SACRAMENTO – On January 18, Assemblymember Jim Frazier, D-Discovery Bay, issued a statement responding to alleged unlawful ex parte communications between the State Water Resources Control Board and the Department of Water Resources regarding the proposed Delta Tunnels outlined in complaints filed by Delta region local governments, public agencies and advocacy organizations.
“If these allegations are true, it attests that DWR has been illegally manipulating the process in favor of the disastrous tunnels project and doing it behind closed doors. I’m appalled that the State Water Board would show such bias and not represent the whole state but only a portion of the state.
These allegations are more of the same unethical, unprofessional and illegal behavior by DWR that we have seen in the past, exposed by a recent State Auditor’s report.
The public, especially residents of the Delta, deserve to have confidence that the process is fair, transparent and focused on what is best for all Californians, not just the interests of a few.
I am grateful to the local governments and advocacy organizations in the Delta for bringing these apparent violations – discovered through a Public Records Act request – to light. I join them in calling for a full investigation into the prohibited communications alleged in the complaints.”
In a victory for Delta Tunnels opponents, the California Water Fix hearing team at the State Water Resources Control Board in Sacramento on January 17 announced that the project hearing days scheduled for January 18 through February 1, 2018 are cancelled.
They cancelled the hearings to give the hearing officers time to review all four motions filed by counties, cities, fishing groups and environmental organizations yesterday asking for a 90 day stay in the hearings due to alleged illegal “exparte communications” and meetings between the Department of Water Resources and State Water Board staff.
“Unless the hearing officers notify the parties of any additional changes to the hearing schedule, the parties should assume that Part 2 of the hearing will resume on February 2, 2018 with policy statements only. Unless rescheduled the evidentiary portion of Part 2 will resume on February 5, 2018,” the team said.
On January 12, the Save the California Delta Alliance yesterday filed a request for continuance of the California Water Fix proceedings at the State Water Board. The alliance, represented by lawyer Michael Brodsky, alleges ex-parte communications between DWR and State Water Board staff, and requests that steps be taken to correct the problem, such as “disqualification of hearing team members and replacement with administrative law judge; removal of flow criteria from evidentiary hearing and including it with the Bay Delta Water Quality Control Plan update, or dismissal of the petition.”
This emails documenting the ex-parte communications were released through a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request by Patrick Porgans and Associates.
Brodsky was encouraged by yesterday’s decision by the California Water Fix hearing team.
“It’s a recognition that this is a very serious situation and that the ultimate outcome of the hearings could be irrevocably tainted if they don’t take some action on the ethical violations that have taken place,” said Brodsky. “They gave the Department of Water Resources until Friday to respond. It might have been better to REQUIRE DWR to respond.”
“I’d like to thank Patrick Porgans, who brought this whole situation to our attention with his CPRA request,” emphasized Brodsky.
Read the request for continuance here: req for continue tofile (002)
On January 15, San Joaquin County, Sacramento County, City of Stockton, City of Antioch, and Local Agencies of the North Delta also jointly prepared and filed one motion asking the State Water Resources Control Board (SWRCB) to stay the hearing on the controversial project at least 90 days.
For more information on the DWR and State Water Board’s illegal export communications scandal, go to: www.dailykos.com/…