Assembly-member Adam Gray and his Team

Castle Air Museum Golf Tournament

While at the Castle Air Museum golf tournament, I had the chance to chat with Scotty Burns, who flew 442 missions during his service in Vietnam.

Thank you for your service.

Gustine Chamber of Commerce dinner

Fantastic evening at the Gustine Chamber of Commerce dinner! I never miss a chance to spend time in Gustine.

Bobcat Day at UC Merced

UC Merced is the newest campus in the system, and I am proud that the student body is almost entirely from California. GO BOBCATS!!

Upcoming District Events

12th Annual High Tea of Hope

This event is on May 11 and is an  afternoon of celebration, inspiration and networking as we recognize survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking as we build advocacy and raise funds for the Stanislaus Family Justice Center.

Event info here:   https://bit.ly/2IECIO3

High Tea of Hope brings awareness for victims of domestic violence.
Help change the facts. Speak up, speak out, and make a difference.

Assemblymember Gray Tours Flood Operations Center

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced), Chair of the Assembly Governmental Organization Committee, met with meteorologists and flood management officials with the Department of Water Resources (DWR) and the National Weather Service (NWS) at the DWR Flood Operations Center to receive an update on flood preparedness, interagency cooperation, and the impact of climate change on water storage.

Assemblymember Adam Gray meeting with officials at the DWR Flood Operations Center.

The Department of Water Resources recently announced that the Sierra snowpack is 162 percent of average and statewide snow water equivalent has tripled since the beginning of February.  Snow water equivalent is one of the factors used by water managers to estimate spring runoff.

California typically receives close to 200 million acre-feet of water per year from rain and snow and statewide, and the Sierra snowpack provides 30 percent of California’s water needs. “Fortunately, this has been a rebound year for California’s water supply,” said Gray. “But the abundance of water also carries a certain amount of risk. Today was an opportunity to make sure our flood management officials at the state and federal level are working together and prepared to respond in case of an emergency.”

The briefing at the DWR Flood Ops Center (FOC) also included hydrologists and meteorologists who manage the California/Nevada River Forecast Center (CNRFC) and NWS’s Sacramento Regional Office.

“While the Sierras were inundated with a record number of atmospheric river events this year, we need to prepare for warmer temperatures in the short-term and severe droughts in the long-term,” continued Gray. “These variable and extreme weather patterns are some of the reasons why I introduced AB 638, which requires DWR to determine statewide water storage capacity and identify how our storage will be threatened by climate change. For too long the California Water Plan has provided more question than answers. This bill requires DWR to provide specific strategies to mitigate the impacts of climate change on our water supply.”

More information about AB 638 can be found here.

Gray Calls out Water Board for their Claim that Contaminating Drinking Water in Disadvantaged Communities is not “Significant”

(Sacramento) – Assemblymember Adam C. Gray (D-Merced) ripped the State Water Resources Control Board for arguing that the harm caused by the Bay-Delta Plan to the drinking water of disadvantaged communities is not “significant”. Gray’s comments came as his legislation, Assembly Bill 637, cleared the Assembly Environmental Safety and Toxic Materials Committee with bipartisan support.

Assemblymember Adam C. Gray

In response to criticism that the Bay-Delta Plan ignores impacts to disadvantaged communities, the State Water Board issued a master response arguing that because the board is not a federal agency it does not have to consider impacts to these communities significant.

“The State Water Board should play by the same rules that the federal government has followed since 1994 when President Clinton issued an executive order prohibiting federal agencies from discriminating against and ignoring impacts to low income and minority communities,” said Gray. “Any rational person would agree that advancing a plan which devastates impoverished neighborhoods, degrades drinking water, and openly ignores impacts to some of the most vulnerable communities in the state should be against the law – but the Water Board is not rational.”  

State Water Board voting on Bay-Delta Plan

AB 637 requires the State Water Board to identify disadvantaged communities and mitigate impacts to the drinking water supplies serving those communities. The bill also requires the Board to hold public hearings in or near impacted communities.  

“It took demands from nearly the entire delegation of Northern San Joaquin Valley lawmakers before the State Water Board agreed to hold public hearings on the Bay-Delta Plan in the impacted communities of Merced, Stanislaus, and San Joaquin counties,” continued Gray. “It should be the rule – not the exception – that impacted communities are able to make their voices heard.”

“As the new administration and our irrigation districts continue working towards securing voluntary agreements, this is a reminder of the distrust sowed by the State Water Board up to this point,” finished Gray.  

AB 637 has significant support from organizations throughout the 21st Assembly District including:    

•         Ceres Unified School District

•         City of Livingston

•         City of Patterson

•         Great Merced Chamber of Commerce

•         Le Grand Union High School District

•         Los Banes Unified School District

•         Mayor of Gustine Patrick Nagy

•         Merced City School District

•         Merced County Farm Bureau

•         Merced County Office of Education

•         Merced River School District

•         Merced Union High School District

•         Opportunity Stanislaus

•         Planed Elementary School

•         Stanislaus County

•         Winton School District

More information on Assembly Bill 637 can be found here.

Merced Theater Photo Credit: Merced Theater, Mark Miller [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

Water board staff tries end run around negotiations

When the State Water Resources Control Board voted in December to adopt the Bay-Delta Plan, its members ignored the direction of former Governor Brown and current Governor Newsom to pursue voluntary agreements with our irrigation districts. Many saw this as an act of defiance by former Chair Felicia Marcus, the executive director, and many of the activist staff.

Eileen Sobeck, Executive Director, State Water Resources Control Board

While Governor Newsom has made swift progress toward rebuilding trust with water users, in part by removing the former board chair, it takes time for reforms at the top to trickle down to the hundreds of staff who actively urged the board’s action.

Since then, Eileen Sobeck, executive director of the water board, has submitted a proposal to the United States Environmental Protection Agency requesting “review and approval” of the revised salinity objectives included in the Bay-Delta Plan.

While the Bay-Delta Plan exceeds 3,500 pages, the board’s entire submittal for federal approval was nothing more than a couple paragraphs and a chart. The letter made absolutely zero mention of the 40 percent unimpaired flows approved by the board last December.

Ten years of hearings, myriad reports and meetings, millions of dollars in staff and consultant costs, and thousands of public comments should not be subjected to review according to the board’s letter.

Adoption of the Bay-Delta Plan by the EPA based on a single letter would be a profound act of irresponsible government. That the board’s executive director would ask the federal government to take such action is the height of bureaucratic arrogance.

State Water Board ignores Irrigation Districts and Water Users’ voluntary agreements and votes 4 to 1 to adopted their flawed Bay-Delta Plan in December 2018

Even more troubling, however, is the board’s failure to acknowledge the voluntary agreements being negotiated by our irrigation districts and water users. Many of these negotiations have reached agreements already, and the others are headed in that direction.

By sending an approval request without full and comprehensive information, water board staff are undermining the good-faith relationship Governor Newsom has established with our region. The federal government should reject this sorry excuse for a proposal.

Adam Gray is a California Assemblyman for the 21st district, representing Merced County and parts of Stanislaus County.

This was a Community Column written by Assemblyman Adam Gray originally published in the Modesto Bee  https://bit.ly/2Ias4OS

GRAY ANNOUNCES SATELLITE DISTRICT OFFICE HOURS FOR APRIL 2019

Assemblymember Adam Gray announced his Satellite District Office Hours for the month of April 2019. The 21st Assembly District encompasses 8 communities throughout Merced and Stanislaus Counties. “I am committed to making myself available to every person, in every corner of my district. While my offices in Merced and Modesto are open full-time, I have set up ‘Satellite District Office’ hours where my staff will be available at satellite locations in order to bring constituent services closer to the people,” Gray said.

Satellite District Office Hours are held each month throughout the 21st Assembly district and are hosted by legislative staff.  Staff members are available to assist constituents with casework matters relating to any level of government, but specializing in issues with State agencies- including the Department of Motor Vehicles, Employment Development Department, Franchise Tax Board, and others. Office Hours are also an opportunity for constituents to propose ideas for legislation and to express their opinion on matters before the State Assembly.

The schedule for April is provided below. Regular office hours are open to the public and no appointment is necessary. For more information, please contact Asm. Gray’s Merced District Office at (209) 726-5465.

On Friday, April 12th the satellite office is located at

• Newman City Hall – 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 am

• Patterson City Hall – 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 am

On Thursday, April 18th the satellite office is located at

• Gustine City Hall – 9:00 am to 10:00 am

• Los Banos City Hall – 11:30 am to 12:30 pm

• Dos Palos City Hall – 1:30 pm to 2:30 pm

On Thursday, April 25th, the satellite office is located at

• Atwater City Hall – 1:30 pm to 3:30 pm

Along with Supervisor Daron McDaniel – Merced County

United States Files Lawsuit Against California State Water Resources Control Board for Failure to Comply With California Environmental Quality Act

The Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) filed civil actions, in both federal and state court, against the California State Water Resources Control Board for failing to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

On Dec. 12, 2018, the California State Water Resources Control Board (the Water Board) approved and adopted amendments to the Water Quality Control Plan for the San Francisco Bay/Sacramento–San Joaquin Delta Estuary (amended plan) and the related Substitute Environmental Document (SED).  According to the complaint, the Amended Plan fails to comply with CEQA and, once implemented, will impair DOI’s ability to operate the New Melones Dam consistent with Congressional directives for the project.

“The environmental analysis by the California State Water Resources Control Board hid the true impacts of their plan and could put substantial operational constraints on the Department of the Interior’s ability to effectively operate the New Melones Dam, which plays a critical role in flood control, irrigation, and power generation in the Sacramento region,” said Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice will continue to advocate on behalf of our federal partners, especially when it comes to the proper application of federal and state environmental laws.”

Tam M. Doduc and Felicia Marcus voting to approve the Bay-Delta Plan; which fails to comply with CEQA, according to the DOJ.

“As stated in our letter to the Board on July 27, 2018, today’s lawsuit affirms the Bureau of Reclamation’s continued opposition to the State Water Board plan. The plan poses an unacceptable risk to Reclamation’s water storage and power generation capabilities at the New Melones Project in California and to local recreational opportunities,” said Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Brenda Burman. “We pledge our commitment to environmentally and economically sound water management for California’s farms, families, business, and natural resources, and the American public as a whole.”

CEQA is a California statute which requires state and local agencies to identify the significant environmental impacts of their actions and to avoid or mitigate those impacts, if feasible. The lawsuits filed today allege that in approving the amended plan and final SED, the Board failed to comply with the requirements of CEQA in a number of ways:

  • The Board failed to provide an accurate, stable and finite project description, because the Board analyzed a project materially different from the project described in the project description;
  • The Board improperly masked potential environmental impacts of the amended plan by including carryover storage targets and other reservoir controls – mitigation measures – in its impacts analysis and by not analyzing the impacts of the amended plan on the environment without reservoir controls; and
  • The Board failed to adequately analyze the impacts of the amended plan, including with respect to water temperature and related water quality conditions, and water supply.

As alleged in the lawsuits, the United States will be directly and substantially impacted by the Board’s actions, which impacts include, but are not limited to, operational constraints on the New Melones Project, loss of available surface water supplies for New Melones Project purposes, including Central Valley Project (CVP) water service contracts, and involuntary dedication of federal reservoir space for Board purposes.

New Melones Resevoir

The New Melones Dam is a federally owned Reclamation facility and a component of the federal CVP.  The Dam stores water under permits issued by the State of California, and delivers water from storage to irrigation and water districts under contracts entered into under federal reclamation law.  The lawsuits further allege that the new flow objectives will significantly reduce the amount of water available in New Melones reservoir for meeting congressionally authorized purposes of the New Melones Project, including irrigation, municipal and industrial purposes, power generation, and recreational opportunities at New Melones.  The reduced water available for New Melones Project purposes would also impair Reclamation’s delivery of water under contracts it presently holds with irrigation and water districts.

Department of Justice, Washington DC

The United States is represented in this action by Assistant Attorney General Clark and United States Attorney McGregor W. Scott; with lead counsel Stephen M. Macfarlane, Romney Philpott, Erika Norman of the Natural Resources Section; and Kelli L. Taylor of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of California.

Featured image by Bureau of Reclamation from New Melones Dam and Reservoir – New Melones Dam and Reservoir, CC BY 2.0, Link

Men walk to end sexual and domestic violence

The Haven Women’s Center of Stanislaus is Calling all MEN, WOMEN, TEENS & CHILDREN of Stanislaus County! There is still time to register for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes presented by Mercedes-Benz of Modesto & Modesto Subaru Join us on April 6th downtown Modesto where hundreds of people gather to end domestic and sexual violence in our community. WE NEED YOU!

Register today at https://www.havenwalkamile.org/ and help make a difference in the life of a survivor. After-party hosted by Greens On Tenth See you there! 

#havenwcs #hope #SubaruLovesModesto #WAM19 #havenwalkamile #doyouacceptthechallenge

Executive Director of Merced Lao Family Community, Inc. Retires

Congratulations to long time community leader Houa Vang on the occasion of his retirement as Executive Director of Merced Lao Family Community, Inc. where he served for 32 years.

Merced Lao Family Community, Inc., was established in 1981 as a non-profit organization. In the early 1980’s, a large and unexpected number of Southeast Asian refugee’s influx in the Central Valley of California. The missions of MLFC are to help Asians and refugees in Merced County to assimilate to mainstream social, cultural, educational, health, economical, employment and self-sufficiency in America.

Thank you for your commitment, Houa Vang, and best wishes in the years to come!

CUSD Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegel has been named the “California Professor of Education of the Year” for 2019

This just in! 🗞️ Congratulations to Ceres Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Scott Siegel, who has been named the California Professor of Education of the Year for 2019 in recognition of his work as an adjunct professor in the Educational Administration program at Stanislaus State!

The Association of California School Administrators notified Deputy Superintendent Dr. Denise Wickham late Friday, and this morning a group of fans stopped by Dr. Siegel’s office to surprise him with the news.

In the photo includes Dr. Daryl Camp, Superintendent of Riverbank Unified School District, CUSD Board member Valli Wigt, and CUSD administrators – many of whom are Dr. Siegel’s former students. Well deserved!

Carroll Fowler Elementary

La Rosa Elementary

Cesar Chavez Jr. High School

Ceres High School

Virginia Parks Elementary School

Argus and Endeavor High School

Added Strain Put On Our Water Supply

The following is an excerpt from the article “Resource issues dominate annual California Farm Bureau Federation Leaders Conference”.

Putting added strain on the water supply is the State Water Resources Control Board Water Quality Control Plan for the Bay-Delta. The first phase of the plan affects San Joaquin River tributaries—the Stanislaus, Tuolumne and Merced rivers. Adopted last December, the plan calls for redirecting 30 to 50 percent of “unimpaired flows” in the rivers, in the name of increasing fish populations.

Dorene D’Adamo

State water board member Dorene D’Adamo, the only board member who voted against the plan’s adoption, updated the conference about the bay-delta plan and the status of voluntary agreements intended to replace the board’s order.

“We’re going to have water districts making very tough decisions,” D’Adamo said, adding that based on what she has seen so far, the voluntary agreements represent “a good deal, much better than prolonged fighting and uncertainty.”

Farmer Joe Scoto, a past president of the Merced County Farm Bureau, noted that the Merced Irrigation District produced a plan for the Merced River to provide certainty for the environment and the local water supply, but the plan was rejected. Now, the irrigation district is among a variety of entities—including CFBF—that have filed suit to block the board plan.

“I think that these agreements will be very positive for the agricultural community in terms of certainty going forward,” D’Adamo said.

“These voluntary agreements that you are putting out, if your staff does not compromise like we’re trying to compromise, it’s not going to work,” Scoto said. “We’re going to all end up in court and we’re going that way.”

“We need to be flexible and we need to figure out a way to make this work,” D’Adamo said.

Noting that voluntary agreements would require significant investment from water districts, Vereschagin asked, “What assurances do we have, after all of this money is spent, if we find it is not doing what we planned and there are less fish than we hoped for, will the state come back and say, ‘We need more money?'”

D’Adamo said, “There is a possibility that more could be asked of agriculture at a future point, which is why we have to be really serious when we put these agreements together.”

She noted that Gov. Newsom is directing the state to work on voluntary agreements, even though lawsuits have already been filed. By entering into voluntary agreements, D’Adamo said, projects that could be helpful for fish could be implemented right away, as opposed to litigation that would likely take years.

The water board must work on the plan’s implementation, which could include a water-rights proceeding or adjudication or other options she said would be very controversial.

D’Adamo also discussed the board’s plan to develop a revised state definition of wetlands, and procedures to protect them from dredge-and-fill activities.

Excerpt from article written by Christine Souza of Ag Alert http://www.agalert.com/story/?id=12824

Featured image by Angela Sevin from On the Glen Aulin trail in Yosemite National Parkmountain majesty, CC BY 2.0, Link

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