Will Obama and Harry Reid back DiFi’s secret deal to sell billions of publicly owned water to her wealthy donor?

4:51 pm in Politics by Kirk Murphy

Last night Sen Diane Feinstein (D-Billionaires) announced her last minute secret deal to revoke Federal environmental law and a century of Western water law so that we taxpayers can subsidize a few hundred deadbeat welfare millionaires and one billionaire in California’s Central Valley.

In keeping with her visceral contempt for representative democracy and the citizens she purports to represent, Lord DiFi plans to push through her multi-billion dollar giveaway as a rider on the fast track Senate jobs bill.

Feinstein has long supported California agriculture but began to weigh in on the side of farmers in the water wars after requests from Stewart Resnick, the well-connected owner of Paramount Farms, which grows citrus and nuts on 118,000 acres in Kern County.

In September, Resnick wrote Feinstein complaining that "sloppy science" by federal wildlife agencies was causing farm water shortages. A week later, Feinstein forwarded the letter to Obama administration officials, who authorized a review by the National Academy of Sciences….

Feinstein made no mention Thursday of her demand for the National Academy of Sciences report, due next month, to verify the science behind fish-conservation demands.

Resnick’s business has given $29,000 to Feinstein’s campaigns and $246,000 more to Democratic political committees during years when she sought re-election, according to a report by California Watch, an investigative journalism nonprofit organization, that was published in The Chronicle in December.

DiFi’s billioniare donor Stewart Resnick will do very well from DiFi’s last-minute deal. You see, Resnick’s not merely a farmer: Resnick’s a water broker.

The Kern Water Bank, which was owned by the state Department of Water Resources from 1988 to 1995, is now in the hands of Kern County interests and is 48 percent owned by Westside Mutual Water Company, a private water company controlled by Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick.

And DiFi’s giveaway will give him and the few hundred deadbeat welfare farmers who own the Westlands Water District cheap public subsidized water. Water the billionaire and the deadbeat millionaires can turn around and sell to the public who once owned it, and still pay for the infrastucture that collects it. Water the billioniare and the deadbeat welfare millionaires can sell at market rates – which means they’ll make tens of billions. From the public who own the water DiFi wants to give away with her last minute rider on the jobs bill.

DiFi’s muliti-billion giveaway piggybacks on the Shock Doctrine campaign Fox , the Westland Water District‘s few hundred millionaire owners, and a few mega-wealthy Kern County water brokers are waging to take publicly subsidized Federal and State Water Project water away from the taxpayers who own it and turn over control of the resource to a relative handful of private players.

The private players have been beavering away to make certain they can sell off DiFi’s giveaway at market rates…to the same taxpayers who owned the water before DiFi gave it away. And the billions in profits the private beneficiaries of DiFi’s giveaway will make will come from – you guessed it – the public who now own the water DiFi wants to give away.

Of course, DiFi hasn’t been alone in laying the groundwork for private Water Lords to take control of the most essential public resource: water. A couple of months ago CA’s pliant, ambitious Assembly Speaker Karen Bass joined lawmakers on both sides of the aisle (Take a bow, Jared Huffman of Marin County! Stand up proud, Abel Maldonado!) and the usual cast of PEW-captured Big Green groups (hi NRDC and EDF – thanks for nothing!) to help Arnold make his own end run around democracy and place before CA’s voters a mega-billion bond measure that effectively gives over control of California’s vast Delta to a tiny unelected group, ostensibly guided by the Bay Delta Conservation Plan. Who pushed hardest for the scam? You guessed it: the same tiny handful of millionaire/billionaire welfare farmers DiFi’s deal will benefit.

Now Jared Huffman is shocked, shocked – and EDF are crying like babies. Why, EDF’s so mad they want to take their access and go home.

” … Ann Hayden, a senior water analyst at Environmental Defense Fund, said her group would quit the conservation planning process if the Feinstein amendment passes.

She called it an act of betrayal, since some water interests on the committee undoubtedly asked Feinstein for the amendment.

“It doesn’t help to know that folks we’re partnering with are playing it both ways,” Hayden said. “It will make the long-term planning almost meaningless if, in the short term, actions are taken that push some species to the point of extinction.” … “

Meanwhile, outside the PEW neutered groups and captive pols, ordinary folk saw Arnie’s grand plan clearly.

"However, the Schwarzenegger plan to build a 50 mile- long
canal will not generate any new water
, abdicates any
meaningful oversight, cedes absolute authority to faceless
bureaucrats and will cost over $10 billion, even more once you
add mitigation and restoration costs. The language in this
legislation does nothing to change those facts," added Minton.

Representatives from the Sierra Club California, Restore the
Delta, the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance, Friends
of the River and the Environmental Justice Coalition for Water
joined PCL in expressing concern over the fact that the
Legislature developed these bills (SB229 – Pavley; SB12 -
Simitian; AB39 – Huffman; and SB458 – Wolk) with no public
input and their worry that the bills will be rushed through in the
last three weeks of the legislative session.

"There is no question that the Delta is in crisis and we
must find a way to work together to save the Delta and
the San Francisco Bay," Minton noted. "But there has
to be a better way than jamming this down the public’s
throat and asking them to pay billions for a project
they haven’t had any say in at a time when the state
has been issuing IOU’s, cutting back on schools, and
shutting down parks."

Too bad Assembly Speaker Bass and Rep. Jared Huffman and EDF and NRDC and their pals ignored all the grass-roots enviros who spent months warning them Arnie’s push was merely a giant giveaway to BiggestAg and Hugest Contractors. Of course, for groups like EDF and NRDC who long ago drank the PEW kool-aid, the name of the game isn’t winning: it’s keeping that all important access.

Cause Power cares so much about their opinions, right? That’s why, when Power fucks them over, they’ll give up – you guessed it! – their precious access. Cause it was worth trading away the Delta for, right? Sure.

I’d call them suckers, but that would reflect poorly on fish.

The bond issue Speaker Karen Bass personally made it possible for Arnold to put before California voters gives voters the opportunity to vote for them to pay dozens of billions to subsidize the construction required for Westlands Water District and DiFi’s billionaire supporter to make maximun profits selling public water on the private market – to the taxpayers very own water districts.

Karen Bass ran for office touting her environmental justice credentials. As Speaker, she used her Power to ram through the Delta scam over the objections of the poor folks with the temerity to actually live in the Delta. (What do those cheeky proles think they’re doing living in the way of the billionaires’ new construction project, Arnie’s Ditch To Nowhere?)

Fortunately, despite decades of Grover Norquist’s jihad against public education, even CA’s low-info voters will likely see through the con job and vote down the bond issues. Unless, of course, they buy the Shock Doctrine propaganda FOX and DiFi and Arnie are selling. Yet buried in the (one hopes) doomed bond measure is a sneaky little bit of text effectively allowing the few hundered deadbeat owners of the Westlands Water District and DiFi’s mega-donor Resnick to resell the public water DiFi hopes to give them with her rider on the Jobs Bill.

Whatever happens to the execrable bond issue Speaker Karen Bass made possible – and lets hope it sinks – look for the water resale legislation to keep floating to the surface….like the 77,000 bloated, putrid salmon who clogged the lower Klamath in 2002 after Cheney ordered the National Marine Fisheries Service to join his Shock Doctrine war against the Federal Endangered Species Act.

Together with Arnie and his new BFF Abel Maldonado, Dems Jared Huffman, Fran Pavley, and Speaker Karen Bass were able to push through the water bond issue scam in no large part because the Fox propaganda network had spent months spewing Shock Doctrine. Fox hypes the 2009/2010 Big Fish Lie about California’s water: fish kill farms. This year’s Big Fish Lie echoes Cheney’s earlier secret effort to destroy Klamath River salmon protections just in time for Shrub to show up in the upper Klamath Basin and try to win Ag voters by punching the Endangered Species Act full of holes. Fox hyped that scam, too.

No surprise that in announcing her multi-billion dollar giveaway rider, DiFi parroted Fox’s Biggest Lies about California’s water.

Over the last few years, 400,000 acres of farmland have been fallowed, permanent crops uprooted, and tens of thousands of people are unemployed.

In the real world, turns out the 400,000 acres DiFi claims were fallowed by decreased Federal/State water supply – well – they don’t seem to exist.

In the real world the few hundred wealthy landowners who control the Westlands Water District in CA’s San Joaquin Valley have stiffed the US Treasury – that’s us, the taxpayers – for nearly half a billion dollars. You see, they just never got around to paying back their share of the Federal Water Project. The same Water Project they and Fox want us to believe has made the poor millionaires into neglected victims.

In the real world, the deadbeat owners of Westlands Water District – one-quarter the size of Connecticut – run vast welfare farms, collecting triple Federal subsidies: for the water wasting commodity crops they grow, for subsidized electricity to pump the below-market water, and for the subsidized water. And they get the subsidies even though they’ve blown off their debt to the Feds.

In the real world, the few hundred deadbeat welfare farmers who own the Westlands Water District propped up their astroturf group, the California Latino Water Coalition, to tell us all how we need to give away public wealth to help Westlands help the poor Latino farmworkers who get to suck down pesticides while they work for next to nothing on Westlands farmland.

As I wrote last May for FDL:

A pretty good joke, considering that the tiny ag communities where many of Westlands’ farm workers and their families have lived for decades are the Appalachia of the west. Unemployment rates over 30%, median income less than $8,000, massive pesticide exposure, and very high rates of cancer, infertility, and learning disorders associated with ag chemicals (from Westlands District farmers) were normal in these communities even before the last three years of drought. Because the few hundred wealthy families who own Westlands love their farmworkers so much.

In the real world, Associate Professor Jeffery Michael – director of the University of the Pacific’s Business Resource Center – sees though the lie. Westlands, along with nearly every other big farmers in the San Joaquin Valley, fuck over their farmworkers even when water’s abundant.

Water contractors point to 40 percent unemployment in Mendota as evidence of the water crisis. These unemployment estimates for towns aren’t a current survey, but are crude extrapolations from the 2000 Census, the last time any real data were compiled for these areas….

Delta water exports were above average in 2000, and local farm employment was at a nine-year peak. Despite this, the 2000 census found unemployment in Mendota exceeded 32 percent, highest of the state’s 494 towns.

Per-capita income was below $8,000, the lowest level in the state, nearly 20 percent lower than Mexico and many developing nations in Africa, Eastern Europe and South America. Not surprisingly, water contractors don’t issue news releases about unemployment when they have water.

In the real world, as Dr. Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute wrote, California’s California’s robust agricultural sector added farm jobs even as Westside Water District farmers (whose water rights are junior to other water users) received less water.

. . . the drought has had very little overall impact on agricultural employment, compared to the much larger impacts of the recession. In fact, in the last three years, while State Water Project allocations have decreased statewide, California’s agricultural job sector has grown (see figure). Further, according to Professor Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific in Stockton, rising unemployment in the Central Valley is largely the result of the bad economy, not a lack of water.

In the real world, several years ago, so many Westlands Water District nut farmers planted new trees that in the subsequent years the farmers created a "nut glut". Then prices crashed, decreasing ag jobs. Because of this market failure, life is even harder for the people of Mendota than it was before.

What’s the biggest priority for FOX’s new pal, the Latino Water Coalition? Food, water, and air free of pesticides? Nope. The LWC’s biggest priority? Suspending the Endangered Species Act and getting more water for the Westlands Water District, the official victim for FOX’s May sweeps.

OK, that was last May. What are those "junior water rights" Dr. Gleick referred to? Well, in the real world, Western water rights are first come, first serve: and Westlands is at the end of the line. You see, the State Water Project supplies "back-up" water. The SWP was created with the explicit intent it would provide water when possible, but in dry years there would be no water for junior users. Like the Westlands Water District.

Which is why planting trees – the plants that require water every year, unlike annual food crops – was a boneheadedly stupid business decision for the deadbeat welfare farmers of the Westlands Water District.

The very same decision the deadbeat welfare farmers of the Westlands Water District, Fox, Sean Hannity, Abel Maldonado, Arnold, and the Teabaggers all want the rest of us to pay for. By giving away billions worth public water. You see, welfare’s OK for billionaire Resnick and the Westlands deadbeat welfare millionaires, but not for the farmworkers DiFi wants us all to believe she suddenly cares about so much.

Is DiFi’s multibillion scheme to give away thirty billion people’s water to a few hundred deadbeat welfare millionaires and one billionaire OK with Senate Majority Leader and President Obama?

Call them, and find out. But better call soon: the jobs bill – like DiFi’s obscenely wealthy pals – is on a fast track.

Or you can simply roll over, do nothing, and repeat the mantra: Forget it Jake. It’s the Delta.