Mendoza finds greed, arrogance ‘appalling'

November 21, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

Imperial Irrigation District Division 4 Director Stella Mendoza said the "greed and arrogance" of certain farmers was "appalling and frightening."

Mendoza's comments were made at Tuesday's IID Board of Directors meeting in response to specific comments made by Brawley-area farmer Michael Cox, who questioned why the Imperial Valley community should receive 5 percent of expected revenues from the transfer of water from IID to the San Diego County Water Authority.

Cox argued — some say rhetorically — that the money should go to the farmers who will be investing their own money to construct or implement on-farm water-saving measures.

Mendoza said the community should get 25 percent of the proceeds and the price of water should be raised to force farmers to save it.


"The water belongs to the people," she said, adding that the Valley's water rights are held in trust by IID but that the rights belong to the people.

Mendoza said under the transfer farmers will be repaid for their investments and will receive an incentive. She said she will never support fallowing, which some farmers would like to use as a means of saving water.

Mendoza said Cox's comments — made at an IID on-farm conservation guidelines workshop Monday — were "very disturbing," but that she looks forward to working with the farming community in the future.

Division 2 Director Bruce Kuhn said compensation should be paid to farmers for their investments.

Kuhn said the community has not been asked to make any water available yet the community will get some of the revenues from the transfer. He said he partially agreed with some of Mendoza's comments but not with the majority of them. He said he would like to prevent any divisiveness in the community.

Toni Holtz, who says she is not a farmer but is married to a farmer, said farmers are neither greedy nor arrogant. Rather, she said, they are concerned about their future. She said Mendoza's comment hurt and that if the Imperial Valley expects to be successful for another 100 years, the community must work together.

Calexico-area farmer John Pierre Menvielle said not all farmers agreed with Cox's comments, but he agreed with Holtz that times are tough for farmers.

Holtville-area farmer John Hawk said Cox's comments were really just a question, not necessarily about the community getting 5 percent but how the money would be used.

"His question was exactly that, a question," Hawk said, adding not all farmers feel the same as Cox.

Cox was not at Tuesday's board meeting.

In the end, Hawk invited Mendoza to tour a farming operation; she accepted.

>>Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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