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Bill Baker's Big Green Lie

[From the Walnut Creek Democratic Club Newsletter, augmented with recently available information]

Contra Costa Times moves toward the center?

In case you handn't noticed, the editorial policies of the Contra Costa Times newspaper have moved somewhat from their previous position. There appears to be a healthy skepticism of the Republican juggernaut and slightly more even handedness not seen when the Times was under Lesher control. Knight-Ridder has its own flaws (witness their attempt to destroy their Detroit labor unions), but this movement is a definite improvement. A recent editorial (Fri Oct. 15, 1995) "Baker needs to go green" pointed out some recent votes and actions of our beloved Bill. Some items of his voting record cited are his support for rolling back air polution reduction efforts, cutting back on water quality programs, and hampering of protection against toxic dumping. Also, the editorial noted that he voted against funding for the Mohave park/preserve, against extending the ban on cheap mining patents (billions given away to foreign corporations), against stoping timber subsidies in the form of logging roads paid for by the taxpayers, limits on EPA, gutting the clean water act, etc.

It was interesting to see on October 18, 1995 a Reader's Forum message from Donald Lively of Lafayette slamming "October 13's sophmoric editorial blast at Bill Bakers's 'environmental record'...". In particular that "The bulleted items label the editorialist as ... part of the elitist cabal of policy monks, journalists, educators and politicians that decides what's so because it says so." What were the bulleted items? Only several items from BB's anti-environmental voting record and bills to which he gave his support as paraphrased above. In other words, only factual matters of public record. These items are not so because only the Times editor says it is so. Since the wounded closed minders are now howling I urge you to write to the times in support of their more open and balanced policy. To be effective in influencing your fellow voters, you should keep informed of the various messages flying about and you must know and be able to cite the facts, for the voters we wish to influence may not be paying close attention to the whole picture.

"I prayed that my enemies would make themselves look foolish, and my prayers were answered" - Voltair.


Bill Baker turns green?

Well, B.B. must have a mole inside the Times. Our household received a letter from Mr. Baker Friday, Oct 16th, dated Oct 12, reprinted in its entirety below. We don't have a cancellation date since it was sent under his franking privelage (in other words, you and I paid for the postage and a lot more). Note that this is a targeted mailing, sent probably because some environmental organizations have recieved contributions from the recipient. I am printing it here not as a service to him, but to warn you what we will be up against next year. This man would probably attempt to paint oil drilling in the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge as an park improvement! This is a perfect example of why we must go one on one with the voters.

From our current Congessional (un)Representative: Bill Baker (on Congressional letterhead):

Dear Mrs. ...:

As you and I share a dedication to our environment, I want to dispell the myths surrounding the priority the new Congress has placed on environmental protection.

It is crucial that Congress work to prevent pollution, preserve our natural resources and the integrity of our public assets, control waste disposal, and fight all exploitation of our environment. Thes principles are embodied in the "Environmental Bill of Rights," and I am committed to their implementation through effective public policies. While it is regrettable that some have used environmental issues for political purposes, I have pledged to wade through partisan politics and focus my energies on protecting the environment.

I oppose any retreat from our efforts to clean-up the environment. We must do all we can to guarantee a healthy envionment for future generations. States and local communities need to be given both the authority and flexibility to make established environmental policies work. In 1993, Environmental Protection Administrator (EPA) Carrol Browner identified the great frustration felt in state governments with burdensome federal guidelines:

When I worked at the state level, I was constantly faced with rigid rules that made doing something 100 times more difficult and expensive than it needed to be. It makes no sense to have a program that raises costs while doing nothing to reduce environmental threats.

The new congress has responded to Secretary Browner's call for flexibility. However, the changes she has advocated have been criticized on a purely partisan level. Our nation's natural resources should not be the subject of ongoing political wrangling.

One of our central environmental priorities is pollution prevention. In working to maintain effective clean water policies and overall anti-pollution efforts, we have established strict standards. While we rely on local communities to find the most effective solutions to environmental problems, Congress is providing $4.8 billion for the EPA in 1996 to oversee adherence to these standards.

Congress has also maintained federal funding of most of our national parks and wildlife areas at 1995 levels in order to preserve our national heritage. On a personal level, I have continued my effort to provide incentives to businesses and communities to establish and maintain wetlands areas. Currently, I am working to secure increased funding for wetlands projects so that Congress can join local community members in playing a greater role in wetlands and natural heritage preservation.

I have used my postion on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and the Science Committee to conserve our natural resources by controlling waste. I have integrated my activities on both committees to call for alternative fuel and energy efficiency research. Further, I succeeded in preserving $25 million for the Bay Area to continue to seek creative solutions to our energy and pollution problems. Once again, I believe that we must encourage local government's inventive responses to our environmental needs.

Finally, you should know that I support steps to reduce general environmental exploitation by making thouse who damage the environment directly responsible for environmental cleanup. Under the Superfund Reform plan just introduced, we have streamlined the way major polluters are identified, and have enabled companies to provide funds to begin cleanup. Under the current plan, polluters have been embroiled in lawsuits and have not paid for site cleanup. The reform plan will force responsible parties to pay their fair share, but will not punish those who have not contributed to a site's environmental damage.

Our plans to improve our nation's environment start with you. We believe that by establishing guidelines local governments can follow, those who are most affected by environmental regulations can decide how best to implement them. While providing ample EPA guidence, we will look to our communities to preserve our environment while providing for both prosperity and environmental stewardship.

I hope you will join me in our efforts to preserve our precious natural resources. As I continue to work to improve the quality of the environment, please feel free to contact me to share your thoughts on this vital issue.


Bill Baker

Member of Congress.

So, you see what we are up against! This is a carefully crafted and narrowly targeted letter. Note that the impression cast by the document is in its entirety false, being completely contrary to his actual recorded votes, public statements, endorsors and sponsors; yet there is no sentence in the letter to point to that can be proven to be such an outragous lie as is the whole. Each word has been carefully placed to mislead the naive reader. In this case the whole is a greater lie than the sum of its parts. We are armed, however, with BB's voting record. Lets hoist him by that

The ugly truth:

For example, let's examine Baker's score with the non-partisan League of Conservation Voters (0 to 100, with 100 reflecting the score of the most pro-environment legislator)

First year (1993-94): 25

Second year (94-95): 8 (With a Thumbs Down mark!)

First 100 days (1995) 0 (Yes, a ZERO!)

Third Year (95-96) 0 (Do you see a pattern here?)

Baker's dilemma and his "solution":

This fits into a general strategy of Bill Baker. He has to address this dilemma: How can he serve his financial and political masters (the big industrial poluters that contribute to his campaign, either directly, through Political Action Committees, or through "private donations"), when poles of his constitutional constutents (the citizens of this district of every age, affiliation and belief) have consistently shown environmental preservation, protection and enhancment to be at the top of their priorities?

Now even BB knows that he cannot serve two masters, so he has decided to serve one and deceive the other (you guess which is which). His clever ploy is to voice "support" for environmental concerns while voting against every bill that his corporate sponsors percieve as hurting themselves. His explainations for these votes are that there was some defect (however small) that prevented him from voting for the bill in question.

For example, the non partisan League of Conservation Voters has identified six House bills of great importance to conservation minded voters. (See their "Votes '95") . The LCV marks each representative's vote with a "+" (pro environment) or "-"

Interior Appropriations Nov 15, 1995:

Mohave National Park Preserve funding, Tongas National Forest, Mining Law, etc.
Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "+" (230 to 199)

EPA Enforcement Nov 2, 1995:

Weakening Wetlands Enforcement, Safe Drinking Water Act, Clean Air Act, etc. Allows pesticide concentration in processed food. Blindfolds the public to knowlege of toxic releases.
Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "+" (227 to 194)

EPA Enforcement July 31, 1995:

Clean Water, Safe Drinking Water, Clean Air, Toxics, Pesticides in Foods.
Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "-" (210 to 210)

Mining Law Givaway July 18, 1995:

Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "+" (271 to 153)

Logging Roads in National Forests July 18, 1995:

Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "-" (166 to 225)

Clean Water Act May 16, 1995:

Toxics, polution, wetlands loss, etc.
Baker: "-" ... House Vote: "-" (240 to 185)

Are you willing to do someting about it?

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