Mr. Fitzgerald of the Stockton Record calls state employees the Delta’s “most destructive invasive species”. My feelings would be hurt, but I was born in Rat Year, and am used to being called cruel names by people who are jealous of my shiny fur and agile climbing abilities. I have grown beyond such petty slurs. I remain interested in his perception of state government dynamics. I don’t want to attribute mental states to anyone, but I wonder whether most people who don’t work directly in the field think of the state government the way he appears to. He seems to think of the State as a monolithic, united agency. In slight paraphrase, he talks about the state concluding that the Delta needs new water; the state being forced to admit that water users are taking twice too much; the state indicting itself, the state betraying the public trust; and finally, the state compiling evidence into this report. From inside the state, I can tell you that it doesn’t feel like our monolithic state government has been forced to admit something that undermines our secret agenda to Break the Delta and Send Water South. From inside the state, this feels just like usual. One of the many, many factions who have an interest in the Delta has produced a professional and competent report that makes everything more swirly and confused, and we don’t know how it will play out either. Just like always.
The State isn’t one entity, even in Water. It doesn’t have one goal, because probably five or six thousand state employees are working on different aspects of Water, and they don’t all want the same thing. Right now, the Schwarzenegger administration has the explicit policy agenda of pushing the Peripheral Canal; his political appointees are working to carry out that agenda. But that’s no secret. Further, below the level of political appointees are career bureaucrats who have formed their own ideas about what would be good for the state and the Delta over the course of their careers. Those ideas vary. Besides all that, at the crudest level, the state didn’t “indict itself.” Rather, the State Board (water quality and water rights) finally performed one of its functions, showing that another department, DWR (water project and planning) has been performing its function at an unsustainable level. I am sure no one at the State Board thinks they’ve condemned themselves; if they have any similar sensation, it is that they outed DWR. No one at DWR thinks they have confessed to anything; it was a State Board report after all, and one with a limited scope. Mostly, I am glad the legislature directed the State Board to write this report (especially to write it fast; I think the speed itself was valuable). That was a good exercise of their authority, but even so, that makes them a fourth faction within state government (State Board, DWR, Schwarzenegger administration, legislature) jostling about in a crowded field.
(Shoot, I wanted to say more, but I’ve really got to run. See you tomorrow, likely.)