The Great McCloud Water Caper of 2003, by Charles Carreon
The Swiss Way: When Neutrality Works This Well, War Is Obsolete
Half A Billion Gallons of H2O Per Year Up For Grabs
The Nestle Waters North America website hasn’t apparently been updated since 2003. That is probably why it says nothing about the subject of this article – Nestle’s bald-faced attempt to circumvent the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) by ramming through a secret contract to buy 1600 acre-feet of water per year from a tiny community resource agency in Northern California – the McCloud Community Service District (MCSD). How much is an acre-foot? That’s one acre, one foot deep, which is a lot of water – 325,851.427 gallons. Multiply that by 1,600 and you get 521,361,600. That’s over a half-billion gallons of water each year. I bet even in McCloud a bottle of Calistoga will still cost two dollars. So, aside from the costs of pumping, bottling and transportation, Nestle, a Swiss corporation, will pull out a vast amount of nature’s finest product, drawn from the watersheds and snowmelt of countless square miles, so they can sell it back to Americans. And you thought we were smart here in the USA.
The World’s Largest Food Producer Is Thirsty
Nestle’s website says it’s the world's largest bottled water company, serving H20 under seventy-seven brands in a hundred and thirty countries world-wide. They’re so proud of selling all this water, you’d think they’d invented the stuff. Or maybe it’s just the money that makes them so comfy. Quoting from the company website: “From 1998 to 2003, Nestlé Waters North America has seen its revenue increase from $1.2 billion to $2.6 billion, sustaining a volume share (all channels) of nearly 26.0 %. Nestlé Waters is, in turn, a division of Nestlé S.A., the largest food company in the world. Sales of total Nestlé S.A. increased one percent over the previous year to CHF 88 billion. Nestlé headquarters is located in Vevey, Switzerland.”
The Swiss: Masters At Working All Sides Against The Middle
In summer 2002 I was in Vevey, one of the loveliest stops along our boat-trip around Lake Geneva, with a very splendid view of Mont Blanc. The Swiss have scenery to kill for. We also stopped at a dungeon on the lake that had been designed with Swiss efficiency – the icy winds off Lake Geneva served to torment with cold, and the uneven stone floors gave prisoners nowhere to rest or seek shelter. Upstairs from the dungeon, a court fit for dancing parties was devoted to displays of arms. Starting as the first European mercenaries, the Swiss were loyal so long as they were paid and not asked to fight other Swiss. They still bodyguard the Pope. They invented bank secrecy, laundered Nazi gold and immense amounts of money stolen by oligarchs from the coffers of the poorest nations. The Swiss have the largest standing army per capita in the world, and produce as hard goods some of the priciest – chemicals and drugs. The Swiss are a libertarian nation if you will, where it is explicitly not their business whether you are evading taxes in another country as long as you are paying them in Switzerland. And they don’t make farmers bend over to please the tourists. One morning, we were wakened in our lovely little second floor hotel room with the lakefront view by an extremely aggressive bug-eyed crop-dusting helicopter buzzing the beachside vineyards hour after hour, spraying bio-cide. We repaired to Vevey for the day.
McCloud – Terra Incognita
Although I looked at Switzerland firsthand, I have never been to McCloud, and have driven past the McCloud exit on I-5 more times than I can count. My friend Rogelio, with whom I practiced Chinese martial arts in the late seventies, told me it had been nasty and brutish living as a short, Hispanic logger in McCloud. So I viewed McCloud, without ever seeing it, as a snowy sinkhole of poverty ensconced in useless mountain beauty. A place where pickup trucks rust next to unpainted buildings, and they probably still don’t sell a lot of natural food in the stores. Perfect for Nestle to swallow whole without any hint of indigestion.
A Little Lawsuit In Shasta County
I had occasion to revisit my view of McCloud recently when I saw a young lady at the Bloomsbury coffee shop reading a big stack of typewritten papers that she was underlining in red. She said it was the record of a public meeting about a lawsuit down in McCloud where the people had to sue to get their water back from Nestle. The court order she showed me had been signed by Judge Roger Kosel of Siskiyou County Superior Court, and it did indeed invalidate a contract for the sale of water from the people of tiny McCloud to Nestle, the multibillion-Swiss-franc colossus. The text that got my attention was this: “The agreement commits the McCloud Community Services District to an option contract with Nestle for the purchase of up to 1600 acre feet per year of District spring water for a period of 50 years with a guaranteed right to extend the term for an additional 50 years. This option is irrevocable for a period of 5 years on the District's part The potential environmental impacts to the water supply are foreseeable and obvious... The approval of the agreement amounts to the creation of an entitlement for Nestle and commits the District to a definite course of action.” The Superior Court concluded that because “the agreement creates an option for the purchase of … drinking water … potentially … out to 100 years … it is an abuse of discretion not to proceed with CEQA compliance prior to approval of the agreement.” What is CEQA compliance? Just a matter of public involvement. As Judge Kosel ruled, “the purpose of CEQA is to … inform governmental decision-makers and the public about the potential, significant environmental effects of proposed activities.” Therefore, it would seem obvious to all but Nestle and the MCSD, that “compliance should occur prior to the approval of the agreement.” There was no environmental study, no public hearing until Nestle and the MCSD brought the matter up at a single public meeting, and of all the questions raised by the surprised public participants, none received adequate answers. Instead, the MCSD approved the contract despite having no access to legal counsel, scientific advice, or apparently anything but the pushy Nestle lawyers to advise them.
A Mighty Sweet Deal
Why was there such a hurry to rush this contract through? Well, for the same reason rape and pillage are always done in a hurry – once caught in the act, it is more difficult to complete it. According to the McCloud Watershed Council, that formed to overturn the sweetheart deal, and apparently convinced Judge Kosel of the truth of their contentions, the contract provides for:
• A 50-year term, renewable for another 50 years
• The right to take 1,250 gallons per minute of spring water
• The right to take qualified water on an interim basis from district's springs for bulk delivery to other bottling facilities located in Northern California
• The right to construct pipelines and a loading facility
• Use of an unknown quantity of well water for production purposes
• Exclusive rights to one of the Springs
• One hundred years of exclusivity, during which time no other beverage business of any type may exist in McCloud
• Use of an undisclosed, perhaps unlimited amount of ground water
• The right to take 1600 of acre feet of spring water annually
• The right, from time to time, to request purchase water in excess of the maximum take
• The right to transport bulk water from spring sources, other than the Springs, for bottling at the bottling facility (see contract details)
• The right to choose exclusive use of either Upper or Lower Elk Springs as an exclusive source for Spring Water
• The right to require the MCSD to dispose of process waste water
• The right to require the MCSD to design, construct and install one or more ground water production wells on the Bottling Facility site for Nestle’s use as a supply for non-spring water purposes.
The benefits to Nestle in this agreement are outrageously imbalanced against the detriments to the community of McCloud. But we may also properly ask why McCloud should have control over so much water that they don’t have any use for? If the MCSD can sell over half a billion gallons a year and not miss it, why not give McCloud other vast resource tracts to sell to the Swiss, or to the Saudis for that matter? Why not sell Lake Shasta to the Sultan of Brunei. He’s really thirsty. He can ship the lake to his country in oil tankers and on the return trip, make payments in oil. The way the Swiss are pricing water, it’s already twice as expensive as gas, so we should make bank!
Of course, the anti-American lawyers who get payment in Swiss francs (stronger than the dollar for three years running now) aren’t going to give up. With the natives now rejecting the pittance in beads they were offered in exchange for this vast, unused natural resource, they will have to go the appellate courts to drag things out, cause more expense, and possible even reap a victory. CEQA is no doubt an endless problem for business interests, foreign and domestic. Perhaps the appellate judges will approve of circumventing its provisions. Perhaps an initiative can be floated to repeal it. Perhaps the endless flood of billions will bear Nestle along to success, and we will be free to buy back the resources we sell the Swiss at whatever price our poor, thirsty little mouths will compel us to pay.
Or maybe you have had enough. Maybe you thought Bolivia was the only country multinationals would roll over with their contracts and their big fat wallets. Maybe you want to help out the people of McCloud, and help pay for their one lawyer, Donald Mooney of Davis, California, to keep up the good fight. Maybe you want to vote with your pocketbook, by taking these Nestle water brands off your list forever:
Maybe you don’t want to keep quiet about it, and you’d like to send an email to the CEO at Nestle’ Waters North America Inc. I thought you might, so here’s his contact information.
Kim E. Jeffrey – President and CEO 777 W. Putnam Ave. Greenwich, CT 06830-5091 Phone: 203-531-4100 Fax: 203-863-0297 email: http://www.nestle-watersna.com/faq/submit.asp?id=1 Or email: http://www.nestleusa.com/customerService/contact_us.asp
(C) 2005, Ashland Free Press, LLC
Maureen Kirk wrote:
Just in the last year, banks, other companies, and agencies have lost the confidential financial information of over 53 million Americans. We only know about these security breaches due to a pioneering California notice law that companies are complying with nationwide.
But the banks and credit card companies are pressuring Congress to override this and dozens of other state identity theft reforms with a weak federal law that won't protect privacy and won't allow states to do so either.
Please take a moment to tell Congress not to prevent the states from protecting their residents from identity theft. Ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this e-mail to them.
To take action, click on the following link or paste it into your web browser:
Background: Identity theft strikes ten million Americans annually and costs the economy $50 billion each year, according to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. It's easier to avoid being victimized and to clear your name when you know you are at risk and respond quickly to the threat. Since half of all victims never find out how thieves got their confidential information, California passed a law requiring any company or agency that loses consumer data to notify the potential victims of the security breach. Since that strong California law took effect in 2003, many security breaches have come to light. This year, banks such as Bank of America and Citigroup, retailers such as DSW Shoe Warehouse, the credit card processor Cardsystems, the data broker ChoicePoint and many others reported security breaches. In all, over 53 million Americans' identities were jeopardized because those controlling Americans' personal information failed to take care of it. By requiring notice to consumers, the tough California law is forcing companies to protect our information well or suffer the public relations and other harm of telling us that they've failed. That's a powerful incentive to protect our information better. Now, proposals ready for the U.S. Senate floor and moving through House committees would eliminate California's and other strong state notice laws and replace them with a weak federal notice requirement. Incredibly, companies that had already lost consumer information would get to decide whether the risk of identity theft, in their view, was great enough to warn us. States have also responded this year to another major identity theft problem: new account fraud. New account fraud is when the identity thief gets a new credit card, cell phone or other new account in the victim's name, and is particularly costly to both the victim and business.
Fortunately, unlike some types of identity theft, new account fraud can be prevented by the use of a security freeze. A freeze allows you to freeze access to your credit report, so that when a thief applies for credit in your name, his or her application is rejected. California pioneered the security freeze, and other states have continued to improve on California's work. New Jersey's security freeze law, which took effect on January 1, is currently the gold standard for security freezes because it is the cheapest and easiest to use. New Jersey lawmakers recognized that if using a security freeze is expensive or difficult, mainstream consumers won't use one. And if a freeze isn't used, it doesn't stop fraud.
New Jersey's new law and nearly all of the others granting security breach notice, freeze rights and other identity theft protections were enacted in response to a highly successful state PIRG/Consumers Union national campaign to promote our "Model State Identity Theft" law.
Regrettably, all of these state gains are at risk. The banks and credit bureaus and others are now demanding that Congress pass a difficult, expensive security freeze that voids all the state security freezes. More is at risk than our privacy. The banks are seeking not only to overturn these strong privacy laws, but also to limit the states' ability to protect us in the future. Please take a moment to tell Congress not to prevent the states from protecting their residents from identity theft. Ask your friends and family to help out too by forwarding this e-mail to them. To take action, click on the following link or paste it into your web browser: http://pirg.org/alerts/route.asp?id=337&id4=ES To learn more about security freezes and the New Jersey law, visit NJPIRG at http://www.njpirg.org/ To learn more about state PIRG identity theft solutions and to view the model law, visit http://www.pirg.org/consumer/credit
Maureen Kirk OSPIRG Executive Director MaureenK@ospirg.org http://www.OSPIRG.org
P.S. Thanks again for your support. Please feel free to share this e-mail with your family and friends.
“Which government has the right philosophy?
Which commander has the skill?
Which season and place has the advantage?
Which method of command works?
Which group of forces has the strength?
Which officers and men have the training?
Which rewards and punishments make sense?
This tells when you will win and when you will lose.
Some commanders perform this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will win.
Some commanders ignore this analysis.
If you use these commanders, you will lose.
Get rid of them.”
Shailagh Murray and Peter Baker wrote:
Cheney Shoots Fellow Hunter in Texas Accident Companion in Intensive Care With Upper-Body Wounds
Monday, February 13, 2006; A01
Vice President Cheney accidentally sprayed a companion with birdshot while hunting quail on a private Texas ranch, injuring the man in the face, neck and chest, the vice president's office confirmed yesterday after a Texas newspaper reported the incident.
The shooting occurred late Saturday afternoon while Cheney was hunting with Harry Whittington, 78, a prominent Austin lawyer, on the Armstrong Ranch in south Texas. Hearing a covey of birds, Cheney shot at one, not realizing that Whittington had startled the quail and that he was in the line of fire.
Whittington was treated on the scene by Cheney's traveling medical detail before being taken by helicopter to a Corpus Christi hospital. He was in the intensive care unit at Christus Spohn Health System and listed in stable condition yesterday evening.
Katharine Armstrong, the ranch's owner, saw what happened Saturday and told reporters yesterday that Cheney was using a 28-gauge shotgun, which shoots fewer pellets and has a smaller shot pattern than a 12-gauge shotgun, making it harder to hit the target. Whittington was about 30 yards away when he was hit in the cheek, neck and chest, she said.
According to Armstrong's account, she was watching from a car while Cheney, Whittington and another hunter got out of the vehicle to shoot at a covey of quail. Whittington shot a bird and as he went to retrieve it, Cheney and the third hunter discovered a second covey.
Whittington "came up from behind the vice president and the other hunter and didn't signal them or indicate to them or announce himself," Armstrong said, according to the Associated Press.
It was Armstrong's decision to alert the news media. Cheney's office made no public announcement, deciding to defer to Armstrong because the incident had taken place on her property. Armstrong called the Corpus Christi Caller-Times, and when a reporter from the paper called the White House, the vice president's office confirmed the account.
Cheney's office referred other reporters to Armstrong for a witness account, but after speaking to some members of the media yesterday afternoon, Armstrong stopped returning phone calls.
She told reporters that the small shotgun pellets "broke the skin" and that the blast "knocked him silly. But he was fine. He was talking. His eyes were open. It didn't get in his eyes or anything like that."
"Fortunately, the vice president has got a lot of medical people around him and so they were right there and probably more cautious than we would have been," she said. "The vice president has got an ambulance on call, so the ambulance came."
The International Hunter Education Association, which represents safety coordinators for fish and wildlife agencies and tracks incident reports by state, said on its Web site that hunting accidents in the United States have declined about 30 percent over the past decade. In 2002, the most recent year for which data were available, 89 fatal and 761 nonfatal incidents were reported. In 26 of the cases, including one fatality, the intended target was quail.
"The vice president visited Harry Whittington at the hospital and was pleased to see that he's doing fine and in good spirits," Cheney spokeswoman Lea Anne McBride said yesterday. Cheney returned to Washington last night.
"The vice president was concerned," said Mary Matalin, a Cheney adviser who spoke with him yesterday morning. "He felt badly, obviously. On the other hand, he was not careless or incautious or violate any of the [rules]. He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do."
White House aides said President Bush was notified about the incident, although he had not spoken to Cheney as of late yesterday afternoon. "The president was informed after the accident and received updates today," White House press secretary Scott McClellan said yesterday.
Whittington is well known around Austin, an old-school Texan whose friends include a retired Catholic bishop and who plays cards with a former Texas Supreme Court chief judge. Feisty and outspoken, he is a millionaire real estate investor who is known for a reformer's streak through his service on the Texas Board of Criminal Justice, which oversees the state prison system, and the Texas Funeral Service Commission.
"His dignified presence belies a fierce competitive spirit and antipathy toward government power," the Austin American-Statesman wrote in a profile of Whittington published last July.
Cheney, an avid hunter, usually visits the 50,000-acre Armstrong Ranch, settled in 1882, once a year. He also hunts regularly at sites in Georgia and South Dakota.
The Armstrong family has a long history in Texas Republican politics and has been close to the Bush family, as well as to the vice president.
Tobin Armstrong, Katharine Armstrong's father, was a Pioneer, an elite fundraiser for Bush. After Tobin Armstrong died last October, Cheney spoke at his funeral. Tobin Armstrong described previous outings with Cheney in an Associated Press interview in 2000: "We go out when the dew is still on the grass, and then hunt until we shoot our limit. Then we pick a fine spot and have a wild game picnic lunch."
His wife, Anne Armstrong, served as co-chairman of the Republican National Committee, White House counselor to President Richard M. Nixon, ambassador to Britain for President Gerald R. Ford, and co-chairman of Ronald Reagan's presidential campaign. Bush put her on the board of Texas A&M University when he was governor, and she was on the board of Halliburton when the company hired Cheney.
Katharine Armstrong also was a Bush Pioneer, along with her now ex-husband, Warren Idsal, according to Texans for Public Justice, which monitors political fundraising.
As governor, Bush appointed Katharine Armstrong to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Commission, which regulates hunting, among other duties. People familiar with the Saturday outing said that Cheney had obtained the proper seasonal license.
Some Cheney critics pointed out that this is not the first Cheney hunting controversy. Two years ago, the vice president was criticized for going duck hunting with Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia soon after the court had agreed to hear Cheney's appeal in an lawsuit related to his energy task force. A month earlier, he had bagged about 70 stocked pheasants at a private shooting club in Pennsylvania.
"Cheney needs to start setting a less violent example by switching to target practice and leaving animals and people in peace," PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement.
"We'd advise him to pursue a less violent form of relaxation and get on with the important business of leading the country," Wayne Pacelle, president and chief executive of the Humane Society of the United States, said in a statement.
Staff writer Sylvia Moreno in Austin contributed to this report.
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