Big money backing Paso’s water district plan

February 22, 2016
Edward Griffin

Edward Griffin

By DANIEL BLACKBURN

A North County electorate widely divided by a proposed water district plan will decide the issue in just two weeks amid a flurry of last-minute campaigning by both sides.

The proposal has been a contentious one since it blossomed in 2014. Like many water resource-related matters, it is somewhat complicated and vulnerable to interpretation and oversimplification.

Proponents, like vineyard owner Jerry Reaugh, assert the election will determine “local control.” Reaugh is chairman of the well-funded, pro-district Paso Robles Alliance for Groundwater Solutions (PRAAGS).

Opponents, on the other hand, contend the plan is a “water grab.”

That’s the assertion of a grass-roots organization called NeedToKnow/SLO, which has published a brochure entitled “Paso Water District Means Loco Control.” The pamphlet is now being distributed through the mail and by volunteers door-to-door and in commercial areas.

The organization and the brochure are the work of G.Edward Griffin, himself a controversial figure best known for his views on the U.S. monetary system. In the early 1990s, he produced a film and a best-selling book on the Federal Reserve System, The Creature from Jekyll Island, now in its 32nd printing.

The pamphlet asserts that “the debate over a water district has nothing to do with water conservation. It’s about who will control water usage, who will set the rules, who will collect the taxes, who will be allowed to sell the water, and who will profit. There is a small group of people who hope to do all these things. They are the ‘water sharks.’ ”

Griffin, who owns what he describes as “a little retreat” in San Luis Obispo County, said his interest in the water district issue evolved from what he perceived as deceptive promotion by district backers.

“It is sad to see how voters are consistently tricked by advertising campaigns into supporting issues that lead to the exact opposite of what they expect,” Griffin told CalCoastNews. “I am deeply concerned that this is what is now happening with regard to the proposed Paso Robles water-basin district. Voters see the color brochures and newspaper ads with snappy slogans and never think about who paid for those, or why they did so.”

“Follow the money,” Griffin said, noting that state campaign disclosure records show that district backers — primarily large ranchers and vintners in the North County — have spent more than $300,000 to promote the district plan because they have a vested interest in its success. That is in addition to more than $500,000 in county funds already expended to move the plan through the bureaucracy.

“Those of us who seek to expose the agendas of the promoters have no financial gain at stake,” Griffin said. “Every dollar we spend is from our personal, net-income funds, and our goal is, not profit, but simply to defend water rights and to resist what we consider to be criminal deception.”

He is making the pamphlets available, he said, “to give citizens who share this perspective a way to counter the professional advertising campaign of the water sharks.”

Griffin believes a “no” vote on the district is a vote for true local control. And he’s hoping his brochure with that message will get into the hands of every person in the North County.

“Pamphlets were the main communication channel for the American Revolution,” Griffin said. “It is our hope that they will once again serve a similar purpose in spreading the truth around here.”


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16 Comments

  1. mszlavik says:

    Thank you for your article Mr. Griffin. I didn’t understand what was going on and now I do. I am definitely voting “no” now.

    (4) 4 Total Votes - 4 up - 0 down
  2. Pelican1 says:

    Might I suggest that those affected by the proposed district review the history of the Owens Valley and how MONEY destroyed the ecosystem in the name of water.
    It’s an important lesson as those who fail to understand history are doomed to repeat it.

    (15) 17 Total Votes - 16 up - 1 down
  3. SLO_Johnny says:

    We have a true Watergate Scandal right here in SLO County.

    Not exactly like the movie Chinatown but reminiscent.

    (21) 21 Total Votes - 21 up - 0 down
  4. straddle says:

    If you’re not part of Big Grape, you’d have to be a fool to vote for this water district plan. But in looking at the number of ballots returned so far, it looks like Big Grape will win. If you don’t vote you better not bitch later.

    (25) 25 Total Votes - 25 up - 0 down
    • CrestonRules says:

      Can you please provide source for your comment “But in looking at the number of ballots returned so far, it looks like Big Grape will win.”

      (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
      • straddle says:

        Per Cal Coast News only 12% of the ballots have been returned to date.

        I hope I’m wrong, but I think safe to say that the lower the turnout, the better for Big Grape. Would you disagree?

        (5) 5 Total Votes - 5 up - 0 down
  5. Jorge Estrada says:

    This discussion has done nothing but get simpler, the answer is NO. Ok Gov ask us again, the answer is NO. Recognize that we would not be asked if it wasn’t ours to give away…. Sadly education and other public benefits suffer by this example of lip service wasting tax dollars.

    (24) 30 Total Votes - 27 up - 3 down
  6. just4fun says:

    All those chemtrails must really be getting to Mr Griffin…

    (-30) 56 Total Votes - 13 up - 43 down
  7. jacksprat says:

    Follow the money indeed. The Steinbecks sell tons of grapes to Resnick’s Justin Winery while accusing them of stealing their water. A multimillionaire from the midwest pays a Bakersfield law firm tens of thousands of dollars per year which is but a fraction of the $20,000 per month, yes that’s right, per month to represent them in a Santa Clara court. The biggest contributors to PR-WIN are from outside the County. Strange times we live in.

    (9) 47 Total Votes - 28 up - 19 down
    • lostinspace says:

      You’re starting to sound a bit desperate Mr. Brown and your lies are getting more ridiculous all the time! Your ramblings about where the Steinbeck grape crops go and a multimillionaire in the Midwest paying some attorney in Bakersfield make no sense at all. You seem to be confusing the Quiet Title action with the water district voting process which are two totally separate issues. You better check the records again on where the PR-WIN contributions are coming from. The only contribution from outside the area is one thousand dollars from sympathetic business man from the Bakersfield area that has been plagued with problems caused by the Kern Water Bank. Now, would you care to explain the tens of thousands of dollars the YES on A-16 PAC has been taking in from all over the west coast and the rumor that people are being told that if the district formation fails, the state will come in and the first thing they will to is cut back the big pumpers by 25%. Sounds to me like your group is fleecing your own supporters. You might also tell us what the carrot at the end of the stick is that has your team prostituting yourselves to get this district passed. Any truth to the rumor that each of you have been promised shares in the future Paso Robles Water Bank?

      (20) 34 Total Votes - 27 up - 7 down
    • debbieisout says:

      Jack, you better watch what you say, you are opening yourself up to a lawsuit

      (5) 9 Total Votes - 7 up - 2 down
      • jacksprat says:

        Ah, litigation. The weapon of choice for the stick your head in the sand crowd. Sounding more like the Occupy Wall Street movement. Facts are stubborn things.

        (0) 6 Total Votes - 3 up - 3 down
        • HorseNutz says:

          Bob
          This shows your true colors… you and your Wall Street buddies like Cadiz would surely make this type of comment. Your posts smack of desperation, and I don’t think there is any crowd with their heads in the sand here. Just the PRAAGS individuals with their noses in the air looking down in their minds on the minions screwing up their “Big Money” plans. My money is on the minions in this fight.

          (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
    • HorseNutz says:

      Bob
      Agreed, you do live in strange times… the Twilight Zone must be a tough place to live.

      (2) 2 Total Votes - 2 up - 0 down
  8. Pelican1 says:

    Good grief, we are re-living the Milagro Beanfield War.

    (10) 18 Total Votes - 14 up - 4 down
  9. jonhartz says:

    This letter and the comments show another side to this issue…
    http://www.sanluisobispo.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article61693157.html

    (-9) 17 Total Votes - 4 up - 13 down

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