Oroville Dam Repairs Shrouded in Secrecy

Seven weeks ago nearly 200,000 northern California residents were ordered to evacuate their homes in the vicinity of the Oroville Dam.  This evacuation order was issued because of severe erosion to the dam’s earthen emergency spillway resulting from Lake Oroville overflowing its banks.  Outflow down the main spillway at the time had been reduced due to damage discovered earlier that week.  The resulting erosion of the emergency spillway from that incident has forced officials to reluctantly use the damaged main spillway since then to keep the lake’s level low enough to affect repairs to both spillways.

After weeks of use, the main spillway now lies in ruins and the nature of the repair efforts is being kept tightly under wraps.

Federal and state officials have blocked access to reports and updates on the repair work being done at the dam.  Last month a panel of engineering consultants issued a report to the California Department of Water Recourses (DWR) detailing their concerns on “obvious” design flaws in the main spillway.

The consultants described seeing troubling amounts of water flowing from underneath the structure, concrete that was far too thin and dangerous gaps underneath the foundation on which the massive concrete chute sits.”

Specifically, the panel found that the spillway was only a foot thick or less in some spots.  Additionally, the spillway was built on “an uneven mountainside” and the DWR “used compacted clay to fill in the depressions in the rock foundation beneath the concrete.”

These design flaws contributed to the initial damage discovered in early February that shut down the main spillway, allowed the lake to overflow, forced residents to evacuate their homes, and resulted in the ultimate destruction of the lower half of the spillway.

The report also recommended against future use of the emergency spillway.  Considering that it is made of dirt and large chunks of it are now missing, that’s probably a good idea.

When questioned about the report, DWR spokesman Lauren Bisnett said that “Through the decades, the spillway has been inspected repeatedly and been found to be well maintained and satisfactory for continued use.”

Strong words for a system that has been operated continuously but was never completed.

So what caused the damage?  And why was the spillway constructed so poorly in the first place?  The evacuated residents would probably like to know.

But those details are all being kept secret.  A revised safety report, a follow-up to the original engineering report in March, has been sealed and blocked from public view.  Updates have been few and far between.  Five contractors were even fired for posting photos of the repair work on social media.

The DWR requested that the follow-up report be kept confidential, claiming that it contains “Critical Energy Infrastructure Information,” or “CEII.”  The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission defines CEII as:

Specific engineering, vulnerability, or detailed design information about proposed or existing critical infrastructure (physical or virtual) that:

  • Relates details about the production, generation, transmission, or distribution of energy;
  • Could be useful to a person planning an attack on critical infrastructure;
  • Is exempt from mandatory disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act; and
  • Gives strategic information beyond the location of the critical infrastructure.

 

So it’s certainly possible that the engineering reports on the Oroville dam repairs contain vital security information, but is it really necessary to keep Californians completely in the dark on the status of the repair efforts?

State Senator Jim Nielsen (Republican) doesn’t think so.  He as called for an oversight hearing to find out what exactly is going on at the Oroville Dam.

I’m alarmed and on the verge of outrage. We have an absolute, significant public safety concern…We need to know what cause they have to believe that there’s such a (security) risk, or is that just cover-up?'”

That’s a great question.  Given the shoddy nature of the dam’s construction and the well-documented corruption involved in California state politics, it could easily be either alternative.

California’s Single-Payer Healthcare System Will Run on Magic

Last month, California State Senator Ricardo Lara (Democrat) introduced a single-payer healthcare system to the state legislature.  Today Mr. Lara has revealed details about how that plan will work.

The plan, currently known as the “Healthy California Act,” will eliminate health insurance competition from the state and force all Californians to have health insurance.  No, this isn’t a joke.

Californians would be required to participate in the public program and insurance companies would be barred from offering coverage for services already included in the the (sic) plan, according to Lara’s office.”

The proposed healthcare plan would be limited in scope, covering only everything.

The Healthy California Act, also known as Senate Bill 562, would cover all medical care, including inpatient, outpatient, emergency care, dental, vision, mental health and nursing home care, according to a press release from Lara’s office.”

By the way, in the month since this plan was first announced no one has said yet how the Healthy California Act will be paid for.  My guess is magic.

To his credit, even Governor Brown isn’t sure how this plan will be paid for.

‘Where do you get the extra money?’ Brown asked in an extended chat with reporters. ‘This is the whole question. I don’t even get … how do you do that?'”

I’ll help you out with this one, Governor:  you don’t.  A healthcare plan to cover everyone in California with every conceivable medical ailment, without free-market competition, is simply impossible.  This plan is based entirely on the hope that it will magically work.

Although maybe it will.  Those who have the means to leave California are doing so in droves.  This magical healthcare plan will only accelerate that process.  By the time the mass exodus from this state is over, there will probably only be a handful of unfortunate residents left for this healthcare plan to cover.

Maybe that has been the plan all along?

After Seeing Undercover Videos, Police Finally Investigates…

…Foster Farms.

What?  Did you think I was going to say Planned Parenthood?

All Planned Parenthood did was murder babies and sell their body parts for profit.  It’s not like they abused chickens or anything.

Last year Foster Farms did, however.  The Fresno County sheriff is investigating a video shot by animal rights group Mercy for Animals.  The video shows Foster Farms employees routinely abusing, injuring, and torturing chickens.

Among the footage, workers are shown throwing bins of live chicks onto the ground, after which some are shown apparently unable to move. Other footage shows what Mercy for Animals said are the bodies of chickens boiled alive after missing an automatic knife that’s supposed to slit their necks at the Fresno slaughterhouse.”

So?

It’s hard to get angry about this when Planned Parenthood gets off scot-free.  I love how the media will report this story without a shred of irony as the Center for Medical Progress is charged with a felony for doing exactly the same thing as Mercy for Animals.

Matt Wash put it succinctly:

Maybe next time the Center for Medical Progress will donate to the right people.

CORRUPTION ALERT: Planned Parenthood Donated Thousands to California AG

Remember earlier this week when California Attorney General Xavier Becerra (Democrat) shockingly charged the Planned Parenthood whistleblowers from the Center for Medical Progress with multiple felonies instead of Planned Parenthood itself?  Remember how strange that seemed considering that profiting from the sale of human body parts is illegal?  It seems that it could be a simple misapplication of justice on the part of Attorney General Becerra, but I think there is a little more to it than that.

About $3,000 more to be exact.

Prior to his appointment as California’s attorney general, Mr. Becerra was the recipient of $3,000 altogether from Planned Parenthood during his 2012 and 2014 congressional campaigns.

He’s not alone, however.  Kamala Harris (Democrat), who preceded Mr. Becerra as attorney general, received $2,600 from Planned Parenthood during her senate campaign last year.  Prior to that, Harris worked directly with Planned Parenthood to craft legislation specifically criminalizing the activities of the Center for Medical Progress.

Meanwhile, since 2012 Planned Parenthood went on to donate over $2.5 million to Democrat politicians in California.

It’s no wonder then that when Planned Parenthood’s illegal and horrendously unethical acts were exposed for what they were, the attorney general that they helped purchase would not only look the other way, but instead charge the ones doing the exposing.

Speaking of unethical, since when is it okay for a 501(c)(3) charitable organization that receives federal funding to donate to partisan political campaigns?  Doesn’t that seem a little sketchy?

“Contributions to political campaign funds or public statements of position (verbal or written) made on behalf of the organization in favor of or in opposition to any candidate for public office clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity.”

Oh.

California to Provide Free College by Taxing Millionaires

In response to anticipated tuition hikes at public colleges and universities, California state lawmakers are springing into action with a plan to alleviate the pain those hikes would cause to in-state students.

Are they going to create a series of merit-based scholarships to help the brightest and most motivated students mitigate the rising cost of college?  No.

Are they embracing market-based ideas, like reducing government hand-outs to force students to find ways to pay for college themselves and thereby entice universities to lower their tuition to keep new students coming in?  Not exactly.

Are they launching new initiatives to show the value of honest, hard work to prospective students so that they realize that a college education straight out of high school isn’t necessary to lead a full and rewarding life?  Please.

No, in true socialist fashion California state lawmakers want to provide free college tuition to all in-state students by (you guessed it) taxing the rich.

Assemblyman Susan Eggman (Democrat) has proposed a plan to cover the cost of tuition and fees at California public colleges by imposing a new 1% annual tax on household incomes of greater than or equal to $1 million.

Of course, this plan does nothing to actually curb the rising costs of college tuition.  It merely hides it.  It also doesn’t make college “free.”  It just forces people who aren’t going to college to pay for everyone who does.

Eggman claims that the new 1% tax on millionaires will generate a state income of approximately $2.2 billion each year.  She didn’t say if this figure factors in the households that will leave the state or find other ways to reduce their income to avoid paying yet another new tax.

Fortunately, California voters have a chance to stop this madness.  This bill has to be approved by two-thirds majorities in both houses of the California state legislature.  If that happens, then the measure goes before the voters for final approval.

Let’s hope it never gets to that point.

Here it Comes: California Wants Universal Healthcare

You knew this was going to happen.

On February 17th, California State Senator Ricardo Lara (Democrat) introduced a bill to the California state legislature that would create a single-payer healthcare system for the state.

With all of the talk in Washington about repealing Obamacare, it comes a surprise to no one at all that California would finally choose this moment to complete construction of the progressive utopia that Democrats have worked so hard to build here.  In fact, Lara himself declared that this is a “pivotal moment” and that he “felt it was important to create a different narrative here.”

No one knows more about narratives and storytelling than progressive Democrats.

Though he praised Obamacare, Lara said that the Affordable Care Act did not go far enough.  He wants a system that provides healthcare for all Californians (legal or otherwise).  Lara plans to use taxes to pay for the statewide single-payer system, though he neglected to explain why people who pay taxes should be paying for those who don’t.

The bill is being called the “Californians for a Bankrupt Healthy California Act.”  Cute.

It is important to note that the bill currently does not explain how a single-payer system could actually be implemented or realistically paid for.  Probably because it can’t.

The good news is that Californians have attempted to pass this disaster before.  The bad news is that the only thing that stopped it last time was a Republican governator.

There is no such firebreak this time around.  RoseAnn DeMoro, the head of the California Nurses Association (a labor union aligned with the AFL-CIO, by the way), is “hoping” this new bill “sails through” so they can “introduce the same healthcare system to America.”

And they will, too, because this is California and nothing will stop California’s quest for third-world status.  Watch out America, because this system is coming to a state near you.

Dem Leaders to Base: Drop the ‘I’ Word!

The activists are calling for it.  The base is in the streets demanding it.  Elected Democrats are growing wary of it.  D.C. Democrats are recognizing the potency of it and simply referring to it as the “I” word.

Impeachment.

Politico is reporting that Democrat Party leaders in Washington are trying to tone down talk about the “I” word, despite their base’s fervent demands for it. Even Nancy Pelosi is hesitant to discuss impeachment at this early juncture in the presidency of Donald Trump.  The Democrats’ leadership probably recognizes that raising talk of impeaching a president who today has only been in office for one month wouldn’t actually do them any long-term good.

And they would be right.  With 73% of the American public preferring the Democrats work with–rather than outright oppose–the President, the only thing Democrats could accomplish by raising the prospect of impeachment would be to make themselves even more unpopular than they already are.  It would make them look like they are opposing the President not for any legitimate reasons, but simply because they don’t like him.

As if they aren’t doing that already.

Despite Democrat leadership’s hesitancy to use the “I” word, the more radical base of the party is all too happy to bring it up. Protestors are using the occasion of “Not My President’s Day” to call for President Trump’s impeachment.

Good for them.

Call it a hunch, but I suspect that the “I” word that our activist friends on the streets keep using doesn’t mean what they think it means.  They don’t seem to fully grasp that

  1. Impeachment does not necessarily mean removal from office. It simply means presenting a charge of wrongdoing against a public official.
  2. Being Republican doesn’t quite warrant charges of wrongdoing.
  3. Impeaching the President of the United States means that there is going to be a trial. According to the official rulebook, the House of Representatives (currently Republican) would have to charge the President, the Senate (currently Republican) would have to try the President, and that trail would be presided over by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (currently Republican).  Good luck with that.
  4. Even if the sitting President were to be removed via impeachment, it isn’t like we get an election do-over. Donald Trump would not be replaced by Hillary Clinton (or any other Democrat).  He would be replaced by Vice President Mike Pence who happens to be far more conservative than Donald Trump.

If these professional protestors would get off the streets and try paying attention for once, they might start to notice that Donald Trump is historically much closer to them ideologically than he is to traditional conservatives.  If they noticed this, then they would stand a much better chance of actually getting what they want.

By protesting and rioting against every move this President makes, they only continue to further alienate themselves from the rest of the country and make themselves look petty, childish, and insignificant in the process.

And that’s fine by me.

The Oroville Dam Situation Explained

There has been a lot in the news lately about California’s Oroville Dam.  As someone who happens to live downstream of said dam, let me do my best to explain exactly what has been happening here.

The Oroville Dam made national news last weekend when nearly 200,000 downstream residents were ordered to evacuate their homes and seek refuge on higher ground.  The fear at the time was that erosion on Oroville’s emergency spillway could cause the dam to fail and send a “30-foot wall of water” into surrounding communities.

This erosion occurred as a result of Lake Oroville reaching maximum capacity and overflowing its so-called “emergency spillway” which is little more than a concrete lip perched precariously above a wooded hillside.  Next to this ensemble is the main spillway, a set of gates and a long concrete chute leading down to the Feather River below.  At the time of the lake’s overflowing, this main spillway had already been severely damaged and the Department of Water Recourses (DWR) had reduced the flow of water down the chute in order to prevent further damage.  However, the combination of this reduced outflow and continuous heavy rain swelled the lake level to over 100% of capacity.  Water began flowing over the top of the emergency spillway and proceeded to eat away at the hill next to the dam.  This prompted the evacuations of the downstream communities.

Fortunately the dam did not collapse as feared.  The DWR increased the flow out of the main spillway (despite the damage there) and the water level in Lake Oroville was eventually lowered enough to stop the erosion of the emergency spillway.  Local residents were allowed to return to their homes days later.

As with many of California’s problems, this potential disaster was completely predictable.

In 2005, a coalition of environmental groups submitted a report to the DWR concerning potential damage to the emergency spillway should it ever have to be used.  The report explains that the Oroville dam was designed to be operated in conjunction with a second dam downstream to regulate floodwaters.  Oroville’s main spillway and its earthen emergency spillway were deemed sufficient for flood control as long as the second dam could absorb the impact of increased flows out of Lake Oroville during times of extreme flooding.  The second dam would act in effect as a giant safety valve for water flowing out of Lake Oroville.  This second dam, however, was never built.

Lake Oroville has been operating since the 1970s as though it were part of the two-dam system that was initially designed but never completed.  This means that the main spillway alone has always been insufficient to control extreme floodwaters as was witnessed in 1997 when the lake nearly overflowed.  Water was released at a rate higher than intended, and many downstream levees broke as a result of the increased pressure.  This event is cited as the primary reason the 2005 report was compiled.

The report goes on to describe that should excessive floodwaters force Oroville to overflow, the “discharge area below the emergency spillway” would experience “extensive erosion,” and that since the “area downstream from the emergency spillway crest is an unlined hillside, significant erosion of the hillside would occur.”  As we all saw last weekend, this is exactly what happened.

The report suggested that lining the spillway area in concrete (“armoring” the hillside) or modifying Oroville’s operating manual to account for the lack of the planned-but-never-built second dam would significantly reduce the risk of erosion and damage to the dam’s infrastructure.  The DWR and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission completely ignored this report.

In fact, the California state government so completely ignored the warnings about Oroville, that they made sure to divert to it exactly $0.00 worth of the $34.5 billion received from the 2009 Obama stimulus money.  Instead, super important projects like sidewalks, high-speed rail, and the not-crumbling, perfectly safe Folsom Dam received that federal funding.

To make up for that oversight, California Governor Jerry Brown, as part of President Trump’s proposed new stimulus package, made sure to again ask for $0.00 for Oroville.  Credit where credit is due though, Governor Brown was quick to beg ask the President for federal funds to help cleanup last weekend’s mess at the Oroville spillway (right after declaring that California, as the world’s sixth-largest economy, was doing just fine without federal help).

At least that high-speed rail project is on-schedule and under budget.

So there’s the dam truth.  The simplest explanation of these events is that liberals care far more about trains than public safety and essential infrastructure.

#Priorities.