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Despite BDS protest, water agency board OKs Veolia

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From page A1 | April 20, 2012 | 7 Comments

The surface water project, which already has experienced its share of controversy within the city of Davis, had a bit more trouble heaped onto the pile in recent months.

A pro-Palestinian group in Davis, Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, called for Veolia Water North America — one of the three design-build-operate candidates vying for the contract to deliver the project that would pipe treated surface water from the Sacramento River to the cities of Davis and Woodland — to be dismissed based on charges made against the company for its role in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

But the Woodland-Davis Clean Water Agency Board ruled at its meeting Thursday in Woodland that it had no business taking sides in an international debate and unanimously decided that, based on a business ethics survey each candidate was asked to filled out in January, neither Veolia Water, nor CDM United or CH2M Hill would be disqualified from the process.

“I don’t believe it’s worthy to utilize more resources of this agency in these pursuits at this point in time,” said board member and Woodland City Council member Dr. Bill Marble. “I strongly believe that this is not the forum to debate international issues.”

The agency’s staff went through a review process with each candidate to determine if any of the candidates were ethically unviable for the work in Davis and Woodland.

When assessing Veolia, however, Richard Shanahan, the agency’s counsel, said that Veolia Water North America and Veolia Environment — the entity charged with its wrongful involvement in the conflict — are not really the same company.

“This agency will not be contracting with Veolia Transportation (Environment),” Shanahan said. “Veolia Transportation is not the guarantor, and Veolia Transportation is not under Veolia Water North America.

“So the relevancy of the Veolia Transportation issues based on (the ethics evaluation process that began in January) … there’s not much relevancy there.”

Though, that did not stop BDS member Mikos Fabersunne from speaking during public comment to voice his disapproval over Veolia Environment, which in its own corporate documents says it abides by the U.N. Global Compact.

“(Due to time constraints) there are other things that I can comment on about that document, but I’ll just go to one,” Fabersunne said. “(Veolia) references the U.N. Global Compact, which admonishes all companies to take necessary measures to avoid complicity in human rights violations by government activists in relation to all aspects of the company’s operations.”

Fabersunne also brought up that Veolia Water had illegally dumped 10,000 gallons of wastewater and had its operating rights taken away in several cities over the past few years.

Though, after public comment, the board still voted to keep all the candidates in the running.

About five or six other members of the public spoke on the item as well, but most were in favor of Veolia for various reasons.

George Rooks, a Davis resident who also lives in Israel six months out of the year, told of his personal experiences with Veolia Transportation services, and that he did not see the wrongful discrimination of Palestinians.

“On virtually every single bus trip (my wife and I have) ever taken, and every train trip we’ve ever taken, there were Israeli Arabs and Palestinian Arabs riding on the transportation,” Rooks said. “I’d just like to say that the idea that Veolia somehow discriminates against Arabs or Palestinians by operating transportation rights, is, I believe, absurd just based on my everyday experience there.”

Gerry Adler, also a Davis resident and a member of the Davis Water Advisory Committee, said that it was not the board’s responsibility to make decisions on the matter, a remark echoed by several speakers during public comment.

“You are here on your dais, you are here in your capacities that do not deal in any way with international affairs,” Adler said. “I hope that you don’t want to go down that road, you clearly don’t have the understanding of all the ramifications of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and you don’t want to go there.”

BDS has put pressure on local businesses in the past, as in early 2010 it asked the Davis Food Co-op to ban Israeli food products from its store. However, the Co-op elected to remove itself from the debate as well and continued selling the products.

— Reach Tom Sakash at tsakash@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8057. Follow him on Twitter @TomSakash.

Tom Sakash

Tom Sakash covers the city beat for The Davis Enterprise. Reach him at tsakash@davisenterprise.net, (530) 747-8057 or @TomSakash.
LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 7 comments

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  • downtown daveApril 20, 2012 - 2:04 pm

    It looks like BDS is pretty active. Maybe they could take a little time to read the Scriptures and find out if what they are doing is going to be profitable for them.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinApril 20, 2012 - 2:43 pm

    "... that did not stop BDS member Mikos Fabersunne from speaking during public comment to voice his disapproval ..." I wonder why Mikos Fabersunne hates Israel so much? I don't recall Mr. Fabersunne ever protesting against any other country or speaking against the policies of any other country. He has singled Israel more than 100 times (as I found searching past editions of The Enterprise). Normally, the international press spends countless hours detailing every minor problem in Israel. So naturally the Israel-haters will have many quibbles to point out with the Jewish state. However, of late (going back to early 2011 in Tunisia) the news has been rife with how truly brutal and oppressive the tyrannical police states which surround Israel treat their citizens. Yet Mikos has not (in The Enterprise, anyhow) said a thing about the slaughter in Syria or the mass rapes of innocent women by the relgious police in Iran or the widespread jailings of journalists in Turkey or the oppression of the Coptic Christians in Egypt. His laser focus remains squarely aimed at the Jews and only the Jews. He does not seem to care about Muslims as Muslims. After all, most of the victims of the police states which surround the Middle East's only free and democratic country, Israel, are practitioners of one form or another of Islam. In fact, the thuggery of the Syrian state is that of a religious minority attacking the majority of citizens whose version of Islam is different from that of the government's sect. And naturally, because Mikos hates Israel and Israel alone, he does not ever seem to care about the horrible behavior of Palestinians: Be that the denial of human rights by the Hamas government or the thievery and thuggery of the Fatah faction. Obviously, when Palestinians roam around and cut the throats of Jewish infants*, that does not quite rise to a level of concern for Mr. Fabersunne. I wonder why? * http://www.wnd.com/2011/03/278349/

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • tarbashOctober 16, 2012 - 2:37 pm

    It is right to "single out" Israel because it is the single largest recipient of US aid in low interest loans and military aid from the US. These other "muslim" countries that you mention get nothing from the US, unless they are dictatorships that are pro US. US constitution calls for separation of church and state and yet we support a country that is officially jewish state and discriminates against non jewish citizens. This would have been like giving billions of dollars to apartheid south africa and at the same time saying we stand for equality of all races.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinOctober 17, 2012 - 10:24 am

    " These other "muslim" countries that you mention get nothing from the US" You are mistaken. Egypt, in fact, is the largest US aid recipient after Israel. As a share of its government revenues, US aid is more important to Egypt than it is to Israel, in spite of the fact that no foreign countries are threatening Egypt, while Israel has been under attack from the Arab states for 64 years and more recently Iran's leaders have said they intend to "wipe Israel off of the map" with their nuclear weapons. Turkey also receives US military help and Turkey is a member of NATO. Yet, again, the Israel-haters on the extreme left in the United States and elsewhere never call for boycotts against Turkey, despite that nation's very poor treatment of its ethnic minorities.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich Rifkin IIApril 20, 2012 - 9:03 pm

    Rich, it is hard to fathom why you take the time to drag Mikos' name through the mud. Try focusing on what he says, and not on what he doesn't say. I don't recall ever hearing him disparage the brutality of anti-gay crimes, either, but I don't think he is anti-gay.......or is he? Bwah hah hah!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Rich RifkinApril 21, 2012 - 1:36 pm

    It is wrong of you to try to pose under my name as your own.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • winonaApril 21, 2012 - 6:54 am

    If the settlement terms are reasonable they might find opponents of the settlement change their position, or at least grumble that they can unhappily live with the terms, which is oftentimes how both parties to a good settlement feel. homes for sale anaheim

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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