Posted on | October 1, 2012 | No Comments
UPDATED 10/3/2012: Monday October 1st, gathering in special session, San Bernardino County Supervisors voted 4-1 to in effect waive the county’s groundwater ordinance in favor of allowing private water speculator Cadiz, Inc to self-monitor massive water exports from the Mojave.
Why would San Bernardino County, in the words of Cadiz opponent and former assistant county administrator John Goss, “bind itself to the terms of the memorandum of understanding without approving the very management plan it is then bound to adopt and implement”?
In a word, money. After the jump are excerpts from 16 years of newspaper reports on how Cadiz has paid to play, a tactic that in one of its wilder moments landed Cadiz chief executive officer Keith Brackpool and former California governor Gray Davis in the Middle East with the (now deposed) Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak.
For those following Monday’s vote, click here to be taken to San Bernardino County records of supervisor 460 forms. While surfing, do note that the declarations of Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, recipient of almost $50,000 in donations, have been prepared not in San Bernardino County, but in Orange County, by Betty Presley & Associates in Rancho Santa Margarita, where the local water district is acting as a quasi-municpal front for the Cadiz bid to export San Bernardino County’s groundwater to Los Angeles and Orange counties.
Looking at what the Riverside Press-Enterprise gives as the total of the stated donations to supervisors, $107,000 since 2007, you have to hand it to British-born Cadiz CEO Keith Brackpool. The scion of London’s “gin-and-jag” belt has made one of the best deals since Manhattan was supposedly traded for beads. Not that the Mojave groundwater doesn’t more than earn its keep left in the desert aquifer, but the market value of the supply targeted by Cadiz over the next 50 years is estimated in excess of $1.8bn. San Bernardino County supervisors have sold out the health and prosperity of the land around the Mojave National Preserve for an amount that might not even cover a down payment on a doublewide.
“The real long-term play is water.” — Cadiz CEO Keith Brackpool on agriculture as a transition business to tap San Bernardino County groundwater, Gauging a Grand Plan to Sell Water From the Mojave, New York Times, August 11, 1996
Cadiz is the corporate successor to a failed venture to grow jojoba plants in the Arizona desert. Brackpool, who was part of the earlier venture, bought the company, renamed it, bought agricultural holdings in California and began making political contributions and involving himself in California water issues. — Desert Water Entrepreneur Closely Tied to Governor, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2000
Records of the California secretary of state show Brackpool as an active or inactive director of seven separate companies. One deal that went sour in the spring of 1991 forced Brackpool to resign as the North American head of Albert Fisher Ltd., a British food distributor. Brackpool had to leave Fisher after it became known that he played a part in a deal involving a Fisher competitor. — Water Buoys Wmx Foe In Fierce Desert Battle, Chicago Tribune, March 30, 1997
During 1997 and 1998, the company [Cadiz] contributed at least $320,000 to various candidates, according to the Secretary of State and StateNet, a private campaign-finance database. The biggest single recipient, not surprisingly, was Gov.-elect Davis. Cadiz gave his campaign $132,913 in monetary and nonmonetary contributions, including the use of company aircraft, according to Secretary of State records. Meantime, the company contributed at least $27,000 to Attorney General-elect Bill Lockyer; $20,000 to his unsuccessful Democratic primary opponent, Charles Calderon; $10,000 to Mr. Katz’s failed Senate campaign; $40,000 to Speaker Villaraigosa; and $20,000 to top Republican Sen. Jim Brulte. — How Cadiz Inc.’s CEO Became a Key Advisor to Davis on Water, Wall Street Journal, December 9, 1998
According to the [US Geological Survey’s] Feb. 23 comments, the partnership’s draft environmental review — developed by the project’s proponents, the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California and Santa Monica-based Cadiz Inc., an agriculture- and water-marketing concern — contains “unreasonable predictions of water levels and fluxes” and overestimates “the natural recharge to the basin by five to 25 times.” Indeed, groundwater-flow models cited by Metropolitan “are not defensible,” the Geological Survey says. — Scientists Criticize Water Plan, Wall Street Journal, March 1, 2000, via ProQuest database
Last fall, [California Governor Gray] Davis invited Brackpool on a business development trip to the Middle East, where the two met privately with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The occasion afforded Brackpool his first opportunity to confer with the leader of a country where his firm is participating in a massive public works project. — Desert Water Entrepreneur Closely Tied to Governor, Los Angeles Times, April 16, 2000
[Cadiz CEO Keith] Brackpool, 43, who still has family in England, arrived in the United States in his 20s as an investment banker. He was head of the American division of Albert Fisher, the food distribution company, until 1991 when it emerged that he had a $10m controlling stake in a subsidiary of Polly Peck, the Asil Nadir-owned company which had collapsed dramatically. Mr Brackpool resigned from Albert Fisher. — The British Businessman who aims to make $1bn taking water from the desert, The [UK] Guardian, February 1, 2001
During his first run for governor four years ago, [California Governor Gray] Davis relied heavily on a jet provided by Cadiz Inc., a Santa Monica-based firm that is seeking to build a water storage project in the desert. The Davis campaign reported the total value of those flights as nonmonetary contributions worth almost $50,000. — Davis flies friendly skies on Private Jets, Los Angeles Times, September 4, 2002
A key vote in its [the Cadiz project’s] support was that of First District [San Bernardino County Republican] Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt, in whose district the Cadiz Valley lies. Mitzelfelt, who is now running for Congress, has received $48,100 in political donations from Cadiz, Inc. since 2007. — Four First District Candidates Weigh in Against Cadiz, San Bernardino Sentinel, June 2, 2012
From 2007 to June 30, 2012, Cadiz has donated more than $107,000 to supervisors and candidates for the office, according to county records. Among them: [Brad] Mitzelfelt received $48,100; Gary Ovitt, $11,745; Josie Gonzales, $8,450; Janice Rutherford, $5,999; and [Neil] Derry, $5,250. Supervisors did not respond to calls from the public to address how much money they have received from the company. — County supervisors approve Cadiz desert water pumping plan, Riverside Press Enterprise, October 2, 2012