In the two key policy areas of flood control and water supply, California’s senior Senator appreciates the role reservoirs and dams play; while we continue hoping for congressional support for the only flood control and water supply option for the valley providing optimal results in both areas, the Auburn Dam.
Editorial: New role for Feinstein
Changing state will need a savvy deal maker
- Published 12:00 am PDT Tuesday, September 26, 2006
Sen. Dianne Feinstein is at her best when she is sitting in her Senate office, surrounded by warring interest groups fighting over some pressing California issue.
The insiders describe the sessions the same way. Feinstein pores over a thick notebook that details the issue. She looks the squabbling leaders in the eye, sketches an idea for progress and demands that progress be made before they come back to see her.
She thus makes it clear that gridlock is not acceptable and that there will be hell to pay if it continues. There is no messing with the senior stateswoman of California politics.
Feinstein's place at the very top of California's political pecking order is without question. And so is the outcome of her re-election bid against Republican Richard Mountjoy. She is coasting, again, to victory.
The real question is about the future. How will Feinstein use her skills? And will she be able adapt to the needs of a changing state?
Feinstein is among the dwindling number of Senate centrists who have struggled to retain their dignity and that of the institution. The fights and partisan bickering have grown more intense, and nearly ripped the Senate apart when Republicans threatened to abolish filibusters of Supreme Court appointments.
Her role in that drama, particularly her scattered public questioning of Supreme Court nominee John Roberts, doesn't rank among Feinstein's highlights. But these staged public settings have never been her strength. That is not where progress gets made. And making progress is where Feinstein is at her best.
For the Central Valley, two issues loom large for a changing role for Feinstein in the years ahead. One is flood control. She needs to use her formidable skills to keep squabbles from preventing progress.
And then there is the issue of water supply and the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. Feinstein is among the most capable legislators on water issues, but she also has a fixation about reservoirs. She has thumped the table to build new water reservoirs and come up dry, partly because no water district to our knowledge wants to pay for this very expensive water. And, reverting back to her mindset as San Francisco's mayor, she has fought efforts to explore the restoration of Yosemite National Park's Hetch Hetchy Valley.