Political Notebook

Northern California Democrats warn against secret water talks

Northern California Democrats on Monday warned against secret California water negotiations, and urged Sen. Dianne Feinstein to open up the talks.

In a show of regional force, the six House Democrats who represent districts ranging from the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta to the Oregon border asked for what they called "public and transparent negotiations" concerning legislation responding to the historic California drought.

The letter was directed to both Feinstein and her Democratic colleague, Sen. Barbara Boxer, though it's been Feinstein who's been leading talks, primarily with House Republicans.

The Republican-controlled House and Democrat-controlled Senate have passed competing versions of a drought relief bill, though no hearings have been held.

"We are deeply concerned that it appears that negotiations with the House majority are being held out of the public eye. We believe the process by which Congress responds to this drought crisis should be transparent," the members wrote.

The letter was signed by Reps. Jared Huffman, George Miller, John Garamendi, Jerry McNerney, Doris Matsui, and Mike Thompson.

Feinstein sent her own letter to Huffman on Monday, declaring that she is "committed to doing my very best to provide assistance to Californians and the communities and businesses that are suffering severe hardships in the midst of this devastating drought."