Monday, we broke news that over a month ago the Stanislaus County Farm Bureau (SCFB) sent a letter to the Modesto Irrigation District Board of Directors (MID) informing them of the Farm Bureau’s position that the proposed sale of water to San Francisco is illegal.
Apparently, the Modesto Bee received a copy of the letter about the same time it was sent, yet has published nothing about it, despite, or perhaps even because of, the letter’s highly critical and extensive comments. In fact, the letter contains a wealth of information both about the water sale and about the SCFB’s objections, many of which are based on the SCFB’s interpretation of the California Environmental Quality Act.
All told, the letter is some ten pages long, including an overview of the SCFB’s position. Given the wealth of information contained in the letter, it’s hard to imagine why the Bee has chosen to keep its contents from public view.
The Bee has supported the MID proposal since it was first brought forth. Many feel that both the Bee and the MID have glossed over or even ignored serious problems with the proposal. Many of those problems are raised in the SCFB letter.
It’s possible the MID has asked the Bee for time to develop its own response to the SCFB letter, but that’s really no reason to withhold publication of the letter’s contents. When a public agency is involved, transparency is the first rule. There are few excusable exceptions.
We’ll continue reporting about the sale and commenting on the letter as new developments arise. However, we think it’s important that Valley citizens see the letter for themselves. Because of its length, it’s divided into three parts. The cover letter is here. If you’re in a hurry, the overview is here. It’s two pages long. The more extensive SCFB critique is here. It’s about eight pages.
The Bee and the MID seem unwilling to openly confront some of the more formidable objections to the sale. There are far more serious problems with the water transfer than they’re willing to admit. Now they’ve apparently agreed to turn out the lights on information critical to the public.