Tag Archives: John Schatz

Debbie Cook: Time for the Cadiz Project to Evaporate – Speak out at July 25 public hearing

By Debbie Cook
Special to the Surf City Voice

Things are heating up in the fight to stop the misnamed Cadiz Valley Water Conservation Project—cultivated in secret backroom meetings held by corporate water brokers and public water officials—that we are told conserves water that would otherwise evaporate by sucking it from a desert aquifer under the delicate Mojave Desert and transporting it 200 miles to Orange County to water the lawns of future urban sprawl.

The growing allegations of Cadiz-related conflicts, incestuous political relationships, and self-dealing had reached a peak last month when Santa Margarita Water District’s chief champion, John Schatz, abruptly retired from his lucrative job there as General Manager/General Counsel.

John Schatz
John Schatz. Photo: Surf City Voice

Schatz even cancelled his last scheduled regular board meeting after learning that a group of desert residents planned to attend.

And just when the going got rough, Schatz jettisoned before the public could let loose on him at a final public hearing to be held Wednesday, July 25 at 6:30 p.m. at the Norman P Community Center, 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA.

But what a mess he left in his dust. Continue reading Debbie Cook: Time for the Cadiz Project to Evaporate – Speak out at July 25 public hearing

‘Superman’ Water Manager Slams Surf City Voice on Journalism Ethics – SCV replies to John Schatz of Santa Margarita Water

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Several months ago this reporter submitted a Public Records Act request to John Schatz, a public official of the Santa Margarita Water District in south Orange County.

Schatz responded in a timely fashion with the requested information, complete with explanatory comments and some strong advice on the ethics of journalism.

Mr. Schatz, who is the seventh highest paid public agency official in California, recently announced that he is retiring soon, but he has been a prolific worker by all accounts.

Not only does he have two seemingly conflicting jobs at SMWD, where he is the legal counselor and general manager, but he also hires out to other water districts as their legal counselor, including a sub agency to a water district that has the president of Cadiz Inc. working as its chief legal counselor.

Schatz’s ability to multitask and collect multiple salaries totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, while his employer denies any conflict of interest, inspired David Nazar of SoCal PBS (KOCE) to nickname him “Superman” in an investigative report last January.

Schatz has also been pushing a controversial plan by SMWD to pay Cadiz Inc. to deliver water from an aquifer in the Cadiz Valley – in the Mohave Desert – to Orange County.

That plan is a revised version of a similar proposal by Cadiz Inc. made to and ultimately rejected by the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California a decade ago.

(At that time, this reporter was an organizer for a public interest organization, Public Citizen, which opposed the project. My stint with Public Citizen lasted all but 6-8 months. Since then, I haven’t worked with Public Citizen or any other organization on the Cadiz issue. Nor do I work for any other organization, whatsoever.)

Critics of the revived project, including Sen. Diane Feinstein, claim that the Cadiz aquifer, located under land owned by Cadiz Inc., will be sucked dry by SMWD’s plan and that the desert environment above it will be ruined.

You can see a thorough and objective review of the facts of that project in a another report by Nazar and in a story published in the Voice courtesy of the San Bernardino Sentinel newspaper.

Aside from juggling the huge work load and ethical concerns of multiple water agencies simultaneously, including working under the president of Cadiz Inc., Schatz is also concerned about the ethics of journalism.

At the end of his letter to me, he wrote: Continue reading ‘Superman’ Water Manager Slams Surf City Voice on Journalism Ethics – SCV replies to John Schatz of Santa Margarita Water