Capitol Alert now reports that Senator Wolk has been punished for her leadership and vision in protecting the delta by having been stripped of key committee positions. She has just two of the seven committee assignments she previously held.
“[Senator] Wolk retained the chairmanship of the Revenue and Taxation Committee and a spot on the Natural Resources and Water committee and picked up one assignment — a seat on the Food and Agriculture Committee.
But she was stripped of seats on Appropriations, Budget and Fiscal Review, Health, Transportation and Housing and Local Government.”
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg’s spokesperson Alicia Trost of course claims that Wolk was not specifically targeted in the committee reorganization.
“It’s consistent with our overall goal of reducing workload so members can focus on specific issue areas.”
Obviously it is mere coincidence that the Senator that bucked the President Pro Tem in an outspoken way on a key issue is one of the big losers in the reorganization of Senate committee rosters.
Back in November as Democrats fell over themselves praising a bill that would deal a huge blow the Delta and possibly set the stage for the controversial peripheral canal, Senator Wolk stood up to her party leadership and stood up for her constituents and the environment.
“This plan will by no means solve the problems in the Delta. First of all, the Delta counties are not involved to the extent they should be and the changes are going to be significant.”
“There are multimillions of dollars for projects that have nothing to do with water.”
“The history of water in California has been that the user pays for what they use. This plan turns that on its head. It turns water rights on their head and financial mechanisms on their head and, at the end of the day there is no guarantee that there will be enough water to survive.”
On Sunday, in an Op-Ed in the Woodland Daily Democrat she proclaimed it was “time to fix the Delta fix.” She wrote:
“Just two months ago, the Governor and legislative leadership hailed the recently enacted water deal as a monumental step forward to save Delta. Ironically, that enthusiasm is not shared by many of those that live, work and play in the Delta region. Those that know the Delta best are all too aware that the celebrated water package leaves much more to be done in order to save the largest estuary on the west coast.”
The heart of the problem was a financing plan to construct a peripheral canal:
“This newest “fix” relies upon voters approving an $11.14 billion pork laden bond measure on November’s ballot. That bond will help finance the costs of a new peripheral canal — a ditch the equivalent of a 100-lane freeway, 48 miles long, through prime farmland, diverting water from the Sacramento River around the Delta directly to pumps and aqueducts southward.”
The Democratic leadership came together to completely exclude the five Delta counties from the process.
Senator Wolk did not just issue forth rhetoric either, she took action. In September, she withdrew her authorship from a bill that would create a Delta Conservancy after she learned that it would be amended to include provisions that she opposed.
She said at the time:
“When I learned that the Conference Committee intended to alter key provisions of the bill, as well as other pieces of the water package, it was clear I could no longer carry this legislation. What began as a sincere effort to create a state and local partnership to restore the Delta and sustain the Delta communities and economy is becoming, day by day, amendment by amendment, a tool to assist water exporters who are primarily responsible for the Delta’s decline.”
It is ironic that Senator Wolk who made her name as an establishment politician and as a Davis Mayor as a more developer Democrat, would end up paying for her unwavering support for the Delta which has always been her hallmark issue.
I have always respected Senator Wolk on this issue, even as I have found her a bit too moderate on other issues. It is one thing to talk about supporting the Delta. It is another thing to strongly support legislation that supports the Delta. But it is far more powerful to pay a huge price for that support and that is what Senator Wolk has done.
The residents of this district on this day should be proud of their Senator and honor her as someone willing to fight for what she believes in even as that fight comes at a huge cost.
While I have always liked and respected Senator Darrell Steinberg, I am very disappointed both in his leadership on the Delta Issue and his retaliatory behavior overall. I expected more of this man and am deeply disappointed. California, the Delta, and the environment will pay a high price for this water deal soaked in blood and special interest money.
Today my hat is off to Senator Wolk for standing tall against all of this in the face of overwhelming odds and becoming a pariah in her own party because of it.
—David M. Greenwald reporting