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Chronicle disses Hetch Hetchy measure; Hearst helps bankroll opposition

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A Chronicle editorial the other day mocked the idea of draining Yosemite’s Hetch Hetchy Reservoir—something that a November ballot measure asks San Franciscans to consider—as “insane.”  And as independent journalist and former Bay Citizen staffer John Upton blogs, while the newspaper was expressing that sentiment, parent Hearst Corporation was already helping to bankroll the anti-initiative campaign.

One of Hearst’s land-holding subsidiaries on June 29 tossed $2,500 to the primary group opposing the initiative, Citizens for Reliable Water and a Healthy Environment, its disclosure statement shows. In case you wondered, there was no mention of it in the Chronicle’s July 9 editorial.

Writes Upton:

That’s not a lot of money in the scheme of things, particularly given that ballot measure opponents have already raised more than $150,000 for their fight (supporters have raised more than $100,000, filings show, although I’m told that figure was recently doubled with a single donation), and it’s certainly unlikely to sway the election result. But the donation, combined with the dueling editorials, helps to illustrate how dramatically things can change as you get farther from a reservoir.

The “dueling editorials” he mentions is a reference to the different attitudes toward O’Shaughnessy Dam (the construction of which many environmentalists consider among the single greatest environmental travesties of the 20th century) between the Chronicle, in the city responsible for Hetch Hetchy Valley’s destruction, and the Sacramento Bee, which has long championed draining the reservoir.

Images: (top) Hetch Hetchy Valley in 1913; (bottom) O’Shaughnessy Dam/

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