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Recent California Water News


Jerry Brown Removing GOP Appointees From Key Water Panel

Aug 20, 2011

Capitol Alert

In his latest move to reverse GOP appointments, Gov. Jerry Brown will replace former Sen. Dave Cogdill and water agency leader Paul Kelley on a key panel that will shape decisions on water storage and a possible Delta canal, the governor's spokesman confirmed Friday.

Cogdill was the chief GOP legislative negotiator on the historic 2009 water deal that placed an $11 billion bond on a future statewide ballot and reconstituted the California Water Commission. His subsequent appointment by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to the nine-member commission was considered part of the bipartisan deal struck that year by lawmakers and the former Republican governor.

Kelley is a former Sonoma County supervisor and former director of the Sonoma County Water Agency. A Republican, he serves as president of the Association of California Water Agencies, a key player in the 2009 water talks.

Brown and Republican lawmakers have been at odds, particularly since talks broke down over a state budget deal in June. Republicans have accused Brown of rescinding past promises made by Democrats in bipartisan agreements and see the Cogdill move as the latest example.

Brown press secretary Gil Duran said the governor deserves to have his own representation on the water commission.

"A new administration typically reserves the right to make a new choice," Duran said. "It just seems reasonable that the governor should have his own appointees on such an important board and not be without his chosen appointees until 2014."

Cogdill and Kelley are not the only Republicans on the water panel, but they are the only two that Brown can replace because their appointments were delayed until after they left public office in December and January. Other appointees joined the commission in May 2010 and have since been confirmed. Water commissioners receive $100 per diem during board meetings, but no salary.

The Senate must confirm Cogdill by Dec. 13 and Kelley by Jan. 1 for them to remain on the commission, but Brown has asked Senate Democrats to prevent that from happening. The Senate Rules Committee is scheduled to consider several natural resources appointees on Wednesday, and Cogdill and Kelley are not among them.

Brown recently asked the Senate not to confirm former Sen. Dennis Hollingsworth to the Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board, assuring that the former Senate Republican leader will leave the $128,000-a-year post after one year.

Update (6:15 p.m.): The Senate has agreed not to confirm Cogdill, but Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg nonetheless said in a statement, "I would have voted to confirm Dave Cogdill because he is brave enough to put the state ahead of his own political considerations."

Cogdill was ousted as Senate Republican Leader in 2009 when he agreed to temporary taxes and spending cuts as the state's finances were in free fall. Cogdill, Steinberg and their Assembly counterparts were named "John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage" award winners for that budget deal.

If the Senate Rules Committee had agreed to confirm Cogdill, the governor could have rescinded the appointment before it reached the Senate floor, according to Steinberg spokesman Nathan Barankin.