Devastating Talks on Dam Removal
Larry Toelle, Fort Jones 3/31/08
In case we haven't noticed, it's political silly season.
Politicians are busy pitting one group against another,
dissembling their opponent, spinning their past misdeeds into
points of triumph, and carefully parsing their words for political
advantage. Our local politicians are no different, it's something
they're compelled to do by our system of governance.
Regrettably, our local silly season arrives amidst potentially
devastating talks on dam removal. To separate fact from fiction,
we have to attend meetings, listen carefully, wade through
bureaucratic prose, and generally ignore what the politicians are
saying. Those of us who sit in the cheap seats, can only speculate
as to what is occurring behind closed doors.
The “media blackout” is near total. Relying on the Fourth Estate
for “news without views” is useless. The only reporting we're
getting is what the politicians tell us in their columns. The
local press is simply not up to the task of getting to the truth,
or too timid to report what they know.
So, what is going on with the dams? From Tuesday's hearings, we
learn County government has been up-to-their-ears in the
negotiations for the past two and a half years. The tribes,
environmentalists and agencies were profuse in their praise of the
county. We also learned that the county's negotiating team,
DeMarco, Berliner and Dupre “were of immense value,” presumably
for their support of the dam removal agreement. Two of the three
are retired or retiring from government, the other is a paid gun
Bordering on duplicitous, the county supervisors pretended to ask
the “tough questions” at Tuesday's hearing. What happens to the
sediment when the dams are removed? ... ah jeez, we don't know.
When do you expect to lose half of your home value? ... when the
dams go. Why do the tribes want the dams out? ... fish. How much
will electricity cost after the dams are gone? ... a bunch.
Hardball questions all.
One of the supervisors caught by pitting on-project irrigators
against off-project irrigators, is telling one side of his
district that dam removal might be a good thing, while telling the
other side that dam removal is a bad thing. So which is it? Good
Next Tuesday, the board is going to finally decide the issue. Will
the county support or condemn the dams? After two and a half
years, they're finally going to belly-up-to-the bar and make the
Think about it. It has taken this county two and half years,
hundreds of thousands of dollars, and a boatload of childishness
to determine the obvious. Can anyone seriously consider blowing
the dams when our county's future depends upon them? We think not.
So why have the politicians spent the money, time and careers of
the county? Our guess is ... just plain silly.
When can we expect the adults to take charge?
Larry Toelle, Fort Jones