Environment

Wade resigns presidency of East Merced Resource Conservation District

Submitted: Nov 21, 2007

Bernard Wade, president of the East Merced Resource Conservation District, resigned his office and board membership at the monthly EMRCD meeting Wednesday afternoon.

At a very tense meeting of the Merced River Stakeholders Monday, Wade, who has a riverfront property near Snelling, attempted several times to inject an element of rational explanation into the argument between MRS stakeholders and the EMRCD. The attack on the stakeholders by three of the five EMRCD board members attending the MRS meeting was led as usual by Merced County Planning Commissioner Cindy Lashbrook, who is also a paid staffer for the EMRCD and the Merced River Alliance and owns a farm on the river.

The speculation is that the EMRCD would not tolerate Wade's continual polite friendliness to members of the river stakeholders groups, even those who opposed the EMRCD grant as little more than a staff gravy train.

He closed his short letter of resignation to the EMRCD board with a line from Shakespeare: "The fault is not in our stars... but in ourselves."

Bernard Wade is a gentleman whose good manners, friendliness, ability to listen and tolerance of disagreement will be sorely missed in Merced County public affairs.

Badlands Journal editorial board

The critical spirit makes distinctions, and to distinguish is a sign of modernism. In modern culture the scientific community praises disagreement as a way to improve knowledge. For Ur-Fascism, disagreement is treason. Umberto Eco, ternal Fascism: Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Blackshirt

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Unasked questions about TNC Staten Island

Submitted: Nov 17, 2007

Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, sicced the state auditor on a Natural Conservancy-owned ranch near the San Joaquin Delta recently. Maze says the easement and TNC management of the 9,200-acre ranch stink and asks why $17.6 million in state flood protection funds is being spent on a Delta island that shows no signs of levee improvement.

The money came from Prop. 13, passed in March 2000, originally AB 1584, the $1.97-billion Safe Drinking Water, Clean Water, Watershed Protection, and Flood Protection Act authored by then Assemblman Mike Machado, D-Linden.

The Sacramento Bee article on the flap fails to raise several important questions.

For example, quite aside from the issue of who funded the project, would TNC be able to build flood-control levees according to the terms of its conservation easement on Staten Island, winter home of a TNC-estimated 15 percent of the migratory Sand Hill cranes? The plan, as best we can determine from the article is to flood the island in the winter after the grain crops are harvested to make a pleasant habitat for the traveling cranes and other flocks. Some in Merced familiar with the quality of the TNC conservation easements to mitigate for UC Merced know that TNC is not shy about taking public funds for easements that cannot stand the light of public scrutiny. And so does the state Department of Fish and Game, the Wildlife Conservation Board and UC.

Another example of questions unasked is: how much money did TNC contribute to get Prop. 13 passed? According to CalVoter archives for the March 7, 2000 primary, although no funds were recorded in opposition to the proposition, $10,502,802 were spent selling it. (Sixty-five percent of the voters approved it.) TNC, the top contributor to the Prop. 13 campaign, gave $3,022,068 -- 29 percent of all money raised for the proposition. TNC was also the top contributor, with the same amount, to Prop. 12, the Parks, Water and Coastal Protection Act Bond, according to CalVoter.

It is also a matter of political curiosity that Staten Island is on the border of Machado's present state Senate district.

Three million to make $35 million (the other half of the Staten Island funding comes from the CALFED Bay-Delta Program) isn't a bad deal if you have the $3 million to put down when the time is right. And TNC did and no doubt made many friends among the state and federal agencies in charge of dispensing these public funds. A similar return on investment could no doubt be traced to some of the other top 10 contributors to the Prop. 13 campaign.

If this background is added to the particulars of Maze's Tulare County district, represented in Congress by Devin Nunes, R-Visalia, Scourge of the San Joaquin River Restoration Settlement that passed its first hurdle in Congress last week, perhaps the story below becomes clearer as part of the general California water war. But it is also evidence of the very arrogant way in which the multi-national environmental Leviathan TNC does business (as we have seen in Merced County), it gives bushwhackers like Maze their opportunity, it encourages every grant grifter in the tules to whip up a group of bogus stakeholders and write the state for the big bucks, and it darkens the reputation in the general public of every environmental group trying to do a decent job in a lawful, socially responsible way.

Bill Hatch
-------------------

11-12-07
Sacramento Bee
Quiet island in dispute
Use of state flood grants to buy land scrutinized...Judy Lin
http://www.sacbee.com/111/v-print/story/485403.html

STATEN ISLAND – This time of year, when the sun falls earlier by the day and the corn has been harvested, is the best time to see the sandhill cranes.

The sky above a stretch of flooded farmland on this island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta becomes speckled with white and pale gray birds.

The creatures – distinguished by long legs and longer necks – come to roost on this wetland each winter. Some have been spotted for at least 18 years.

Conservationists tout the 9,200-acre island, located south of Walnut Grove in San Joaquin County, as a successful marriage between wildlife and agriculture. They applaud the state Department of Water Resources for its willingness to invest in wildlife preservation.

But a recent state audit has raised questions about the department's decision to hand $17.6 million in flood protection bond money to a non-governmental organization that emphasizes habitat protection over flood control.

State Auditor Elaine Howle stressed the need for better monitoring as the department gets ready to dole out $330 million in additional flood protection bonds.

"DWR needs to do a better job of managing the flood protection corridor program," Howle said in an interview. "We found several weaknesses in awarding the grant, as well as monitoring how well those programs are proceeding."

The audit, which was released Nov. 5, said the department failed to show the merits of five grants in 2001, including the $17.6 million Staten Island grant. The grants, which totaled $28 million in all, were funded through the Flood Protection Corridor Program, created by Proposition 13 in 2000.

DWR Director Lester Snow agreed the department needs to do a better job of tracking grants and decisions. The audit was especially critical of the department, then under former director Tom Hannigan, for not using a scoring tool that would have ranked projects based on their merit.

Snow said more staff members have since been assigned to the program.

The Staten Island grant helped the Nature Conservancy buy the island for $35 million. The California Bay-Delta Authority put up the rest of the money.

In return for the department's investment, the state retains easement rights for flood projects.

Keeping the land undeveloped gives Staten Island the potential to absorb water in case of a flood, said Dawit Zeleke, regional director for the Nature Conservancy. The water around the island is fed by the Cosumnes and Mokelumne rivers.

"When I look at the cranes, I think it's a wise investment," Zeleke said.

Some believe the money should never have been spent on buying Staten Island.

Assemblyman Bill Maze, R-Visalia, who called for the audit, took notice of Staten Island in 2005 after reading a story in The Bee about the precarious nature of levee funding. At the time, the story found that only six of the 26 miles of levees surrounding Staten Island had been maintained.

"It should not have been used for that project whatsoever," Maze said.

Since then, the audit found that not much has improved.

"Six years after Nature Conservancy acquired Staten Island, Water Resources has yet to implement a flood protection project on the island, and it is unclear whether the acquisition will ultimately result in a tangible flood protection project," the audit states.

The audit also questioned the department's contention that the island provides significant flood protection by preventing development in a flood-prone area, given what the audit called "the current legal restrictions prohibiting such development."

Snow, however, defends the department's selection of Staten Island.

Snow said funding from Proposition 13 allowed the department to acquire easements to protect floodplains while preserving the agricultural use of the property.

"The Staten Island project," Snow said, "clearly meets the statutory criteria for the program."

In addition to questioning the Staten Island grant, Howle recommended changing the grant selection process to require the department to justify the merits of each project. She also recommended following up to make sure grant recipients spent the money appropriately.

Auditors said they had no way to review the selection committee's decisions. Of 11 projects the department considered funding, five were selected without proof of a competitive process.

Snow said he intends to adopt a ranking system for future flood protection projects as the department prepares to hand out new bond money.

Last November, voters approved two bond measures – propositions 84 and 1E – that provide the department with $330 million for flood protection projects. The money has been designated for the protection, creation and enhancement of flood protection corridors and bypasses.

At Staten Island, the Nature Conservancy says the state's investment allows the farm to export nearly 40,000 tons of corn a year and provide a home for up to 15 percent of the region's greater sandhill cranes, which are listed as a threatened species.

The cycle is simple. Farmers grow corn and wheat during the year, then flood the land after crops are harvested, creating a haven for cranes and other birds.

The cranes that winter on the island are playful. On a dirt road cutting through the farm, Zeleke looks out on the birds as they throw their heads up, fan their wings and occasionally toss grass.

"This is the ideal situation," Zeleke said. "You have the economy benefiting ... and also managing the land in a successful way that the cranes keep coming back."
-----------------

Notes:

http://www.lao.ca.gov/ballot/2000/13_03_2000.html
http://www.calvoter.org/voter/elections/archive/2000/primary/propositions/13.html
www.calvoter.org/voter/elections/archive/2000/primary/propositions/topten.html
http://www.nature.org/wherewework/northamerica/states/california/projectprofiles/staten_island.html

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Open Letter #2 to UC Merced Chancellor Steve Kang

Submitted: Oct 22, 2007

Badlands Journal editorial board replies to Chancellor Kang's October 5 Message to Faculty and Staff

 Read More »
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Public Minutes: The Tehachapi Silver Bullet

Submitted: Oct 12, 2007

On October 10, the Merced Land Alliance, Merced Alliance for Responsible Growth, Citizens for Intelligent Growth and the Merced County Farm Bureau co-hosted a presentation by Holly Hart, executive director of the Smart Growth Coalition of Kern County. Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo, executive director of the farm bureau, introduced Hart, “a dynamic presenter.” Pedrozo set the stage by noting that a number of parallel planning processes were going on around Merced County at the moment: the California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, the Merced County General Plan Update, the Blueprint for the San Joaquin Valley, city general-plan updates, lawsuits and legal decisions regarding the Friant Dam and the Delta Smelt. These processes are going on simultaneously, but is there any coordination among them, she asked. Pedrozo concluded her introduction of Hart by saying that the sponsors of the presentation and Hart are offering an alternative to lawsuits.

Hart described the Smart Growth Coalition of Kern County as a 15-year-old group of representatives from agriculture, oil, insurance, banks and former politicians that had met their original goals by 2004 and have developed a new strategic plan, taking note of their mistakes. The essence of the new strategic plan Hart announced, presumably the key to the elusive grail of Smart Growth: design communities, don’t plan them.

“If you change one thing, you change all …” she said. (She meant if you change from planning communities, to designing them, all things will change.)

The Badlands Journal editorial board out of idle curiosity did a short web search on Hart, discovering among other things that she is listed by the state Labor Market Information service as the owner of a firm called Giraffix Design and Productions, whose business involves “organizing, promoting, and/or managing events such as business or trade shows, conventions, conferences and meetings …”

Hart is also a school board member in her community, Tehachapi, a city of about 8,000 that is 4,000 ft in altitude on the Tehachapi Pass between the San Joaquin Valley and the Mojave Desert, about 50 miles east of I-5 and the Grapevine. While air quality is not great in Tehachapi, neither is it in the bottom five in the nation, like its county seat, Bakersfield, or the worst in the nation, like Arvin at the foot of the Grapevine.

Hart is also an active Kern County Democrat and a graduate of the UC/Great Valley Center’s Institute for the Development of Emerging Area Leaders (IDEAL).

Hart said the Kern County smart growth group has four current goals.

First, is integrating all global information systems (GIS) maps so that different planning (or designing) jurisdictions will have access to all GIS data produced about their regions.

Second was something she called, “Infrastructure First!” However, she qualified this by saying that this infrastructure must accommodate the needs of people in the 21st century: high-speed access (computers, railroads or both); movement of goods and commuters; high quality libraries (the artists in Tehachapi require film labs and recording equipment, presumably available in publicly funded libraries).

Fourth (third got lost in the dynamism somewhere): Outreach. According to Hart’s information, planners are saying that they need “grassroots outreach.”

Hart believes that “we” (an unclear reference in this context) have become accustomed to fighting against (whether things, development, plans was not clear) and we need to start fighting for something. The Central Valley has been left behind “forever,’ Hart said. Yet, today, it has more resources and attention than it has ever had. “Use it, act on it, don’t question it!” Hart urged us.

The San Joaquin Valley is the epicenter of an international credit crisis caused by a huge speculative real estate boom that busted, caused in turn by the availability of relatively cheap farmland for sale to build subdivisions for commuters to the Bay Area and LA. It has indeed received a great deal of attention from developers and their bought-and-sold state Legislature in recent years. As for its degraded and rapidly deteriorating natural resources and environment, which has become – emphatically so in Kern County—a public health and safety issue, the only attention that aspect of the Valley has received has been thanks to lawsuits. In a sense, however, Hart is right: there are no questions left. The only solution is all-out citizen resistance to finance, insurance and real estate special interests and to the politicians and local land-use authorities they control, which created the perfect economic vortex: the highest foreclosure rate in the nation.

We need the information to change our future, Hart said, launching into her biography: a degree in industrial design with an emphasis in the design of public space. Her first job was at the Epcot Center at Disney World. “We can build great cities,” Hart said she realized on that, her first, project. Later she worked in Singapore, for a Houston-based firm, 3D International. Starting in the 1950’s 3D grew up with Houston, rapidly merged and acquired different companies to become an international construction, architecture and design company. According to Hart, 3D “helped (Singapore) find its vision … now it is a first-world country.”

Badlands Journal editors scratched their heads but could not come up with a country less like the San Joaquin Valley than Singapore, a city state, second most densely populated country on the globe, dominated by Chinese immigrants on sixty-three islands at the end of the Malay Peninsula -- although several argued that the Epcot Center at Disney World, FL was actually more unlike the San Joaquin Valley.

However, Hart was announcing the grand theme of the evening: Smart Growth! “We’ve been given the opportunity to control our own destiny,” she said. “If we believe it, it will be so.” Therefore, we should embrace the Valley Blueprint, the Partnership, etc. (and not question them because we’ve been given the opportunity to control our own destiny and if we believe that, it will be so.”

Next, Hart took us for an exhilarating flight through the History of Planning, starting with the Industrial Revolution, complete with pictures of slums beside satanic mills. A bizarre twist in HartHistory was a lurch to 1934 and Hart’s report that 5 million cotton pickers moved from the South to northern cities that year. Some in the room briefly wondered how many other people were on the move in the depths of the Great Depression, included a large number coming from the Dust Bowl to the San Joaquin Valley. Hart characterized these northern industrial cities as “black.”

Residents of the north San Joaquin Valley forget how acceptable racism is in Kern County, where as long as 40 years ago, Whites lived in terror of an invasion from Watts. Ronald Reagan used the fear quite successfully in his 1966 gubernatorial campaign.

In 1926, Hart said, the US Supreme Court decided a case called Euclid v. Amber Realty that established zoning laws, “the solution for pollution” being to put factories on the edges of cities. The next station on high-speed HartHistory was the federal bill that established GI loans for education, mortgages and business loans. Then we were on to Levittown, where the developer used the Henry Ford technique of building houses, creating the first modern subdivisions. (The same thing was going on in Daly City.) The “solution to pollution” failed because people had to commute to work, which required cars, leading to “building cities and towns for cars,” like they have been doing in the San Joaquin Valley for 30 years. “Cars are now more important than people, communities and land,” Hart noted. She described Kern County (with graphics of locusts devouring crops) – people now running from cities, now mega-dairies running from Chino because LA County decided to discontinue its dairy park and open the area to developers to build more subdivisions for commuters. Hart said: “We know you don’t want the Southland in the Valley.” Her visual aids include pictures of poor Black youth (gangs) and graffiti.

What “we,” Badlands editors wondered. Who is the “we” that Hart is dynamically presenting here? We do however remember an actual infestation of grasshoppers in Avenal once.

“We are creating globalisation,” she said. Forty-seven million Americans are moving within the US annually to follow work, she said. Youth today will be changing jobs every three or four years.

Don’t question government, Hart implied, because government has empowered us, in the form of a 2004 state law called AB1268:

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST

65302.4. The text and diagrams in the land use element that
address the location and extent of land uses, and the zoning
ordinances that implement these provisions, may also express
community intentions regarding urban form and design. These
expressions may differentiate neighborhoods, districts, and
corridors, provide for a mixture of land uses and housing types
within each, and provide specific measures for regulating
relationships between buildings, and between buildings and outdoor
public areas, including streets.

While Badlands editors could see how someone who owned a design and production company in Tehachapi would be terribly impressed by this brilliantly progressive insert into the Government Code guidelines for general plans, we were a little bit more impressed by the following:

65302.1. (a) The Legislature finds and declares all of the
following:
(1) The San Joaquin Valley has a serious air pollution problem
that will take the cooperation of land use and transportation
planning agencies, transit operators, the development community, the
San Joaquin Valley Air Pollution Control District and the public to
solve. The solution to the problem requires changes in the way we
have traditionally built our communities and constructed the
transportation systems. It involves a fundamental shift in
priorities from emphasis on mobility for the occupants of private
automobiles to a multimodal system that more efficiently uses scarce
resources. It requires a change in attitude from the public to
support development patterns and transportation systems different
from the status quo.
(2) In 2003 the district published a document entitled, Air
Quality Guidelines for General Plans. This report is a comprehensive
guidance document and resource for cities and counties to use to
include air quality in their general plans. It includes goals,
policies, and programs that when adopted in a general plan will
reduce vehicle trips and miles traveled and improve air quality.
(3) Air quality guidelines are recommended strategies that do,
when it is feasible, all of the following:
(A) Determine and mitigate project level and cumulative air
quality impacts under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)
(Division 13 (commencing with Section 21000) of the Public Resources
Code).
(B) Integrate land use plans, transportation plans, and air
quality plans.
(C) Plan land uses in ways that support a multimodal
transportation system.
(D) Local action to support programs that reduce congestion and
vehicle trips.
(E) Plan land uses to minimize exposure to toxic air pollutant
emissions from industrial and other sources.
(F) Reduce particulate matter emissions from sources under local
jurisdiction.
(G) Support district and public utility programs to reduce
emissions from energy consumption and area sources.
(4) The benefits of including air quality concerns within local
general plans include, but are not limited to, all of the following:

(A) Lower infrastructure costs.
(B) Lower public service costs.
(C) More efficient transit service.
(D) Lower costs for comprehensive planning.
(E) Streamlining of the permit process.
(F) Improved mobility for the elderly and children.
(b) The legislative body of each city and county within the
jurisdictional boundaries of the district shall amend the appropriate
elements of its general plan, which may include, but are not limited
to, the required elements dealing with land use, circulation,
housing, conservation, and open space, to include data and analysis,
goals, policies, and objectives, and feasible implementation
strategies to improve air quality.
(c) The adoption of air quality amendments to a general plan to
comply with the requirements of subdivision (d) shall include all of
the following:
(1) A report describing local air quality conditions including air
quality monitoring data, emission inventories, lists of significant
source categories, attainment status and designations, and applicable
state and federal air quality plans and transportation plans.
(2) A summary of local, district, state, and federal policies,
programs, and regulations that may improve air quality in the city or
county.
(3) A comprehensive set of goals, policies, and objectives that
may improve air quality consistent with the strategies listed in
paragraph (3) of subdivision (a).
(4) A set of feasible implementation measures designed to carry
out those goals, policies, and objectives.
(d) At least 45 days prior to the adoption of air quality
amendments to a general plan pursuant to this section, each city and
county shall send a copy of its draft document to the district. The
district may review the draft amendments to determine whether they
may improve air quality consistent with the strategies listed in
paragraph (3) of subdivision (a). Within 30 days of receiving the
draft amendments, the district shall send any comments and advice to
the city or county. The legislative body of the city or county shall
consider the district's comments and advice prior to the final
adoption of air quality amendments to the general plan. If the
district's comments and advice are not available by the time
scheduled for the final adoption of air quality amendments to the
general plan, the legislative body of the city or county may act
without them. The district's comments shall be advisory to the city
or county.
(e) The legislative body of each city and county within the
jurisdictional boundaries of the district shall comply with this
section no later than one year from the date specified in Section
65588 for the next revision of its housing element that occurs after
January 1, 2004.
(f) As used in this section, "district" means the San Joaquin
Valley Air Pollution Control District.

Hart presented more evidence of how our government is reaching out to us in the Valley: the 2006 California Partnership for the San Joaquin Valley, co-chaired by Fritz Grupe, top Stockton developer and 2005-2006 bankroller of the Pomboza’s last attempt to gut the Endangered Species Act, with particular attention, as always, to the habitat for endangered species in eastern Central California.

Ed. Note: the Pomboza refers to a congressional partnership, broken up by a vote of the people in 2006, between former Rep. RichPAC Pombo, Buffalo Slayer-Tracy and Rep. Dennis Cardoza, Shrimp Slayer-Merced.

The Partnership was a response to a congressional report embarrassing to the state, demonstrating by a number of economic indicators, that the San Joaquin Valley is poorer than Appalachia, Hart said. Sustainability principles and balance is what the Valley needs, she added. But, then, leaving poverty behind for a moment, she leapt on to AB 32, the global warming bill passed last year. What will it mean for one of the most economically depressed areas in the nation? We wondered.

Not much, some say, because it’s kinda toothless. But Hart argued that it was very important because without local planning attention to global warming, state funds will dry up.

Would that be like the Education Reform Augmentation Fund? Would that be like our leaders telling us we won’t get those federal highway funds if we don’t agree to increase our sales taxes for local matching funds? And what does Merced do with the anchor tenant for its terrific real estate boom/bust, UC Merced, out there on the golf course claiming to be the “green” campus? Part of the mind-boggling contradictions we face here is the utter hypocrisy of power: the UC creates the growth that contributes to the global warming and air quality disaster, and then receives grants of public funds to study both. This hypocrisy lies buried deep in the culture of power, where they keep nuclear weapons research (a UC monopoly) and biowarfare research, a UC specialty that it wanted to expand greatly with a biodanger level 4 biowarfare lab near Tracy, fortunately unsuccessfully this time. Strangely, either by “design” or ignorance, Hart made no mention of UC Merced. It is possible she didn’t know where she was, evidenced by one reference to “Modesto County.” Nor did she once mention Mexico or Hispanic residents in the Valley, a curious oversight considering La Paz, headquarters for the United Farm Workers, in close to Tehachapi and that the union’s strikes began in Kern County. But HartHistory, as we were learning, is a very curious narrative.

Hart then launched into her experience on the Tehachapi school district board, full of people living on ranchettes, which ends up costing a lot of money for school buses. The utilities for the ranchette culture are subsidized by cities and towns, she said …

This is real old news.

The reporter is not certain – his notes do not reflect it fully – that at this point Hart actually thanked God for the existence of the Hun, our governor, but she came close. She dynamically presented regional planning as an act of his personal genius. Her illustration was poor Arvin, with the worst air quality in the nation. “Arvin cannot fix its air quality,” she said. She also mentioned that none of the major natural resource issues follow the lines of political jurisdictions, so regional planning is a must.

It looked to Badlands editors like ol’ section 65302.1 of the state Government Code sorta made it mandatory, at least for the Valley, but we aren’t lawyers and Hart outlawed contemplation of lawsuits early in her dynamic presentation.

And if you believe the governor cares about air quality in Arvin, Badlands has a heretofore undiscovered gigantic aquifer under Sunset Blvd. to sell you, dirt cheap.

“We are going to have to accommodate it. Growth is inevitable. If you don’t like it, leave,” Hart said.

OK. Everyone in Kern County can go live in Tehachapi.

The Blueprint is the Holy Grail, Hart dynamically presented. It will cover watersheds, roads, conservation corridors and air pollution issues, she said.

Meanwhile, back to Valley poverty: higher poverty rates than the state average, lower college education than the state average, higher rate of violent crimes than the state average, lower access to health care than the state average and the worst air quality.

Then we got the Three E’s of the Partnership: Economy; Environment; and Equity. “If you want it, you’re going to have to work for it,” Hart intoned.

Nobody in the Valley ever considered working for anything. That’s why we’re so poor, dumb, sick, crime-ridden and that’s why our air quality is the worst in the nation. We just don’t work. No wonder our government scolds us so, in the dynamic voice of Ms. Hart. But, wait, it’s because we don’t know how to work. We don’t have the right concept.

What we need is REGIONAL DESIGN, said Designer Hart. We need to design our regions, our city blocks, our neighborhoods. But, an obstacle is that the Valley is “a whole mess of different cultures.”

Worse than Singapore. Worse than the Epcot Center at Disney World. Badlands always considered it a privilege to live in an area of such diverse cultures.

But, somehow, DESIGN PRINCIPLES – from our inner cities to our rural preserves – are going to save us (if we work real hard), according to Hart.

“Kern County is taking charge of its own destiny. It is finding its vision.” Kern County contains two major goods movement corridors. Kern County wants food security. It wants energy security. It is promoting emerging technologies (a huge windpower project on the Tehachapis, possibly as large as the Altamont projects). Kern County wants water security and has a water bank to prove it.

The one thing Kern County has produced since the farm labor union is Government Code section 65302.1, which the Dynamic Presenter ignored.

Kern County is going to stop growth, develop vision and design its communities (no more of that tacky planning). Kern County is going to have Smart Growth. Hart can’t define it, but she knows what it is. Smart Growth is Outcomes, which we have to focus on instead of “inputs …”

Or “incomes” of finance, insurance, real estate, agribusiness and the oil companies?

Now, to the central point and on to liberation: planning v. design.
Plans outline a process and produces general plans.

Ah, but DESIGN! Design produces an illustrated document showing the community how it will look, enabled by AB1268, which according to Hart creates the breath-taking breakthrough of “form-based codes.”

The illustrations will be brought to the attention of all because – although planners still live in the era of Donkey Kong and maps – today’s technology can create really cool pictures of exactly the kind of city block you want or neighborhood by the same technologies that have produced our modern video games.

We need local government to help us see our vision, Hart dynamically announced. Then we can show it to developers, farmers, etc. Design documents show all the elements, all the outcomes, with lots of pictures. Ventura County has an outcome-based, form-based design document, Hart said.

Members of the defunct Merced County Agriculture Futures Alliance will recall that Ventura can do no wrong. They may also recall that the group was terminated by UC officials and developers when members put forth a coalition statement calling for a moratorium on new growth projects until the county general plan had been updated.

But – to make it even more perfect and free of conflict – Hart says that “we” aren’t telling the developer what to do on his private property. However, the public owns the streets, sidewalks, alleys and schools – the infrastructure. The public must start to design its own public spaces.

That should not take so long. Special interests have been swallowing public spaces for decades, starting with local, state and federal government.

Hart mentioned that the Tehachapi City Council declared a moratorium on new growth until its form-based planning was finished. The developers agreed, according to Hart. Hart has tender feelings for developers. She says some of them are investors in your communities and plan on 2030-year buildouts. Some even live in your communities. If they build low-quality housing products in the beginning, they create a problem for themselves later on in their buildout. Speculators hate form-based design, Hart said. But, developers who live in your communities will support it. In Tehachapi, developers supported it but speculators slinked out of town.

Mrs. Crookham, this is Greg Hostetler calling. My cell number actually is 704-13** if you need to call me. I’m on a cell phone cause my other battery I’m trying to save that, preserve it you know. I’m into preserving things too from time to time, but anyway, uhm, I’m just calling you, uh, to let you know that…ah if you don’t already know… that we’ve had a lot of drama and trouble in the county … everywhere I do business [inaudible] apparently I guess because of Mrs. uh…Mrs. Deirdre Kelsey ah… thinks staff may need some help, because she’s climbing all over them… using [inaudible] staff for her personal pit bulls…trying to bite our people, and our staff — this is my opinion — causing a lot of drama in Livingston, for the City of Livingston and we’re trying to uh in the progress of uh in the process of installing a sewer line over there. If you haven’t talked to Dee Tatum, he could fill you in on what’s going on over there. But uh this probably will not end any time soon. So, I just wanted to give you the update, and if you could give staff any help I’d appreciate it… Thank you!

Hart said that non-government organizations need to start working together.

The Badlands reporter regrets to say that no warm hand reached out to grip his own in the audience and scarcely a line of “Kumbaya” was sung.

You must bring people together, get to the Blueprint process, get community workshops started in the neighborhoods – Get them excited! Hart exhorts us undynamic listeners. Even get “bums” excited. BUT – dynamically weaving her diversity of themes – Hart reminds us that we don’t design private property but only public spaces.

Which is where you find homeless people, aka “bums” in HartSpeak.

Visualize your future! Hart exhorted us. We have NEW TOOLS! Hart explained. New computer tools that can create planning scenarios as fast as CMI forensic cops can whip up the face of a suspect. The room is silent. We all sense that this is the center of the Dynamic Presentation. New tools! People think about the air board, perhaps with help from UC Merced, creating the Black Box that will clean the air. New tools. Magic!

We suddenly grasp the principle of HartHistory: Time goes backwards from her future design, zooms in reverse at top speed through the present and into the past and those Southern cotton pickers up to Detroit, when Ford Co. goons were dangling the Reuther brothers, auto-worker organizers, over the frozen Detroit River from a bridge.

In Hart’s first demonstration of the NEW TOOLS, she chose a picture (projected on a screen by computer as is obligatory in all serious public discussion these days), of a street corner. It was a real Valley street corner. It was funky. It reminded me of street corners from Stockton to Bakersfield, where a Democratic Party voter registrar might set up table, make his pitch, and end up talking to a long-legged, sultry working girl in a red mini-skirt who would give her name as Joy d’Amor and say she only voted for Jesus for King. The scene contained a corner lot strewn with the remnants of failed enterprise, perhaps the last being a dead-end used car lot.

NEW TOOLS intervened as quick as a police artist on CMI whips up a portrait of a perp from a victim’s description. We have an attractive four-story apartment building with retail on the sidewalk, on the lot of the former defunct car lot kitty-corner to the “Checks Cashed Here” establishment.

So, according to Hart, the design freak, the turned-on citizens all the NGOs have gathered will redesign this guy’s lot. He couldn’t make a living selling hot clunkers there, but he has the money to build a four-story apartment building with retail on the floor. No more funky Valley neighborhood, full of “bums” and proprietors of sketchy establishments, no more of the real communities that thrive in such places all over America. We just erased the community that actually existed on that street corner – so unsightly to the eyes of Hart and the rest of the Yuppie Design Police – and we did 4th Street, Emeryville or downtown Sebastopol, without the income base to support it. And was the former used-car salesman a willing seller?

HartWorld is not about real people. It is about design fantasy, which always occurs out there in the future, receptacle for the subjunctive of greed. But that future is tough territory. While Hart demands local NGOs settle their differences and work together, a war is going on between planners and designers for control of the future, a time and a place – when you think about it – that does not exist. The nation’s present negative savings balance, the mortgage crash, and a decade of living in a community whose public officials have talked about nothing but housing people who do not know they will live here yet, from the Great Valley Center’s “Housing the next 10 Million” through all the UC flak about “tidal wave 2,” should be enough to make Mercedians think twice about Mom’s advice about planning for the future. If that is not enough, look at our business leaders, whose policies are to rip off the present as if there were no tomorrow. Consider our political leaders, who permitted nearly every subdivision they were asked to so speculators could try their hand at flipping Merced real estate.

If your local planners aren’t using SCENARIO PLANNING – these virtual pix – your local government is not helping you! Hart states flatly.

Does she have a contract to sell the technology, manipulate the technology, or does she get a cut for its promotion?

We now enter Hart’s nightmare and it’s no longer “we” (she, the Hun and the smart people) and now it is “you” (us living in this unspeakable squalor here on the Valley Floor).

“Your houses are unaffordable. Where is the water coming from?” she intones, flashing a photo of a boulevard with businesses on it with huge lawns between them and the street. Instantly, she creates a whole new SCENARIO of sidewalk boutiques crowding the boulevard, eliminating costly lawn watering. This only presumes that the insurance companies and high-tech firms that have the large lawns will sell the land to a developer to install the row of boutiques and that anyone will rent boutiques in space that reminds us of the road between Napa and American City or somewhere on the outskirts of Fremont or Fairfield.

Hart almost rants about being a “single mom” raising her children in a “real” neighborhood, saying (un-singly) that “we built a house we could afford in a neighborhood …” She waxes poetical about real neighborhoods before blasting ranchettes. Bakersfield College students did a study on ranchette living, found the lock-key children of two-income earners, and declared that ranchettes were creating “Lord of the Flies” SCENARIOS.

You need to build real communities!

We have real communities. They are being overrun by new subdivisions, which are of course neither real communities nor even neighborhoods yet. Retiring Placer County CEO Don Lunsford, put it quite well in 2001, saying that if all the subdivisions built in Roseville don’t become neighborhoods, “we will have failed.”
“We” failed and Roseville remains the model for growth in the Central Valley and that failure is a generous goldmine to all developers. That’s what happens when finance, insurance and real estate special interests own every local, state and federal politician in the state.

Close Big Box Retail! Build real shopping centers! Hart declares. Build creative clusters for creative workers! Build walkable communities to impede obesity (the killing illnesses of today have a direct relationship to how we build our communities)! Senior citizens in ranchettes are a disaster for everyone involved, from the seniors to their families to the public services they require, sometimes real quick.

Pictures designed on a computer screen are going to lead to the reform of the state tax code after the developers spent 30 years designing it exactly to their specifications?But, don’t you worry, we’re in the future now and the future does not exist so just go along for the ride and BELIEVE!

Again, from the annals of a reporter formerly covering government in Placer County, where all the magnificent fruit orchards have been carved into ranchettes – many for retiring couples – one of the main worries of government was the response time of ambulances and fire departments.

STOP PLANNING!
FIND VISION!
START DESIGNING!
INCENTIVIZE DESIGN!
DISINCENTIVIZE PLANNING!

The developer wants to know what you think! He doesn’t want to spend all that money planning something you don’t want. He needs to know what you want. With NEW TOOLS, you will be able to communicate with him.

Peace through graphics?

“That’s it,” she said.

But, it wasn’t quite it. At the very end, we learned that “government doesn’t want to fight you.”

Not “us,” it’s all “you” again that is receiving this immeasurable crock of the well-known substance.

Pedrozo was enthusiastic. “We can get these tools from you,” she said. But there are problems, at least here locally and DESIGN-FORSAKEN Merced. Developers get infill projects and their permits don’t make it through the process. A lot of the downtown housing is actually zoned commercial. We spend our tax dollars for public infrastructure but development has not paid its way.

IT’S OUR FAULT FOR NOT ASKING GOVERNMENT TO DO MORE! Pedrozo declares.

The public refuses to accept the blame for not demanding more of government by this inside wheeler-dealer, executive director of the local farm bureau, sister-in-law of the chairman of the county Board of Supervisors, soon-to-be president of the California Women for Agriculture and past executive director of the county Chamber of Commerce. Pedrozo long ago passed over to the realm of local fixers who read no documents but decide their views solely on backroom chats with officials, weighing who is less important to offend in any given political situation.

Planning Commissioner Cindy Lashbrook said that the lack of communication between cities and the county … the cities choose the largest footprints … are there any tools for not growing …sloppy …
“Cities grow. Counties don’t.” Ed Abercrombie, former Atwater city councilman.

Hart replies to her fellow UC/Great Valley Center IDEAL program graduate: there are issues like how land percolates, where farmland is – cities can be formed, can weave, can be concentric, or can organize as connected villages, which is more organic.

Like Village One in Modesto, the illegitimate brain child of Carol Whiteside, then mayor of Modesto, later founder of Great Valley Center and its IDEAL program of emerging scam-artist development.

“You have to find out what your people like, what makes them comfortable,” Hart said.

This sort of grasping for grassroots by government and its paid lapdogs like Hart is strong evidence of total desperation. The San Joaquin Valley is dying of government-sponsored growth.. Growing parts of it become public health and safety dangers, which is a liability issue for government. Therefore, OUTREACH!

Councilman Osorio makes a critical remark about design review committees. They just fiddle with little stuff, he said.

Would that be little stuff like printing a union bug on “Osorio for Mayor” lawn signs made by non-union printers and then trying to bribe a union printer$3,900 to say he printed the signs?

Hart asserts a NEW POLITICAL MODEL: What we gotta do is get us together in a “big old messy group with a good design team for a week taking “your” input and …”

…making cool video-game graphics out of it. “Big old messy groups” have gotten together with planners in a number of California counties to make county plans in the past. But, they didn’t have HartTech, so of course it didn’t work out--setting aside remorseless pressure from building industry associations, fronting for finance, insurance and real estate special interests.

Hart is full of wisdom and the Merced audience has evidently pushed her into root principles: “We’re not going to get consensus.” “You” have to build to a point where they will not oppose. It’s called “informed consent,” Hart explained. “Work for informed consent.”

In HartWorld there are always six people in any community who are against, and they can stop projects when they get together. In DianaWorld, however, these people do not do ask government to do enough. In the politics brought tonight to Merced County, all the non-governmental groups are required to join forces and go out into the neighborhoods to get people excited about redesigning themselves, while finance, insurance and real estate special interests go right on going on with the same-old, same-old.

East Merced Resource Conservation District Board Member Glenn Anderson attempted to ask a question of his usual global nature. Although a nut grower, Anderson’s questions always involve both fruits and nuts. He was trying to say something about local fruits and nuts and fruit and nut security. He never had a chance. Hart grabbed the theme and ran with it. Local growers and packers send their fruit out of the Valley and the Valley gets worse produce back. She lurches forward, imagining a fruit and vegetable peddler working our neighborhoods like the Good Humor men on their bicycles or the ladies who sell good tamales door-to-door.
Only true Valley vernacular can respond to this: it is horseshit. Our produce in Merced is just fine, thank you, and we bet it’s better in Bakersfield, a much larger city.

All this was too much for mayoral candidate Osorio, who said,: “We cannot build apartment lofts downtown by eminent domain."

Buggy as Osorio is, that wasn’t a bad statement.

Hart polls the audience for support of high-speed rail. Few hands go up. “That’s not enough at all,” she mutters.

How will she explain it to the Hun?

Hart nearly wails that we’ve abandoned 2,000 years of city planning for Levittown. Pedrozo replies that we’d support high-speed rail if we though the Valley would look like Europe as a result, but we know it is just going to look like LA. Hart says that it is the perception of staff planners that there is a problem communicating with the people. But there is all this growth. What are planners to do? What is the disincentive for more population growth in California.

Several members of the audience say, another Great Depression, possibly caused by the credit crisis brought on by fraudulent mortgage loans, like the credit situation in Merced, Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.
A questioner enters the global space of overpopulation in the Valley and global warming. Hart replies that AB 32, the state’s global warming bill looks like an unfounded mandate but is actually an unfunding mandate.
Pedrozo, executive director of the county farm bureau, veers away from global-warming chat, saying that we can build wonderful communities and keep good farmland, too.

Hart lays down the Kern County dogma on food security: Do you want to depend on a foreign nation for your food like we depend on the Middle East for our oil?

Speak Memory of how long ago it was when a large Delano packer was fighting President Reagan’s embargo of Nicaragua, with which he was doing a lot of import/export business in farm commodities—and became a darling of the Sandalista set for a season for his efforts. How many acres of row crop land does it take a family to make a living on in Kern County today? The benchmark in 1970 was 800 acres.

Maureen McCrorry asked how we could encourage infill projects rather than urban sprawl. Hart replied: hire design firms rather than planning consultants. “We’re building housing rather than communities.”

“Hire me rather than those nasty old planning consultants in the audience.”

A farmer remarked that the county has no zoning for agricultural preserves. Hart replies that you need to study your water, prime ag land, etc.

Most of the people in her audience have been involved with efforts to get government to do that for years. Some in the room have been successful at getting federal agencies to do just that. Hart, who thinks Modesto County is just to our north, has no clue who she is talking to.

Pedrozo announces that the county has required 1:1 mitigation for farmland on the Delhi and Santa Nella plans. No one is there to contradict her so it must be true, right? Pedrozo asks Osorio and other city officials present: Why couldn’t the city increase the density a bit and build out on its previous urban boundary without expanding it by 22,000 acres? Osorio replies that there is zoning for apartments but no one is building now. There are lots of empty houses in Merced, in case no one is looking, he added.

Badlands editors briefly imagined a Singapore skyline in Merced, its upper stories filled with the very wealthy entrepreneurs of UC Merced-inspired high-tech, bio-tech businesses, in entirely self-enclosed environments including virtual parks and 24/7 zebra snuff movies on the screens with no need to go outside to hear the rumble of goods movement, gangs and homeless panhandlers in public spaces, and to experience the health and safety hazards of breathing the air.

Hart, a fanatic advocate for mixing except perhaps in Tehachapi, asks if the zoning requires mixed income groups. Osorio replies that it has to be that way by state mandate. There is resistance to smaller footprints.
The Badlands Journal editorial board conjectured that Hart’s vision is of skyscraping apartment complexes with poor folk below, the wealthy above and discretely separate elevator shafts with stop and go servants constantly delivering locally grown fruits and nuts to the upper floors.

Nick Robinson, Scourge of WalMart, comments that nay-saying is important for community self-defense.

Hart replies that those same old six people can shut down anything. You’re going to have to move them. The goal is not consensus but informed consent. Robinson replies that asthma has become a health and safety issue in the Valley. Hart says that if you are going to build communities that cause asthma, you have to say, No. It is the only moral thing to do.

The distinction between the moral and the political, fomented by today’s Nobel Prize winner, Citizen Gore, is simply more evidence of the psychotic cracks in DemocratThink, the metaphysics of a level of political corruption so deep and pervasive it has destroyed itself. As former Rep. Tony Coelho, D-Merced, told Brooks Jackson, author of Honest Graft: Big Money and the American Political Process, “the process buys you out.” Evidence since Coelho’s resignation in the 1980’s mounts that it also rots your mind.

Lisa Kaiser-Grant asks what about a moratorium on growth – simply oppose it to stop proactive (pro-development) planning? Responding to an earlier quibble by Osorio to the effect that he wants citizens not merely to oppose projects but to offer positive solutions, Kaiser-Grant added that she didn’t have time to propose positive solutions. “What I have time to do is to oppose.”

Hart pitches her NEW TOOLS. Get the design information out there, get your GIS cooking. Planners need to reeducate themselves. They need to SEE by using those new, cutting-edge graphic technologies that only design firms can properly be employed as consultants to provide.

Hart replies to the emerging moratorium mood in the audience that the only problem with moratoria is bankers (people we stupid Mercedians are never supposed to have heard of).

“FIRE!” cries the Badlands editorial board. “At last we are being read: Finance, Insurance and Real Estate special interests have ruled us since UC Merced was prematurely promoted as a “done deal” by the politicians, and became the anchor tenant for an incredibly destructive speculative real estate boom, which achieved its final form two days after this dynamic presentation: number one in the nation for foreclosure activity.

Pedrozo said Merced dairies did a three-year moratorium while negotiating the county animal confinement ordinance. But then she went lunatic: “We must give the government our vision! We need more dialogue like this.”

Actually, the evening was not a dialogue. It was a Dynamic Presentation followed by a little Q&A.

Osorio, a realtor, mortgage broker and insurance broker, determined to get the last word during his campaign for mayor, said “you” need to have the local politicians tell you what the constraints on your (crazy) ideas are. But, don’t think these are really local restraints. It is all the state’s fault…

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Public comments on public minutes of EMRCD board meeting

Submitted: Oct 09, 2007

Below, find two comment letters on the public minutes of the last East Merced Resource Conservation District board of directors meeting. The Badlands editorial board has received several comments, actually, but declined comparison with 1950s French theater of the absurd. We wish to point out to the second correspondent that Lydia Miller has never conducted a "circus" at any Merced River Stakeholder meeting and one credible witness to that is Pat Ferrigno, representing the Bettencourt family ownerships on the river. Nor have river property owners created circuses at the MRS.

The EMRCD, which represents largely self-serving, grant-funded interests of its out-of-control staff, intends to destroy the collaborative, non-voting strength of the MRS. To that end, after stakeholders successfully killed an EMRCD grant on the basis that the studies were redundant, the staff salaries were models of conflict-of-interest and the EMRCD attempted to ram the grant down the MRS throat unread, the EMRCD summoned a bogus meeting of the MRS, presided over by an illegal quorum of its own board members, while the MRS held its legitimate meeting elsewhere.

The strength of the MRS lies in its non-voting governance, which has permitted -- uniquely for a decade -- widely divergent interests of farming, ranching, mining, environmentalist, resource agencies and others, to meet and continue to share vital information about our river. MRS has no intention of surrendering to some flak attack by the "one voice" crowd, fronting for finance, insurance and real estate special interests that aim to take away riparian water rights from property owners and destroy riparian habitat.

Badlands Journal editorial board

Bill: I read the lengthy email from the Badlands Journal about the EMRCD and the inside struggles for transparency. I am not a property owner there but do read. It is refreshing to know that transparency and openness of our local government will be fought for. Thank you. Charles Ulmschneider

Bill, I thank you for the recent e-mail sent regarding the meeting of MRS.
I do represent my own 200 acres in the Snelling area. I have several
partners in the property and I was asked to attend these efforts from the
start. Several years ago, I was informed that Lydia Miller was to attend
the next meeting and at that time my group decided that she would simply
create another circus costing Merced citizens too much bounty. I do try to
stay informed but refuse to entertain frivolous discussions by those who
simply want to stop all landowners from the enjoyment of their rights. I'm
still not sure where you stand on any matters but atleast you share
information well. Repectfully, Kevin Collins

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Merced River property owner/stakeholder viewpoint on East Merced Resource Conservation District September board meeting

Submitted: Oct 03, 2007

This is a letter from a Merced River stakeholder/river landowner that provides another viewpoint on the recent East Merced Resource Conservation District board meeting. -- Badlands Journal editorial board

From: pferrigno@elite.net
To: Brwade@aol.com
CC: xxxx@bigvalley.net; billhatch@hotmail.com; xxxx@aol.com; xxxx@mercedschoolcu.org; xxxx@mercedriver.k12.ca.us; xxxx@santafeaggregates.com; dlevey@mercedsun-star.com; xxxx@ca.usda.gov
Subject: Post EMRCD Meeting
Date: Thu, 27 Sep 2007 18:28:15 -0700

Bernie: I am conflicted as to what to do next. I have never been subjected to such thinly-veiled hostility as was experienced at the EMRCD Board meeting.

I’m not a big fan of process, per se, and most of this public records stuff drives me crazy….but it is offensive to me that the Board spent so much time yesterday discussing ways in which to make access to public records difficult and expensive … specifically for the Raptor group. People like Lydia Miller keep us honest; we are all just a little bit more careful to cross our t’s and dot our i’s because of them. The entire matter would be a moot point if this stuff could be put on the web site where it belongs so anyone could look at it whenever they wanted.

As a citizen of Merced County attending a public meeting of a Merced County Board I am once again embarrassed by these proceedings. As a private citizen with a need for representation I am horribly frustrated to the point of not being able to function. If water were not so important to the farmers on the River, I would walk away from the whole thing and have a much better quality of life.

The snide remarks, innuendo, and blatant misstatements from Cindy Lashbrook are very troublesome: point in fact, my brother was never invited to sit on the EMRCD Board although Cindy announced to one and all that he had been invited and had refused; point in fact, I never “shouted down” anyone who wanted public access at any MRS meeting (Cindy said that someone present at the Board meeting yesterday had done that; as it wasn’t you and wasn’t Lydia I guess that leaves me)—Lydia is probably the only person I have raised my voice in anger to at a meeting and it was at the Board of Supervisors not MRS; point in fact, the previous water monitoring training program, organized by Teri Murrison, was a bust—Mike is the only person who walked out of that training program with a water monitoring kit and that was only because he knew the Fish and Game rep who was doing the training. The lies promulgated by Ms. Lashbrook become fact when they are not refuted.

Has the impropriety of the way in which the grants are administered not occurred to anyone on the Board? It is not appropriate for beneficiaries of grant funds to sit on the Board: it is a concept called “arms length “ objectivity; without it the EMRCD can be seen as being politicized, chasing the board members’/grant beneficiaries’ biases rather than the legitimate policy concerns of the citizens. Instead of attacking the messenger, it would be more prudent to examine the actions of your staff in this regard.

The stakeholders (no matter with what group—or no group—they are affiliated) are citizens. We, the Merced River Property Owners, had legitimate concerns about the grant. Whether it was submitted by the MRS, the EMRCD, or the Rand Corporation, we would have opposed the grant as it is adverse to the interests of the majority of the River farmers.

Cindy’s contention that the grant really wasn’t concerned with public access to private property; and, her further statement that the access issue and all of the other things in the grant which were the basis of our opposition were only included because they were a part of the RFP is ridiculous. It is also fraud. I was a grant administrator at UC-SF for several years; you cannot state you are going to do something in order to get a grant and then not do it. If Merced County has other grants which were obtained on this same basis… what were they thinking?

I don’t believe the EMRCD Board is guilty of malfeasance or misfeasance; I believe you are all doing the best you can do in the situation where you are running your businesses and volunteering your time for the EMRCD. I do object to the level of personal hostility which was in evidence. We (the Bettencourt family) tried to defuse this whole thing before we resorted to setting up another MRS meeting. We offered to meet anywhere, with anyone; we offered to host the meeting at one of our homes or at a restaurant. The offers were ignored.

You need to put aside your defensiveness and notice that there is a pattern here: your facilitators were too busy meeting the grant deadline to get the grant concept proposal out to MRS members (did you notice that the grant is dated February 1, 2007; which would have allowed more than adequate time for MRS review); your facilitators were too busy getting ready for the River Fair to get the grant out to Lydia and me on a timely basis; your facilitators were too busy going out of town for four days to reconsider the UC-M location even though our prediction of significant parking problems and lost attendees was right on.

It would be appropriate for us to try, once again, to defuse the issue but I really don’t have the energy and the Property Owners I represent would not ask me to be subject again to being scolded, like an errant schoolgirl, by the EMRCD Board. We will continue the MRS once your paid facilitators are gone. We don’t need to be paid to do the right thing for the River.

Pat Ferrigno

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Points of Order concerning the East Merced RCD meeting at UC Merced, Sept. 24, 2007

Submitted: Sep 25, 2007

To: East Merced Resource Conservation District Board of Directors

From: San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center; Protect Our Water; San Joaquin Valley Conservancy; Merced River Valley Association; Planada Association; Planada Community Development Co.; Le Grand Association; Stanislaus Natural Heritage

Re: Points of Order concerning the East Merced RCD meeting at UC Merced, Sept. 24, 2007

Date: Sept. 24, 2007

East Merced RCD Board of Directors: Via: email and Hand Delivered

POINTS OF ORDER

The East Merced RCD is not the Merced River Stakeholders, which are having its meeting at Washington School at this moment. The East Merced RCD is one Merced River stakeholder among many. In holding of this meeting at UC Merced, the East Merced RCD has greatly exceeded its statutory status as a legislative body and has illegally asserted authority over the Merced River Stakeholders. The East Merced RCD has no legal authority to hold a meeting of the Merced River Stakeholders. Gwen Huff, East Merced RCD staff/Merced Alliance Lower Merced River Watershed Coordinator/Merced River Stakeholders facilitator, was not authorized by the Merced River Stakeholders to convene this meeting here at UC Merced while the stakeholders are meeting at the Washington School.

The meeting we are attending is an East Merced RCD meeting. The East Merced RCD board of directors is presently illegally constituted under CARCD Guidebook.

The East Merced RCD is a legislative body, whose board members are appointed by the county Board of Supervisors. According to the California CARCD Guidebook, the East Merced RCD is subject to the Ralph Brown Act governing public meetings.

The Merced River Stakeholders group, meeting presently at Washington School, is not a
legislative body, by agreement among stakeholders after years of discussion of governance.

This East Merced RCD meeting is violating the Brown Act in the following ways:

1. There are more than two board members of the RCD in attendance; the RCD board meeting agenda of September 26 contains action items concerning the Merced River Stakeholders; the combination of RCD board members attending this meeting under the false claim that it is a Merced River Stakeholders meeting and the action items these board members will vote on in two days, is a major violation of the Brown Act. This pattern, which has been going on for some time, constitutes a continual violation by the East Merced RCD of the Brown Act;

2. This East Merced RCD meeting we are now attending was improperly noticed: it was not posted at the RCD office; it was not posted on the Merced River Stakeholders website or the East Merced RCD website or the Merced River Alliance website;

3. This East Merced RCD meeting agenda is inadequately descriptive under the Brown Act for a public agency agenda;

4. The East Merced RCD facilitator has no authority to unilaterally decide on the
location for a Merced River Stakeholder meeting in the face of stakeholder opposition;

5. The East Merced RCD had no authority to vote in its last meeting to suppress public
documents produced by Merced River Stakeholders because that suppression violated the
state RCD Guidelines and constituted several violations of the Brown Act;

6. The East Merced RCD is making decisions about the Merced River Stakeholders at their monthly board meetings in multiple violations of the Brown Act;

7. It is our understanding from the RCD board meeting of August 15, that an item will be
introduced into this evening's RCD meeting by RCD board member, Cathy Weber, to protest the heading of a recent letter that successfully protested an RCD grant proposal. This agenda item would be illegal on its face because the RCD board, at the same meeting, voted unanimously on an item not on its agenda, to suppress distribution of this public letter to members of the Merced River Stakeholders for their next meeting. It is illegal because it violates multiple Brown Act provisions for agenda formation.

The Merced River Stakeholders now meeting at Washington School openly participated in the process surrounding the denied grant proposal, sharing our concerns and openly distributing material expressing our opposition. The East Merced RCD, the Lower Merced River Watershed coordinator and the Merced River Alliance continually suppressed public information and public documents concerning not just the grant proposal but the future of river itself.

For the record, Merced River Stakeholders will deal with violations of the California Law on Conflict-of-Interest at a later date.

Because this meeting is not legally compliant, it should adjourn now.

Agendas of East Merced RCD and Merced River Stakeholder meetings and e-mails pertaining to the unlawful topics discussed in this letter are included below:

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: Gwen Huff
Sent: Friday, May 25, 2007 12:07 PM
Subject: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Greetings Stakeholders –

As the current facilitator of the Merced River Stakeholders (funded through current grants to the East Merced Resource Conservation District [EMRCD]), I am sending out a message from the EMRCD Board of Directors. Information for this message was compiled by me, as the MRS facilitator and staff of EMRCD, and reviewed and approved by those EMRCD directors present at the May EMRCD Board Meeting, and other EMRCD staff.

Sincerely,
Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
gwenhuff@comcast.net

The purpose of this letter is to clarify some logistics in the writing and submitting of our grant proposal to develop a Lower Merced River Watershed Management Plan. A summary of that proposal, in narrative form, is attached to this email.

While we have had a very strong measure of support throughout the community, the response from regular attendees at the Merced River Stakeholders group has been mixed. The members in opposition feel very strongly about certain points, which will be addressed further down, while others are very supportive. The EMRCD is at the service of all stakeholders in Eastern Merced County, and while we appreciate that not everyone is in agreement about this grant proposal, we feel that it will be valuable for our community and that there is ample support to justify proceeding with the submission of a full proposal.

At our regular Board meeting Wednesday May 23rd, at which the following Board members were present, Glenn Anderson, Cathy Weber, Karen Barstow and Bernard Wade, the Board unanimously passed the following resolution, with comments:

RESOLUTION OF THE EAST MERCED RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT TO SUBMIT WATERSHED MANAGEMENT PLAN GRANT APPLICATION
Cathy Weber I support this grant because there have been gaps of information to make recommendations and “full-picture” choices for the Merced River Watershed. I see a need for this plan to help decision makers and citizens make informed decisions about conservation issues in the watershed.
Karen Barstow I’m a farmer and landowner and I support the proposal because it is in line with State expectations of bringing all of us together on an issue that is vital to all of us; California’s most critical issue-water.
Glenn Anderson I’m a 72 year-old farmer, landowner, life-long appreciator of the river, and someone who has watched the abuse of the river. Our district has now begun a journey of community appreciation of this river and we need to continue this work to expand our community involvement.
Bernie Wade I’m submitting my support of this proposal. It is the imperative continuation to preserve, conserve and enhance the Merced Watershed. It is important that we continue scientific studies and analysis to preserve this natural resource.
Glenn Anderson moved to adopt resolution 2007-02 to submit the Watershed Management Plan grant application.
Cathy Weber seconded motion. MOTION CARRIED UNANIMOUSLY.

We would like to include here the Mission and Purpose, Goals and Objectives of the Merced River Stakeholders (MRS), as stated in the Merced River Stakeholders Group Charter, adopted January 27, 2003.

Mission and Purpose
Provide a collaborative forum for coordination and gathering and sharing of information about the Merced River watershed. Protect and enhance the lower Merced River watershed such that the natural processes, ecosystems and its unique characteristics are conserved and restored. Foster voluntary stewardship in advance of habitat degradation and regulatory action. Strive for a balanced level of human interaction within the watershed.

Goals and Objectives
Educate the public about the Merced River watershed and its importance. Foster and improve communication among affected private individuals, interested citizens, commercial interests, educational institutes and representatives of local, state and federal agencies.

Additionally, from MRS meeting minutes of April 23, 2003;
The Governance Committee gave a report in which they stated that they are not in agreement that a formalized voting mechanism is necessary to conduct stakeholder meetings.

The EMRCD is a strong supporter of the Merced River Stakeholders, as evidenced by board member participation in MRS meetings, as well as long-term financial support to facilitate these meetings. We also recognize that the MRS has no mechanism for voting and cannot, as a group, support or oppose any item brought before them. They may, however, provide input. Indeed, MRS input can greatly improve projects that are within the watershed.

It is in this spirit that EMRCD has sought input from the MRS group on the development of the Lower Merced Watershed Management Plan. We have also sought input from other stakeholders within the watershed that do not attend the MRS meetings.

Regarding concerns from those in opposition:
MRS not notified before concept proposal submitted
We would like to acknowledge that earlier notification of the grant opportunity to the MRS would have been possible. At the January MRS meeting the grant opportunity was unknown to EMRCD and, therefore, could not have been communicated at that meeting. When this information was known February 13th, between MRS meetings, communication could have been made to stakeholders notifying them of the funder’s priorities, the deadline for grant submission and the intent of EMRCD to develop a concept proposal. No formal endorsement could have been gained - as the MRS has no mechanism for this. But input on direction could have been sought at that time. However, the MRS group was first informed of the process at the March 19th meeting. At which point a concept proposal had been developed and submitted by the deadline of March 16th, three days prior to the MRS meeting.

As there was allowance for modification from the concept proposal to the final proposal (should the EMRCD be invited to advance to a full proposal), the intention was to gain input from the stakeholders on what modifications could be made to improve the direction and content of the proposal. There was a constraint on what changes could be made. CalFed (the funder) had identified the Merced River as a high priority for developing a Watershed Management Plan for this particular round of funding. Therefore, the proposal needed to retain the basic direction of developing a management plan. But input on modifying the concept proposal, before writing and submitting a final proposal, was sought of MRS. As there are many stakeholders in the watershed beyond those who meet at the regular MRS meeting, and the EMRCD is at the service of all in Eastern Merced County, EMRCD was soliciting input from the MRS at this point, not asking for approval or endorsement, as there is no mechanism for that. We regret that not informing the MRS of the grant opportunity in February has caused some to feel excluded from the process. In the future, as long as EMRCD and MRS continue to have a working relationship, the EMRCD will inform the MRS before a concept proposal is submitted, with every effort to allow time to gather input for developing the proposal.

Staff Positions
The EMRCD acknowledges that neither job descriptions nor applicant qualifications were drafted for the concept proposal. This was not a requirement for submission of the proposal. However, these job descriptions will be in place before the final proposal is submitted. Additionally, posting of job opportunities with the EMRCD will be made if awarded the grant and as they become available.

Conflict of Interest?
An EMRCD associate director (who, in this case, is on the planning commission) has no voting rights and as such cannot vote to support or oppose any grant. There is no impropriety in an EMRCD board member, whether full or associate, being on the planning commission. Nor is there any impropriety in an EMRCD associate board member taking a staff position with the EMRCD.

Most, if not all, entities that rely on grant funding to further their mission and goals, pursue funding with their staff time, in order to bring the funds to their organization. Such is the case for EMRCD. The grant funds that are brought in are obligated to be spent on specific tasks laid out in the contract with the funding agency. The funding agency reviews, very closely, the progress of the grant and how the funds are spent. Members of the EMRCD board serve as such without any monetary compensation, and would receive none should the Watershed Management Plan be funded. There is no conflict of interest.

For more information on the authority under which the resource conservation districts operate, you may go to the following website: http://www.carcd.org/yourdistrict/div-9.htm

We thank you for your interest in resource issues of Eastern Merced County and look forward to continuing to work with you on watershed conservation issues.

Sincerely,
EMRCD Board of Directors

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'Lydia Miller' ; brwade@aol.com ; 'Gail Bettencourt'
Cc: sdragovich@santafeaggregates.com
Sent: Friday, August 24, 2007 11:01 AM
Subject: RE: Proposed Meeting

Thank you very much, Pat, for the invitation to your home and for organizing the points of discussion. I believe they are well laid out. I would also like to suggest inviting Cathy Weber, as she has been an active stakeholder as well as a board member of EMRCD. Two board members may be present and not violate the Brown Act.

My availability is somewhat limited mid-September, but I am available September 9, 10, 11 and possibly the 12th. The next day I am leaving for a wedding in New York and will return on Monday the 17th.

Gwen
Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
gwenhuff@comcast.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'SJRRC' ; 'Raptorctr' ; 'Bernard Wade' ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; 'Mike Bettencourt' ; 'Sharon Dragovich'
Cc: 'Teri Murrison'
Sent: Wednesday, September 12, 2007 2:55 PM
Subject: RE: MRS Agenda

Pat –

Yes – the agenda item “MRS and Grant Development” is intended to encompass any aspect of this whole issue. I hope that the amount of time will be adequate. Also, we can - and probably will –discuss expectations of a facilitator to convey the perspective of stakeholders to the EMRCD and other organizations.

Cathy Weber requested that at least some of the discussion happen in the first 45 minutes of the meeting because she has a conflict in her schedule with another important meeting. Since Cathy has been so involved with the stakeholders, I would like to honor that request. It is a bit awkward, breaking it up that way, though.

Regarding your offer to cover printing costs of the Raptor Center’s letter, thank you. However, we can cover those expenses. Since the meeting is dedicated almost completely to related MRS issues, I can bring copies to the meeting. The board has directed me not to distribute the letter with the meeting announcement, but it can certainly be available at the meeting. And you are free to circulate it before hand, if you wish. Please let me know if you plan on bringing copies so that we do not duplicate our work.

Lastly, we will be meeting in a conference room at UC Merced that holds 50 people. That should do. And thanks for refreshments.

Gwen
Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
gwenhuff@comcast.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Cathy Weber
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: Brwade@aol.com ; Pat Ferrigno ; Karen L Whipp ; Lydia Miller
Sent: Sunday, September 16, 2007 1:01 PM
Subject: MRS meeting

Dear Gwen,

I just returned home and have found many messages on my email. I'm very sorry if I, as an individual and not the EMRCD, have added to problems within the MRS member community.

Please set the agenda in a way that is best for all the members to deal with important issues. I am sorry that I won't be at the full meeting; but as a member of the Library Advisory Commission, I have a greater obligation to attend a 7:00 meeting in downtown Merced. In my request that the agenda item dealing with the MRS and EMRCD roles be placed early, I had no idea that it would create any type of problem.

I will come to the first part of the meeting and hope I have the opportunity to make one comment before I need to leave, a comment that is separate from the agenda item discussion. I know we have allowed other members to do so. But, please, place the agenda item at whatever time on the agenda that will make it most effective.

I am sorry that I won't be there for what I think is a very important discussion. I believe I have some perspective, being a member of both the MRS and the EMRCD. I care about both organizations deeply. I was always in favor of the MRS having more autonomy and decision making power with a process for it. I wanted to develop a plan for that through the governance committee process.

I am deeply concerned and saddened by what I feel is a misunderstanding. I know the EMRCD board members care a great deal about the resources of the river within our job of caring for and educating about all the resources of eastern Merced County. I feel that we have, unwittingly, been made villains when we thought that what we were doing all along was above-board and for the benefit of the County.

Please don't let the Board take the blame for the agenda item placement, or you for honoring my request. The fault for that is all mine. Again, I made my request, because I care about the whole discussion. I do hope these building misunderstandings can be cleared so we can meet together and support river restoration.

Cathy Weber

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: Gwen Huff
Sent: Tuesday, September 18, 2007 6:03 PM
Subject: MRS Meeting Reminder at UC Merced

Dear Stakeholders -

You may have recently received an email from SJRRC (San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center), Lydia Miller's organization, with a meeting announcement for the Merced River Stakeholders this Monday, Sept 24th at Washington School. That meeting is not sponsored by the East Merced Resource Conservation District and the announcement was not forwarded by me, as facilitator. I am the current facilitator, hired by the EMRCD to conduct the regular Merced River Stakeholders meeting on the 24th at UC Merced. The proposed presenters at the Washington School meeting have not been contacted by Ms. Miller and neither Karen Whipp, Cindy Lashbrook, Cathy Weber, Nancy McConnell nor I will be there. We will be attending the Merced River Stakeholders meeting at UC Merced. You will find the agenda below.

We have been told we can use the parking lot up at the top of the hill, very close to the library where we are meeting. Parking will be free in that lot after 5pm. Detailed directions are at the bottom of the agenda.

It is regretful that you are subject to the confusion generated by the disagreements between a few members of the Merced River Stakeholders, myself and the EMRCD. At our Sept 24th meeting we will be discussing future facilitation of the MRS, as the EMRCD funding to do this will be finished this calendar year. I hope that you will be able to attend this important meeting. Please contact me if you have questions or concerns.

Gwen

Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
Merced River Stakeholders
September 24, 2007
6:00PM-8:30PM
Kolligian Library, Room 232, UC Merced
Nearby and Free Parking

DRAFT AGENDA

6:00 Introductions, Minutes Approval, Agenda Review

6:10 Updates
Merced Irrigation District

6:20 Merced River Stakeholders Facilitation
Group Discussion

7:10 BREAK

7:25 Merced River Stakeholders and Grant Development
Group Discussion

7:50 Merced County Planning Department Jeff Wilson
Jeff will provide us with an overview of balancing gravel mining with other natural resource interests in Merced County.

8:15 Announcements

8:25 Schedule Next meeting and wrap up
(Plus/Delta, next meeting speakers, refreshments)

For more information, please contact Gwen Huff at
(559) 497-5033 or gwenhuff@comcast.net

DIRECTIONS
From Highway 99, take the “G” Street exit and cross town to Yosemite Avenue and turn right onto Yosemite. Turn left on Lake Road and proceed approximately one mile to the campus. Turn right into the first campus entry (Scholars Lane) and take this up the hill to the end of the road. Make a left by the Round-A-Bout. The library and its parking lot are here. Park anywhere there are available stalls. Here is a link to a campus map https://www.ucmerced.edu/maps/campus/ Once you’ve entered the library, take the elevator to the second floor – we will be meeting in room 232.

Past meeting minutes can be found at www.emrcd.org/stakeholders

NOTICE OF REGULAR MEETING

OF THE

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
EAST MERCED RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT

USDA Office
Conference Room
2135 W. Wardrobe Avenue
Merced, CA 95340

Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 1:00 p.m.
Visit us on the web at www.emrcd.org
Call EMRCD for more information 209-723-6755
Fax EMRCD for more information 209-723-0880
To be added to the EMRCD agenda mailing list, please send a letter to the RCD at the above address by the 3rd day of the month preceding the meeting.

1. INTRODUCTION

2. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

3. CORRECTIONS AND/OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

ITEM PRESENTER

* 4. Consent Agenda

# a. Minutes of the July 18, 2007 EMRCD Board Meeting
# b. Treasury Report (July and August ‘07)
# c. DOC II and Prop 13 Grant Updates

5. Correspondence/Information Only

a. Letters
1. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
# b. Meeting Notices and Reports
1. CSDA e-NEWS July 23, 2007
2. CSDA e-NEWS July 30, 2007
3. California Watershed e-News July 30, 2007
c. Newsletters and Flyers (available to review at meeting)
1. CSDA Alliance Brochure
2. CSDA Conference Oct 1-4 2007
3. San Joaquin River Restoration Program
4. NRCS State Technical Advisory Committee Agenda
5. NACD Forestry Notes (June 2007)
6. NACD Forestry Notes (July 2007)
7. MED&R-Merced Developments (Winter 2007)
8. Shell Pipeline Company LP Safety Information
d. Office Election Resolution Ballet Information for Insurance Board

For information only.

6. Written and Oral Updates

a. NRCS Update Malia Hildebrandt
b. Watershed Coordinator Update (DOC II) Gwen Huff/
Cindy Lashbrook

c. Merced River Alliance (Prop 13) Update Karen Whipp

* 7. Planning for Annexation

For discussion and possible action.

8. Board Member Participation with Merced County Landuse
Issues and General Plan Updates

Board members come prepared to discuss current land use
issues and ways to be involved.

9. Old Business

a. Board Member Recruitment
b. Other Old Business

* 10. Priority Action Topic for Next EMRCD Agenda

For discussion and possible action.

11. Next EMRCD Board Meeting

The next EMRCD Board Meeting is scheduled for
Wednesday, Sept 19, 2007 in the USDA Office Conference Room,
2135 West Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA.

* 12. Adjournment of the Regular EMRCD Board Meeting, August 15, 2007

* Action
# Attachment
+ Enclosure
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, IF SPECIAL ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS MEETING, PLEASE CONTACT STAFF AT 209-723-6755. NOTIFICATION OF 48 HOURS BEFORE THE MEETING WILL ENABLE THE STAFF TO MAKE REASONABLE ARRANGEMENTS TO ASSURE ACCESSIBILITY TO THIS MEETING.

Date Agenda Posted August 10, 2007
Please remove after August 16, 2007__

Meeting Minutes of the
EAST MERCED RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT
BOARD OF DIRECTORS REGULAR MEETING
Wednesday, August 15, 2007, 1:00 p.m.
Conference Room, 2135 W. Wardrobe Ave., Merced, CA 95340
Call EMRCD for more information (209-723-6755)

Directors Present: Cathy Weber, Glenn Anderson, Bernard Wade, Bob Bliss
Directors Absent: Karen Barstow, Tony Azevedo
Others Present: Karen Whipp, EMRCD contract personnel
Cindy Lashbrook, EMRCD contract personnel and associate director (non-voting member)
Gwen Huff, EMRCD contract personnel
Malia Hildebrandt, NRCS staff
Ken Leap, Interested Citizen
Bill Hatch, Interested Citizen

Item #
President Bernie Wade called meeting to order at 1:20 pm.

1. INTRODUCTIONS
Done.

2. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS
None.

3. CORRECTIONS AND/OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA
None.

4 CONSENT AGENDA
Minutes of the July 18, 2007 EMRCD Board Meeting
Treasury Report June and July
DOC and Prop 13 Updates
Cathy Weber moved to approve the consent agenda.
Bob Bliss seconded the motion.
MOTION CARRIED UNAMIMOUSLY.

5. CORRESPONDENCE/INFORMATION ONLY
Letters
National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
b. Meeting Notices and Reports
CSDA e-NEWS July 23, 2007
CSDA e-NEWS July 30, 2007
California Watershed e-News July 30, 2007
c. Newsletters (available to review at the meeting)
CSDA Alliance Brochure
CSDA Conference October 1-4, 2007
NRCS State Technical Advisory Committee Agenda
NACD Forestry Notes (June 2007)
NACD Forestry Notes (July 2007)
MED&R-Merced Developments (Winter 2007)
Shell Pipeline Company LP Safety Information
d. Office Election Resolution Ballet Information for Insurance Board
So noted.

Following the review of the information items, Cathy Weber moved to have the September EMRCD Board meeting on September 26, 2007.
Seconded by Glenn Anderson.
MOTION CARRIED UNAMIMOUSLY.

6. WRITTEN AND ORAL REPORTS
Natural Resources Conservation Service Report, Malia Hildebrandt (A written report was submitted at meeting and will be attached to agenda packets presented at the EMRCD Board meeting)
Watershed Coordinator--DOC Report, Gwen Huff (A written report was submitted at meeting and will be attached to agenda packets presented at the EMRCD Board meeting)

During the report Gwen Huff stated that Lydia Miller asked her to send a rebuttal letter against the DWR grant proposal to all of the Merced River Stakeholders.
Bob Bliss moved that Gwen Huff contract is with the East Merced Resource Conservation District is not authorized to send the letter.
Seconded by Glenn Anderson
MOTION CARRIED UNAMIMOUSLY.

Merced River Alliance--Prop 13 Report, Karen Whipp and Cindy Lashbrook (Written reports were submitted at meeting and will be attached to agenda packets presented at the EMRCD Board meeting.)

7. PLANNING FOR ANNEXATION
An oral report was given.

8. BOARD MEMBER PARTICIPATION WITH MERCED COUNTY LANDUSE ISSUES AND GENERAL PLAN UPDATES
There was board member discussion.

9. OLD BUSINESS
a. Board recruitment: There was brief discussion
b. Other business: no discussion
10. PRIORITY ACTION TOPICS FOR THE NEXT EMRCD AGENDA
The Priority Topic for next month will be to discuss mechanism for immediate calls to action, discussions for funding sources and review the Strategic Plan.

11. NEXT MEETING
The next EMRCD is scheduled for Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 1:00 pm in the USDA Office Conference Room, 2135 West Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA

12. THE MEETING OF THE EAST MERCED RESOURCE CONSERVATION BOARD OF DIRECTORS WAS ADJOURED AT 4:00 P. M.

/S/
KAREN L. WHIPP
EMRCD BOARD CLERK

NOTICE OF REGULAR MEETING

OF THE

BOARD OF DIRECTORS
EAST MERCED RESOURCE CONSERVATION DISTRICT

UC Cooperative Extension
Classroom
2145 W. Wardrobe Avenue
Merced, CA 95340

Wednesday, September 26, 2007, 1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Visit us on the web at www.emrcd.org
Call EMRCD for more information 209-723-6755
Fax EMRCD for more information 209-723-0880
To be added to the EMRCD agenda mailing list, please send a letter to the RCD at the above address by the 3rd day of the month preceding the meeting.

1. INTRODUCTION

2. ORAL COMMUNICATIONS

3. CORRECTIONS AND/OR ADDITIONS TO THE AGENDA

ITEM # PRESENTER

* 4. Consent Agenda

# a. Minutes of the August 15, 2007 EMRCD Board Meeting
# b. Treasury Report
# c. DOC II and Prop 13 Grant Updates

5. Correspondence/Information Only

a. Letters
1. National Fish and Wildlife Foundation
# b. Meeting Notices and Reports
1. CSDA e-NEWS September 4, 2007
2. CSDA e-NEWS September 10, 2007
3. CSDA e-NEWS September 17, 2007
4. US Department of the Interior Submittal of
Fiscal Year 2008 Program Proposals
5. California Association of Resource Conservation
Districts – San Joaquin Valley Agenda for the Fall
Area Meeting
6. Understanding the Ralph M. Brown Act
c. Newsletters and Flyers (available to review at meeting)
1. CSDA July – August 2007 Magazine
2. National Woodlands Magazine
3. Noxious Times
4. Forestry Notes
5. Great Valley News
6. Conservation Connection
7. EcoAnalysts
8. NACD News and Views
9. Forestland Steward
10. Water Conservation News

For information only.

6. Written and Oral Updates

a. NRCS Update Malia Hildebrandt
b. Watershed Coordinator Update (DOC II) Gwen Huff/
Cindy Lashbrook
c. Merced River Alliance (Prop 13) Update Karen Whipp

* 7 Recording EMRCD Board Meetings Cathy Weber
action.
For discussion and possible

*# 8. Procedures for Requesting Public Information Karen Whipp

Recommend the EMRCD Board adopt procedures
for requesting public information.

*# 9. CAL-Card Contract Addendum Merced, CA 95340 Karen Whipp

Recommend the EMRCD Board authorize the EMRCD
Board President to sign the contract addendum and resolution.

* 10. Response letter to Department of Water Resources in Karen Barstow
Regard to Letters of Opposition of Grant Proposal

For discussion and possible action.

* 11. Future Relationship Between EMRCD and Merced
River Stakeholders

For discussion and possible action.

* 12. Mechanism for Immediate Calls to Action

For discussion and possible action.

* 13. Potential Funding Sources

For discussion and possible action.

14. Old Business

a. Planning of Annexation
b. Board Member Recruitment
c. Other Old Business

* 15. Priority Action Topic for Next EMRCD Agenda

Review the EMRCD Strategic Plan.

16. Next EMRCD Board Meeting

The next EMRCD Board Meeting is scheduled for
Wednesday, October 17, 2007 in the USDA Office Conference Room,
2135 West Wardrobe Avenue, Merced, CA.

* 17. Adjournment of the Regular EMRCD Board Meeting, September 26, 2007

* Action
# Attachment
+ Enclosure
IN COMPLIANCE WITH THE AMERICANS WITH DISABILITIES ACT, IF SPECIAL ASSISTANCE IS NEEDED IN ORDER TO PARTICIPATE IN THIS MEETING, PLEASE CONTACT STAFF AT 209-723-6755. NOTIFICATION OF 48 HOURS BEFORE THE MEETING WILL ENABLE THE STAFF TO MAKE REASONABLE ARRANGEMENTS TO ASSURE ACCESSIBILITY TO THIS MEETING.

Date Agenda Posted September 21, 2007
Please remove after September 26, 2007__
-----------------------

ORAL STATEMENT ON ITEM #1 OF THE AGENDA
East Merced RCD meeting at UC Merced, Sept. 24, 2007, 6 p.m.

POINTS OF ORDER

I am Bryant Owens, speaking on behalf of the Planada Community Association, and other signatories to the suppressed letter of opposition Merced River Stakeholders filed against the recent East Merced RCD grant proposal

I am summarizing a letter I am submitting to make the legal record.

The meeting we are now attending is illegal and should be adjourned and any river stakeholders present should go to the Merced River Stakeholders meeting sponsored by the Bettencourt Family and other river property owners at Washington School.

For these reasons and others, the meeting we are attending is illegal:

1. The East Merced RCD is a member of the Merced River Stakeholders group, not its leader
in any sense;

2. The East Merced RCD has no authority to decide on the agenda or location of a Merced River Stakeholders meeting, except as the stakeholders agree. The Merced River Stakeholders disagree and are at this moment holding their meeting at the Washington
School;

3. The East Merced RCD board of directors, appointed by the Merced County Board of Supervisors, is at present an illegally constituted legislative body;

4. The Merced River Stakeholders is not a legislative body, by common stakeholder decision after several years of discussion on its governance;

5. This illegally constituted legislative body has committed multiple violations of the California Association of RCD Guidebook and the Ralph Brown Act in the past, including the calling of this meeting and future actions already agendized on the next East Merced RCD board meeting;

6. Several individuals representing the East Merced RCD present at this meeting are committing violations of the California Law of Conflict of Interest.

To make the legal record, I am submitting our full letter and supporting documents to the East Merced RCD on the illegality of the meeting we are presently attending.

We urge the East Merced RCD board to adjourn this meeting.
----------------------------

PROTEST AGAINST APPROVAL OF MINUTES OF JULY MERCED RIVER STAKEHOLDERS MEETING
East Merced RCD meeting at UC Merced, Sept. 24, 2007, 6 p.m.

David Corser, Planada Community Association, San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center, Protect Our Water, et al. and representing other Merced River Stakeholders

The minutes of the July Merced River Stakeholders meeting cannot be approved here tonight because:

1. The only body authorized to approve Merced River Stakeholders minutes is the Merced River Stakeholders, meeting at this moment at Washington School.
2. This is an East Merced RCD meeting, not a Merced River Stakeholders meeting.
3. East Merced RCD is a legislative body governed by the Brown Act.
4. It must include in these minutes the minutes of the last East Merced RCD meeting, which does not include any reference to this unlawful meeting here.
5. It must also include its agenda and minutes pertaining to Item #6 in its last meeting, during which it took an unlawful vote to suppress a public letter of protest from Merced River Stakeholders to an East Merced RCD grant proposal, which the state agency rejected because of that and other letters and petitions from Merced River Stakeholders against it.
6. If East Merced RCD board members and staff and staff of the Merced River Alliance assert that they constitute a subcommittee of the East Merced RCD that has unlawfully convened this present meeting, they must show in East Merced RCD minutes how their authority was generated by board action.
7. They cannot do this because the board explicitly tabled discussion of establishing a subcommittee at its last meeting. East Merced RCD August meeting notes clearly shows this.
8. Therefore, we are attending a meeting unlawfully convened by the East Merced RCD pretending to be a Merced River Stakeholders meeting (when that meeting is going on simultaneously at the Washington School) and the East Merced RCD cannot even justify this meeting in terms of its own authority because it has not authorized “subcommittees” or the like of the board to act between its regular meetings.
9. By convening this meeting at UC Merced against the express wishes of the largest group of stakeholders, the Merced River Stakeholders facilitator has abdicated her authority as the Merced River Stakeholders facilitator.
10. Why have East Merced RCD staff and board members been harassing Merced River stakeholders with a barrage of emails and phone calls to attend this unlawful meeting? Because this is a naked power play by disgruntled East Merced RCD board members and staff and the Merced River Alliance to silence the Merced River Stakeholders.
11. To defend the health of the Lower Merced River, Merccd River Stakeholders wrote publicly to oppose the East Merced RCD grant proposal. Although the best evidence of spiteful reaction is convening this unlawful meeting, there is other evidence: the Merced River Alliance newsletter no longer includes any mention of the Merced River Stakeholders; and the Stakeholders’ independent website was discontinued and its domain is up for sale.
We recommend this unlawful meeting be adjourned immediately.
----------------------

From: gwenhuff@comcast.net
To: gwenhuff@comcast.net
Subject: Moving on
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2007 12:18:58 -0700

Dear Stakeholders -

For those of you not at last nights meeting at UC Merced, I would like to let you know that I am moving to Sacramento and will be resigning from the East Merced RCD and as facilitator of the Merced River Stakeholders group.

The East Merced RCD has funding to facilitate one more MRS meeting, to be held November 19th. After that time, current funding from EMRCD grants to facilitate the stakeholders will cease. At the November meeting you will have the opportunity to set a course for the stakeholders and decide how you would like to move forward with this change of circumstances. I hope that you will be able to attend this important meeting. At the direction of the MRS, we are seeking a facilitator for that meeting and the meeting notification will be forthcoming.

Unfortunately, some members of the MRS have decided to form a separate organization and are using the name Merced River Stakeholders. This will, no doubt, be causing some confusion with meeting notifications. Please note that communications from the East Merced Resource Conservation District (EMRCD) and it's staff (Cindy Lashbrook and Karen Whipp) will relate to the MRS meetings that are facilitated by the EMRCD.

It has been a pleasure working with you for the last year and half. The MRS is a very special and important group. I wish you all the best in your future endeavors.

Gwen

Gwen Huff
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734

| »

Merced River Stakeholders protest letter to East Merced Resource Conservation District grant proposal and a chonology of e-mails

Submitted: Sep 19, 2007

Stefan Lorenzato
Watershed Program Manager
Resource Restoration & Project Support
(916) 651-9617
(916) 651-9607 fax
stefanl@water.ca.gov

Kristyne Miller, Grant Manager
Resource Restoration & Project Support
(916) 651-9621
kmiller@water.ca.gov

Megan Fidell, Watershed Program Staff
Resource Restoration & Project Support
(916) 651-9619
mfidell@water.ca.gov
Dan Wermiel, Watershed Program Staff
Resources Agency - CALFED Watershed Program June 4, 2007
(916) 445-5398
dwermiel@calwater.ca.gov Via :Email & Fax
Re: Lower Merced Watershed Management Plan grant proposal submitted by East Merced Resource Conservation District

Dear Mr. Lorenzato, Ms. Miller, Ms. Fidell and Mr. Wermiel,

We are writing, as members of the Merced River Stakeholders, to protest a proposal submitted by the East Merced Resource Conservation District (EMRCD) called “Lower Merced Watershed Management Plan.”

This letter includes:

1) Objections to the substance of the conceptual application;
2) Objections to the process by which the EMRCD, a public agency, bypassed the Merced River Stakeholders in drafting and approving this grant against significant opposition;
3) A statement of the next steps stakeholders will take should this grant be approved;
4) Attached Merced River Stakeholders’ chronology of correspondence on this proposal.

1. Objections to the substance of the conceptual application

· Where are the traditional partners that have been involved in every Merced River project and application to date: Merced Irrigation District, Merced River Stakeholders, California Department of Fish and Game, for example?

· “…and a consultant (as yet to be selected) experienced in facilitation and the Central Valley Blueprint process – a process similar to the development of this plan.” It is highly probable a consultant has already been selected, so why the mystery?

· The proposal states that a plan will be developed to address recreational opportunities. The Merced watershed is almost completely privately owned (and those owners are well represented on the Merced River Stakeholders.) “Recreational opportunity” is a very contentious issue on the Lower Merced River.

· How can this grant fund a management plan for the Merced River Watershed and manage lands outside that watershed? The vast majority of vernal pool habitat in Eastern Merced County is NOT in the Merced River Watershed. This fact is well known to watershed owners and to Merced Irrigation District (not a partner to this grant proposal). This problem may be addressed by another grant EMRCD is proposing, to NFWF, as part of their match. But, this is not clear.

· If the Merced River Stakeholders are as the proposal presents us, an unduplicated model of consistent public/private interaction, why aren’t the stakeholders partners in the grant?

· Six thousand dollars sounds like an inflated amount to publish a plan.

· Some stakeholders, even after reading the concept proposal, were misled by EMRCD communications into thinking the proposal submitted on June 1 was not the final proposal and that it could be changed later to reflect stakeholders' concerns. EMRCD made no copies of the June 1 proposal available to stakeholders prior to submission. Merced River Stakeholders that aren't members of the EMRCD board do not know what proposal the EMRCD voted unanimously to support. If it was the concept proposal, stakeholders raised numerous objections to it and some told EMRCD they would strenuously oppose it.

· “And many involved will have the authority to implement parts of the plan, such as federal, state and local agencies or Municipal Advisory Councils.” EMRCD staff evidently does not know that MACs have no authority. They are appointed in unincorporated towns by their district supervisors to serve strictly as advisory groups. This is a strange blank spot in EMRCD staff knowledge, considering that the EMRCD board president serves on one MAC and an EMRCD associate director is a county planning commissioner.

· “The success of this project will dependant upon connections with other projects, the academic and scientific community and agencies in the watershed. The management team will devote a significant amount of time to gathering data on existing conditions within the watershed in order to provide baseline information to the work groups.” Hasn’t this been done in the literature review in the MRS Restoration Plan? It just needs updating to add the studies completed since 2002. Why will it take a significant amount of time? Existing conditions are part of the Merced River Restoration Plan. Beyond the watershed, we doubt if that work has been done (in the vernal pools area). However, a great deal of mapping of vernal
pools has also been done by agencies such as the University of California and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

· Items in the budget section:

o data collection: 650 hrs collecting and compiling background data for the Plan. @ $40 hr =$26,000. That would be EMRCD… for all the projects we have seen, Stillwater has compiled an extensive inventory of existing studies through 2002. What other data has to be collected?
o Purchase1 laptop computer ($1,500).

o Scientific Consultant will compile and synthesize data $22,547 What does this mean? If EMRCD collects and compiles it, why does Scientific Consultant then compile it again (and synthesize it)?

o Training: Attend facilitation & technical training workshops and conferences. 2 EMRCD personnel x 2 trainings ea per year = 12 trainings X 20 hrs pr workshop/conference = 240 hrs @ $40 hr = $9,600. Plus registration $1,400, meals $360, mileage $2,000 and lodging $1,200. Elsewhere in the proposal, it is mentioned a professional facilitator was going to be used.

· “The management team will gather and synthesize existing information on the watershed – including, but not limited to Merced River Corridor Restoration Plan, Merced Alliance Biological Assessment, USFWS Endangered Species Recovery Program, ongoing fish and water supply studies by Merced Irrigation District, TMDLs, Wildlife and Rare Plant Ecology of Eastern Merced County’s Vernal Pool Grasslands, DWR and UC Merced information on climate change.” The last we knew, the Merced doesn’t have a TMDL. Stillwater should have all the data noted above except Vernal Pools and maybe UC Merced data. They should have a good idea of what DWR has. Again, this grant is for the Merced watershed unless they expand it (or unless they don’t get called on it).

· UC Merced and the Upper Merced River Watershed Council/Mariposa Resource Conservation District both submitted concept proposals to CALFED in this funding cycle. Neither were accepted. In this context, the EMRCD proposal is fragmentary, is straying out of the Lower Merced River Watershed into Eastern Merced vernal pool land that is not in the river watershed, and cannot result in a comprehensive watershed planning tool because it relied on other conceptual proposals that weren't accepted.

· What is the need for watershed coordinator, grant manager, and education/outreach coordinator?

· “Many of the partners and agencies will internalize the ideas and knowledge acquired during the workgroup and planning process, making connections to their institutional strategic plans and budgets.” We would appreciate it if EMRCD staff

· will provide us with their methodology for quantifying the results on this statement.

· “An important component of this project will be the development of concept proposals that would address the needs identified in the plan. With concept proposals in place, landowners, nonprofits and agencies will have the core concepts for implementation ready to use and can more easily acquire funding, permits and/or partners for important work. The business community will become involved stakeholders, recognizing that they have more likely to fund further meetings and projects.” Huh?

· “Many of the concepts introduced during this process may become part of the Merced County General Plan Update currently in process (earliest expected completion date, Spring 2009). Several of Watershed Plan participants are involved in Focus Groups for the County General Plan Update, including EMRCD board members. If the Watershed Plan proposal is funded, the process and the Plan have great potential to influence the County General Plan Update.” Again, we would appreciate the EMRCD staff providing the methodology by which they plan to implement this political fantasy. The Merced River Stakeholders are on record as opposing the Merced River Corridor Restoration Plan being treated as a political policy document locally, regionally or for state or federal use.

· Merced River Stakeholders were denied review of the final proposal. What we see in the concept proposal doesn’t give us a clear picture of the roles or staff, outcomes, or processes by which the tasks will be accomplished. We cannot imagine the CALFED review panel will approve this proposal.

· Finally, our question to CALFED is: Why aren’t the Merced River Stakeholders the preferred vehicle of partnership and consensus at this point?

2) Objections to the process by which the EMRCD, a public agency, bypassed the Merced River Stakeholders in drafting and approving this grant against significant opposition

To: Merced River Stakeholders (MRS) and East Merced Resource Conservation District (EMRCD) Board of Directors
From: Lydia Miller, Merced River Stakeholder, and president of San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
Re: Refutation of RCD watershed coordinator’s version of events surrounding two grant proposals
Date: May 23, 2007

This letter will refer to a chain of emails attached below and to notes taken at the March 19 and May 21 MRS during which staff presented two grant proposals for MRS support. Staff’s recollections of events, put forth in her email of May 23, are inaccurate and misleading. Because of the timing, they appear to be last-ditch efforts to influence the RCD board vote this afternoon.

Comments made at the March 19 meeting were not included in the later version of the CalFed grant. Nor were they included in the minutes of the March 19 meeting, which staff admitted at the May 21 meeting.
These comments included:

1) Starting up a Technical Advisory Committee again, after the TAC approach has already proved unsuccessful in the stakeholder process because it separates agencies from other stakeholders and creates a top-down decision-making hierarchy;
2) San Joaquin Valley Blueprint and UC/Great Valley Center experience: there are stakeholders who don’t support either and neither organization has participated in the MRS process;
3) Partners and co-sponsors of these grants have never attended MRS meetings. Staff who created these grants did not recognize local stakeholders except to come to them at the eleventh hour, present them a grant, tell them it couldn’t be changed, and request MRS support;
4) The Merced River has not political voice on the county Board of Supervisors because Supervisor Kelsey recuses herself on all issues involving the river;
5) The California Department of Fish and Game and USFWS Endangered Species Sac. has no involvement in these grants;
6) According to staff, the document to be produced by the CalFed grant will become a part of the Merced County General Plan Update and become planning policy; the partners and co-sponsors on the proposal are not representative of real stakeholders on the river;
7) Merced River Corridor Restoration Plan is not a policy document either, despite repeated attempts of county special interests to make it one; it remains a fluid document;
8) MRS, composed of agencies, landowners, businesses and environmental representatives, has been involved in the stakeholder process since 1999; the partners listed on these grants have not been involved in MRS;
9) MRS did not support the grant concept proposal; MRS will oppose it; it was presented by staff at the March 19 meeting as a done deal in its present form that could not be altered (comments on it weren’t even included in the minutes of the meeting).

At the May 21 meeting of MRS, some new issues were brought out:

1) There at least two grant proposals being submitted and there may be more; they may duplicate tasks; there is no coordination among them – the topic of coordination is mentioned, but not explained;
2) The recipients of funding for staff work are not identified, but it is apparent there will be significant monetary advantage from the grants to RCD, Stillwater, and the Merced River Alliance.
3) The orderly way to proceed on the consultant portion of the grant would be to put the consultant’s tasks out to bid; it appears here that the consultant may have been the primary grant writer;
4) RCD has proving itself on four occasions to be unable to administer past grants; four grants have been frozen due to RCD lack of accountability;
5) Thirty-to-40 concerns were written down by a facilitator who was not invited by MRS at the May 21 meeting; none of these have been incorporated in to the grant nor has their been any attempt to incorporate them into the document the RCD board will be asked to approve today;
Only four stakeholders among the MRS participants had read the grant. None of the four RCD board members had read it. Staff picked and chose who got to see it.

Staff claims the RCD will make all information about tasks in the grants available to the public through its website. RCD staff got off to a bad start: the grant proposals were not posted on its website.
Staff attempts to railroad the MRS have the appearance of corruption.
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and its associated organizations cannot support these grant proposals.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center
San Joaquin Raptor / Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

3) A statement of the next steps stakeholders will take should this grant be approved
If approval of this grant proceeds, we request a formal hearing to protest further what we consider to be a misuse of public funds. Considering that public funds are involved and there is substantial controversy about the efficacy, propriety and failure of public process by the applicant public agency contained in this proposal concerning vital natural resources in our county, we suggest that the project, if approved, would require CEQA and NEPA review.

We believe the project is legally actionable and are considering our legal options at this time.
We request notification of your decision on the grant. In the event that you approve the grant, we request that you provide us with all material supporting your reasons for that approval.

4) Attached Merced River Stakeholders’ chronology of correspondence on this proposal. (See attachment “MRS Chronology”)
Respectfully,

Lydia M. Miller Steve Burke
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center Protect Our Water (POW)
P.O. Box 778 3105 Yorkshire Lane
Merced, CA 95341 Modesto, CA 95350
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax (209) 523-1391, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net/sjrrc@sbcglobal.net

Bill Hatch
San Joaquin Valley Conservancy
P.O Box 732
Merced, CA 95341
209-723-9283 ph & fax
sjvc@bigvalley.net

Central Valley Safe Environment Network
San Joaquin Raptor /Wildlife Rescue Center Protect Our Water
Merced River Valley Association The Stevinson Citizen’s Group
Planada Association Le Grand Association
Planada Community Development Co. Stanislaus Natural Heritage
San Joaquin Valley Conservancy
CENTRAL VALLEY SAFE ENVIRONMENT NETWORK
MISSION STATEMENT
Central Valley Safe Environment Network is a coalition of organizations and individuals throughout the San Joaquin Valley that is committed to the concept of "Eco-Justice" -- the ecological defense of the natural resources and the people. To that end it is committed to the stewardship, and protection of the resources of the greater San Joaquin Valley, including air and water quality, the preservation of agricultural land, and the protection of wildlife and its habitat. In serving as a community resource and being action-oriented, CVSEN desires to continue to assure there will be a safe food chain, efficient use of natural resources and a healthy environment. CVSEN is also committed to public education regarding these various issues and it is committed to ensuring governmental compliance with federal and state law. CVSEN is composed of farmers, ranchers, city dwellers, environmentalists, ethnic, political, and religious groups, and other stakeholders.

P.O. Box 64
Merced, CA 95341
cvsen@sbcglobal.net
cvsen@bigvalley.net
--------------------------------

----- Original Message -----
From: Four Seasons Ag. Consulting, Inc.
To: 'Raptorctr' ; 'Gwen Huff'
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; 'Cathy & Don Weber' ; 'Bernard Wade' ; 'Glenn Anderson' ; 'Whipp' ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com ; 'SJRRC'
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 10:58 PM
Subject: RE: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Dear Lydia,
The grant was finished and sent off to Sacramento at 12:30 pm today, at which time, Gwen, turned her attention to Saturday’s Merced River Fair, which she is responsible for, and the Heartland Festival. Plus she was away from her home computer. I am sure she will send it to you Monday when she is back in her office. There was no slight intended, just the reality of multiple responsibilities.
Hope to see you here, at the Merced River Fair, again this year.
Thanks, Cindy

From: Raptorctr [mailto:Raptorctr@bigvalley.net]
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 1:55 PM
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow'; Cindy Lashbrook; Cathy & Don Weber; Bernard Wade; Glenn Anderson; Whipp; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us; doubletacres@aol.com; SJRRC
Subject: Re: EMRCD Grant Proposal
Importance: High

To: Board of Directors, East Merced Resource Conservation District
Date: June 1, 2007
Re: Request to review final copy of grant proposal
Members of the Board,

At the Merced River Stakeholders meeting, EMRCD staff informed stakeholders that changes might be made in the grant proposal that you approved several days later. We have been waiting to view the final document. EMRCD staff has not made it available to stakeholders who have consistently requested to see it.
We are disappointed that the EMRCD board and staff did not give us the opportunity review the proposal before it is submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Raptorctr
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; Cindy Lashbrook ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Bernard Wade ; Glenn Anderson ; Whipp ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:50 PM
Subject: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Gwen,

We are requesting that you send us on Friday an electronic copy of the final grant proposal in the form it is being submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Raptorctr
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; Cindy Lashbrook ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Bernard Wade ; Glenn Anderson ; Whipp ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com ; SJRRC
Sent: Friday, June 01, 2007 1:55 PM
Subject: Re: EMRCD Grant Proposal

To: Board of Directors, East Merced Resource Conservation District
Date: June 1, 2007
Re: Request to review final copy of grant proposal
Members of the Board,

At the Merced River Stakeholders meeting, EMRCD staff informed stakeholders that changes might be made in the grant proposal that you approved several days later. We have been waiting to view the final document. EMRCD staff has not made it available to stakeholders who have consistently requested to see it.
We are disappointed that the EMRCD board and staff did not give us the opportunity review the proposal before it is submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Raptorctr
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; Cindy Lashbrook ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Bernard Wade ; Glenn Anderson ; Whipp ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:50 PM
Subject: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Gwen,

We are requesting that you send us on Friday an electronic copy of the final grant proposal in the form it is being submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Karen L Whipp
To: Raptorctr ; Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; Cindy Lashbrook ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Bernard Wade ; Glenn Anderson ; Whipp ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 5:08 PM
Subject: Re: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Cindy,

We have names that you can us as contact names to see about getting these letters of support If you want I will email them to you later today! ok.

Karen

Raptorctr wrote:
Gwen,

We are requesting that you send us on Friday an electronic copy of the final grant proposal in the form it is being submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

KL Whipp & Co. Inc.
"providing a voice to those in need"
Karen L. Whipp, President
P.O. Box 1426
Merced, CA 95341-1426
Tel: 209.723.6755
Fax: 209.723.0880
email: kwhipp@klwhippandco.com
website: www.klwhippandco.com

----- Original Message -----
From: Raptorctr
To: Gwen Huff
Cc: 'Karen Barstow' ; Cindy Lashbrook ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Bernard Wade ; Glenn Anderson ; Whipp ; Dist4@co.merced.ca.us ; doubletacres@aol.com
Sent: Tuesday, May 29, 2007 4:50 PM
Subject: EMRCD Grant Proposal

Gwen,

We are requesting that you send us on Friday an electronic copy of the final grant proposal in the form it is being submitted.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Jon Kelsey
To: SJRRC ; Gwen Huff ; 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'Hicham Eltal' ; 'Jean Kiel' ; 'Jean Okuye' ; 'Jeannie Habbin' ; 'Jeff McLain' ; 'Jeff Wilson' ; 'Jim Genes' ; 'JoAnne Armstrong' ; 'Joanne Karlton' ; 'Joe Mitchell' ; 'John Shelton' ; 'Kazi Rasheedi' ; 'Ken Jensen' ; 'Kevin Faulkenberry' ; lrobinson@muhsd.k12.ca.us ; 'Maia Singer' ; 'Marc Epstein' ; 'Marna Cooper' ; Marsh Pitman ; 'Mary Ward' ; 'Michael Rood' ; 'Michelle Cuningham' ; 'Mike Bettencourt' ; 'Mike Gallo' ; 'Molly Flemate' ; 'Nancy McConnell' ; 'Pam Buford' ; pklassen@unwiredbb.com ; 'Pat Brantley' ; 'Peggy Vejar' ; 'Rob Root' ; 'Ronnie Grisom' ; 'Rudy & Hope Platzek' ; 'Scott Stoddard' ; 'Scott Turner' ; 'Sharon Boyce' ; 'Steve Simmons' ; 'Tami Cosio' ; 'Tom Grave' ; 'Urla Garland' ; 'Virginia Mahacek' ; 'Zooey Diggory' ; Whipp ; Glenn Anderson ; Bernard Wade ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Mary Furey ; Cindy Lashbrook ; 'Karen Barstow' ; Malia Hildebrandt ; Merced Farm Bureau ; Mike Pellicano ; Tim Johnson ; watershed@sti.net ; watershededucator@sti.net ; Robbyavilla@aol.com ; Koch ; William Loudermilk ; Madelyn T. Martinez ; Rhonda Reed ; Teri Murrison ; William Hatch
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 4:14 PM
Subject: Re: A point of clarification on EMRCD Grant Proposal

Deidre Kelsey here. I have just today been made aware of the problems with the grant application not being reviewed by the Merced River Stakeholder group. As the Board of Supervisor member who represents the Merced River within Merced County, and who helped launch the Stakeholder process years ago, I am concerned about these problems. I have asked to speak with Gwen Huff and expect she will call me soon. I must correct Ms. Miller's assertion that I am "conflicted' on river issues or have no political voice". This untrue statement, which apparently has been repeated at previous MRS meeting, is misleading and again, is untrue. The future of the river as a resource for our county is what is important. I have helped on many watershed and river related or fishery related issues in the past and I am ready to help with this problem or any other that affects my district and the County of Merced.
Deidre

----- Original Message -----
From: SJRRC
To: Gwen Huff ; 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'Hicham Eltal' ; 'Jean Kiel' ; 'Jean Okuye' ; 'Jeannie Habbin' ; 'Jeff McLain' ; 'Jeff Wilson' ; 'Jim Genes' ; 'JoAnne Armstrong' ; 'Joanne Karlton' ; 'Joe Mitchell' ; 'John Shelton' ; 'Jon Kelsey' ; 'Kazi Rasheedi' ; 'Ken Jensen' ; 'Kevin Faulkenberry' ; lrobinson@muhsd.k12.ca.us ; 'Maia Singer' ; 'Marc Epstein' ; 'Marna Cooper' ; Marsh Pitman ; 'Mary Ward' ; 'Michael Rood' ; 'Michelle Cuningham' ; 'Mike Bettencourt' ; 'Mike Gallo' ; 'Molly Flemate' ; 'Nancy McConnell' ; 'Pam Buford' ; pklassen@unwiredbb.com ; 'Pat Brantley' ; 'Peggy Vejar' ; 'Rob Root' ; 'Ronnie Grisom' ; 'Rudy & Hope Platzek' ; 'Scott Stoddard' ; 'Scott Turner' ; 'Sharon Boyce' ; 'Steve Simmons' ; 'Tami Cosio' ; 'Tom Grave' ; 'Urla Garland' ; 'Virginia Mahacek' ; 'Zooey Diggory' ; Whipp ; Glenn Anderson ; Bernard Wade ; Cathy & Don Weber ; Mary Furey ; Cindy Lashbrook ; 'Karen Barstow' ; Malia Hildebrandt ; Merced Farm Bureau ; Mike Pellicano ; Tim Johnson ; watershed@sti.net ; watershededucator@sti.net ; Robbyavilla@aol.com ; Koch ; William Loudermilk ; Madelyn T. Martinez ; Rhonda Reed ; Teri Murrison ; William Hatch
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 1:56 PM
Subject: Re: A point of clarification on EMRCD Grant Proposal
To: Merced River Stakeholders (MRS) and East Merced Resource Conservation District (EMRCD) Board of Directors
From: Lydia Miller, Merced River Stakeholder, and president of San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
Re: Refutation of RCD watershed coordinator’s version of events surrounding two grant proposals
Date: May 23, 2007

This letter will refer to a chain of emails attached below and to notes taken at the March 19 and May 21 MRS during which staff presented a grant proposal for MRS support. Later, we discovered there was a second grant proposal that was never submitted to MRS for review or support. Staff’s recollections of events, put forth in her email of May 23, are inaccurate and misleading. Because of the timing, they appear to be last-ditch efforts to influence the RCD board vote this afternoon. As staff stated in her May 16 email response, staff is presenting MRS as a full participant and supporter of these grant proposals.

Lastly, the idea of substituting the Management Plan process for the MRS meetings was not a good one. I heard that loud and clear. I was happy to get that feedback – it reminded me that the MRS meetings are, indeed, valuable for those who come. So, when changing the concept proposal to the final proposal, we will be adding in the MRS meetings. We cannot add anymore to the budget, so we will just have to work things out to accommodate this. Most probably we will hold the MRS meetings on the same day as we hold the logistics meetings to save on costs and it will most likely change to once a quarter instead of every other month. At the MRS meetings we will be able to summarize progress on the Management Plan, but attendees will have had to do their homework on the website because we will want time for group input, not spending too much time bringing everyone up to speed. At these MRS meetings we will ask the group for feedback on the process and the direction, as well as encouraging continued participation in the workgroups.
Oh – and when the workgroups have finished meeting and a draft plan is put together based on their meetings, this draft plan will be circulated to the stakeholders, as well as all work group participants, to see that it accurately reflects their experience. Review from them will shape the final project. -- Email from Gwen Huff to Lydia Miller, May 16, 2007

This comment by RCD staff ignores the fact that consistent stakeholders, who have been in the process since its beginning in 1999, were not involved in the drafting of the proposals, have basic objections to the proposals and will oppose the funding publicly.

The EMRCD Directors have now been made aware of the lapse in soliciting MRS comments and are resolved to rectify that failing. Canceling the current proposal signals termination of the MRS and continued scientific research on the Merced River. Then we are out of the loop and CalFed can award the money to a candidate regardless of content. Best Regards, Bernie

RCD President Bernie Wade's comment in his May 22 email is irresponsible, inaccurate and typical of what the east Merced public has come to expect from the RCD.

1) RCD cannot rectify the failure to solicit MRS comments in time;
2) Cancelling the current proposal does not signal termination of the MRS or continued scientific research: MRS is a volunteer organization that can dispense with the services of a paid coordinator; and according to the primary grant writer, Maia Singer, (during May 21 MRS meeting) there is other grant money available to implement scientific research on the river.

Comments made at the March 19 meeting were not included in the later version of the CalFed grant. Nor were they included in the minutes of the March 19 meeting, which staff admitted at the May 21 meeting.

Some of these comments included:

1) Starting up a Technical Advisory Committee again, after the TAC approach has already proved unsuccessful in the stakeholder process because it separates agencies from other stakeholders and creates a top-down decision-making hierarchy;
2) San Joaquin Valley Blueprint and UC/Great Valley Center experience: there are stakeholders who don’t support either and neither organization has participated in the MRS process;
3) Partners and co-sponsors of these grants have never attended MRS meetings. Staff who created these grants did not recognize local stakeholders except to come to them at the eleventh hour, present them a grant, tell them it couldn’t be changed, and request MRS support;
4) The Merced River has no political voice on the county Board of Supervisors because Supervisor Kelsey recuses herself on all issues involving the river;
5) The California Department of Fish and Game and USFWS Endangered Species Sac. has no involvement in these grants;
6) According to staff, the document to be produced by the CalFed grant will become a part of the Merced County General Plan Update and become planning policy; the partners and co-sponsors on the proposal are not representative of real stakeholders on the river;
7) Merced River Corridor Restoration Plan is not a policy document either, despite repeated attempts of county special interests to make it one; it remains a fluid document;
8) MRS, composed of agencies, landowners, businesses and environmental representatives, has been involved in the stakeholder process since 1999; the partners listed on these grants have not been involved in MRS;
9) Some MRS members did not support the grant concept proposal; they will oppose it; it was presented by staff at the March 19 meeting as a done deal in its present form that could not be altered (comments on it weren’t even included in the minutes of the meeting).

At the May 21 meeting of MRS, some new issues were brought out:

1) There at least two grant proposals being submitted and there may be more; they may duplicate tasks; there is no coordination among them – the topic of coordination is mentioned, but not explained;
2) The recipients of funding for staff work are not identified, but it is apparent there will be significant monetary advantage from the grants to RCD, Stillwater, and the Merced River Alliance.
3) The orderly way to proceed on the consultant portion of the grant would be to put the consultant’s tasks out to bid; it appears here that the consultant may have been the primary grant writer;
4) RCD has proving itself on four occasions to be unable to administer past grants; four grants have been frozen due to RCD lack of accountability;
5) Thirty-to-40 concerns were written down by a facilitator who was not invited by MRS at the May 21 meeting; none of these have been incorporated in to the grant nor has their been any attempt to incorporate them into the document the RCD board will be asked to approve today;
6) Only four stakeholders among the MRS participants had read the grants. None of the four RCD board members had read them. Staff picked and chose who got to see it.

Staff claims the RCD will make all information about tasks in the grants available to the public through its website. RCD staff got off to a bad start: the grant proposals were not posted on its website.

Staff attempts to railroad the MRS have the appearance of corruption.

San Joaquin Raptor Rescue Center and its associated organizations cannot support these grant proposals because staff has already shown it is ignoring significant critical input by MRS members.

Lydia Miller, President
San Joaquin Raptor RescueCenter
San Joaquin Raptor/Wildlife Rescue Center
P.O. Box 778
Merced, CA 95341
(209) 723-9283, ph. & fax
raptorctr@bigvalley.net
SJRRC@sbcglobal.net
-----------------

CHRONOLOGY OF E-MAILS

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'Hicham Eltal' ; 'Jean Kiel' ; 'Jean Okuye' ; 'Jeannie Habbin' ; 'Jeff McLain' ; 'Jeff Wilson' ; 'Jim Genes' ; 'JoAnne Armstrong' ; 'Joanne Karlton' ; 'Joe Mitchell' ; 'John Shelton' ; 'Jon Kelsey' ; 'Kazi Rasheedi' ; 'Ken Jensen' ; 'Kevin Faulkenberry' ; lrobinson@muhsd.k12.ca.us ; 'Lydia Miller' ; 'Maia Singer' ; 'Marc Epstein' ; 'Marna Cooper' ; marshpitman@sbcglobal.net ; 'Mary Ward' ; 'Michael Rood' ; 'Michelle Cuningham' ; 'Mike Bettencourt' ; 'Mike Gallo' ; 'Molly Flemate' ; 'Nancy McConnell' ; 'Pam Buford' ; pklassen@unwiredbb.com ; 'Pat Brantley' ; 'Peggy Vejar' ; 'Rob Root' ; 'Ronnie Grisom' ; 'Rudy & Hope Platzek' ; 'Scott Stoddard' ; 'Scott Turner' ; 'Sharon Boyce' ; 'Steve Simmons' ; 'Tami Cosio' ; 'Tom Grave' ; 'Urla Garland' ; 'Virginia Mahacek' ; 'Zooey Diggory'
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 8:35 AM
Subject: A point of clarification on EMRCD Grant Proposal

Pat and Bernie –

I just wanted to add a little bit to this discussion on the point about gathering input from stakeholders. The effort may or may not have been adequate in everyone’s opinion, but below you will find my recollections on what was done.

At the March MRS meeting printed copies of the concept proposal were made available, for anyone who cared to have one.

During the meeting a presentation was made outlining the proposed grant and request made for input from stakeholders. Comments were made and incorporated.

Upon notification that we had been asked to submit a full proposal, the following email went out to the entire MRS:

Stakeholders –

Today we received the very good news that our concept proposal was accepted to go to the next, and final round. You may remember we talked about this at the last MRS meeting and you said you wanted to give more input to the final proposal. I will call all the stakeholders who have been frequent attendees and we will go over the project as it now stands and see where we can modify to make it better. If you are not a regular attendee, and you want to participate in this process, please let me know. I will be happy to call you, too.

Also, at the next MRS meeting, May 21, our primary order of business will be to go over the proposed project and get input from the stakeholders as a whole. I hope that you will make an effort to be there. I’ll be sending out more meeting details later.

I am pleased that we were asked to go forward – I think the project has potential to coordinate many of the diverse efforts and interests in the Merced Watershed.

Following this, contact was made with all those who regularly attend stakeholder meetings, soliciting their input. Those contacted by email only were also sent a summary of the concept proposal. The text of such emails is as follows:

As you will remember, at the last MRS meeting we talked about the upcoming grant proposal. I’m attaching a summary of the draft proposal to help jog your memory.

There were some comments that I received that we will be incorporating into the final proposal, they are:

· Keep the Merced River Stakeholders meetings going (we will – may have to go to once a quarter)
· Review the focus areas for the work groups (looking for your input on this)
· Be sure to include more stakeholders so all organizations are working together (any organizations you know of that we should contact?)
· Be careful that the management team isn’t separate from stakeholders (may rename this to the “Logistics Workgroup” rather than “Management Team” as the bulk of work will be compiling and sorting information from the workgroups, and outside sources, as well as setting up and facilitating workgroup meetings. The real work will take place in the workgroups. Additionally, the minutes of the “Logistics Workgroup” will be posted with all other work group meetings on the website that will be set up for this and the meetings will be open to all)

If you would like to talk to me or email me about this issues, or others that come up for you, regarding the grant proposal, I am very anxious to have as much input as possible from every interested (and even not so interested) party.

Remember – this is due in Sacramento by June 1st and the sooner we get any comments, the more likely we will be able to incorporate them. Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

One stakeholder requested the full concept proposal and this was sent. Two stakeholders responded to this request for input, Glenn Anderson who provided suggestions on workgroup content, and Sharon Dragovich stating;

As of now, my family’s position is the same as at the last meeting. We do not believe that this grant is consistent with the direction which the property owners (those who make their living along land contiguous to the river) have supported in the past and we cannot support it.

We believe the appropriate focus of the Merced River Stakeholders Group should be (1) oversight of projects which impact the River and (2) education. We expect to be present and to participate in the discussion on Monday night. The Grants timing is unfortunate for farmers (this is everyone’s busy season) and it is doubtful that we will be able to get them to attend this meeting; we will keep the property owners group up to date on the discussion through 1:1 contact and mailings.

Sharon’s family was contacted (Pat Ferrigno and Mike Bettencourt) by phone and personal visit in order to hear their concerns and attempt to shape the proposal to better represent their interests.

Lastly, the May MRS meeting devoted a significant portion of the time to the concept proposal.

Respectfully submitted - Gwen
------------------

From: Pat Ferrigno [mailto:pferrigno@elite.net]
Sent: Wednesday, May 23, 2007 4:16 AM
To: 'Brwade@aol.com'
Subject: RE: May 22nd Update

Bernie: Nothing in our previous comments was meant to impugn your sincerity or good faith in dealing with EMRCD or MRS and I apologize to you if that was your interpretation. The fact that you must book-end meetings with a 125 mile commute is solid evidence of your commitment; I’m not sure how many of us would make that sacrifice.

There is an appearance of impropriety, a sense that the process has become inbred. The entire MRS meeting was agenda-ed as a discussion of the grant application—but a copy of the grant was supplied only to those who specifically requested it (Lydia Miller and Sharon Dragovich). The grant application was written, reviewed, and approved by the same committee and the members of that committee appear to be the direct financial beneficiaries of the grant.

Actually, staff for this project has never been formally identified nor have their qualifications to represent the diverse watershed interests been described. There were no job descriptions nor qualifications outlines included in the grant application we received.

The #1 Project Priority stated in this grant is to “Broaden the participation of Federal, State, or local government agencies with watershed partnerships”. How many of us have had our lives/property improved through participation of the government? With the shortage of water which is looming in the future of California and the upcoming (2012?) change in the MID relationship with the River, we are all very sensitive; several of the identified partners in this grant are already “water shopping”. These groups have never been involved in watershed activities on the Merced; what criteria was used to select partners? What is the objective of the partnership? These are valid questions which were never addressed/answered.

Comments made at the meeting espoused the thesis that MRS has no standing because it is “only” a consensus group; therefore there was no imperative for this grant to be presented to MRS. Does it not seem hypocritical for this project to be excepted from review when we have, as a group, scrutinized and withheld endorsement of other projects?

No one wants MRS to die for lack of funding; if necessary, we will keep it going through purely volunteer efforts until we can identify a funding source. MRS is the only forum for interaction and the exchange of ideas; it provides the opportunity of face-to-face meeting for those who have nothing in common except MRS.

We don’t know the answer to this grant funding cycle dilemma; the copy of the grant which we reviewed at MRS does not represent the views of many of the stakeholders. Does EMRCD have the right to proceed with attempting to obtain grant funding for a project which lacks broadbased grassroots support? Thank you for acknowledging the awareness which EMRCD now has regarding this situation. We no longer feel that it is necessary to submit a formal letter to you.

Best regards,
Pat Ferrigno, Mike Bettencourt, Sharon Dragovich
--------------------------

From: Brwade@aol.com [mailto:Brwade@aol.com]
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 5:08 PM
To: pferrigno@elite.net
Subject: May 22nd Update

Dear Pat, A case well explained. I appreciate your comments and pointing out the consultations we had missed. I thought the MRS had been notified and had received copies of the Grant Proposal. There has never been on my part any attempt to ignore MRS or any other concerned input. I think the Directors saw this as a continuation of River Studies already underway and we were merely complying with the CalFed request for a
Grant Proposal. I know the time limit for submittals has been extremely close. The Vernal Pools Grant proposal had to be submitted in a little over 48 hours.

The EMRCD Directors have now been made aware of the lapse in soliciting MRS comments and are resolved to rectify that failing. Canceling the current proposal signals termination of the MRS and continued scientific research on the Merced River. Then we are out of the loop and CalFed can award the money to a candidate regardless of content. Best Regards, Bernie

PS. Myself, and the Directors I know, have never received any compensation for our
participation in the EMRCD even though we are legally entitled to mileage fees.
In fact, we have contributed out of pocket to make up a short fall.
PPS. Pat, Please feel free to forward to this to the CC: of your letter.

----- Original Message -----
From: Pat Ferrigno
To: Brwade@aol.com
Cc: gwenhuff@comcast.net ; 'Hicham Eltal' ; 'Jean Kiel' ; 'Jean Okuye' ; 'Jeannie Habbin' ; 'Jeff McLain' ; 'Jeff Wilson' ; 'Jim Genes' ; 'JoAnne Armstrong' ; 'Joanne Karlton' ; 'Joe Mitchell' ; 'John Shelton' ; 'Jon Kelsey' ; 'Kazi Rasheedi' ; 'Ken Jensen' ; 'Kevin Faulkenberry' ; lrobinson@muhsd.k12.ca.us ; 'Lydia Miller' ; 'Maia Singer' ; 'Marc Epstein' ; 'Marna Cooper' ; marshpitman@sbcglobal.net ; 'Mary Ward' ; 'Michael Rood' ; 'Michelle Cuningham' ; 'Mike Bettencourt' ; 'Mike Gallo' ; 'Molly Flemate' ; 'Nancy McConnell' ; 'Pam Buford' ; pklassen@unwiredbb.com ; 'Pat Brantley' ; 'Pat Ferrigno' ; 'Peggy Vejar' ; 'Rob Root' ; 'Ronnie Grisom' ; 'Rudy & Hope Platzek' ; 'Scott Stoddard' ; 'Scott Turner' ; 'Sharon Boyce' ; 'Steve Simmons' ; 'Tami Cosio' ; 'Tom Grave' ; 'Urla Garland' ; 'Virginia Mahacek' ; 'Zooey Diggory'
Sent: Tuesday, May 22, 2007 1:26 PM
Subject: RE: EMRCD

Dear Bernie:

We were very disappointed with the discussion regarding the EMRCD grant application at the Merced River Stakeholders (MRS) meeting on Monday night. The conflict of interests present in the entire situation are disconcerting: the facilitator for MRS is applying for a grant under the auspices of EMRCD which will be reviewed by the EMRCD board which includes the MRS co-facilitator; plus the MRS facilitator did not acknowledge the importance of the MRS reviewing the concept grant before submission even though this is what we have perceived as the role of MRS since its inception. And, the RCD will receive the overhead allocation in this grant by providing oversight, which oversight will be provided by the RCD Board which includes beneficiaries of the grant, which beneficiaries include a member of the Planning Commission.

Bernie, I don’t have to be an attorney to know that this isn’t good; there has to be some Federal statute about the fox guarding the henhouse. I don’t think that is what the regulators have in mind when they talk about transparency!

Our aggregate project went under the microsope of MRS scrutiny for six months of meetings; your tailings project has been on the agenda many times. It is mind-boggling that the facilitator(!) has so little respect for the role of MRS that she chose to simply ignore that forum. The excuse that the time schedule did not allow review is a non-starter: Gwen has made multiple contacts with Lydia Miller and with members of our family by telephone and e-mail (and even an unannounced visit to my brother’s home) in her quest to garner after-the-fact support for this grant; the same avenues were available and would have had more success before the concept proposal was submitted.

I am sure that I don’t have to tell you that we will oppose this grant application with all of the resources available to us.

You will receive our formal letter of opposition prior to the meeting. We would appreciate our position being noted in the minutes.

Thank you.

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: 'Raptorctr'
Sent: Wednesday, May 16, 2007 11:07 AM
Subject: RE: Merced River Grant Proposal

Hi Lydia –

Thanks for the response and I will answer your questions in order.

What is the role of the Merced River Stakeholders' Group in this East Merced Resource Conservation District proposal?

There are several roles. First would be participation of individual members of the MRS in the work groups. That is where an understanding of topic areas will come from, as well as identifying needs and determining future direction. The fact the stakeholders are willing to come to meetings, demonstrates an active interest in the river and they will be critical to the work group process.

Secondly, all the information from the workgroups, including the logistics planning and background information gathering, will be posted to a website that is interactive. Most people won’t be willing or able to make most meetings, but they can stay current and add in their information through the website. Merced River Stakeholders members will again be really important to have participating in that.

Lastly, the idea of substituting the Management Plan process for the MRS meetings was not a good one. I heard that loud and clear. I was happy to get that feedback – it reminded me that the MRS meetings are, indeed, valuable for those who come. So, when changing the concept proposal to the final proposal, we will be adding in the MRS meetings. We cannot add anymore to the budget, so we will just have to work things out to accommodate this. Most probably we will hold the MRS meetings on the same day as we hold the logistics meetings to save on costs and it will most likely change to once a quarter instead of every other month. At the MRS meetings we will be able to summarize progress on the Management Plan, but attendees will have had to do their homework on the website because we will want time for group input, not spending too much time bringing everyone up to speed. At these MRS meetings we will ask the group for feedback on the process and the direction, as well as encouraging continued participation in the workgroups.

Oh – and when the workgroups have finished meeting and a draft plan is put together based on their meetings, this draft plan will be circulated to the stakeholders, as well as all work group participants, to see that it accurately reflects their experience. Review from them will shape the final project.

How much funding is left for Stakeholders' meetings?

Right now the MRS meetings are funded through our DOC grant, which ends next month. The May meeting will be the last one to be funded by that grant. From then until May of next year the funding will come from the Merced River Alliance Project. Though not specifically named in the grant, there are hours available for “building the Alliance” and the functioning of the MRS is very important for that. Also, there is soon to be another grant proposal out for watershed coordinator work – a continuation of the DOC grant work. We will be applying for it as soon as it is out and we will be asking for continued funding of the stakeholders.

How much money is being budgeted in the proposal for Stakeholders' meetings?

We haven’t gotten that far yet. The concept proposal didn’t have any money budgeted for stakeholder meetings, but that will change when we do the final proposal. We are still working on it, but the thinking is that we will move enough money that way to be sure that there will at LEAST be a quarterly MRS meeting. If we get more funding, we can continue to have meetings every other month.

Would you send a copy of the NFWF grant?
It is attached

Lydia Miller

----- Original Message -----
From: Raptorctr
To: Gwen Huff
Sent: Tuesday, May 15, 2007 3:04 PM
Subject: Re: Merced River Grant Proposal

Gwen,

What is the role of the Merced River Stakeholders' Group in this East Merced Resource Conservation District proposal? How much funding is left for Stakeholders' meetings?
How much money is being budgeted in the proposal for Stakeholders' meetings?
Would you send a copy of the NFWF grant?

Lydia Miller

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: Lydia Miller ; Lydia Miller
Sent: Thursday, May 10, 2007 4:16 PM
Subject: Merced River Grant Proposal

Hi Lydia –

I just left you a phone message, and here is the follow-up. As you will remember, at the last MRS meeting we talked about the upcoming grant proposal. I’m attaching a summary of the draft proposal and a full draft as well, to help refresh your memory.

There were some comments that I received that we will be incorporating into the final proposal, they are:

1. Keep the Merced River Stakeholders meetings going (we will – may have to go to once a quarter)
2. Review the focus areas for the work groups (looking for your input on this)
3. Be sure to include more stakeholders so all organizations are working together (any organizations you know of that we should contact?)
4. Be careful that the management team isn’t separate from stakeholders (may rename this to the “Logistics Workgroup” rather than “Management Team” as the bulk of work will be compiling and sorting information from the workgroups, and outside sources, as well as setting up and facilitating workgroup meetings. The real work will take place in the workgroups. Additionally, the minutes of the “Logistics Workgroup” will be posted with all other work group meetings on the website that will be set up for this and the meetings will be open to all)

I would like to talk, or email, about these issues, or others that come up for you, regarding the grant proposal. I am very anxious to have as much input as possible from every interested (and even not-so-interested) party.

Remember – this is due in Sacramento by June 1st and the sooner we get any comments, the more likely we will be able to incorporate them. Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

Gwen

Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
gwenhuff@comcast.net

----- Original Message -----
From: Gwen Huff
To: gwenhuff@comcast.net ; Hicham Eltal ; Jean Kiel ; Jean Okuye ; Jeannie Habbin ; Jeff McLain ; Jeff Wilson ; Jim Genes ; JoAnne Armstrong ; Joanne Karlton ; Joe Mitchell ; John Shelton ; Jon Kelsey ; Kazi Rasheedi ; Ken Jensen ; Kevin Faulkenberry ; lrobinson@muhsd.k12.ca.us ; Lydia Miller ; Maia Singer ; Marc Epstein ; Marna Cooper ; marshpitman@sbcglobal.net ; Mary Ward ; Michael Rood ; Michelle Cuningham ; Mike Bettencourt ; Mike Gallo ; Molly Flemate ; Nancy McConnell ; Pam Buford ; pklassen@unwiredbb.com ; Pat Brantley ; Pat Ferrigno ; Peggy Vejar ; Rob Root ; Ronnie Grisom ; Rudy & Hope Platzek ; Scott Stoddard ; Scott Turner ; Sharon Boyce ; Steve Simmons ; Tami Cosio ; Tom Grave ; Urla Garland ; Virginia Mahacek ; Zooey Diggory
Sent: Wednesday, May 02, 2007 10:29 AM
Subject: FW: Merced River Mgt Plan Grant Proposal

Stakeholders –

Today we received the very good news that our concept proposal was accepted to go to the next, and final round. You may remember we talked about this at the last MRS meeting and you said you wanted to give more input to the final proposal. I will call all the stakeholders who have been frequent attendees and we will go over the project as it now stands and see where we can modify to make it better. If you are not a regular attendee, and you want to participate in this process, please let me know. I will be happy to call you, too.

Also, at the next MRS meeting, May 21, our primary order of business will be to go over the proposed project and get input from the stakeholders as a whole. I hope that you will make an effort to be there. I’ll be sending out more meeting details later.

I am pleased that we were asked to go forward – I think the project has potential to coordinate many of the diverse efforts and interests in the Merced Watershed.

See you soon!

Gwen

Gwen Huff
Watershed Coordinator
East Merced Resource Conservation District
Home Office (559) 497-5033
Mobile (559) 250-4734
gwenhuff@comcast.net

| »

The real Merced River Stakeholders agenda, time and place

Submitted: Sep 18, 2007

Merced River Stakeholders Meeting

September 24, 2007

6 p.m.-8:30 p.m.

Washington School

4402 W. Oakdale Road, Winton

AGENDA

6:00 Introductions, Minutes Approval, Agenda Review

6:15 Updates

Merced Irrigation District Ted Selb

Merced County Planning Department Jeff Wilson

Grant Reporting

DOC II: Watershed coordinator update:

Reports from Gwen Huff, Cindy Lashbrook

Prop. 13: Merced River Alliance:

Reports from Cathy Weber, Cindy Lashbrook, Karen Whipp, Nancy McConnell

Props. 50 and 84 if applicable

6:30 Grant Discussion

Protest letters to EMRCD grant proposal (please refer to attachments)
California Public Records Act requests regarding existing grants in which MRS is "partnered"
Letter to suspend public grant-fund releases until relationship with MRS and EMRCD/Merced River Alliance/Watershed Coordinator is clarified
Support/non-support of EMRCD
Continued Facilitation of the Merced River Stakeholders
MRS grant development
EMRCD/MRS website
Merced River Alliance newsletter

Announcements

Next meeting date

Refreshments will be provided by the Bettencourt family and can be accessed at any time during the meeting. There will be no break.

Past meeting minutes can be found at www.emrcd.org/stakeholders

Produced by Stakeholders for Stakeholders

MERCED RIVER STAKEHOLDERS

MISSION STATEMENT

Provide a collaborative forum for coordination, and gathering and sharing of information

about the Merced River watershed. Protect and enhance the lower Merced River Watershed such that the natural processes, ecosystems, and its unique characteristics are conserved and restored. Foster voluntary stewardship in advance of habitat degradation and regulatory action.

Strive for a balanced level of human interaction within the watershed.

GOALS

Educate the public about the Merced River watershed and its importance.

Foster and improve communication among affected private individuals, interested citizens, commercial interests, educational institutes, and representatives of local, state and federal agencies.

| »

Grateful Badlands refuses Regents' recognition

Submitted: Aug 28, 2007

" In his paper, Blum said the office of the president "should become a model for transformation to efficiency and service, rather than the frequent butt of jokes and cynicism." --Los Angeles Times, Aug. 23, 2007

Blum also pressed the importance of nurturing the newest campus, Merced, to ensure its success and suggested creating a task force to oversee the needs there. --San Francisco Chronicle, Aug. 23, 2007

Badlands Journal editorial leader, "Nimble" McMayhem, said Thursday,

We are glad that Richard Feinstein-Blum, chairman of the UC Board of Regents, has been reading our reports of problems with UC administration. However, in light of all the work on this dismal topic that remains to be done, on behalf of the editorial board, I must refuse the recognition Feinstein-Blum has given to our work here in Merced, and pledge to work ceaselessly to amplify our efforts. It was never just the office of the president of UC that was the "butt of (our) jokes." We continue to believe, based on daily evidence, that the largest part of UC administrators are over-paid, over-numerous, fatuous, arrogant snobs not better educated to manage a university than is Chairman Feinstein-Blum. We are also acquainted with exceptions that make the rule.

We do not blame individuals in the UC administration. We believe their over-the-top characters are the result of the company they keep, beginning with the board of regents, stacked with people who bought their positions in political sweepstakes that brings to mind the colorful political term, 'rotten boroughs'.

No, Chairman Feinstein-Blum, we do not support a UC run like and on behalf of private corporations anymore than we support government run like and for private corporations, because neither universities or governments are private corporations. Local, state and national governments and public universities are public institutions. When dominated by private corporations they become disoriented because they have become estranged from the public interest and considerations of the common good. The California public must be suspicious of your criticisms and recommendations because they are couched in the language of private, corporate management, a fundamentalism that does not fit public institutions, especially universities.

Why not begin small by trying to figure out a department of public administration that would educated incorruptible public administrators committed to the public good? Again, there are fine exceptions within the UC administration, which prove the general rule.

On a larger scale, establish a board that judges the quality of research, its benefits for the common good, instead of simply the quantity of grant funds it will attract for the de facto private corporation that is UC. It is not just UC administration that is the butt of jokes and cynicism. UC research has long been known as a system for 'throwing money at a problem' without much planning, and UC star researchers are famed for the amount of funding they attract, regardless of the source and intent of the funding and the desired product of the research. From the newest generation of nuclear weapons to biowarfare research to genetic engineering to the mechanical tomato harvester, UC research within living memory has produced monsters in its quest for prestige and funding over the common good of the people of California. Yet, amid the excess of narcissistic ambition, there are exceptions that continue to prove the rule. The point is that they ought not to be exceptions.

Ms. McMayhem paused for breathe.

This regent chief controls a Boston-based construction company called Perini. This company teams up with another California-based company called Tutor-Saliba to build the LA public transit system ... and all we see is lawsuits for shoddy construction. Ron Tutor is CEO of Perini. Ron Tutor is chairman, CEO and owner of Tutor-Saliba.

Blum says Perini will do no work in California. (Meanwhile, in Nevada it is building hotels and casinos like crazy.

"Give the public a break! hooted McMayhem, quoting an attorney who is an ex officio member of the Badlands editorial board: "'In a long life in the law spent among expert liars, the biggest liar under oath I ever met was Richard Blum.'

Why should we believe Blum that he hasn't and won't benefit from UC construction projects?

The LA Times reports:

Streamlining UC's construction practices to speed up the approval process for new buildings and relying on outside contractors to build them could save the university many millions of dollars, he said.

Like UC doesn't streamline construction practices? Give the public a break! hooted Ms. McMayhem. They built the UC Merced campus without the most important federal permit they had to have, the 404(b) under the Clean Water Act, aka the Least Destructive Project Alternative. They built it in the densest zone of vernal pools in the nation with the full complicity of local, state and federal elected officials, former Gov. Gray Davis, under the oversight of former Secretary of the state Resources Agency, Mary Nichols, recently appointed by the Hun, our present governor, to head the state Air Resources Board. UC built the campus with full knowledge (and to the profit of some regents and most elected officials and assorted staffers) that it would stimulate the largest real estate boom in Merced history. The boom has now busted, leaving the City of Merced with the dubious distinction of having the second-worst foreclosure rate in the nation.

Like former President Pro Tem of the state Senate John Burton, D-SF said at the time, UC Merced was a 'boondoggle.'

Concluding on a San Francisco note," McMayhem said, Burton would have known how construction projects can sometimes get out of control. As a Democratic Party politician in San Francisco, he could not have avoided hearing at least once, the latter-day reflections of Hizzoner Jack Shelley, mayor of San Francisco when Candlestick Park was built. In later life, Shelley was the City's lobbyist in Sacramento, and nobody got away without hearing The Story--the distillation of all practical political wisdom in his life.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hizzoner would say to you, propping his walker on the wall at Posey's and sitting at table, where a thoughtful waiter had already parked his first martini, it all boils down to a cement contract.

A gifted narrator of political experience, aided by several more martinis, Hizzoner would weave the tale in exquisite detail about just how it all boiled down to a cement contract and how, if you traced the hands in that cement contract, you would know all you needed to know about the politics of the City by the Bay, home to Regents' Chairman Richard Feinstein-Blum and his charming wife.

And, speaking of his charming wife, we have to wonder if Blum's animosity toward ousted UC President Robert Dynes was not merely a fit of pique after Dynes married the blonde from UCSD.

McMayhem concluded: "The more we know about the stratospheric scene of the geriatric plutocracy that rules us but is not wise, the more we suppose that all the remains among them is the question: Who's getting any? We decline recognition by the UC Board of Regents for having made UC the butt of jokes and cynicism. Whatever Feinstein-Blum's getting will be at public expense without Teflon.

Chairman Feinstein-Blum, thanks but no thanks on the UC Merced nurturing taskforce. Let it compost, like the careers of all unable to flee it. It was built in the wrong place at the wrong time because the UC Regents and the administration, for which the Regents are responsible, were taken to the cleaners by those of your own, in finance, insurance and real estate special interests -- you arrogant, pathetic hypocrite.

Seriously, old man, if you cannot muster anything better than wretched cliches like "dynamic strategies," the Hun may be forced by bring in former Chainsaw Chancelor of the state university system, Barry Munitz, rehabilitated from the Getty disaster by public oblivion by now. Munitz is a closer.

But, of course, how could I be so stupid? You're considering the old alleged,high-living, alledged enabler of antiquities theft for the presidency.

Badlands editorial board
-------------------

Los Angeles Times
UC regent calls for operations overhaul
Blum's suggestion include cutting duplicate staff positions, raising faculty salaries, funding scholarships to alleviate tuition hikes, and streamlining construction process...Richard C. Paddock
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-uc23aug23,1,4861065.story?coll=la-headlines-california
In a sharp critique of University of California operations, Board of Regents Chairman Richard C. Blum called Wednesday for a major overhaul of the "outmoded and dysfunctional" way the UC administration operates...a six-page paper sent to his fellow regents, Blum called for restructuring the UC president's office to eliminate arcane procedures that have existed for decades and often hinder decisions, costing the university millions of dollars. "Why is it so hard to make broad-scale progress toward our goals?" Blum asked. "I believe the fundamental problem is an overgrown UC administrative infrastructure that substitutes motion for progress." He also proposed creating a scholarship fund of up to $1 billion to help students cope with rising fees and called for improving UC's relations with the governor and Legislature, who have steadily reduced the university's share of the state budget. ...said in an interview that the 10-campus UC system should cut back its administrative staff and devote more resources to education, in particular raising faculty salaries to be competitive with other universities. Streamlining UC's construction practices to speed up the approval process for new buildings and relying on outside contractors to build them could save the university many millions of dollars, he said. "I am quite critical of the way the operations of the university have been run," Blum said. "There are some functions there, nobody knows why they exist. We need to make decisions quickly. We need to be nimble and we are anything but." In his paper, Blum said the office of the president "should become a model for transformation to efficiency and service, rather than the frequent butt of jokes and cynicism." Dynes' presidency was tarnished by a scandal in which he approved millions of dollars in perks and incentives for certain administrators and faculty members without getting the regents' approval or providing public notice. But Blum said that amount pales in comparison to the money wasted by unneeded bureaucracy..Among his proposals Wednesday were lifting arbitrary debt caps to speed campus building projects, reducing cash reserves that are kept unnecessarily high and eliminating millions of dollars in unnecessary or duplicative administration. Blum called on the university to develop a clear strategic vision and to pursue the same high quality in its administration that it strives for in its academic programs. "Cumbersome and enormously expensive layers of bureaucracy have been added over the years, many of which may no longer make sense -- if indeed they ever did," Blum wrote. "Unless the University seriously and accountably commits itself to a new direction, we risk losing the perpetual battle for excellence in many areas."

San Francisco Chronicle
UC's top regent bashes system...Leslie Fulbright
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?file=/c/a/2007/08/23/MNB4RNCP7.DTL&tsp=1
The chairman of the University of California's Board of Regents issued a highly critical analysis of the 10-campus system Wednesday, painting a picture of an impotent administration with a "dysfunctional set of organizational structures, processes and policies." Richard Blum, a San Francisco financier who has been on the governing board for four years, said the university no longer has a clear idea of where it is going, is hamstrung by arcane rules and too often is governed by a consensus system in which no one takes responsibility for results. ...sent to his 25 fellow regents, Blum says no one has really looked at UC's administrative structure in more than 40 years. He proposes a major overhaul of the system that ranges from streamlining expenditures and processes to raising funds for capital improvements to diversifying the student body. The report was issued nine days after university President Robert Dynes announced he would resign by June... A day after his announcement, The Chronicle reported that Dynes had been urged by Blum three week earlier to leave because regents were unhappy with his management. In Blum's report, titled "We Need to be Strategically Dynamic," the chairman says he has grown impatient with the lack of progress in reforming the university. He says that administrators and staff efforts have been less than acceptable and that he regularly hears complaints about faculty salaries, class sizes and delays in building improvements. "Despite the clear persistence of these problems, however, little measurable progress has been made," he said, adding later, "I believe the fundamental problem is an overgrown UC administrative infrastructure that substitutes motion for progress." Blum said major systemwide improvements are needed and that the administrative system should meet the same standards as the academic programs. Blum says expensive layers of bureaucracy are at play in the system and suggests that the administration clarify who is in charge of what and then assure that those people take responsibility for their tasks. The president's administrative office includes 516 full-time positions and an $81 million annual budget. Blum expressed hope that a new Regents Committee on Long Range Planning would develop an integrated plan for diversity admissions and affordability... Blum also pressed the importance of nurturing the newest campus, Merced, to ensure its success and suggested creating a task force to oversee the needs there.

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