The outspoken remain outsiders

inyocourthouseThe most outspoken, knowledgeable and to some degree rebellious people when it comes to the Inyo-Los Angeles water issue did not gain appointments to the Inyo Water Commission. Two others did.  (Letters from candidates follow story.)

Sally Manning, long a plant ecologist for the Inyo Water Department and now Environmental Director for the Big Pine Tribe and Daniel Pritchett of the California Native Plant Society and Owens Valley Committee do not hide their irritation at a lack of leadership on water issues. Manning’s special presentation in recent years documented over-pumping and a serious loss of meadows, grasses and plants due to groundwater pumping. Pritchett’s research and reports on plant death and pumping at Blackrock led to the current dispute with DWP. There is no dispute that both Manning and Pritchett grasp a high degree of knowledge about Owens Valley environment and the will to make it public, but their independent personalities rub officialdom the wrong way.

Perhaps knowing the Board would never appoint her, Manning’s letter requesting appointment says there’s “not enough leadership or commitment among existing county staff or elected officials.” She calls for a new Water Director and legal counsel. Manning also wrote that “for over a decade, the county has allowed things to happen which have resulted in disastrous and probably irreversible ecological damage.” Manning wrote that the county “has been willing to sell the valley and its people short in nearly every dealing with DWP.” She points to how DWP has taken water from ranchers and the failure of the county to advocate for is citizens.

Manning, who gained her Ph.D. in Botany while working for the County, wrote a dissertation on water usage in Owens Valley plants. She led a team of biologists in monitoring and analyzing ecological conditions in the Owens Valley. Apparently afraid she might be too eager to fight the status quo, the Board passed over Manning.

They also gave a pass to Daniel Pritchett and his knowledge. In his letter to the Board, Pritchett wrote of his understanding of the science involved. He admits being critical of the County’s actions or failure to act on water issues. Pritchett said by offering to serve he allows others the chance to criticize him. He quotes President Lyndon Johnson’s statement about preferring to have political opponents “inside the tent pissing out instead of outside pissing in.” Not the Supervisors’ cup of tea.

Instead, the Inyo Supervisors all immediately supported the appointment of Craig Patten, career Navy and self-described as very interested in the water issue. They also supported James Stroh, with a doctorate in geology and teaching in that subject as well as groundwater hydrology. Stroh called himself “clear-eyed, level headed, and primarily an analyst.”

Supervisor Linda Arcularius led off what looked like an orchestrated move with support for Patten and Stroh. Supervisor Jeff Griffiths said he supported the same two because they had the “best letters of interest and qualifications.” Supervisors Rick Pucci, Mark Tillemans and Matt Kingsley fell in line. The vote was unanimous. The rebels remain on the outside of the tent.


(Craig Patten)
I ask the Board of Supervisors to consider my request for appointment to a position on the Inyo County Water Commission.

I feel qualified for appointment to the. Water Commission because, in addition to being a resident of Inyo County, I possess an abiding conviction that we all must be good stewards of the precious water that flows into and through the Owens Valley.

I gained this conviction while growing up in both the Owens Valley and Los Angeles. I was able to see what water meant to this Valley, and respected its origin every time I enjoyed a glass of water in our LA home. I knew where that water came from, and the effect of its loss to the Valley.

I also have a strong ethic of dedication to teamwork, development of effective recommendations, and doing the right thing, gained from a full career of service as an . officer in the US Navy, and[membership on many varying commissions.

In specific preparation for this appointment, I’ve gained the knowledge of the problems and issues arising from the extraction and use of the water resources of this Valley and Inyo County, and reviewed the Inyo County Water Policy (Resolution 99-43). I understand and will contribute to the Water Commission’s goals of public education and involvement, mitigation projects, and management of LADWP groundwater extraction.. I’ve also reviewed all recent reports and studies from LADWP and the Inyo County Water Department.

As a member of the Water Commission, I will serve the entire four-year term with diligence, passion, commitment, and a continual familiarity of the issues and stakeholders that shape the ongoing use of our water.

Sincerely and with respect,
Craig Patten, Bishop

(Sally Manning)
Dear Board of Supervisors; Interest in Serving on Inyo County Water Commission

Thank you for this opportunity to be considered for appointment to the Inyo County Water Commission.

As you are probably aware, I’m well qualified to serve on this commission. I have a strong commitment to the long-term well-being of “Owens Valley’s people and environment. I began working as a plant ecologist for Inyo County Water Department in 1985, so I have first hand experience and deep knowledge of the Inyo/LA Water Agreement and all the related documents (Green Book, E1R, M0 U, etc,), While an employee of Inyo County, i completed a Ph.D. in Botany (UC Davis) in 1992, and my dissertation was on water usage in Owens Valley plants. During my tenure with the Water Department, I collaborated with and led a team of biologists in monitoring and analyzing ecological conditions in the valley. From this work, a great deal was learned about the environmental consequences of groundwater withdrawal and surface water diversions. I’m intimately familiar with the vegetation, hydrology, climate, geology, land-use, and fauna, and their interactions, t have been to nearly all Inyo County Water Commission, Technical Group and Standing Committee meetings held since 1989.

Although I would be honored to serve as an Inyo Water Commissioner, I know that the job is too big for one person; there is too much to do,, and not enough leadership, or commitment among existing county staff or elected officials. The Water Commission and.. . public need to advocate for Inyo County to take a leadership role with regard to the Water Agreement I think that to accomplish this, a new director and fresh legal counsel will be needed. We always knew the Agreement would only be as strong as the people whose job it was to carry it out, and for many years now, the county has failed to stand strong for the Agreement’s hard-won environmental and economic protections, I have objected to many of the county’s positions and decisions regarding management; for over a decade, the county has allowed things to happen which have resulted in serious and probably irreversible ecological damage. The county does not advocate for the citizens of the valley who have had water taken from them by DWPs ince the Agreement was signed. From pumping programs to mitigation projects to outright flagrant violations (such as DWP terminating irrigation, turning on an OFF status well, or releasing turbulent flows that kill fish), the county has been willing to sell the valley and its people short in nearly every dealing with DWP.

Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions. -I’m happy to submit a resume, curriculum vitae, and/or other documentation in support of my qualifications and my commitment to work on behalf of the people and environment of eastern California. Thank you for considering my application for serving on the Inyo County Water Commission.

Sincerely, Sara J. “Sally” Manning, Ph.D.

(Daniel Pritchett)
Dear Supervisors: . Please consider this an application for the Inyo County Water Commission. I spent 15 years as Conservation Chair of the Bristlecone Chapter of the California Native Plant Society, and am currently on the board of the Owens Valley Committee; From this experience I have a long-standing familiarity with legal and political aspects of Owens Valley water issues. Having been the first author on two peer-reviewed journal articles regarding the ecology of the Blackrock area, I also have some understanding of the science involved. There are relatively few people who have such an understanding and I think it important that those who dp offer to serve in government. I have been critical of Inyo County’s actions (or failures to act) regarding water issues in the past.

By offering to serve I allow others the opportunity to criticize me. Please remember Lyndon Johnson’s statement regarding one of his political opponents, “It’s probably better to have him inside the tent pissing put, than outside the tent pissing in.”

Thank you for considering my application.

Sincerely, Daniel Pritchett




(James M. Stroh )
Dear Board of Supervisors –
I, James M Stroh of independence California, request the Board of Supervisors consider this application to the Inyo County Water Commission. I am a county resident, voter, and property owner. My qualifications in applying for a position on the Inyo County Water Commission include, but are not limited to the following.

1. I have a doctorate in geology from the University, of Washington in 1975 and 33 years experience teaching at the college level.

2. Part of that teaching included hydrology, most relevantly introductory ground-water hydrology and evaporation-transpiration studies. Both of these subject areas included field work in Inyo County. I can bring technical experience to the Water Commission.

3. Although not an expert, I am familiar with many of the water issues in Inyo County including the Long-Term Water Agreement between Inyo County and the City of Los Angeles. I have served on the Independence Community Service District Board.

4. Overall I am {I hope!) clear-eyed, level headed, and primarily an analyst. That is how 1 approach issues, even those with strong political implications. Add to that an independent streak.

Some personal interests related to duties of a Water Commissioner include implementation of mitigation projects, the on-going adaptive management of the Lower Owens River Project, and anything having to do with ground water. As the Board of Supervisors is well aware I have an interest in, and some expertise in, renewable energy, particularly solar. Renewable energy always has some water implications, often major ones, as demonstrated by the Coso Geothermal-Rose Valley project.

Thank you all for considering this application.

Sincerely yours, James M. Stroh



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10 Responses to The outspoken remain outsiders

  1. TMR December 11, 2013 at 7:20 pm #

    Thank you for the article, Benett. What a shame the Inyo Supes took the easy way out. Sally and Daniel were stellar candidates and their voices are exactly what we the people of the eastern Sierra/Owens Valley need. Now, thanks to the Inyo Supes, we’ll just get more of the same and that isn’t a good thing.

  2. Waxlips December 12, 2013 at 6:55 am #

    I’ve been saying this all along. I’d like to find out how DWP pays these people off. It’s getting pretty obvious.

  3. Steves December 12, 2013 at 8:22 am #

    Let see how Patten and Stroh handle the job before we cast judgement. I would have like to here more about them and less about the ones passed over.

    It concerns me that Linda Arcularius was advocating these two as I feel she always seams to support anything DWP want’s. So her support raises a red flag for me.

    But I am willing to give the new board a chance to show what they are made of.

    • Benett Kessler December 12, 2013 at 10:22 am #

      Steves, We have posted all four letters of request for appointment following the story about the Water Commission. You can read what the candidates submitted. We have reported all that the Supervisors did and said.

      Benett Kessler

      • Steve December 13, 2013 at 9:34 am #

        Thank you Benett. I am glad you are here keeping a critical eye on DWP and many others. I find out more about what is going on in the Owens Valley with the Sierra Wave than any other source. I will read on.

  4. philip anaya December 12, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    With their knowledge, experience, their unabiding dedication to the Owens Valley Environment, Sally and Daniel will continue to love and advocate for the plants and the various 2-8 legged critters, not to forget centipedes. They will never leave the life and death decision of the delicate native fauna to the LADWP alone. Their honesty and it’s expression is not always appreciated at DWP Headquarters or in the County of Inyo Hallways. I would certainly hope that Bob Harrington and Sally Manning could work better with one another and if I had a vote I might leave them in a locked up room until they both agreed to their own solution, being that there is no one on this earth that anyone ever totally agrees with, not even our own reflections in a mirror, truth be told.
    It is a crossroad in one’s existence to wake up one morning and finally express a strong public opinion about water and life here in the Eastside. One’s reputation, one’s survival, one’s familie’s survival is sometimes at risk depending on which fork in the road one choose’s to follow. The strenght of conviction, the backbone that holds a head clear and high after years of milk toast thoughts and deeds are what some aspire too and folks like Sally Manning and Daniel Pritchard are heroes to me.
    Honest people, good people who choose to serve others, receive an appointment to tasks and responsibilities and who become effective in their dedication also dwell with the best of the human spirit. There are unfortunately forces that rub the human spirit raw that we contend with and the Board of Supervisors and the Water Commission have more than it’s share to contend with especially with DWP. Water and Power Issues need vigilant and constant attention and benefit from the participation and support of everyone in the Inyo. I hope that the issues and the work that Sally and Daniel do will continue to inform, enlighten and effect improvements both in the Valley Environment and in everyone’s Human Spirit.

  5. Yaney LA MacIver December 12, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    Time for all to step up and run for Inyo County Commissioner, District One especially. It’s a new century, let’s not have the old come along with it. Will be watching how those two that have been appointed perform.

  6. Clyde A. December 12, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Let’s not forget the huge amount of DWP lease land the Arcularius family still holds in Inyo and Mono Counties. Do you really wonder why these decisions are made?

  7. Yaney LA MacIver December 12, 2013 at 4:55 pm #

    Oh and where is the representation for the Paiute?

  8. Eastern Sierra Local December 13, 2013 at 10:43 am #

    I’m very familiar with the two candidates NOT selected by the Inyo BOS; I feel they made the correct decision. Both candidates live together, would exhibit cronism, and have been staunch opponents of anything LADWP going so far as to write a compliant to LADWP regarding their main office xeriscape project this summer calling removal of the lawn as a “violation of the long term water agreement!!” They would not be constructive members on the committee and only advisarial to the process.
    Good work Inyo Board of Supervisors!


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