An investigative piece focusing on the relationship between Beverly Hills agribusiness tycoons Stewart and Lynda Resnick and the UC system that I wrote in March definitely got UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi's attention.
According to an investigation by the Sacramento Bee, I was one of the journalists being monitored by a private firm, hired by Katehi and funded by our tax dollars: www.sacbee.com/…
The documents released to the Bee “illustrate the efforts the university undertook to monitor its reputation nationwide, including analysis of Twitter accounts of journalists and lawmakers.”
“The online reputation management companies were paid at least $175,000 to bury and counterbalance negative online references about the university and Katehi following a November 2011 incident in which campus police pepper-sprayed students during a peaceful demonstration,” the Bee stated.
The firm was monitoring posts from Assemblyman Kevin McCarty, D-Sacramento, “who called on Katehi to resign and held an oversight hearing on outside compensation for university leaders.”
“Idmloco also was monitoring online posts from journalists such as Dan Bacher, editor of ‘Fish Sniffer’ magazine, and Deborah Anderluh, the Sacramento Bee’s investigations editor, who tweeted a link to a Bee story on the controversy,” the Bee said.
Here's a link on the Sacramento Bee website to the "listening reports" by Idmloco. It it wasn't so creepy, it would be funny: www.sacbee.com/...
My article is one of the articles and tweets featured in the March 7 “listening report” prepared by Idmloco.
The good news is that Katehi is now on administrative leave. The bad news is that Stewart and Lynda Resnick, along with Riley Bechtel and other corporate interests, continue to wield enormous influence over the UC system.
Stewart Resnick Is Advisor to Embattled UC Davis Chancellor Katehi
by Dan Bacher
UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, made infamous throughout the world for her leadership role at the university when students were pepper sprayed by campus police during an Occupy protest in the fall 2011, is under fire again.
Just as students called for her resignation because of the pepper spraying and student repression that occurred under her watch, Assemblyman Kevin McCarthy (D-Sacramento) on Friday, March 4, called for her to resign for accepting questionable paid corporate board seats with for-profit educational organizations. Other legislators have also joined McCarthy in calling for her to resign.
UC Davis students are currently occupying Chancellor Katehi’s office on the fifth floor of Mraka Hall as they demand that she resign or be fired. They are also demanding that “the hiring process is redesigned so that UC Davis students and workers are not only a part of this process, but a major deciding body in the selection and confirmation of a new Chancellor.” For more information, go to: firekatehiblog.wordpress.com
In February, Katehi took a board position with the De-Vry Education Group, a “for profit company under federal scrutiny for allegedly exaggerating job placement and income status,” according to the Sacramento Bee. She resigned from that position on March 1. (www.sacbee.com/...)
Then on Thursday, March 3, the Bee reported that “Katehi received a total of $420,000 in income and stock across the 2012 to 2014 fiscal years as a board member of John Wiley & Son’s a publisher of textbooks, college materials and scholarly materials.”
Katehi has apologized for accepting the corporate board positions – and said she will donate the money she received to student scholarships.
Kathehi’s acceptance of the paid board positions and her role in the pepper spray fiasco are just one of the controversies she has become enmeshed in during her career. When she served as provost at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign before assuming the UC Davis position in 2009, the Chicago Tribune revealed that hundreds of under-qualified students were admitted only after the intervention of powerful people. She told the San Francisco Chronicle that she knew nothing about these “improper admissions.” (www.sfgate.com/...)
In addition, Katehi plays a key role in the national security apparatus. In 2010 Katehi was appointed to the National Security Higher Education Advisory Board, “which promotes discussion and outreach between research universities and the FBI,” according to the UC Davis website. (www.ucdavis.edu/...)
“The board was established in 2005 and includes about 20 presidents and chancellors of major research universities,” Dave Jones reported in the “University News” section of the website. “The chair is Graham Spanier, president of Pennsylvania State University. Because of the nature of some of the material they discuss, board members must hold ‘secret’ security clearances.”
In the spring of 2011, internal UC Davis emails revealed surveillance and infiltration tactics employed by campus officials during campus tuition increase protests.
A Public Records Act request by UC Davis student Bryan Sparks resulted in the release of 280 pages of documents that “disclosed a surveillance and infiltration program by university officials to monitor, and shape the protests, and also the narrative reported by the news media, according to a news release from ACLU of Sacramento County. The documents dated from July 1, 2010 through December 6, 2010.
Board of Advisors has deepened corporate influence at UC Davis
Not only has Katehi profited from her positions with private educational and textbook organizations and has presided over a surveillance and infiltration program at the campus, but she has deepened corporate influence over the UC system by choosing Beverly Hills billionaire Stewart Resnick, a promoter of Governor Jerry Brown’s California Water fix to build the Delta Tunnels and many attacks on laws protecting salmon and Delta fisheries, as one of her Board of Advisors at UC Davis. (chancellor.ucdavis.edu/...)
Resnick serves with other corporate leaders such as Riley P. Bechtel, chairman of the board of the Bechtel Corporation, and John S. Watson, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of the Chevron Corporation, on the Board of Advisors. For the complete list of Katehi’s Board of Advisors, go to: chancellor.ucdavis.edu…
The UC Davis website explains the purpose of Katehi’s Board of Advisors:
“Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi has created a Chancellor’s Board of Advisors to offer independent, expert advice on how the university can continue on its path toward academic excellence and financial strength and stability.
The board provides support, mentoring, guidance and expertise, helping the chancellor and campus leadership chart a course for UC Davis to become one of the nation’s top five public research universities.
The Chancellor’s Board of Advisors is comprised of a diverse group of leaders from business, science, the judiciary and academia. The advisors each bring a deep understanding of and commitment to UC Davis, its mission and its goals, including the recently announced 2020 Initiative and the campus’s Vision of Excellence. “
Resnicks are the “Koch Brothers of California Water”
Resnick, and his wife, Lynda, the co-owners of The Wonderful Company, are the Power Couple of Corporate Agribusiness in California who have become virtual royalty in a state known for its entrenched "pay to play" politics.
The Resnicks have become infamous as the "Koch Brothers of California Water" for the many thousands of dollars they contribute to candidates and propositions in California every election. For example, Stewart Resnick donated $150,000 to Yes on Prop 1, Governor Jerry Brown’s water bond campaign, in 2014. (www.dailykos.com/...)
They have also dumped many hundreds of thousands of dollars into the campaign coffers of Jerry Brown, Senator Dianne Feinstein and many other politicians, both Democrats and Republicans, over the years, along with making contributions to the arts and Stewart Resnick's favorite “environmental” NGO, Conservation International.
The Resnicks’ deep ties to the University of California system, including Stewart Resnick’s “service” on UC Davis and UCLA boards, comes as their foundation has donated millions of dollars to the university.
Resnicks serve on other UCLA and other university panels
Stewart Resnick’s position on the Board of Advisors of Chancellor Linda Katehi is not the only one in the educational system than he holds. According to the UC Davis website, Stewart Resnick is a member of the Executive Board of the UCLA Medical Sciences and a member of the Advisory Board of the Anderson School of Management, at UCLA , his alma mater. Resnick holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) and Juris Doctorate from UCLA Law School.
It is at UCLA where Resnicks exert their influence the most with the millions of dollars they have donated. On May 24, 2013, the UCLA School of Law announced that it had received a $4 million gift from the Resnick Family Foundation to establish the Resnick Program for Food Law and Policy.
"The gift provides for as much as another $3 million in matching endowment funds,” according to a news release from the UC School of Law. “The new program, the first of its kind at a top tier law school, will explore ways to hasten improvements in the modern food system. In addressing questions of food safety, distribution and access, the Resnick Program will focus on reforming food law and policy for the benefit of the consumer.” (law.ucla.edu/...)
Dean Rachel F. Moran praised the Resnicks for their donations, stating, “Alumnus Stewart Resnick ’62 and his wife Lynda, entrepreneurs and dedicated philanthropists, have long used their charitable donations to promote public health. We are deeply grateful for their generosity and their commitment to advancing sound food law and policy.”
Stewart Resnick explained his vision for the Resnick Program:
“UCLA Law is a globally respected institution of higher education located in the food capital of the world. We grow more food in California than anywhere else, and the emphasis on health and wellness here ideally positions UCLA to take a leadership position. The rise of the global food trade has generated a modern food system that is different than anything the world has ever experienced.
From the farm to the fork, this system has given rise to profound health, social, and cultural consequences. Our goal with this donation is to help consumers better understand exactly what they’re eating. It’s also an opportunity to improve the clarity and accuracy of food labeling and broaden access to healthy food options. I’m very optimistic that this program can save lives.”
Ironically, while Stewart Resnick claims to support broadening “access to healthy food options,” he has become the poster boy for industrialized corporate agribusiness, kept alive by unsustainable water exports. He and his wife have for years fought against laws that protect salmon and other fish, a healthy wild food source, and protect the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta, the largest estuary on the West Coast of the Americas.
UCLA hospital named after the Resnicks
University officials also named a hospital after the Resnicks, the Stewart & Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA (NPH), in "honor of their support" for UCLA’s medical care programs.
According to the hospital's website, the 74-bed acute psychiatric hospital is "among the leading centers in the world for comprehensive patient care, research and education in the fields of mental health, developmental disabilities and neurology. A key part of UCLA Health System, Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital is the major psychiatry teaching facility of the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences." (www.semel.ucla.edu/...)
The Resnicks contributed $15 million to the construction of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center that opened in June 2008. In 2002, they received the UCLA Medal, the university’s highest honor, in recognition of their “extraordinary contributions to the campus.” In 2005, the law school bestowed upon Stewart the UCLA School of Law’s Alumni of the Year Award.
Resnick is also a member of the Board of Trustees of Bard College, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY; a member of the Board of Trustees of the J. Paul Getty Trust; and trustee of the California Institute of Technology.
The Resnicks have played an instrumental role in promoting campaigns to eviscerate Endangered Species Act (ESA) protections for Central Valley Chinook salmon and Delta smelt populations and to build the fish-killing Delta Tunnels.
Marketing public water for profit
Resnick, while he served as an “environmental leader” on the Board of Directors of Conservation International, bought subsidized Delta water and then sold it back to the public for a big profit as Delta fish and Central Valley salmon populations crashed.
“As the West Coast’s largest estuary plunged to the brink of collapse from 2000 to 2007, state water officials pumped unprecedented amounts of water out of the Delta only to effectively buy some of it back at taxpayer expense for a failed environmental protection plan, a MediaNews investigation has found,” according an article by the late Mike Taugher in the Contra Costa Times on May 23, 2009. (www.revivethesanjoaquin.org/...)
Environmentalists have castigated the Resnicks, the largest orchard fruit growers in the world, and other corporate agribusiness interests for planting thousands of acres of new almond trees during the drought while Governor Jerry Brown is mandating that urban families slash water usage by 25 percent. (www.eastbayexpress.com/...)
Besides their influence over the UC system, the Resnicks' have spent millions on arts and charities through the Resnick Family Foundation.
The Resnicks have managed to use their wealth not only to exert enormous influence over water politics in California, but over the educational sphere as well, as we can see.
In addition to serving on UC Davis and UCLA boards and panels, the Resnicks have also extended their influence over California water policy by forming “Astroturf” groups like the Coalition for a Sustainable Delta and the Californians for Water Security to promote the construction of Jerry Brown’s Delta Tunnels and legislative attacks on the Endangered Species Act and other laws protecting Central Valley salmon and steelhead, Delta and longfin smelt and other fish species. (restorethedelta.org/...)
Among the companies the Resnicks own include Paramount Citrus, Paramount Farming and Paramount Farms, “the world’s largest growers, processors and marketers of citrus, almonds and pistachios,” according to UC Davis. Their holdings also include POM Wonderful, grower of pomegranates and maker of the POM Wonderful pomegranate juice; Teleflora, the largest floral wire service in the world; and FIJI Water, the largest imported bottled water in the United States.
The couple also owns Suterra, the “largest biorational pest control company” in the United States, and JUSTIN Vineyards and Winery, a winery based in Paso Robles focusing on Bordeaux-style blends and single varietals.
Westlands Water District also exerts enormous influence
While the Resnicks exert enormous influence over California politics and institutions, another agribusiness giant, the Westlands Water District, rivals them in their ability to manipulate environmental politics in California. An article in the New York Times on December 30, 2015 exposes the huge political power that Westlands wields in state and national politics.
"A water utility on paper, Westlands in practice is a formidable political force, a $100 million-a-year agency with five lobbying firms under contract in Washington and Sacramento, a staff peppered with former federal and congressional powers, a separate political action committee representing farmers and a government-and-public-relations budget that topped $950,000 last year," the Times said. (www.nytimes.com/...)
Linda Katehi’s drawing of income from corporate boards, the presence of Stewart Resnick on the boards of UC Davis and UCLA, and the formidable political force that Westlands Water District represents are just three examples of the growing collaboration between corporations, billionaires and government in California and across the nation that has led to the capture of the regulatory apparatus by Big Money interests.
Comments are closed on this story.