Welcome to the groundbreaking — watch for snakes and squirrels

 Intertie 004smaller

• With U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar, three Congressional representatives and several (I lost count) state legislators present for the groundbreaking of a 500-foot pipe, who will they bring in for the groundbreaking of the 42-mile peripheral canal?

• Reporters hate covering groundbreakings, simply because they’re staged events. Got a snicker, though, when I was handed an ”information sheet” warning attendees of the potential dangers associated with this white-tent and sliced-cake event (water hazard in the California Aqueduct; potential for snakes, lizards, mice and ground squirrels; graveled ceremony site, so watch your footing). A rattlesnake in the tent would’ve really stirred things up.

• It may have been an awkward scene for U.S. Rep. Jerry McNerney, who opposes the peripheral canal but was surrounded by powerful political figures and canal supporters from the south Valley. I tried to ask him about this before the ceremony, and he suggested we could chat afterward. At the moment, he wanted to mingle. Sounds good, I said. Moments later a McNerney campaign representative handed me his phone and asked if I could speak with a McNerney spokeswoman, based out of Washington, D.C. She said she’d see if the Congressman could spare a couple of minutes after the ceremony, but she wasn’t sure. Apparently clearance with someone 3,000 miles away was required for me to speak to a Congressional representative standing 20 yards distant.I got tied up with a couple of other interviews after the ceremony, and when I turned around McNerney was gone.

• Did I mention reporters hate covering groundbreakings? In an effort to stir up some news, a TV reporter questioned Feinstein about water profiteering in the south San Joaquin Valley. He asked if it’s fair that some rich landowners have been able to turn around and sell their government-contracted water for profit.

“People do sell their water,” Feinstein responded. “Even up north you can sell it… Whether this is a good or a bad thing, I think you have to take a look at it.”

Pressed by the reporter, she added: “I say gouging of water is not the right thing to do. We will take a careful look at it.”

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  • Blog Author

    Alex Breitler

    A native of Benicia, he lives in Stockton with his wife, Ann, who forces him to go backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or Trinity Alps at every opportunity. He has been writing mostly about natural resources since 2003, first in Redding and now in ... Read Full
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