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Paul Rodriguez claims appointment to Cal Water Commission, but gov says no

Comedian Paul Rodriguez put out a press release on April 30 through his publicist saying he would donate proceeds from an upcoming live show to fight Arizona’s tough new anti-immigrant law. At the bottom of the fifth paragraph of the release is a sentence noting that “he was recently appointed to the California Water Commission.”

But the governor’s spokesman, Aaron McLear, said Rodriguez had not been tapped.

“We have not appointed anybody to that at this point,” McLear said. “We’re currently in the process of finding the most qualified individuals to serve on that commission.”

Rodriguez and his publicist were not immediately available to comment.

The administration also confirmed that the commission is “currently inactive,” with no actual members or budget. The commission was originally created decades ago to help administer the State Water Project.

With most of that work done, it hadn’t had much to do in recent years, according to the administration. The last record of the commission meeting appears to have occurred in 2003, when Gray Davis was still governor.

Schwarzenegger and Rodriguez have a long history as allies on water issues.

Rodriguez is the chairman of the California Latino Water Coalition, a group that has advocated for the $11.1 billion water bond on the November ballot, a peripheral canal and other projects that could help maintain water shipments to farmers in the southern Central Valley.

According to emails and other records, Schwarzenegger and his staff were involved in the creation of the Coalition.

As noted in an October story in the Capitol Weekly, it was Schwarzenegger himself who “suggested” the creation of the Latino Water Coalition, while meeting with local officials at Selma City Hall during a visit on March 21, 2007.

The April 30 press release was issued through Rodriguez’s Washington, D.C.- based publicist. It said that he would donate the proceeds of a May 1 show at an Indian casino near Phoenix to the League of United Latin American Citizens. LULAC is one of several groups working to overturn SB 1070, a bill passed by the Arizona Legislature which calls on law enforcement officers to investigate the immigration status of any suspect where they have a “reasonable suspicion” that the person may be an illegal immigrant.

The announcement and the language in the press release referring to the California Water Commission have led to speculation that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger already has promised Rodriguez a spot on the nine-member commission.

“Apparently the governor, without announcing it to anybody, has started to make appointments to that commission,” said Steve Evans, conservation director with Friends of the River, an environmental group that opposes the water bond.

The body would be reconstituted if voters pass the bond measure. Under the section of the water code concerning the commission, members “are appointed by the Governor subject to confirmation by the Senate.”


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