Just for fun, here are a few random thoughts after the first three weeks of the water board’s twin tunnels hearing.
Disclaimer: I haven’t attended in person yet, and I’ve probably seen less than half of the hearing on webcast. Gotta have some time to actually report on this and other subjects.
That said, here goes:
1) Tam Doduc knows what she’s doing. Doduc, a longtime water board member, has the unenviable job of serving as the hearing officer — that is, as a sort of judge — in the tunnels case. She hears objections, occasionally poses her own questions, and keeps dozens of water attorneys in line which is no small feat. Doduc is a civil engineer by trade, not an attorney, but this is clearly not her first time presiding over a formal hearing.
2) Doduc doesn’t seem inclined to grant many of the numerous objections which state and federal attorneys have raised to questions posed by tunnels opponents. Lots of the stuff opponents bring up is irrelevant, the government attorneys argue, but Doduc’s philosophy seems to be, if in doubt, let them answer.
3) Never ask an engineer a question about modeling. Never ask an operations expert a question about engineering. Dozens — no, likely hundreds — of questions have been asked of witnesses who simply defer to other witnesses. And we wonder why this will take until February, or whenever.
4) Pity the poor court reporter who is attempting to keep a record. She’s the only one in the room who doesn’t know what “D-1641″ is, but she’s got to keep an accurate record of this and a zillion other nebulous terms. And then you get a guy like south Delta attorney John Herrick cruising along at 300 words per minute, and, well, like I said, pity the poor court reporter.
5) While some witnesses have been kept busy answering questions for days at a time, others must be dreadfully bored. State climatologist Michael Anderson has been sitting next to the other members of his witness panel since Wednesday, I think, but I’ve yet to hear him asked a single question. The other day, after sitting for hours, he got up and did some stretching exercises. I suppose it’s better to have a sore back after sitting so long than a sore throat after answering the same questions over and over again.
6) The chill saxophone tune played during breaks on the webcast is much nicer than the mindless repetitive music on Resources Agency press calls. Score one for Cal EPA.
7) I know less about the tunnels than I thought I did. And somehow, by the time this is over, I feel I’ll know even less. So why the heck am I watching? Because, once in a while, it is utterly fascinating.