Lezlie Sterling / lsterling@sacbee.com

Secretary of State Debra Brown was told by a judge to count 5,000 signatures from Mono and Tulare counties.

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  • Election watch

    A Sacramento judge ordered Secretary of State Debra Bowen on Thursday to accept about 5,000 signatures collected in an effort to overturn California's new transgender student law, which allows students to use facilities and join teams that reflect the gender with which they identify. Bowen had refused to accept petitions received in Mono and Tulare counties, saying they arrived after a Nov. 10 deadline. Judge Allen Sumner said because Nov. 10 fell on a Sunday, petitions submitted the following day should be considered on time.

    – David Siders

The Buzz: Jerry Brown’s former point man on water tunnels will work the issue outside government

Published: Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014 - 10:33 pm

Former tunnel plan chief will aid it as volunteer

Jerry Meral, the chief steward of Gov. Jerry Brown’s $25 billion water project while deputy secretary of the state’s Natural Resources Agency, is going to work for an environmental group supporting the controversial plan.

The San Francisco-based Natural Heritage Institute said Meral, who retired from the state at the end of December, will direct its California water program, including work on Brown’s plan to build two tunnels to divert water around the Delta to the south.

Meral said Thursday he will volunteer for work specifically on the project, but it is possible the institute will pay him for other work.

The distinction is significant because of the state’s “revolving door” rules. The institute said in a prepared statement that “in order to comply with state law regarding ‘revolving door’ issues, he will not be compensated for his time working on BDCP.”

The nonprofit said Meral will also represent the Natural Heritage Institute on habitat, groundwater and other issues.

Meral said nongovernmental entities, including NHI, are likely to have a significant role in the project as it develops and that his position at the group “seemed like a good way to stay involved.”

– David Siders

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