Friday, July 07, 2006

Pombo's $90 Million Confidence Game

Yesterday I started off by saying, “Richard Pombo is a world-class lying hypocrite.” Well, I’ve had some time to reflect on that statement, and in retrospect, I may have been too kind.

If you were paying attention to the 2004 Congressional race between Richard Pombo and Jerry McNerney, you might recall that with incredibly auspicious timing, about one week before the November 2 election, Pombo joined together with Dianne Feinstein to pass a massive $395 million CalFed water bill that was widely trumpeted as a remarkable bi-partisan solution to all of California’s water woes. Among the many supposed benefits of this water bill was the authorization for $90 million to reconstruct the Delta’s crumbling levees. Here is an excerpt from the AP story about the bill that was run at the time:
WASHINGTON -- President Bush signed a landmark California water bill, committing $395 million to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta that feeds the nation's most productive farm land and provides drinking water to 22 million Californians.

The bill reauthorizes the California Federal Bay-Delta Program, earmarking funding for studying new storage projects, reconstructing levees, restoring ecosystems and other needs.

Bush's signature on the bill late Monday came after six years of debate and negotiations. Attempts in past years to pass versions of the bill with much larger price tags repeatedly failed, but Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and House Resources Committee Chairman Richard Pombo, R-Tracy, shepherded it through the House and Senate in recent weeks.

The legislation authorizes feasibility studies for several major new storage projects and includes $90 million for reconstructing levees.
Sounds pretty straightforward. Now, if you're anything like me, back in 2004 you might have read that article and thought to yourself, “Well, at least Pombo finally managed to use his vast power as House Resources Committee Chairman to actually benefit his own district.” Boy, would we both have been wrong.

You see, that bill only “authorized” $90 million for reconstructing levees. Unfortunately, what it did not include was the appropriation for the $90 million to actually FUND levee repair. It was a magic trick, a sleight of hand in Pombo’s confidence game. A way to say, “Hey, look at all I’m doing” while, in effect, doing absolutely nothing. A year later, after the wake-up call of Hurricane Katrina, Pombo and Feinstein were motivated to revisit their levee reconstruction project. Last fall, Richard Pombo postured as the concerned Congressman eager to take care of his district:
“In addition to the human tragedies, a massive flood could devastate our agricultural economy the same way Katrina decimated one of America's largest and most important sources of energy,” Representative Pombo said. “I hope this terrible tragedy never happens again anywhere, but we must be prepared for anything. Maintaining and strengthening our levee system has to be a top priority for all Californians, and rest assured, Senator Feinstein and I will make sure the work gets done."
In a letter they sent at that time to Lt. Gen. Carl A. Strock, Commanding General of the Army Corps of Engineers, Pombo and Feinstein pointed out the similarities between the Delta and Katrina-ravaged Louisiana:
This disaster is also a wake-up call for Californians. For years, we have known about the severe flood risks we face, but like Louisiana have been unable to find the funding to do the necessary repairs.

One of our most vulnerable points is the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta. U.C. Davis Professor Jeffrey Mount has estimated that if we don’t take effective action, there is a 2-in-3 chance that a major storm or earthquake will cause widespread levee collapse in the next 50 years.

In other words, if we don’t address this problem, we may suffer the same fate as Louisiana -- it’s just a matter of time. A massive Delta levee failure could severely harm the area’s farms, its rapidly growing towns, and the majority of the State’s water supply, which passes through the Delta.

To address this problem in the short-term, we sponsored CALFED legislation enacted last year that authorized $90 million to repair the most vulnerable of Delta levees. We understand that so far you have identified 200 miles of the levees that are priorities to repair.

Can you tell us what else the Army Corps of Engineers has done so far to identify or address problems with Delta levees? If we were able to fund the $90 million authorization, how much of the problem would that address?
Did you catch that -- "IF we were able to fund the $90 million authorization"?

Sadly, it’s nothing more than political three-card Monte -- while you thought you were watching closely, the Congressman masterfully switched the cards. But don’t expect Richard Pombo to admit that almost two years later, there is not and never was $90 million for levee reconstruction. And don’t expect him to actually go to bat for the citizens of his district and get real honest-to-goodness funding for levee repair; he’s way too busy trying to hide the true state of affairs from his constituents.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Babaloon...2 steps are always authorization..."to authorize" the expenditure of funds; and an appropriation..."to appropriate" funds that are authorized. Pombo's an authorizer...he writes laws...Feinstein is an appropriator...she cuts checks. Luckily, California has two wonderfully placed to take the lead authorizing and the other to get the money. It's great they work together so closely, too, or the levee repairs would never get done. They never did when George Miller was chairman of the committee Pombo now chairs.

5:52 PM, July 09, 2006  
Blogger babaloo said...

Ah, Pombozos...

You must have gotten a lot of napping in during government class. Your notion that somehow Pombo is an "authorizer" and Feinstein an "appropriator" is just patently ridiculous.

Both Pombo and Feinstein are legislators; they both are supposed to work to pass legislation which is beneficial to their constituents, whether it be for authorization or appropriations.

It's terrific that they work so well together, but unfortunately both of them have quite consciously and deliberately misled the citizens of California when it comes to levee repair.

Face it -- your pal Pombo is not just a dismal failure in his job, but dishonest about it to boot.

11:02 PM, July 09, 2006  
Anonymous JohnMac said...

Actually, neither Feinstein nor any other Senator 'cuts checks' or 'appropriates' funds for anything. Article I, Section 7, Clause 1 of the United States Constitution clearly states that: All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills.

In other words, it's not Feinstein's job to introduce legislation authorizing or appropriating money. It's POMBO's (and other Members of Congress) job. So. Babaloo's post is right on the money, so to speak. Where is his legislation raising Revenue for this or any other project that might benefit the district?

4:33 PM, July 10, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Title: Portuguese Boiled Dinner
Yield: 8 Servings


1 lb Beef round
1 1/2 lb Pork loin
2 1/2 lb Fryer chicken
1 lb Hot Italian sausage
1/2 lb Chorizo
1/4 lb Bacon, in one piece
2 Bouquet garni
4 Bay leaves
2 qt Water
Salt; to taste
Freshly-ground black pepper;
- to taste
4 Turnips; peeled, quartered
3 Carrots; peeled, chopped
1 lb New potatoes; quartered
1 sm Cabbage; cut into wedges
1/4 c Chopped parsley
4 c Saffron rice


In a large sauce pan, add the beef, pork, chicken, sausage, chorizo,
bacon,bouquet garnis, bay leaves and water. Season with salt and pepper.
Bring the liquid up to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 1 1/2
hoursor until the meat is tender. Remove the meat from the pan and set
aside. Add the turnips, carrots, and potatoes. Bring the liquid back to a
boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 20 minutes. Add the cabbage and
continue to cook for 30 minutes. Slice the beef, pork loin, sausage and
chorizo, 1/2-inch thick.
Dice the bacon. In a hot saute pan, render the bacon until
crispy. About 5 minutes before the cabbage is done, return the beef, pork,
chicken and sausages to the pot. Stir in the parsley and re-season if
needed. Serve theboil with saffron rice. Garnish with crispy bacon.
This recipe yields 8 servings.

12:53 PM, July 12, 2006  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Raising revenue" and "appropriating" are not the same thing. In fact, they are opposite.

Feinstein sits on the Senate Appropriations Committee.

12:44 PM, July 13, 2006  

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