Friday, November 7, 2014

CALIF: The Power of Big Money Overcomes the Power of the People

Goliath Wins Against David on Prop. 1 

Prop. 1 Passes: The Power of Big Money Overcomes the Power of the People
Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk
Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the water bond, peripheral tunnels, Shasta Dam raise and other water projects now being planned by the state and federal governments are in in reality "one Big Project" that will destroy salmon, rivers and groundwater supplies.

by Dan Bacher 
Censored News
Proposition 1, Governor Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, sailed to easy victory on November 4, as forecasted in a number of polls. 

The election results show how the power of millions of dollars of corporate money in the corrupt oligarchy of California were able to defeat a how a grassroots movement of fishermen, environmentalists, Indian Tribes and family farmers opposed to Prop. 1. 

The Hoopa Valley, Yurok, Winnemem Wintu and Concow Maidu Tribes, the defenders of California's rivers and oceans for thousands of years, strongly opposed Prop. 1. because of the threat the bond poses to water, salmon and their culture. (http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/11/04/18763767.php

Prop. 1 proponents, including a rogue's gallery of oil companies, corporate agribusiness tycoons, Big Tobacco, health insurance companies and greedy billionaires, dumped over $16.4 million into the campaign, while Prop. 1 opponents raised around $100,000 for the effort. In other words, the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign outmatched the No on Prop. 1 campaign by a factor of 164 to 1. 

In a state and country where corporations have the same rights as people, the political game is rigged so that Goliath is usually able to defeat David. The state's voters, responding to the avalanche of pro-Prop. 1 ads funded by corporate interests, approved the measure by a vote of 66.77 percent to 33.23 percent. 

The results of the Prop. 1 campaign are a classic example why everybody who cares about the future of this state and country should join the Move to Amend Coalition. From Massachusetts to Ohio, from Illinois to Florida, and Wisconsin, citizens voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass a Constitutional amendment calling for an end to the doctrines of corporate Constitutional rights and money as free speech. 

The Amendment states: "We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights." 

For more information, go to: http://www.MoveToAmend.org

Farming, Conservation, Environmental Groups: Prop. 1 Didn't Solve Our Water Crisis 

Californians for Fair Water Policy, a statewide coalition of environmental, water conservation, fishing, farming and community organizations and Indian Tribes, responded to the passage of Prop. 1 by calling for a new focus on sustainable water policies and for the governor to abandon his proposed Delta Tunnels project to export water from the Sacramento River to corporate agribusiness interests, Southern California water agencies and oil companies conducting fracking and steam injection operations. 

"When Californians wake up today following the election, the water challenges we face are still huge and pressing," said Barbara Barrigan-Parrilla, executive director of Restore the Delta. "Now that the debate over Prop. 1 is behind us; it is time to look at sustainable solutions to our water challenges. Whether you supported or opposed Prop 1, we all agree that it will do nothing to address our current drought. So we need to face the fact that the State has over allocated up to 5 times more water than is normally available in our rivers and streams." 

"Proposition 1 will not solve our water crisis," says Adam Scow, California Director of Food & Water Watch. "Its proponents sold the water bond as a way to protect California from future drought, but Prop 1 fails to address the real problems, especially the State's poor management of our water resources. Governor Brown must balance California's overstretched water budget and reduce allocations to water-wasting super-farms in the desert. Food & Water Watch will continue to work with allies to ensure that Prop 1's voter-approved funds benefit the public interest, and do not promote corporate interests by building new dams and subsidizing excessive water transfers to unsustainable agribusiness operations." 

"Prop. 1 did not change any of these stubborn facts: the Delta has been overpumped for decades, and this cannot be sustained, and our salmon and other fisheries are on the verge of collapse," said Bill Jennings, executive director of the California Sportfishing Protection Alliance. "The one thing that must be done if we're going to stabilize the state's water policies: balance water rights claims to actual water supplies." 

"The governor is still wedded to his Bay Delta Conservation Plan/Delta Tunnels project, which the EPA has said would violate the Clean Water Act," said Bob Wright, Senior Counsel of Friends of the River. "The Delta Tunnels project is fatally flawed, and the governor should abandon it and instead promote sustainable water solutions." 

"We urge the governor to shift his concentration from the doomed Delta Tunnels project to large scale recycling, conservation, storm water capture, ground water clean up projects, and other new drought technologies that will provide local jobs and reduce reliance on imported water supplies," said Conner Everts, Executive Director, Southern California Watershed Alliance. "Sustainable water programs are needed to safeguard California from inevitable future droughts." 

Billionaires, Corporate Interests Dumped Over $16.4 Million into Prop. 1 Campaign 

Voters throughout the state fiercely debated the pros and cons of Proposition 1, Jerry Brown's $7.5 billion water bond, before they went to the polls on November 4. 

While the pros and cons are important, an even bigger issue in any environmental battle or process is the money behind the campaign. The big corporate money spent on the water bond largely determines who the bond will benefit - billionaires, agribusiness, oil companies and corporate “environmental” NGOs, not the fish, wildlife or people of California. 

The passage of Proposition 1 was inevitable considering the millions of dollars dumped into the campaign by Governor Brown and his collaborators - and the deceptive campaign ads run by the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign cynically employing fear-mongering over the drought to scare Californians into voting for Prop. 1. 

I have discussed the campaign contributions to Prop. 1 in my previous articles, but it's a good idea to review these contributions again, now that the election is over. 

Contributions to Brown's Yes on Props 1 and 2 Committee totalled $13,880,528.43, according to the latest data posted on the California Secretary of State's website. (http://cal-access.ss.ca.gov/Campaign/Measures/Detail.aspx?id=1369617&session=2013)

The contributions feature millions of dollars from billionaires, corporate agribusiness, Big Oil and the tobacco industry - corporate interests that all expect a big return for their "investment" in the corrupt "play to pay" politics that rules California today. 

Contributions to the committee from the period from October 1 to October 18 alone amounted to $9,537,048.90. 

Expenditures during the period from January 1 through October 18 were $10,728,645.50, with $10,149,477.92 just from the period of October 1 to October 18. 

But this isn’t the only committee that funded the Yes on 1 campaign. When you consider the other committees backing Prop.1 listed on the Secretary of State’s website, the total amount of contributions jumps by another $2,541,257.91 to $16,421,785.91! 

The “California Business Political Action Committee,” sponsored by the California Chamber of Commerce, raised $550,000 for Yes on 1 and 2 during the period from January 1 to October 18, 2014. 

The “Wetlands Conservation Committee, Yes on Prop. 1,” sponsored by Ducks Unlimited, Audubon California and the Nature Conservancy, raised $215,000 from January 1 through October 18. 

Other committees backing Prop. 1 include: 

• The “Conservation Action Fund”: $818,623.78 

• The Sac Valley Water & Rice For Prop. 1: $44,499.00 

• Think Long Committee, sponsored by the Nicolas Berggruen Institute Trust, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $250,000 

• Western Plant Health Association, Supporting Propositions 1 and 2: $100,000 

• NRDC Action Fund Ballot Measures Committee - Yes on Prop. 1; $9,514.27 

• Environmental Coalition for Water and Wildlife Protection – Yes on Prop. 1: $102,000 

• The Southern California District County Laborers PAC: $58,219.02 

• The California Water Association Political Issues Committee – Yes on Prop. 1: $100,000 

• Laborers Pacific Southwest Regional Organizing Coalition Issues PAC – Yes on Props 1 and 2: $293,401.84 

While the committees backing Prop. 1 raised over $16.4 million, the Vote No on Prop. 1 campaign raised over $97,999, a small fraction of the money raised by Prop. 1 proponents. 

In addition, opponents of Prop. 1 revealed that the Nature Conservancy donated $500,000 to the campaign. 

“Prop. 1’s big dam projects will make very little new water, and the water will mainly go to unsustainable huge agribusinesses,” said Barrigan-Parrilla, Executive Director of Restore the Delta. “Most disturbing is the $500,000 that the Nature Conservancy has contributed to the Prop 1 campaign. The Nature Conservancy has benefited from the gifting of public lands in the Delta by the Department of Water Resources." 

She emphasized, "The Nature Conservancy turned a blind eye to oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico for the ability to manage wetlands, and pumps oil on its own lands. In California, they are turning a blind eye to the issue of how water exports will be accelerated from the Bay-Delta estuary if Prop. 1 passes, and how this water will fill Governor Brown's Delta tunnels. They are supporting water policies that will serve special corporate interests in exchange for the opportunity to manage more conservancy projects in the Delta and throughout California." 

The campaign for and against Proposition 1, the $7.5 billion water bond on the November 4 ballot, was the classic David and Goliath battle of this election season in California. 

Governor Jerry Brown, the Republican and Democratic Party establishment, corporate agribusiness interests, oil companies, construction unions, corporate "environmental" NGOs, prominent billionaires, the health care industry and big water agencies backed the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. In contrast, a grassroots coalition of fishing groups, environmentalists, consumer organizations, Indian Tribes, family farmers and Delta water agencies campaigned against Proposition 1. 

The top 18 campaign contributors – those who donated $250,000 or more - raised a total of $12,005,279 for the Yes on Prop. 1 and 2 campaign, according to the California Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). (http://fppc.ca.gov/top10Nov2014/

These contributions include $250,000 donated to the campaign by Aera Energy LLC, a company jointly owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil. 

The Bakersfield-based Aera Energy is one of California's largest oil and gas producers, accounting for nearly 25 percent of the state's production, according to the company’s website. (http://www.aeraenergy.com/who-we-are.asp

Corporate agribusiness interests, the largest users of federal and state water project water exported through the Delta pumping facilities, donated a total of $850,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. The California Farm Bureau Federation contributed $250,000 and the Western Growers Service Association donated $250,000. 

Stewart Resnick, the Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoon, owner of Paramount Farms and largest orchard fruit grower in the world, contributed $150,000 and the California Cotton Alliance contributed $200,000 to the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign. 

Resnick and his wife, Lynda, have been instrumental in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing peripheral tunnels - and have made millions off reselling environmental water to the public. 

The largest individual donor in the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign was Sean Parker, who contributed $1 million to the campaign. Parker is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist who cofounded the file-sharing computer service Napster and served as the first president of the social networking website Facebook. 

Four members of the Fisher family, who own the Gap stores, collectively donated $1.5 million to the Yes. on Prop. 1 and Prop. 2 campaign. They also own the Mendocino Redwood Company and Humboldt Redwood Company, formerly the Pacific Lumber Company (PALCO), more than half a million acres of redwood forest lands in total. 

Doris F. Fisher contributed $499,000, John J. Fisher $351,000, Robert J. Fisher $400,000 and William S. Fisher $250,000. 

Tobacco giant Philip Morris also contributed $100,000 to Governor Brown’s committee established to support Propositions 1 and 2. On October 20, the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) called on the governor to return that money. 

Folks like Stewart Resnick, the Fisher Family and other billionaires, the oil industry and agribusiness interests didn’t dump millions into the Yes on Prop. 1 campaign for the common good or benefit of all Californians – they did it as a relatively small investment to advance their own interests and to further privatize and plunder the public trust, including our rivers, Delta and the oceans, for their own personal profit. 

Winnemem Wintu Chief Caleen Sisk: It's All One Big Project 

Caleen Sisk, Chief and Spiritual Leader of the Winnemem Wintu Tribe, said the water bond, peripheral tunnels, Shasta Dam raise and other water projects now being planned by the state and federal governments are in in reality "one Big Project" that will destroy salmon, rivers and groundwater supplies. 

“It does not make sense that people are separating the water puzzle into individual pieces, such as: the raising of Shasta Dam, Proposition 1, the Delta tunnels, BDCP, Sites Reservoir, Temperance Flat, CALFED, Delta Vision, BDCP, OCAP, the Bay Delta, Trinity/Klamath Rivers, the Sacramento River, the San Joaquin River, and water rights," said Chief Sisk. "It is all one BIG Project." 

She emphasized, "You have to look at the whole picture and everything in between from Shasta Dam to the Delta estuary. We need to ask what is affected by our actions and who is benefitting from them? These are not separate projects; they are all the same thing that the State is asking us to fund - California water being manipulated for the enrichment of some and the devastation of cultures, environments, and species all in the name of higher profits.” 

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