Misinformation Already Spreading About Our Initiative

On September 23, an email was sent to the Google Group “CADem Enviro Caucus 2021-23.” That email was forwarded to someone on our steering committee. Here is what the email said:

“Hi all,

I was at a So Cal Sierra Club Water Committee meeting tonight and we discussed a proposition for the Nov 22 ballot – from the same people who brought us the recent recall + Poseidon and the Resnicks (Fiji Water, Pom, etc). This would benefit private water companies and BigAg – but it’s presented as bringing more water for all of us.

They are currently gathering signatures and I am hoping we can get the message out to NOT SIGN the petitions. They are well funded so the signature gatherers will be paid per signature.

The name of the proposition: The Water Infrastructure Funding Act of 2022

The website: https://morewaternow.com/

According to the information shared tonight, one feature would allow a national organization to overturn or void decisions by CA state water agencies, the California Coastal Commission, and local water districts.

Sending this to the caucus so we can all be aware of this.”

How does one react to such early opposition? First of all, anyone concerned about the environment and climate change, not to mention the quality of life for California’s residents, ought to be fully supporting our initiative. When implemented it will eventually guarantee perennial water surpluses, which not only will benefit farmers and urban water consumers, but leave plenty left over to maintain and improve ecosystems. But there is a lot of misinformation in this email that must be countered.

The first sentence is packed with inaccuracies. This initiative is not “from the same people who brought us the recent recall.” Not true. The California Policy Center funded the initial research which eventually led to this initiative, and that organization had nothing to do with the attempt to recall Governor Newsom. An early and influential supporter of this initiative was Assemblyman Devon Mathis, a moderate Republican from Tulare County. Mathis never had anything to do with the recall.

The email then alleges that “Poseidon and the Resnicks (Fiji Water, Pom, etc)” are backing this initiative. We would be thrilled if they were, but at least so far, they are not. And to be clear: An initiative is not the same as a politician. This initiative has been filed and cannot be changed. Unlike a politician elected to office, there can be no quid pro quo. You either like the language of the initiative or you don’t. When approved by voters, initiatives become law. They are immutable. So no matter who supports it, the merits of the initiative itself should be all that matters.

Which brings us to the next item in this email, an accusation that “This would benefit private water companies and BigAg – but it’s presented as bringing more water for all of us.” That’s a big statement. Which private companies? Multi-billion dollar hedge funds, speculating on water futures, that want the price of water to go sky high so they can make billions? No. Not them. What about the banks and insurance giants that want the farm economy in the San Joaquin Valley to collapse, so they can buy up all the family farms at fire sale prices? Not them, either.

On the other hand, the companies that actually build productive assets, and the workers who they employ, probably do want to see an initiative like this get approved by voters. And what’s so bad about that? What’s so bad about increasing the annual supply of water by five million acre feet? Up to a million of that can be achieved through additional conservation programs, funded by the initiative. It is likely another 2-3 million acre feet will be possible through wastewater reuse projects, which are also funded by the initiative. And if the off-stream reservoirs promised by Prop. 1 in 2014 but never delivered finally get built, so much the better.

The email goes on: “They are currently gathering signatures and I am hoping we can get the message out to NOT SIGN the petitions. They are well funded so the signature gatherers will be paid per signature.”

No. Our initiative won’t even be cleared for signature gathering for another month. As for well funded, wouldn’t that be nice? This initiative is collecting small donations from hundreds of ordinary working Californians. If the writer of this email knows something we don’t know about an impending donation that will make our campaign “well funded,” they are invited to share that information!

Finally, the email concludes with something absolutely untrue: “According to the information shared tonight, one feature would allow a national organization to overturn or void decisions by CA state water agencies, the California Coastal Commission, and local water districts.” This is false. Flat out, unambiguously false. Whoever “shared that information” is simply mistaken. For water projects that proponents feel are unreasonably denied permits, our initiative adds an appeal process to the California Secretary of Natural Resources, but that’s a California official. It’s about time something like that was written into the code. But nothing, anywhere in this initiative, cedes any authority to entities located outside California.

Perhaps the fact that our campaign is the target of so much misinformation, so soon, validates the integrity of our project.

Then again, we have been forced onto the defensive. Was it Mark Twain, or Jonathan Swift, who first said “A lie travels halfway around the world before the truth puts on its shoes.”

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