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Orange Co. water district committee backs rider banning Delta Tunnels lawsuits
by Dan Bacher
Tuesday Jun 19th, 2018 5:33 PM
“The close working relationship between MWDOC and Congressman Ken Calvert, House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, and Hanford Congressman David Valadao is troubling,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta.
The Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) Public Affairs & Legislation Committee voted 3 to 0 yesterday to support a resolution backing Representative Ken Calvert’s controversial rider banning the judicial review of lawsuits against Governor Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels project at the committee’s meeting on Monday, June 18.

The resolution will go before the district’s Board of Directors on Wednesday, June 20, 8:30 AM, at the regular board meeting, Conference Room 101, according to Damon Micalizzi, Director of Public Affairs at MWDOC.

The rider would set a dangerous legal precedent if approved by Congress. “The elimination of judicial review foreshadows a regressive slide from a government controlled by laws to a government controlled by rulers,” summed up Bob Wright, Senior Attorney at Friends of the River.

Martha Camacho-Rodriguez, an educator/organizer with Social Eco Education, an ally with Restore the Delta, Sierra Club and Food Water Watch, spoke against the resolution at the meeting.

“We are here to speak for Southern California ratepayers who are now aware that this entire agency’s connection to Congressman Ken Calvert — who is renowned for political corruption – is well documented,” Camacho-Rodriguez said. “Your board is behind the push for Calvert’s rider to strip the people of California the right to judicial review of the WaterFix tunnels. This political push by this corrupt agency shows your disregard for constitutional protections for Californians. It is immoral, corrupt and low down dirty to conduct yourselves as two bit crooks.”

“Your board member Brett Barbre pushed MWD board members with political wheeling and dealing to support this corruption. The political manuvering and Brown Act Violations are all documented in communication between Brett Barbe and MWD’s Jeff Kightlinger. This is corrupt!” she said.

During the meeting, committee members “remained confident that the Interior spending bill would receive approval from the Senate, despite strong opposition from Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris,” a statement from Restore the Delta (RTD) pointed out.

The committee meeting materials revealed a similar sentiment by MWDOC officials.

“Meanwhile, the Senate will present different obstacles and while the Senate may oppose this provision, as both California Senators have indicated their opposition, in the end the Senate is not likely to prevail against the House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, who is a big supporter of this provision” (Page 4 of the agenda packet).

The committee also proclaimed their support of another rider that was added to the Interior spending bill written by Representative David Valadao (R-Hanford) that would exempt the Central Valley Project and State Water Project from judicial review as well, RTD noted.

”MWDOC’s General Manager Robert Hunter indicated that Congressman Calvert, a close political advocate for MWDOC, would not have supported the Valado rider if it couldn’t pass,” RTD stated.

“The close working relationship between MWDOC and Congressman Ken Calvert, House Majority Leader, Kevin McCarthy, and Hanford Congressman David Valadao is troubling,” said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “At yesterday’s MWDOC committee meeting, it became clear that this political trio will continue to advocate their flawed vision for California water policy at the behest of MWDOC, despite our Senators’ and Californians’ opposition to the rider.”

Governor Jerry Brown and Attorney General Xavier Becerra have not spoken out against Calvert’s rider, although both Senator Dianne Feinstein and Senator Kamala Harris have voiced their official opposition to the Calvert rider.

“Governor Brown’s silence emboldens them,” said Barrigan-Parrilla. “Such arrogant backroom wheeling and dealing exemplify all that is wrong with California water management. These riders are a brazen attempt to subvert the rule of law as it relates to Governor Brown’s WaterFix tunnels.”

MWDOC is a wholesale water supplier and resource planning agency serving the Orange County area — and a vocal proponent of the California WaterFix. It is a member agency of the powerful Metropolitan Water District (MWD) of Southern California, one of the biggest proponents of the Delta Tunnels.

Photo: Speaker of the House Paul Ryan and Representative Ken Calvert at the swearing in ceremony. Photo courtesy of Congressman Ken Calvert's Office.

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