Restore the Truth #1 – Billionaire developer funds RTD

March 2, 2015

To: Interested Parties
From: Steven Maviglio, Restore the Delta Truth
Re: Who’s Behind “Restore the Delta”? Meet mega-developer Alex Spanos (Number 1 in a series)

“Restore the Delta,” the Astroturf group that supports the unsustainable status quo for the troubled California Delta, has made a lot of noise during the past decade about the proposals for California’s water future.

According to the group’s website, the organization is “a grassroots campaign of residents and organizations committed to restoring the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta so that fisheries and farming can thrive there together again.”

Except that it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Truth be told, “Restore the Delta” is funded by billionaire developers, a major Koch Brothers contributor, and big water users whose interest is neither the environment nor Delta residents: it’s all about protecting the corporate and personal financial interests of the group’s backers.

Who’s at the front of the “Restore the Delta” parade of big contributors?

None other than mega-developer, mega-GOP contributor Alex Spanos.

While Spanos doesn’t sit on the Board of Directors of Restore the Delta (probably because the PR Director of his development company – who is on the Board – likely advised him it would be look bad), that hasn’t stopped him from recently holding the group’s annual fundraiser at his mansion. He raised more than $640,000 at that one event – not too shabby for a “grassroots” group. His corporation also houses the group’s office (right in the A.G. Spanos building) in north Stockton.

You would think given this close relationship, that Spanos would be in sync with the faux front that Restore the Delta projects as the fierce protector of the Delta’s fragile environment. But consider this:

  • While Restore the Delta criticizes “billionaire farmers” and “big agribusiness” for creating problems in the Delta, state records show that Spanos owns 2,000+ acres of land in the Delta and uses more than 7,000 acre-feet of water annually, including hundreds of acre-feet of Delta water for a golf course he owns, The Reserve at Spanos Park.
  • According to the Los Angeles Times, the Department of Fish and Game once tried to persuade Spanos to set aside 600 acres of a 1,300-acre development to preserve three nests of the rapidly disappearing Swainson’s hawk. A State DFG official stated the development “also poses a threat to striped bass, salmon, Delta smelt and other species that have made the region a fisherman’s paradise.” Not surprisingly, Spanos rejected the request and developed the area along the Delta.
  • DeltaNationalPark.org, an environmental blog, criticized Spanos for contributing to sprawl with a “cookie-cutter development project that might just as well been built in Orange County…there is absolutely nothing Delta-specific about it. We await the tortured interpretation of how this little slice of suburbia contributes anything to the Delta’s restoration.” It mockingly pleaded with Spanos, urging him to, “Please stop restoring the Delta!”

And that’s just for starters.

We will be providing more facts about Restore the Delta’s funders and real agenda in the
next few weeks. Stay tuned.