Full Transcript of the KMPH Interview with Lloyd Carter by Ashley Ritchie

TRANSCRIPT OF INTERVIEW OF LLOYD CARTER BY KMPH CHANNEL 26 REPORTER ASHLEY RITCHIE

 

The partial quotes in yellow were broadcast on the night of Feb. 4, 2009, the night of a water issues debate at Fresno State University.  Carter was interviewed prior to the debate for 10 minutes and 37 seconds.  The reporter did not stay for the debate.  Those quotes in yellow were only broadcast the first night.  The partial quotes in red, occurring at different times in the interview, were strung together in non-chronological order, creating the impression they were one quote made all at the same time. The surrounding contextual material was omitted.  The video sound bite of the quotes in red, a total of 20 seconds was repeated several nights in a row on the 10 p.m. news on KMPH and repeated numerous times during the KMPH morning news show.

 

 

Ashley Ritchie: Start off  by explaining, you know, what is going to be discussed tonight the view points you want to bring to the table

 

Lloyd Carter:  Well hopefully I am going to bring a statewide viewpoint along with my two fellow panelists. The other side represents local interests within the San Joaquin Valley and, of course, they have every right to look out for their own interests. But water is a statewide issue. There are no Delta farmers here tonight so they don’t get to speak on their interests and there is no -- within the farming community there are a lot of different views, so it’s not just one view that all agriculture shares.  In fact even the east side of the valley and the west side of the valley fight frequently over water issues as you know. So, uh, my other two panelists are experts on the Delta, as we know the fishery is collapsing, there are thousands and thousands of jobs involved in the commercial salmon fishing, recreational fishing. If you travel two hundred miles north from here and got an audience of people, the general view would be why is Southern California and the Central Valley Westside stealing our water?  So it depends where you located in the state as to what your views are.

 

AR:  You know you talked about commercial fishery and that stuff and obviously there are some jobs there, but there are quite a few you know 40,000 jobs too that could be lost with certain areas of the West Side drying up. How do you -- How do you --.

 

LC:  Balance that?

 

AR:  Balance that I guess.

 

LC:  The water is what has the true value. The water is the new cash crop. Water as we all know is needed desperately by urban interests as well as farming interests and the water on the retail market for urban uses is $600 an acre-foot. Well, farmers are buying that water from the public for less than a $100 an acre-foot. So if we continue on this climate change path that we’re on and we get dryer and dryer in California, agriculture is inevitably going to give up water because state law requires that domestic use is the highest priority. Now some people in agriculture are positioning themselves to resell their farm water to urban interests, but in the to and fro between urban interests and ag interests, urban interests will win out because the water has more value. The example that I usually use is that it takes $750 dollars worth of retail water to grow $150 worth of wholesale cotton. And that’s not rational.

 

AR:  We are talking live events. We’re talking on both sides of the issue.

 

LC: Absolutely.


AR: For a portion.

 

LC:  Sure.

 

AR:  The Delta Smelt issue, as far as the endangered species, which aren’t indigenous to this area, they are not from the San Joaquin area. What is the argument there as to why they are more important than say communities of people and their livelihood?

 

LC:  Well to use an appropriate metaphor the Delta Smelt is a red herring.  First of all, they are an indicator species. Most species of fish in the Delta are in trouble, most -- particularly is the Salmon which have great commercial value. Secondly recreational fishing in the state is a multibillion dollar interest. Now do we really want to let the Delta die so a few hundred farmers on the Westside of the San Joaquin Valley can stay in production?  No matter what happens tonight or what we say here, Western San Joaquin Valley agriculture is going to contract, going to shrink in size because they can’t solve their drainage problem economically. They are importing a million and a half tons of salt a year. They are salting up that land. They will be the first to admit it. The proposed federal solution for the drainage problem is $2.7 billion. Now 600 farmers can’t pay for that. So you are going to see hundreds of thousands of acres of land on the Westside of the valley go out of production no matter what we do because you cannot farm salty soil.

 

AR:  You are talking about fish, these are fishand smelt are not --.

 

LC:  Smelt, that is a false issue. They are an indicator species and they are critical to the food chain.

 

AR:  So you are talking about things like the Salmon and things like that --.

 

LC:  I am talking about all fish.

 

AR:  Right. Devil’s advocate here.

 

LC:  Right.  Go ahead.

 

AR:  How do you compare that -- or how do you -- How do you justify saving fish for a commercial industry as oppose in order to while you are actually --.

 

LC:  Well, you realize the Delta is a drinking water source for 23 million Californians. They also farm about 600,000 acres of land in the Delta. The Delta farmers want clean water in the Delta. If they by-pass them and send it to the west side of this county then all that the Delta farmers end up with is the salty drainage runoff that goes into the lower San Joaquin River. So this is not about farmers and fish, this is about upstream farmers versus downstream farmers.  If you had a Delta farmer here he would say I think that I -- the Delta farmer would say that they had first shot at the water before it goes to Western Fresno County and Kern County.

 

AR:  So what would you -- You would say let all the Westside farmers dry up and loose their livelihood.

 

LC:  No, no, not all of them, but a lot of that land is going to have to go out of production for a number of reasons. It is not economical to farm it and they can’t resolve the salt problems. So that land is going to shrink anyways. Now let us assume that we continue on this dryer and dryer every year, there is not going to be enough water for all the needs of California anyways. So who is going to loose their water first, it is going to be Western San Joaquin Valley agriculture.

 

AR: As far as agriculture being, you know the biggest contributor to the Fresno County and to this industry or to this area, what about this area. With all this--

 

LC: Let’s talk about this area. Of the 50 biggest cities in America, which one is the poorest? Do you know?  Fresno. Jim Costa’s Congressional District is the poorest congressional district in America.  That’s the Westlands Water District. There is wealth being generated out there but it’s flowing to very few people.  That’s the poorest Irri-- Congressional District in America.

 

AR: So what are you all suggesting?  Those people that don’t have College Educations or High School Educations -

 

LC:  Correct.  Well, you know, It takes from between 250,000 to half a million farm laborers as we all know most of them enter the country illegally to bring in the harvest, to work in the packing sheds.  They bring a lot of social problems with them, the next generation.  On any given day in Fresno there’s 3500 people in jail, 1500 of those people are gang members and a lot of those people are second generation farm workers.  What parent raises their child to become a farm worker?  These kids, they are the least educated people in America are in the South West corner of this valley.  They turn to lives of crime. They go on Welfare. They get into drug trafficking and they join gangs.  The farm economy of Fresno County does not spread the affluence.  Just remember Fresno is the poorest city of the 50 biggest cities in America.  Don’t take my word for it, go check it out.

 

AR:  So, one last question, what are you—what are you—I’m not, I’m wondering what the answer is as to what these farm workers do.

 

LC:  Well let me just tell you in terms of Federal water policy. The way that Federal water in the Central Valley Project is distributed in this valley is the oldest water rights holders go first and get all they want.  There’s plenty of farmers, you know, that are still getting all the water they want.  The irrigation districts immediately north of the Westlands are going to get most of their water.  It’s a bucket line.  The last people in line may not get any water. The Westlands knew that.  This isn’t, this, this cutback this year is not about the delta smelt.  Nature has not provided much water this year.  Whenever you have a dry year, the last person in the bucket line loses.  Now if you… if you wanna go see a great movie and you get to the line late and you get up to the ticket window and they say the theater is full, and there is no tickets left, that’s your tough luck.  Well that’s exactly how it works in the water world.

 

AR: That didn’t answer my question.

 

LC: Your question is what?

 

AR: As far as all the thousands of farmworkers who you claim are gonna be… are going to be ending up going to jail or causing crime or committing crimes.

 

LC:  The farm workers are out of work as soon as the harvest is over anyway.

 

AR:  But that’s still work--.

 

LC: They are seasonal workers.

 

AR:  That’s still work though.  That’s what they depend on year after year after year which keeps this economy going.

 

LC: Just open up your newspaper every day and talk about the 75,000 jobs lost weekly in this country as our economy collapses. You will hear arguments tonight that the losses to the farm workers, that they’re going to be laid off, they’re not even American Citizens for starters.  Right, Do you think we should employ illegal aliens?   

 

AR: That is not necessarily true.  There are a lot of them that are American Citizens.

 

LC: Well, you’re showing your biases a little bit as a news person.

 

AR:  No I am just trying to be a, I’m trying to bring the truth out here and I wanna see… these are questions that are gonna be asked of you all. And there…_

 

LC: And you’re gonna hear the answers.

 

AR:  Well can you tell us the answers as we are interviewing you?

 

LC:  The answer is...  Will some farm workers loose some jobs? Yes they will. There’s no question about it and are there going to be third party impacts from the drought.  Yes there always are and so we need to find a way to help people who are impacted by drought scenarios as we always do. Yeah.  Now if it rains heavy next year, will their jobs come back. Yeah. But what happens when the salmon industry. What is your solution for the Salmon people who, thousands and thousands of families have lost their livelihoods fishing for salmon because of overpumping from the Delta?  Look,  the State of California has issued permits for several times more water than actually exists.  So the Westlands contract doesn’t guarantee there will be water for them, especially when they are at the end of the bucket line.  So yeah, people are going to get hurt.  They are getting hurt all over the American economy everyday.  Thousands of people are being laid off everyday in California, making much more money than farm workers.  So does that help answer your questions?

 

AR:  Kind of.  (laughs)

 

LC: Okay.

 

AR: Alright, anything else you want to add. 

 

LC: No that’s fine.  You’ll… I hope you stay for the debate. [She didn’t.]

 

TAPE ENDS

 

The infamous sound bite, which initially aired on Feb. 4 and repeated many times, was cut and pasted together from two different segments of a 10-minute, 37 second interview and the two conflated comments were joined to make it sound as if it were one comment on whether I cared about the fate of farmworkers on the west side of the Valley. Moreover, the contextual material surrounding each apparently inflammatory comment was clearly taken out of context.

          This was the setup comment for the quote:  “Farmers argue without water from the Delta, towns like Kerman and Mendota will dry up forcing thousands out of work and sending a ripple effect throughout the Valley. Environmentalists, on the other hand, say the water could be best used in other areas.  And according to one we spoke with, those who lose their jobs here, don’t deserve them anyway.” (Emphasis added.)

          This question was never asked of me, if you read the transcript.

          I then reportedly answered: “They’re not even American citizens for starters.  Do you think we should employ illegal aliens? [splice occurred here.]  What parent raises their child to be a farm worker?  These kids are the least educated people in America or the southwest corner of this Valley. They turn to lives of crime.  They go on welfare.  They get into drug trafficking and they join gangs.”