LEMOORE, Calif. (AP) — Sarah Palin returned to Central California’s agricultural region Sunday and lambasted the federal government for limiting the amount of water the state’s farmers can get for their crops.

The former Alaska governor told more than 1,400 people at West Hills College in Lemoore that endangered species regulations protecting the Delta smelt and limiting pumping are “destroying” the lives of those in the Central Valley.

“A faceless government is taking away their lifeline, water, all because of a 3-inch fish,” Palin said. “Where I come from, a 3-inch fish, we call that bait. There is no need to destroy people’s lives over bait.”

Palin also spoke about high gas prices, dependence on foreign oil, the need for domestic drilling and limiting currency inflation.

“The government should get out of our way and let us get this economy moving again,” she said. “Instead of drilling ourselves and circulating the money here, we’re relying on foreign regimes.”

The audience in what is generally a conservative region was supportive, cheering and applauding loudly. Someone even broke out with, “We love you Sarah!”

“It was awesome, she was right on,” said Doug Freitas, a Lemoore farmer, after the speech. “About water, there are farmers who can’t grow their crops, these hardworking people can’t pay their bills. And the deficit, it’s so scary and it seems like the general public doesn’t realize it.”

Palin’s visit last year to California State University, Stanislaus — about 120 miles away — generated controversy after the university’s nonprofit foundation refused to divulge the terms of her contract and speaking fee.

The public university eventually revealed its foundation paid Palin $75,000 to give a 40-minute speech, and the event raised more than $207,000 for scholarships.

This time, West Hills College’s president, Don Warkentin, said its foundation paid the Washington Speakers Bureau $115,000 to land Palin for the inauguration of the college’s newly built Golden Eagle Arena.

Warkentin said he didn’t know the exact amount Palin will receive. But he said the foundation has recouped the fee by selling tickets to a private, post-speech dinner with the 2008 Republican vice-presidential candidate.

Money from ticket sales will go toward scholarships and maintenance of the sports complex, Warkentin said.

“California is in deep trouble,” he said. “So we’re doing things like this to try to maintain our programs and raise money for our students.”

The school, which has an enrollment of 3,000 this semester, did not provide an estimate of other costs associated with Palin’s visit, including security, decorations and janitorial services.

Palin is the first of several high profile figures the university will host as part of its new distinguished speaker series. Former first lady Laura Bush is scheduled to speak at the sports arena in September. Next February, Princeton scholar Cornell West will visit.

State Sen. Leland Yee, who criticized UC Stanislaus for not releasing how much it paid Palin, praised the college in Lemoore for being more transparent.

“I’m very pleased the foundation disclosed how much they will be paying Palin,” Yee said. “I’m a little disappointed by the fact that Palin is a millionaire and our students are struggling, some of them cannot afford to go to college. I was hoping Sarah Palin would defer the fee and do the speech for the goodness of the college and for our students.”

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press.  All Rights Reserved.)

Comments (14)
  1. Wyliecoyote says:

    Ahh……….she is too stupid to compete with a box of rock. The Federal government paid for and built the CA water irrigation system! If you want Free tax payer paid entitlements, you need to play by the rules that all stake holders have in what is done with the water, you do not build a massive farm system and buy land for peanuts an acre, con the Fed into building the infrastructure to make the land valuable, then cry about not being enough water. Palin has about as much water rights policy background as mud. This is not Alaska.

    1. butterice says:

      The Federal govermnet huh? Maybe you need to get your facts straight. The Federal govt paid for and runs the Shasta dam and it’s watershed. The Delta, which is what Palin was speaking about, is part of the State Water Project which was built with California bond money, not federal money. Maybe you should get some water rights policy background before you speak.

      1. nia says:

        Who paid for it doesn’t matter, there is limited fresh water on this world, and there should be regulations for everyone on its usage

      2. butterice says:

        I completely disagree. You move to a DESERT and wonder why there is no water? Really? Why do people want to live in Southern California, have anyting to do with the climate? Absolutely, they don’t want rain. Well guess what, without rain, there’s no water. If you really want to talk about limited supply, then lets talk about illegal immigration, not farms. Do you know that farms return almost 80% of the water they use through either drainage or through seepage into the aquifer? Again, know what your talking about before making blanket statements.

        Oh, and besides all of that, it has nothing to do with the comments Palin was making. She was talking about the Delta regulations being the prime factor for not moving water south of the Delta. So when the first poster replies that she can’t argue with rocks because of how stupid she is, that person might want to get their facts straight, in which case it most certainly does matter who paid for it.

    2. Brad Karr says:

      And you SIR are an EXPERT? What are YOUR qualifcatiions other than a BLEEDING LIB.

    3. Mainely Steve says:

      Alaska has balanced budgets and 12 billion dollars in the bank!

    4. gunslinger says:

      The Federal Gov’t cannot own land in a sovereign state. It is unconstitutional. Look it up. I know of what I speak

  2. dave says:

    ah. Refreshing folksy, ignorant banter from a famous suck-up.

  3. sacking says:

    Who care? We got Bin Laden!

  4. Kevin says:

    What a piece of work that Yee dude is. Maybe he should whine and complain about all the millionaires like Al Gore who can’t be bothered to waive their speaking fees to help out those poor little college students. What a joke.

  5. W says:

    The irresposible Westlands Water District “destroyed” farming in the central valley.

    It all dosent matter, your system of agriculture will salinate the soil. You will not be growing their long, and not because of a 2 or 3 inch fish. But what do you care about that? You don’t intend to farm, you intend to sell your water rights for profit.

    Down with West Slope San Joaquin farmers with junior water rights.

  6. Jango says:

    Was she with Todd or Brad this time?

  7. anthony says:

    Sacramento has all the water its not a DESERT! Southern CA is not a good place to live. Been there done that.