"They’re not even American citizens for starters. Do you think we should employ illegal aliens? What parent raises their child to be a farm worker? These kids are the least educated people in America or the southwest corner of this Valley. They turn to lives of crime. They go on welfare. They get into drug trafficking and they join gangs.”

Fresno, Calif., abrasive, activist water attorney Lloyd Carter unbelievably uttered those words into a television reporter’s microphone when asked about the impact of water shortages on San Joaquin Valley farm workers.

Carter is an abrasive, incendiary attorney who attacks agricultural water use at every turn. He is quoted liberally on water issues in the Fresno Bee and other California newspapers where he is usually referred to as an environmentalist, but never identified as a former Fresno Bee wire service reporter. He has a direct pipeline into newsrooms statewide as a former reporter.

Carter is currently on the boards of three non-profit watchdog water groups: The California Water Impact Network, California Save Our Streams Council and Revive the San Joaquin.

He has been most closely identified with the controversial San Joaquin River salmon restoration effort. He crows about that deal at every turn.

He has tried to eat crow after his farm worker remarks. Most have called his Web-issued apology lame. One Fresno County supervisor has called for Carter to resign from any organization involved in water issues.

Three San Joaquin Valley congressmen, Republican George Radanovich and Democrats Jim Costa and Dennis Cordoza quickly denounced Carter’s amazingly insensitive and outright stupid remarks.

Carter has lobbied these congressmen on water issues. They even call him a “public official” in their statements calling his remarks disparaging, insulting, misleading and exceptionally inappropriate. His standing as a stakeholder on California water issues is gone.

Executive Director Mike Wade of the California Farm Water Coalition said Carter’s remarks following a water forum at California State University, Fresno, were “inflammatory and insensitive. His attempt to later apologize for his comments was half-hearted and rang hollow in the ears of the people who work to provide food for families throughout California and the world.”

According to Wade, Carter’s comments came on the heels of a comment by Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Barry Nelson who insisted that “water needs to be managed first for the needs of fish, and second for the needs of people” at last month’s International Sportsman Exposition in Sacramento.

Carter has taken himself so far out of the California water issue he might as well be in the next country. He will never live down what he said into that reporter’s microphone, and rightfully so.

The issue with the remarks from Carter and Nelson go to the heart of much of the radial environmental movement in California. It is difficult to fathom that both men actually believe what they said, especially Carter who is identified with so-called liberal causes, yet he openly attacks a segment of society liberals often champion. If they do actually believe as the spoke, it is frightening that these men are anywhere near public policy.

There are legitimate issues in the ongoing water and environmental debates in the state that will require insight and compromise to solve.

Carter and Nelson should forever be removed from that debate for nothing more than inconceivable arrogance or ignorance or both.

email: hcline@farmpress.com