Council member's position on water plan makes waves | January 29, 2021 | Palo Alto Weekly | Palo Alto Online |

Palo Alto Weekly

News - January 29, 2021

Council member's position on water plan makes waves

Critics say Alison Cormack failed to accurately present city's positions on Bay-Delta Plan

by Gennady Sheyner

When Palo Alto's City Council adopted a position in support of the Bay-Delta Plan in 2018, its members knew they were swimming against the prevailing political tide.

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Staff Writer Gennady Sheyner can be emailed at [email protected]


Posted by MBH
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jan 28, 2021 at 10:32 am

MBH is a registered user.

You will be happy to know that our new nominee for Secretary of Commerce, Gina Raimondo, has actually gone on record as wanting to do everything possible to preserve natural habitat for Salmon up and down the West Coast. Even including the removal of dams in states north of California. This may well have an effect on the distribution of water from the various dams on various CA rivers. Scientists have been in agreement that unimpaired flow is a necessary ingredient for Salmon populations to thrive, and even grow to the point of being a viable industry again. This appears to be in direct conflict with Cormack's position. So it would be interesting to know from where she got her information that low flow was an acceptable solution.

Posted by Observer
a resident of Leland Manor/Garland Drive
on Jan 28, 2021 at 10:56 am

Observer is a registered user.

Looks like Cormack is taking up the devious practices of our former mayor Fine - putting forth personal viewpoints that differ from those of the PACC while operating under the guise of representing Palo Alto. Birds of a feather, just like their earlier attempts at lame-duck appointments to city commissions.

Posted by Not Good Enough
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Jan 28, 2021 at 11:46 am

Not Good Enough is a registered user.

There was no need for Cormack to make her statement or submit her letter at the Nov. 30 meeting, contradicting her City's policy. Her actions were optional and at her initiative. She could and should have simply remained silent rather than sell out her City. Taking 2 1/2 weeks after the fact to clarify she was speaking for herself, and only after being criticized is not my idea of "prompt". She has not apologized for the substance of what she did.

She is our Representative to the BAWSCA Board, yet disagrees with a key City water policy that is environmentally forward thinking, backed by science and an example of Palo Alto's leadership. This is greatly problematic. Cormack should have the good sense to step down or be removed. Three more years of her arrogance and poor judgment on BAWSCA will be too unpredictable and detrimental given she sees her role as completely independent from the City.

Also, our Council should emulate Santa Clara and Menlo Park and limit the terms of our Regional Representatives to their terms on the Council.

Posted by Resident 1-Adobe Meadows
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Jan 28, 2021 at 12:19 pm

Resident 1-Adobe Meadows is a registered user.

WOW - it just keeps happening. I listen to McCormack on the PACC meetings and she has no specific points and goals - just circuitous statements that can be taken any way. Like waiting to see which way the wind is blowing. She is not to be trusted to conduct any business on behalf of the city. Not sure where this all goes but now the red flags are blowing.

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Jan 28, 2021 at 12:37 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

"WOW - it just keeps happening. I listen to McCormack on the PACC meetings and she has no specific points and goals - just circuitous statements that can be taken any way."

Not sure about that. Her goals seem to be rewarding her backers and spending the money on big-ticket projects when we're supposedly broke. Just look at her advocacy for fiber to the home. Someone -- ie high-priced consultants -- would clearly clearly benefit although it's totally unrealistic for the city to compete with established commercial providers.

Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jan 28, 2021 at 12:39 pm

rita vrhel is a registered user.

Any representative from the PACC should represent the views of the PACC. As As Ms McCormack is on the Board because of her PACC appointment; she should represent the Council's decisions and views, not her on.

Using her Board position to state her personal views is inappropriate. Perhaps she should resign or be removed and join the audience where she can state her personal views. Is this why she was removed from the VTA slot?

Oh, and on the water. As I walk in Crescent Park, I see many neighbors who are watering their front yards 3 x's a week. To the point of water all over the sidewalk, and in the street gutter. I would rather sustain the rivers and wildlife than have the precious water wasted on green lawns. There is never enough for some people. It all will be wasted until here is no more.

Can we also please discuss the millions of gallons of groundwater that are extracted and wasted during underground construction. Palo Alto's current regulations are useless.

Thank you Gennady and Peter!


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 28, 2021 at 3:41 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Rose
a resident of Mayfield
on Jan 28, 2021 at 6:07 pm

Rose is a registered user.

I agree with the comments above that are asking to have Cormack replaced on the BAWSCA board. She should resign or the City Council should replace her. We expect more from our City Council members.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Downtown North

on Jan 28, 2021 at 7:19 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by ALB
a resident of College Terrace
on Jan 30, 2021 at 1:10 pm

ALB is a registered user.

Council member Cormack is out of her depth concerning the environmental policy that the Palo Alto City Council has agreed upon. Why would she turn around and do this disservice? Is it ambition to please corporate interests? She is serving on the BAWSCA board representing Palo Alto as a designated council member. It is time to have the council remove her from BAWSCA as she does not espouse the policy already in place. I see Cormack as an ambitious player who does not follow the rules. She has shown her true colors and cannot represent constituents of Palo Alto regarding this critical environmental issue.

Posted by Paige
a resident of another community
on Jan 31, 2021 at 2:05 pm

Paige is a registered user.

BAWSCA and Alison Cormack are out of their lane when they claim to be our legislative advocates on the Bay Delta Plan.

Under the terms of State Assembly bill AB2058 that formed BAWSCA, "Membership of a public entity in [BAWSCA] does not affect the identity ... nor impair the powers of that ... entity."

BAWSCA has no "intersecting" power that supersedes a Palo Alto power. Specifically, membership in BAWSCA does not impair the power of Palo Alto to act as legislative advocate for its citizens, on any matter, including state environmental water policy and the Bay Delta Plan.

More to the point, Alison Cormack doesn't have two conflicting roles, because she doesn't have two masters. As Palo Alto's appointee she serves wholly at the pleasure of a majority of the Palo Alto City Council. Her role is whatever they say it is. And, until they rein her in she's free to go and stay rogue.

Cormack's real role is to push BAWSCA to find new water sources. It's always been BAWSCA's main legal charter to ensure water supply, from inside or outside California, independently of the SFPUC, if necessary.

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