Thursday, March 6, 2008

The Klamath Settlement Drama gets weird!

There are some strange things happening these days in and around Klamath River Basin Settlement negotiations and the Water and Subsidies Deal which those negotiations have spawned.

It started with release of the proposed Deal. The release quoted Glen Spain who represents salmon fishermen as supporting the Deal. But Spain's organization, in fact, had not supported it and has now written formally that a whole list of changes in the Agreement are needed before they - the Pacific Coast Federation of Fishermens' Associations - could accept and support it.

And then there is the question of what is actually in the Deal. Almost as soon as it was released, the public was told that, in fact, the Deal that was released is not final and that key provisions - including the critical issue of how the Basin's water and restoration would be managed - were still to be written.

Draft federal and state legislation was released with the Deal; but then these parts too were quickly pulled back for "redrafting".

Now we've learned that as soon as the (incomplete) Deal was publicly released, officials of the Upper Basin Irrigation Elite - that small group of irrigators, timber companies and a golf resort which receive water from the Bureau of Reclamation's Klamath Project - along with officials of the Klamath Tribes and consultants working for the Yurok Tribe flew back to DC to brief Congress on the Deal. That in itself would not be too strange since Congress will have to devote close to a billion dollars in taxpayer funds most of it as subsidies to certain tribes and the Irrigation Elite in order for the deal to fly.

But now video and audio recordings of that Capital Hill briefing have come to light. They show former California Resources Secretary and Washington DC lobbyist Doug Wheeler - who now is in the pay of the Yurok Tribe - claiming that 24 organizations, constituting "virtually everyone" and including the "environmental community" was 100% behind the deal and that they had "signed" it!

Wheeler was followed by Troy Fletcher (also a consultant under contract to the Yurok Tribe) who was asked which local environmental groups support the Deal. He answered that the Klamath Forest Alliance and Northcoast Environmental Center were supporters. But in fact neither of these organizations had endorsed the plan; both organizations say significant changes must be made before they can support it and the NEC has since come out in public opposition to the Deal as it is currently written.

You can view the video or listen to the audio of the Wheeler/Tucker Congressional briefing at:

And there is more weirdness still!

Last night a news report on the Klamath was aired on NPR's flagship news program All Things Considered. The story was by a Bay Area and KQED reporter David Gorn and it parroted almost word for word the propaganda we have been hearing for the last two years from Craig Tucker and the Karuk Tribe, i.e. that everyone in the Basin is in agreement and only PacifiCorp is preventing us from entering a new era of harmony and cooperation. I for one am questioning how such a blatantly inaccurate and interest serving piece of propaganda made its way onto a respected news show! Is Gorn also on the Yurok payroll or is he just very gullible and too lazy to fact check? As far as I can tell, Mr. Gorn has never before reported on Klamath issues.

You can hear that "report" at: javascript:NPR.Player.openPlayer(87928806, 87928776, null, NPR.Player.Action.PLAY_NOW, NPR.Player.Type.STORY, '')

KlamBlog wants to know why Mr. Tucker, Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Wheeler feel that it is necessary to misrepresent support for the Water Deal they are promoting. Are they really that desperate or do they simply think that the People of the Klamath Basin are too stupid to see through their shenanigans and too powerless to counter them? Are they really so arrogant and so out of touch that they believe they can get alway with this?

Well the People of the Klamath River Basin have been underestimated before and KlamBlog is betting that will prove to be the case yet again. In fact ever since the trio of Tucker, Wheeler and Fletcher have taken control of the issue for the Yurok and Karuk Tribes those tribes have been steadily loosing credibility because of the constant flood of misrepresentations, half truths and inaccuracies that have issued from the mouths and the computers of these gentlemen. Honesty and straight talk used to be a hallmark of those fighting for the salmon on the Klamath River but that integrity has been long since abandoned!

There is an old saying that goes "honesty is the best policy" and that implies that dishonesty will always have its come-upance. That old wisdom will once again prove true on the Klamath. In fact the Fletcher-Wheeler-Tucker house of cards appears to already be falling.

According to an Associated Press article published yesterday, it is likely that the Deal has run afoul of an Oregon law that prohibits state officials from negotiating water rights behind closed doors. Since that is exactly what has happened in the "confidential" Klamath Negotiations - and since water rights are really at the center of the Deal - it appears that the entire effort to link dam removal to a water deal which would never stand on its own is faltering. As a result this foul and disgraceful episode in the history of the Klamath River Basin may be behind us sooner than KlamBlog imagined.

When that happens the honest people of the Basin will pick up the pieces and build something with integrity - something that will last!

You can read the latest article at: or on the Klamath Basin Crisis website at:

No comments: