Some farmers to see 25% water cut

May 21, 2015

As the drought worsens, some Delta farmers have voluntarily proposed to reduce their water use by 25%, putting their cuts in line with other Californians.  Fenit Nirappil and Scott Smith at AP:


“A senior water official told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he would decide whether to accept the offer by Friday. The concession by farmers in the Sacramento and San Joaquin River delta could be one of the most important yet forced by California's record four-year drought.


“In exchange for taking 25 percent less river water for irrigation or leaving a quarter of their fields unplanted, the farmers want guarantees that the state won't restrict the remaining 75 percent of the water they've had rights to, even if the drought deepens and other users go dry…


“Water officials said Wednesday they will start cuts overall among those senior rights holders Friday, ordering some senior rights holders along the San Joaquin River to cease all pumping from the river. It would mark the first cuts to the state's most senior water rights holders anywhere in the state since the 1970s, and the first in memory to senior rights holders along the San Joaquin.”


Steve Glazer’s win in a hard-fought campaign for SD 7 may signal a new era in California politics, dictated by the top-two primary and the rise of SuperPacs.  John Wildermuth, SFGate:


“Orinda Mayor Steve Glazer beat Concord Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla in the Democrats-only race for an East Bay state Senate seat, but the real losers may be labor unions and Democratic leaders who don’t see that the political game in California has changed…


“To Bonilla’s allies, the result was a fluke, brought on by GOP dirty tricks that could never work anywhere else…


“The complaints about Glazer’s efforts to appeal to Republicans and independent voters ignore the changes taking place in California elections with the advent of the top-two primary system, in which the two biggest vote-getters, regardless of party, advance to the runoff.


“’Bonilla’s labor allies made no attempt to do anything but rally their Democratic base,’ said Allan Hoffenblum, a former GOP consultant who now publishes the California Target Book, which focuses on state campaigns. ‘Bonilla could only hope that Republicans and independent voters stayed home, and they didn’t.’”


Bad news for Caltrans: the Bay Bridge tower rod that had failed several tests is indeed broken.  Jaxon Van Derbeken, SFGate:


“A Caltrans official said the failure of the rod might be a ‘one-off,’ and said there was no evidence that the more than 400 other steel rods at the base of the tower were damaged. Several outside experts, however, said photos of the broken rod indicate the presence of corrosion that could also infect hundreds of 25-foot-long rods that sat in water after they were tensioned in 2010.”


Over at Capitol Weekly, John Howard looks at a longstanding capitol tradition: capitol staffers taking “vacation” time to work on political campaigns.


“[In] the intense, politics-driven culture of the Capitol, by far the most popular period to sign up for vacation or leave surrounds the general election, when the staff members’ bosses may be up for reelection. Then, some two-thirds of the Assembly’s work force put in for at least some amount of vacation time, according to Assembly figures for 2014 reviewed by Capitol Weekly.


“For staff members, it’s an opportunity to show loyalty and being a team player, and to build a resume for a new job….


“The Assembly’s written rules bar legislative staff members from working on political campaigns during their regular office hours. But many will volunteer on their own time, or during their vacation or leave, to knock on doors, work telephones, organize campaign volunteers, distribute yard signs in the district and do other chores.


“’It’s their own time and they can do what they want, but it’s not really ‘volunteering.’ It’s basically a fact of life that the staff is expected to work on campaigns, and the rationale is if they are using their own time, then there’s no conflict,’ said a veteran legislative staffer...”


The Field Poll has good news for U.S. Senate candidate Kamala Harris – she tops every other declared candidate by double digits.  Josh Richman has the story in the Contra Costa Times:


“With 58 percent of likely voters in June 2016's open primary still expressing no opinion, 19 percent favor Harris while 8 percent favor Rep. Loretta Sanchez, D-Santa Ana, who launched her campaign with a series of stumbles last week.


Republicans fare worse, with state Assemblyman Rocky Chavez, R-Oceanside, at 6 percent and former state GOP chairman Tom Del Beccaro, of Lafayette, at 5 percent, according to the poll of 801 likely voters conducted April 23 through Saturday.”


Harris is also one of two Californians on the Washington Post’s list of the 40 Most Interesting Women in Politics.  (Spoiler: the other is House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.)


The pipeline spill that pumped crude oil into the ocean near Santa Barbara yesterday may have released as much as 105,000 gallons of oil.


“Investigators won’t find a cause for the rupture until they excavate the 24-inch wide line, which was installed in 1987, according to a joint statement from government and company officials.


“When the line ruptured Tuesday, the oil seeped through the ground to a culvert and flowed into the ocean about a mile up the coat from Refugio State Beach. The company estimates about 21,000 gallons of crude went into the water.


“The U.S. Coast Guard said a pair of oil slicks are stretching across a combined nine miles.”


And a widower in Tian Yuan, China has taken “separation anxiety” to a new level.


“A heartbroken husband is keeping his dead wife in an ice coffin at their home in south-west China because he cannot bear to be separated from her.


Jiang Maode, 53, has kept the body of his wife Yang Huiging for five months and talks to her every day.


“His son hopes his father will arrange for her to be cremated by Christmas. But Maode insists he wants her by his side for the rest of his life.


“The police have now asked the Tian Yuan local authorities to investigate the matter. Funeral parlours by law are only allowed to hold onto bodies for five days.


"’Just before she passed away I promised her that I would keep her at home,’ said Maode, who burns incense by the coffin every day.”


Well, that’s one way to keep the smell down…

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