San Joaquin County officials have been told it’s doubtful that they will get any federal earmarks for pet projects, so they came up with a new idea last week: How about relaxing expensive regulations imposed on local governments?
San Joaquin County Supervisors Ken Vogel and Larry Ruhstaller spent three days meeting and greeting members of Congress, their staffs and officials from federal agencies, basically to remind them of San Joaquin County’s water interests.
“It was one of our most successful trips, maybe because we weren’t asking for any money,” said Ruhstaller, chairman of the Board of Supervisors.
Vogel, Ruhstaller, county Water Resources Manager Mel Lytle and County Legislative Coordinator Elena Reyes met with U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Republican Reps. Tom McClintock, of Rocklin, and Jeff Denham, of Merced, and Democratic Reps. Jerry McNerney, of Pleasanton, Dennis Cardoza, of Merced, John Garamendi, of Walnut Grove, Mike Thompson, of St. Helena, Jim Costa, of Fresno, George Miller, of Martinez, and Doris Matsui of Sacramento.
San Joaquin County representatives focused on Delta water issues, preserving agriculture and the need for dams to store water in local rivers, Vogel said.
“There seems to be more of an understanding of the issues in the Delta and water rights,” he added.
Vogel and Ruhstaller were glad to meet Jerry Meral, who was recently appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown as deputy secretary of the California Natural Resources Agency, which is in charge of the Bay-Delta Conservation Program to build the controversial peripheral canal.
“It was interesting to meet the guy and get his side of the story,” Ruhstaller said. “We heard the right words; now let see some action. It’s like the old Reagan saying: ‘Trust, but verify.’”
While last week’s trip focused on the Delta and other water issues, Supervisors Steve Bestolarides, Carlos Villapudua and Leroy Ornellas will lobby in Washington on the county’s annual One Voice trip in April with officials from cities and the San Joaquin Council of Governments. That trip will focus more on transportation issues, Ruhstaller said.
Contact reporter Ross Farrow at email@example.com.