Ken, sister Cara, niece Tara and her daughter Sierra.
He left the planet a better place. He was found at his workshop wearing his bike helmet.
Dan's friends are invited to join the family for a remembrance gathering at Wally's Corner, 1600 Webster Street in Alameda on Sunday, July 9, 2017 at 2pm.
LITTLE DOG SAYS: They thought I'd flunk, but even they had to admit I aced it. Watch this. Ten outta ten! Answers in parens:
- What's the difference between Willits and Ukiah? (20 miles either direction)
- Who's the tallest person in Philo? (Kareem, the day he drove through to Mendocino)
- How many fat guys are there at KZYX? (17, with heads to match)
- Can you get from Fort Bragg to I-5 without touching pavement? (Yes, easy.)
- Assuming Meg Courtney as metaphor, is she inevitable? (Given the social-political-economic realities of Mendocino County? Yes. If you guys weren't inappropriate, you'd know that.)
- Are the cats in Mendocino nicer than the cats in Fort Bragg? Why? (Cats are nicer in Fort Bragg. Less crowd stress than Mendo.)
- Are young people dumber than they used to be? (No, much smarter now and nicer, too)
- What's the difference between Chinese and Mexicans? (Chinese live in China and San Francisco, Mexicans in Mexico and Boonville and Philo)
- How many more days before Trump is impeached? (150)
- Where did the hippies go when they left Elk? (Albion)
STAFFING PROBS LIKELY TO CAUSE LAKE MENDO CLOSURES
WHEN THE MENDOCINO COUNCIL OF GOVERNMENTS met in early June in Ukiah, Ukiah City Councilman and MCOG Commissioner Steve Scalmanini asked: "Regarding the Mendocino Transit Authority’s (MTA’s) continuation of Route 65 service — what is the ridership on that looking like?"
FOR THOSE who may not be familiar with this bus route, it’s MTA’s north coast service between Fort Bragg and Santa Rosa. The bus departs Fort Bragg at 7am and a second southbound carrier at 10:15am.
THE RETURN BUSES serve Windsor, Hopland, Ukiah, Redwood Valley, Willits, and on to Fort Bragg/Mendocino. The journeys are about four hours each way, twice a day, six days a week and once on Sunday. It costs $23 each way (half that for seniors and disabled). So an ordinary Fort Bragg rider would be out of pocket $46 for a day trip to Santa Rosa and back.
THE FARE, the schedule confusion, the general inconvenience mean the line is not heavily patronized, and the MTA — all its lines — is heavily subsidized by State gas tax funds.
CARLA MEYER, General Manager, Mendocino County Transit Authority, did not answer the actual ridership question, choosing instead to describe why the ridership hasn't gone up: “The ridership has been consistent. I'm disappointed that there has not been more growth in the ridership. But I believe that was connected directly to all the errors in the schedules that were printed prior to the start of the new service. And that staff person is no longer with MTA and the schedules are all corrected and reprinted! So I will have a better — I think when we get the word out there more — the schedules were just a mess, you could not make heads or tails out of them."
BUT even if the would-be rider could decode the schedules, the fares are beyond the means of MTA's riders, all of them persons of limited means. Mendocino County people make private arrangements to get from one place to another.
SCALMANINI didn’t follow up to ask about the actual ridership, choosing instead to respond: “I didn't know that. Thank you.”
THESE are the people running what most Mendolanders refer to as “ghost busses” because their ridership is so low and, despite several major state operating and capital equipment subsidies, their ticket prices are so high, few people ride, few people will ever ride.
THE MTA'S board of directors is the usual collection of connecteds — that dreary, marginally competent group of publicly-employed insiders and their friends that dominate public life in Mendocino County.
MTA BOARD OF DIRECTORS
- James Mastin – Chairman — Mendocino County Appointee
- Jim Tarbell – Vice Chairman — Mendocino County Appointee
- Dan Gjerde – Mendocino County Appointee
- Lindy Peters – City of Fort Bragg
- Lloyd Cross – City of Point Arena
- Madge Strong – City of Willits
- Kevin Doble – City of Ukiah
(1) Mastin runs the Mendocino Community College Bookstore. When Mastin ran for Supervisor in 2010 he cited the following connections :
- Chair, Mendocino Transit Authority Board of Directors
- Member, California Transit Committee Executive Committee
- Member, Mendocino County Democratic Central Committee
- Chair, Ukiah Players Theatre Board
- Chair, Mendocino Co. Economic Development and Financing Corp.
- President, Ukiah Community Center Board of Directors
- President, West Company
- President, Mendocino College Management/Confidential Employees
- President, Mendocino College Classified Employees Association
- Chair, Mendocino County Hate Crimes Policy Council
- Co-Chair, Martin Luther King, Jr. Celebration Committee
- Member, Pride Alliance Network
- Member, Mendocino County Hunger Task Force
- Member, Founders Circle, Community Foundation of Mendocino Co.
- Board Member, Mendocino Solid Waste Management Authority
- Member, Russian River Watershed Council
- Member, Ukiah Downtown Merchants Assn.
When Tarbell ran for the now-defeated Mendocino County Charter Commission he identified himself as:
(2) Jim Tarbell is an economist, journalist, author and radio broadcaster based in Northern California. Following spells as a staffer for Congressman Wendell Wyatt (1968-72) and Peace Corps volunteer (1973-75), he founded his own publishing house, Ridge Times Press, in 1981. Amongst many other activities, for eleven years he has been the principle editor of Justice Rising: Grassroots Solutions to Corporate Rule published by the Alliance for Democracy. He co-hosted the KZYX program Corporations and Democracy for 10 + years. He is the author of several books including "I Came Not Alone" (1994) and "Imperial Overstretch: George W. Bush and the Hubris of Empire (2004)." Jim currently teaches a class around Mendocino County called Grassroots Solutions and Corporate Power along with Margaret Koster, Carrie Durkee and Michael St. John.
(3-7) Gjerde is Fourth District County Supervisor, Peters is Mayor of Fort Bragg, Cross is a CPA who is also a Point Arena City Councilman, Madge Strong is a Willits City Councilperson, and Kevin Doble is a Ukiah City Councilman who is also a stormwater consultant.
by Marilyn Davin
30 years ago Honeydew rancher and part-time or Ferndale resident Doug Schmidt was on the cusp of making history — and he didn't even know it. Working as a young criminal attorney in San Francisco, he heard sirens and a lot of commotion around City Hall on his way home from work on November 27, 1978. What he heard was the immediate aftermath of the assassination of Mayor George Moscone and supervisor Harvey Milk, the first openly gay American to hold a major public office. The man who shot the two men, former policeman and fireman Dan White, confessed to the crimes — and Doug Schmidt defended him.
Sitting today in a crowded street-level Main Street apartment where he stays sometimes when he's in town, relaxed in Wranglers, cowboy boots, black flannel shirt and a well-worn turquoise inlaid belt, the retired attorney said he had no idea at the time that the jury's verdict to a lesser charge of manslaughter, shortly after California had reinstated the death penalty, would touch off the riots that would ultimately change not only the face of San Francisco politics, but the notion of gay equality.
"After the verdict I went home, opened a beer, and turned on the TV where it showed the storming of City Hall. So I thought I'd better get out of town," Schmdt recalled. He added that immediately after the trial he got about 100 death threats a day. "I had to put one death threat on hold so I could pick up another one another on the other line," he joked. "It was definitely my 15 minutes of fame."
Schmidt said the White verdict was so hot that it was bad for his business although he ended up practicing criminal law for 33 years and racking up a couple of hundred cases until 2005 when he retired and moved full-time to his 600 acre Honeydew cattle ranch. He has lived part-time in Humboldt County since the early 70s making the weekly drive north from his law practice in San Francisco back in the days when the drive up Highway 101 was a much longer and tougher trip than it is today.
"One year I ended up underneath a rock slide at Confusion Hill," he recalled. "I was driving a Cadillac and it was a really crappy car. I'm glad it got destroyed," he laughed.
Schmidt says he still lives in Honeydew most of the time along with his three dogs and his cat Irene, although he’s spending more time in Ferndale these days. He says he plans to buy a house in town in a couple of years. He says he likes the atmosphere in Ferndale.
"People are friendly but not nosy," Schmidt said of Ferndale. "When I walk down the alleys I feel like I'm back in the 50s.
"I'm basically a hillbilly from Northern Michigan and now I'm a hillbilly from Humboldt," he joked, adding that winter days spent watching the rain in Honeydew can be long and lonely. "I take care of my cows, have my dogs, and am big on Westerns," he said. "I've watched every Western ever made and some of them are pretty bad."
Asked if the Dan White trial changed him in any significant way, Schmidt said it hadn’t. He said he's always believed in the American system that grants defendants representation and that his defense of Dan White as an extremely sick individual has been vindicated over time. He said he kept in touch with White after he served his five year sentence in Soledad prison and in even invited him up to his place in Honeydew.
"He had no joy in his life," he mused, describing White. "He had vacant eyes and was very black and white in his beliefs, very tightly wrapped and rigid." Schmidt said, ironically, that White was not homophobic and that the killings were more a matter of the betrayal White felt when he was not reappointed as Supervisor. White killed himself not long after his release from prison, asphyxiating himself in the garage of his San Francisco home.
Describing his philosophy of life as essentially libertarian, Schmidt said he sees gay rights like he sees a lot of issues — as matters of essential freedom. He said he voted against Proposition 8 and when asked if he was surprised, three decades after the White verdict, by the recent controversy over Stuart Altshuler's home-occupation permit, he said of the opposition, "I thought it was really provincial."
As far as lawyering is concerned, Schmidt says he doesn't miss it at all. "That was then and this is now," he said.
Does he plan to see the recently released film "Milk," which critics are already predicting will earn Sean Penn an Oscar in the title role of Harvey Milk?
"I think I'll wait for the rental," he laughed.
CATCH OF THE DAY, July 1, 2017
SHANNON ARNOLD, Goleta/Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
WILLIAM BARRY, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol. (Frequent flyer.)
JAMES BRAY JR., Fort Bragg. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
TIMMY COOPER, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
CHARLES DUNCAN, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
ISRAEL FUENTES, Ukiah. Disorderly conduct-alcohol, probation revocation.
RICHARD GUEVARA, Willits. Honey oil extraction.
PAT HAND, Willits. Forgery/alternation of vehicle registration.
CANDICE HAWKINS, Covelo. Trespassing.
WILLIAM HOUSLEY, Boonville. “Sexual battery on a mental adult,” battery, probation revocation.
SHANE KING, Ukiah. Vandalism, probation revocation.
MELISSA MCCUTCHAN, Hopland. Battery, resisting.
OLIVER MINOTT, Ukiah. Assault with deadly weapon not a gun, domestic abuse, criminal threats.
JAVIER RAMIREZ, Ukiah. Probation revocation.
CHRISTIANE RODRIGUEZ, Willits. Disobeying a court order.
CODY SANDERSON, Laytonville. Felon/addict in possession of firearm, switchblade, “vehicle registration within 10 days mark out former address write new on face w/RO initials,” false impersonation of another, interfering with police communications, failure to appear, probation revocation.
MICHAEL SANDOVAL, Talmage. Disorderly conduct-alcohol.
PETS OF THE WEEK
Quinn is shy at the Shelter, but we heard through the grapevine that he has a frisky, playful side he lets out once in a while! Quinn is an affectionate, 5 year old neutered male cat who enjoys being brushed and pampered. He may not be a cat who greets unkown people enthusiastically, but he will be a loyal companion/friend to his new owner and family.
Our boy Arlo is a 5 year old, neutered male, mixed breed dog who weighs 74 pounds. Arlo is playful and affectionate, and enjoys a good game of fetch. He's had some training in his former home, as he knows sit, lay down, and also lay up—for belly rubs! Arlo doesn't seem to have bad days as he is always very happy and excited to meet new people. Arlo needs to be the only dog in his new home.
The Ukiah Animal Shelter is located at 298 Plant Road in Ukiah; adoption hours are Tuesday - Saturday 10 am to 4:30 pm and Wednesday till 6:30 pm. To view photos and bios of our adoptable dogs and cats, please visit online at www.mendoanimalshelter.com or visit the shelter. Join us the 2nd Saturday of every month for our "Empty the Shelter" pack walk and help us get every dog out for some exercise! For more information about adoptions please call 707-467-6453.
EXTREME JUNE HEAT LINKED TO CLIMATE CHANGE
The Guardian reported that new research shows human caused climate change dramatically increased the likely of the extreme heatwave that saw deadly forest fires in Portugal and Spain. Also, the severe heat in England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Switzerland was made significantly more likely by global warning. These temperatures will become the norm by 2040, unless action is taken to rapidly cut carbon emissions. This analysis was conducted by World Weather Attribution (WAA), an international coalition of scientists that calculates the role of climate in extreme weather events. The scientists combine temperature records and latest observations with a series of computer models to determine how much the global rise in greenhouse gases had increased the odds of soaring temperatures.
A spokesman for WAA said "This extreme event attribution analysis makes clear that European heatwaves have become more frequent, and in the South of Europe at least 10 times more frequent". Earlier in June, research showed that a third of the world's population already faces deadly heatwaves as a result of climate change. Robert Vautard, at the Laboratory of Climate and Environmental Sciences in France, commented "Hot months are no longer rare in our current climate, by the middle of the century, this kind of extreme heat in June will become the norm in western Europe unless we take immediate steps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions".
As a sidebar, I note that during June parts of Iran had a temperature of 129 degrees. I doubt if many countries are willing to undertake the critical steps necessary to reduce greenhouse emissions. That is certainly true of President Trump and his supporters
In peace and love,
80TH BIRTHDAY OF THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE....
AMERICA’S PENSION BOMB: ILLINOIS IS JUST THE START
by Laurie Meisler
We’ve been hearing it for years: America’s public pensions are a ticking time bomb. Well, at long last, the state of Illinois is about to expose just how big this blowup could be. As of the 2015 fiscal year, Illinois had promised its employees $199 billion in retirement benefits. Right now, it’s $119.1 billion short. That gap lies at the center of a years-in-the-making fiscal mess that’s threatening to drop the state’s credit rating to junk-bond status. But Illinois is hardly alone. Connecticut and New Jersey—states that, to most of the world, seem like oases of prosperity—are under growing financial strain, too.
We’ve ranked the states by the size of their funding gap. The lower the funding ratio, the more money the state has to come up with to meet its pension obligations.
Detailed charts and lists at: https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2017-state-pension-funding-ratios/
THE RISE OF THE McMODERN
BEFORE THE INTERNET
From the current New Yorker (with MCN Commentary):
Before the Internet
by Emma Rathbone
Before the Internet, you would just sit in an armchair with a book open on your lap, staring into space or staring at a decorative broom on the wall—kind of shifting back and forth between those two modes of being.
Before the Internet, you might take it upon yourself to do a drawing. You’d quietly start sketching something in a notebook, not sure what it was, but you’d let inspiration guide you and then—woop!—turns out you’d drawn a squiggly alligator with a cockeyed approach.
Before the Internet, you’d have yawning summer afternoons when you’d !op down on one couch, then !op down on another, then decide to craft a fake F.B.I. card. You’d get some paper from your dad’s office, copy the F.B.I. logo and your signature, laminate it with Scotch tape, put it in your wallet, take it out of your wallet, look at it, then put it back in your wallet with a secretive smile. It was a heady time!
You’d be in some kind of arts center, wearing roomy overalls, looking at a tray of precious gems, and you’d say, “That’s cat’s-eye,” and your friend would say, “Nope. That’s opal.” And you’d say, “That’s de#nitely cat’s-eye.” And there would be no way to look it up, no way to prove who was right, except if someone had a little booklet. “Anyone got a little booklet?” you’d ask, looking around. “Is there a booklet on this shit?”
Then you’d walk outside and squint at the sky, just you in your body, not tethered to any network, adrift by yourself in a world of strangers in the sunlight.
Before the Internet, you could move to a new state and no one at school would know anything about you. You’d have no online history. You could be anyone.You would lean against the lockers with a faraway expression on your face and let people assume whatever they wanted. Like that you were a girly girl but could also be a tomboy. Or that back in your home town you’d been friends with a bunch of crows. And everyone assumed that if they saw a crow it probably knew you, because you had some kind of understanding with crows owing to undefined telepathic abilities that made you look troubled now and then but also really important. And if anyone wanted to track down an old friend of yours and write her an actual letter to find out if any of this was true, well, best of luck to them.
Before the Internet, you could laze around on a park bench in Chicago reading some Dean Koontz, and that would be a legit thing to do and no one would ever know you had done it unless you told them.
Before the Internet, if you were in need of some facts you might actually decide to consult an old person, like the one living in your finished basement. But then you’d finnd yourself watching “The Bridge on the River Kwai,” which you agreed to do because the old person asked in such a fragile way that you couldn’t say no.
About ten minutes in, you’d say you needed some water, then wander up to the kitchen, where you’d get caught up staring at a refrigerator magnet. Then, for no reason, you’d do a little dance. You’d wonder if you should expand that dance right then and there. “Maybe I’ll direct music videos,” you’d say to yourself. But you’d have no way to follow up or to look it up; you’d just be standing in the deafening quiet of your kitchen at midday, alone with your thoughts. “Should I test out these pens on this turquoise pad?” you’d ask yourself, staring at some pens by the phone.
Instead, you’d take a sip of your drink and say, “Aah,” like a person in a commercial. Then you’d go do that in front of a mirror, to see how it looked.
Because that’s what it was like before the Internet. You made your own fun.
(Emma Rathbone’s second novel, “Losing It,” will be published July 19, 2016, by Riverhead Books.)
* * *
Robert M Coppock:
Before the internet, you could play Pac Man all day, or even Pong. Or Centipede or Space Invader at the arcade. You could watch television, and more television. You could smoke dope or drop acid or snort white dust or shoot heroin. You could play football or baseball or basketball. You could play rock 'n' roll, and join the Marines and go to Vietnam. You could go to jazz concerts and pop concerts and dance to disco. You could watch Woody Allen movies and have long discussions about their significance. If you wanted to be a bully, you had to do it to someone's face. All the information about you was on paper, or punched cards that you should never tear, roll up or mutilate, or on big reels of tape which big computers spent hours sorting.
* * *
And before electricity, you could go slowly crazy out on the prairie listening to the howling wind.
* * *
I didn't realize the Internet was so instrumental to advances in obstetrics, epidemiology and mental balance on the windswept prairie
* * *
I was jes' waxin' nostalgic about the good ol' days of the coal-powered internet...
HISSING AND BEEPING AND THRASHING THEIR MIGHTY TAILS.
"The various fairy tales can only coexist peacefully when their adherents recognize them as metaphors."
The recording of last night's (2017-06-30) KNYO and KMEC Memo of the Air: Good Night Radio show is available to download and enjoy via http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com
Also at http://MemoOfTheAir.wordpress.com you'll find directions to many not necessarily radio-useful though worthwhile goods that I found while putting radio shows together. Items such as:
All about water. Enough about water to last the rest of your life. I didn't know there was this much to learn about water.
Tales of typographical insects.
And a comprehensive museum of specific museums.
Reading & Discussion with local author, Lasara Firefox Allen
Jailbreaking the Goddess: A Radical Revisioning of Feminist Spirituality
Saturday, July 15th 12 Noon-2 pm
Local author Lasara Firefox Allen will be reading & discussing her book Jailbreaking the Goddess. There will be a Q&A as well as a mini-workshop incorporating 1-2 exercises from the book. Refreshments will be available.
Lasara Firefox Allen is the author of the best selling Jailbreaking the Goddess: A Radical Revisioning of Feminist Spirituality (2016), and Sexy Witch (2005), both published by Llewellyn Worldwide. A wildhearted change agent, Lasara delivers tools for transformation, provides strategies for embodiment, and creates vibrant spaces for personal and collective liberation. Lasara’s coaching and teaching work weaves together themes of empowerment, embodiment, body positivity, sexual liberation, feminism, and inhabiting our whole selves.
Lasara is a Mendocino County local. She was raised on Greenfield ranch and now lives with her family in the hills outside of Willits.
“Jailbreaking the Goddess is a revolutionary revisioning of the feminine divine. Where the maiden, mother, crone archetypal system is tied to female biology and physical stages of life, the fivefold model liberates the female experience from the shackles of the reproductive model.
In a woman's lifetime, she will go through several different cycles of beginnings, potential, creation, mastery, and wisdom. This fivefold model is not an adaption of the threefold. It is a new system that embraces the powerful, fluid nature of the lived experience of women today.
Join Lasara Firefox Allen as she explores the nature of the five archetypes; gives examples of what areas of life each might preside over; lists goddesses that fit within each archetype; suggests ways to begin building relationship with the different archetypes; and provides simple rituals for recognition, transition, and invocation.”
All events are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library. For more information about the Ukiah Library Summer Reading Program, please contact: Melissa Eleftherion Carr at 707-467-4634 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
* * *
Computer Classes For Adults:
Facebook 101 – July 11th
Email Basics – August 29th
Internet Safety 101 – Sept 19th
All classes begin at 11 am
Join us at the Ukiah Library for hands-on interactive computer classes for adults. Learn how to keep in touch with friends and family or promote your art –work on Facebook, use email to correspond & communicate business matters, and protect your identity & stay safe online!
Registration is required; please call 463-4490 to sign up!
All classes and events are free and open to the public. Sponsored by the Ukiah Valley Friends of the Library. For more information about the Ukiah Library Summer Reading Program, please contact: Melissa Eleftherion Carr at 707-467-4634 or email@example.com.
FISH & CONSERVATION GROUPS SUE TO BLOCK DELTA TUNNELS PROJECT
by Dan Bacher
Fishing and environmental groups yesterday filed two lawsuits challenging the Trump administration's biological opinions permitting the construction of the controversial Delta Tunnels that were released Monday.
This litigation is the first of many that are expected to be filed against the biological opinions and the project in the intensifying water wars.
Four groups — the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), Defenders of Wildlife, and the Bay Institute — charged the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and National Marine Fisheries Service for violating the Endangered Species (ESA) a landmark federal law that projects endangered salmon, steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species. The lawsuits said the biological opinions are “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion."
On Monday, the Donald Trump administration released a no-jeopardy finding in their biological opinions regarding the construction of the Delta Tunnels, claiming that the California WaterFix "will not jeopardize threatened or endangered species or adversely modify their critical habitat." The biological opinions are available here: www.fws.gov/...
In a statement announcing the lawsuits (https://www.nrdc.org/resources/complaints-challenging-waterfix-biological-opinions-northern-district-california), the groups said the biological opinions by the two fishery agencies pave the way" for construction and operation of the California WaterFix, the massive tunnels project that "experts say will further devastate fisheries and water quality of the San Francisco Bay-Delta."
The groups claim, "While the biological opinions identify significant harm to winter-run Chinook salmon and other threatened and endangered species from the construction and operation of the proposed project, they do not identify how the massive new diversion tunnels can and should be operated to prevent that harm."
“Politics has trumped science once again,” said Doug Obegi , senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s water program. “Instead of fixing the major environmental problems with the project, the agencies tasked with protecting our natural resources are making things worse and assuming that someone else will fix them down the line.”
John McManus, executive director of the Golden Gate Salmon Association (GGSA), said the current version of the California WaterFix will devastate salmon populations.
“This version of the tunnels will wipe out California’s salmon fishery and the families and communities that rely on salmon,” said McManus. “The problem is the state basically allowed the water users to design the tunnels and they’re so huge that the federal fish and wildlife agencies are basically throwing up their hands. It’s like they let the fox design the hen house so of course he made it easy to rob.”
The lawsuits claim that the biological opinions not only unlawfully fail to protect native salmon and other fish from extinction, but "allow river conditions to degrade further."
The groups said the tunnels would divert millions of acre-feet of water from rivers before it reaches the San Francisco Bay-Delta Estuary, noting that freshwater flows are "particularly important" to endangered species, including spring and winter-run Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, green sturgeon and Delta and longfin smelt.
“Decades of research and study demonstrate that unsustainable diversion of water from the San Francisco Bay estuary is the single most important factor driving the decline of numerous fish and wildlife populations,” said Jonathan Rosenfield, lead scientist for The Bay Institute. “The tunnels do not change that reality and neither will an amorphous ‘adaptive management’ program that amounts to wishful thinking."
Rachel Zwillinger, water policy advisor for Defenders of Wildlife, said, “The proposed Delta tunnels could be the nail in the coffin for native fish like Chinook salmon and Delta smelt, causing them to disappear from the San Francisco Bay-Delta forever."
Neither NOAA Fisheries nor California Department of Water Resources have commented on the lawsuit, as is usually the case with active litigation.
The Delta Tunnels plan has been embraced by three presidential administrations - Bush, Obama and Trump - and two California administrations - Schwarzenegger and Brown. Opponents consider the project to be a bi-partisan water grab for corporate agribusiness, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and extreme oil extraction methods.
On the state level, the Delta Stewardship Council on June 23 endorsed controversial conveyance and storage amendments to the Delta Plan that project opponents say will hasten the approval of the California WaterFix, in spite of opposition by fishermen, family farmers, environmentalists and Delta residents who packed a room in the Holiday Inn in Sacramento.
Public trust advocates say the California WaterFix project to build two giant 35 mile long tunnels under the Delta would not only hasten the extinction of Central Valley steelhead, winter and spring-run Chinook salmon, Delta and longfin smelt, green sturgeon and other fish species, but would also imperil the salmon and steelhead populations on the Trinity and Klamath rivers that have been an integral part of the culture, religion and livelihood of the Yurok, Karuk and Hoopa Valley Tribes for over thousands of years.
“By green-lighting WaterFix, the federal government is green lighting extinction,” concluded Zwillinger.