Strange things are afoot with the Board of Reclamation. First, there is the matter of the River Islands Project in the Delta, which has become oddly-controversial, not for the merits or demerits of the project per se, but for manner in which the meetings are conducted and how the Board is constituted. Senator Dean Florez recently proposed a bill in the State Senate which is unusually specific regarding the qualifications of future members of the Board. Why be so specific, unless members-in-waiting have already been selected?
At the most recent meeting of the Board in Merced, Board Member Burroughs surrendered a principled defense of homeowners in the Plumas Lake Basin, in response to some kind of peer pressure, and in exchange for promises and flattery (pp. 197-198) . It's hard to puzzle out exactly what's happening, but I suspect you don't have to go to the State of Denmark to find something rotten.
BOARD MEMBER BURROUGHS: Thank you. That's currently what I have that's on the table right now.
Prior to what's on the table and we're going passed now is philosophically I believe that planners, developers, the community, our entire society has to have common sense about where to build homes. And building homes in a floodplain, to me, does not make good common sense.
It's great that we do have some of these agricultural levees that are in place and we've been able to hold our breath as they've stayed in place. But they're not long term. They're not lasting. And I guess what we're seeing here is I'm just not into a crapshoot of building homes first without protection and building more homes and having people at risk while we, so to speak, set bonds or taxes or assessments and have these people have to pay for it.
And that's my problem, is that I just don't believe that homes belong on floodplains and there's smarter places to put homes. And I apologize for that.
And at the same time, I feel like that's the voice I'm here on the Board for is to -- is to be for the everyday person. And sometimes -- but I have heard if people there in this area -- and I haven't heard from everyone. When I got on the Board I got a couple of calls, concerned citizens that just said, "Just want to let you know that when I bought this home I didn't know anything about it. There was a fine print behind the closing statements." And last week I asked, "Well, you know, you've said that there's this problem. Why aren't you going to the meetings?" And they said, "Well, most people didn't get a specific notice that there was a specific hearing in regards to this issue."
So I would -- I think I would implore you to give the best notice you can in the appropriate hands. And that would be -- I think that's the right thing to do anyway. Not for me asking you, but it's the right thing to do.
MR. SHAPIRO: Well, we believe we do and we will redouble our efforts. And for what it's worth, I think you have been a clear voice in this and I think your "no" vote last month in the policy issue represented a very clear voice on this. And I believe people heard that voice. We would ask for your vote "yea" today on the agreement to implement the action the Board has already said in the direction it desires to go, understanding that if there's anything we can put into this agreement to address some of your concerns, we remain willing to do so.
BOARD MEMBER BURROUGHS: With that, I'm vote yes.