Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Flood Board Politics

In this article from today’s Bee the ongoing political drama around the governor-appointed flood control board, development, and future bond money continues.

Here is an excerpt.

Bill seeks flood board overhaul
Senator says he wants to rectify pro-developer tilt.
By Judy Lin -- Bee Capitol Bureau Published 12:01 am PDT Wednesday, May 31, 2006

The state's flood board, under scrutiny for possible violation of open-meeting laws and what some believe is a pro-developer tilt, would face an overhaul under a bill approved by the Senate on Tuesday.

Senate Bill 1796, which passed 23-11 and now goes to the Assembly, seeks to expand the seven-member State Reclamation Board by two members and requires some of them to have specific experience. The governor's appointees to the board also would be subject to confirmation by the Senate.

Sen. Dean Florez, D-Shafter, wrote the bill after the board took action to favor a developer seeking authority to build 11,000 homes on a flood-prone Delta island. The board also was accused of violating open-meeting laws in a related action. Florez has called on state Attorney General Bill Lockyer to investigate.

"It's indicative of a pro-development board that isn't moving in the same direction as the Legislature or the governor," Florez said. "We (the Legislature) want to join with the governor. We want to take part of the responsibility."

The Reclamation Board, which handles flood-control policy in California and oversees a 1,600-mile network of levees, primarily in the Central Valley, will play a role in how the state spends $4.1 billion worth of flood protection money if voters approve a state bond in November.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger had replaced all seven board members last fall after previous board members, most appointed by former Gov. Gray Davis, began to challenge development behind levees. Members can be appointed or removed at any time.

The Governor's Office has not taken a position on the bill.

Sen. Dave Cox, R-Fair Oaks, said he opposed the bill out of concern that a new board might compete with counties and other local governments.

"It could take out local land-use authority and give it to a new board, which is why I opposed it," Cox said.