8 of 9 Water Bond Czars hail from NorCal

8 of 9 Water Bond Czars hail from NorCal

 

drought, Taylor Jones, Cagle, Aug 3, 2014Call them Water Bond Czars.

They’re the nine members of the California Water Commission and will decide how to implement Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the Nov. 4 ballot, should voters pass it.

While most media have focused on what’s in the bond, little attention has been given to who will oversee the first water storage projects built in California in 50 years. The bond stipulates that the Nine Water Bond Czars will decide where the money goes.

According to the commission’s website:

“Seven members are chosen for their general expertise related to the control, storage, and beneficial use of water and two are chosen for their knowledge of the environment.”

But eight of the nine current members hail from Northern California. Just one, Chair Joseph Byrne, hails from drought-parched Southern California.

In the official pamphlet sent to voters for Prop. 1, the impartial California Legislative Analyst explained the powers of the commission for picking water storage projects:

“The Commission would not have to go through the state budget process to spend these funds. For all other funding provided in the measure, the Legislature generally would allocate money annually to state agencies in the state budget process.”     

The power of the commission won’t be total because the $2.7 billion in bond monies for storage must be used as matching funds for water storage projects competitively proposed by other state, federal or local agencies.  In other words, the commission won’t originate storage projects, but will pick the winners from proposals submitted by other agencies.

And Prop. 1 does not provide for accepting proposals from private entities or joint venture projects with private entities.

Who are California’s Water Czars?

A Calwatchdog probe of the makeup of the nine Water Bond Czars found:

  • Eight of nine commissioners are from Northern California.
  • Three are Republicans: Andrew Ball, Luther Hintz and David Orth.
  • Two are undeclared in political party, but liberal-leaning: Jose Del Bosque and Kimberly Delfino.
  • Only three have any strong water policy experience before serving on the commission: Del Bosque, Hintz and Orth.
  • Of those three, only two, both Republicans, have experience with statewide water issues: Hintz, and Orth.
  • The past or present occupation of four of the members is environmental lobbying, education and political consulting: David Curtin, Delfino, Armando Quintero and Anthony Saracino.
  • Two members are primarily labor and union lobbyists: Curtin and Del Bosque.
  • Two are from agriculture, one Democrat, Del Bosque; and one Republican, Orth.
  • Eight are men, one is a woman, Delfino.
  • Interestingly, while anti-fracking activists have erroneously been trying to convince the public that hydraulic fracturing of oil is depleting California’s water supplies, there are no representatives of the oil industry on the Commission.

By clicking on the names in the table below, or going here, the biographies can be seen of each Commission member.

California Water Commission – Member Profiles

Name Principal Occupation Education Northern or Southern California Party Affiliation Prior Water Policy Experience
Andrew Ball Building Industry Architecture Northern Republican None
Joseph
Byrne
Political Consultant Law Southern Democrat None
Daniel Curtin Labor Lobbyist & EnvironmentalAdvocate Bachelor of Science Northern Democrat None
Jose Del Bosque Labor & Agriculture Farming (Del Bosque Farms) Northern Undeclared Prior years not stated
Kimberly Delfino Environmental lobbyist Law Northern Undeclared None
Luther Hintz Water Engineer Engineering Northern Republican 52 years
David Orth Agricultural Water Manager-Accountant Accounting Northern Republican 28 years
Armando Quintero Environmental educator Education Northern Democrat None
Anthony Saracino Environmental Water Consultant Environmental Engineer Northern Democrat None

Conclusion

The Commission is far from a panel that reflects the diversity of water interests in California and six of its members had no prior water policy experience before serving on the commission.

If Prop. 1 passes, its implementation could turn out to be a major political controversy in the next several years.


Note: The water bond matching fund share is typically 50 percent.  This means the real tax burden of Proposition 1 is not $7.5 billion, but $10.2 billion, as another $2.7 billion will have to come from other agencies.  So while water storage comprises 35 percent of the $7.5 billion total bond funds provided in Prop. 1, the actual amount of funding for water storage will be $5.4 billion.  This would make funding for water storage about 53 percent of all funding.

3 comments

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  1. Manfred von Borks
    Manfred von Borks 31 October, 2014, 10:47

    Very good info, I’ve been referring to the Czars as a cabal of Water Weasels, thanks for naming them.

    Reply this comment
  2. ricky65
    ricky65 2 November, 2014, 09:54

    Mr Lusvardi:
    Your article focuses on the north-south residency aspect of the so-called water czars. It may interesting but I don’t think that’s the most important factor.
    The more critical factor is really the political makeup of the board which appears to be skewed left towards anti development of real water storage projects.
    This is why after thinking over Prop 1 for a long time I decided finally to vote against it. We desperately need new water storage and I’d vote for a clean, pork free water storage bill in a heartbeat.
    But two thirds of this proposed bond is green pork, or re-distribution to green or preferred constituency groups. This dog even throws in $300 million for FLOOD control projects! Now that might be a legitimate need, but it should not be part of a water bill ostensibly designed to help with current and future droughts. Obviously it was needed to buy support for the bond measure from yet another constituency group in the central valley.
    So while about of the third of the $7.5 bond is supposed to go for new storage projects, I don’t believe the proposed new reservoirs will ever be built. The greenie members of this board will simply vote against any new construction thereby deadlocking the commission.
    And groups helping Brown push this scam like the Nature Conservancy, will immediately turn on any new reservoir building projects unleashing their lawyer hordes to sue and tie up projects forever in the courts.
    Actually, I believe Brown and his green cohorts are secretly counting on the greenie opposition to bail them out of actually building something which might actually help our long term drought situation.
    For some damn reason that I’ll never understand, they believe all dams are evil. It’s the same knee jerk reaction every time- like waving a crucifix in front of a vampire. They will oppose any storage project even if the proposed dams are off stream with little impact like Sites Reservoir or on already dammed rivers like Temperance Flat on the San Joaquin.

    Anybody who thinks I’m being too cynical about this needs only to look at how the voters wishes have been contorted in the past in this corrupt state. And no more so than by this very small -minded Governor.
    As proof I offer you the HS rail project (aka the Brown Streak) in which all the provisions in the original proposition have been totally ignored by Brown and his battery of liberal corrupt judges.

    Yet another bond for water projects with nothing for our parched state except green pork for well connected insider groups.

    Reply this comment
    • Wayne Lusvardi
      Wayne Lusvardi 3 November, 2014, 12:28

      I rarely get such a well thought out comment to my web posts.

      I hope you understand that Calwatchdog cannot take a position on the ballot Propositions. Also, Calwatchdog has undergone a journalistic paradigm shift to objective journalism and news reporting and away from opinion pieces (unless it specifically states it is an opinion piece).

      All I can do as a reporter is report the make up of the Water Commission, I can’t speculate on whether its members have been selected to shoot down dams.

      Thank you for your comments so that writers can read your well reasoned opinions.

      Reply this comment

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