Governor Jerry Brown pushes his Delta Tunnels Plan at his opening address at ACWA's "Water 2.0" event in Sacramento on January 14, 2016. Photo by Dan Bacher.
Pro-Tunnels Group Bars Journalist From Media Teleconference
by Dan Bacher
On January 27, I received a "media advisory" from Inez Kaminski of Californians for Water Security advising me of a teleconference the following day at 10:30 am to "discuss the urgency of implementing California's Water Fix." The advisory originated out of the Sacramento-based Swanson Communications, the public relations firm promoting Californians for Water Security.
The advisory stated:
"On Wednesday at 10:30 a.m., the day before the State Water Resources Control Board holds its initial meeting to consider issuing permits for the California Water Fix, supporters including water experts, environmentalists and business and labor interests will host a media teleconference to discuss the importance of implementing the Governor's plan to update our aging water infrastructure.
The California Water Fix has endured nearly a decade of extensive expert review, planning and scientific and environmental analysis by the state's leading water experts, engineers and conservationists, and unprecedented public comment and participation.
The coalition urges the Water Board to approve the petition as the only viable plan to protect the health and water quality of the Delta, while securing water supplies for nearly 2/3 of our state's homes, farms and businesses. "
The speakers at the teleconference were Rich Atwater, Executive Director, Southern California Water Committee; Jerry Meral, California Water Program Director, National Heritage Institute; and Michael Quigley, Executive Director, California Alliance for Jobs.
The pro-tunnels teleconference was apparently spurred by the Restore the Delta's teleconference on Monday, "The State Water Board and the Declining Health of the SF Bay-Delta Estuary." That call featured a panel of experts who have followed the State Water Resources Control Board for decades. Their teleconference is available below:
I had participated in the Restore the Delta teleconference on Monday, so I set aside the time on Wednesday to listen to — and ask some hard questions of — the tunnels proponents on Wednesday.
However, when I called in on the teleconference phone number, four conference operators in a row told me I wasn't on the "approved credentialed media list."
I asked them all, "So why did they send me a media advisory about the event (twice!) when they didn't want me to get on the call?"
Frustrated, I then sent the following email, with the advisory attached:
You sent me this media advisory, but four phone operators said I was not on the "approved list" of ''credentialed media."
Then why are you sending me these press releases?
I am requesting that the person in charge of this call inform me why you are sending me these press releases if I can't join the conference call.
Dan Bacher, Editor, Northern California Angler Publications
I am a dues-paying member of the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, Local 39521
So far, I haven't received any response from Californians for Water Security. However, the following day, Thursday, I did receive another press release, headlined, "ICYMI: New PPIC Report Highlights Importance of CA WaterFix to Protect Water Supply."
So again the question: Why didn't Californians for Water Security allow me call into their media teleconference? Were they afraid I would ask tough questions about the Delta Tunnels project that they couldn't answer?
The Brown administration and supporters of the California Water Fix have become infamous for their lack of openness and transparency about the widely-contested Delta Tunnels project. This refusal to allow an independent journalist to participate in a media teleconference is just typical of the lack of transparency that infests the California Water Fix fiasco.
Below is the media advisory: