Not word one from the TS today about finalizing the General Plan Update guiding principles. Here are a couple of angles in case there is an intrepid reporter out there.
1) The critical principles #6 and #7 that initially were stood up for our common interest of protecting natural resources and agriculture and timberland over the long term have been gelded (to use an agricultural term) as Supervisor’s Bohn and Fennell (or their advisers) intended. Here’s a review of the principles. I didn’t think to write the new ones down that were straw voted yesterday, because I was under the impression that our print media would at least do the basic job of reporting significant local governmental actions. My mistake.
#6 Existing principle: “Protect agriculture and timberland over the long term, using measures such as increased restrictions on resource land subdivisions and patent parcel development.”
#6 New version: (now there’s an even fresher version) “Encourage, incentivize and support agriculture, timber and compatible uses on resource lands.”
#7 Existing principle: “Protect natural resources, especially open space, water resources, water quality, scenic beauty, and salmonid habitat.”
#7 New version: (now there’s an even fresher version) “Honor
landowners’ right to live in urban, suburban, rural or remote areas of the county while using a balanced approach to protect natural resources, especially open space, water resources, water quality and fisheries habitat in cooperation with state and federal agencies.
2) What is up with that Arcata letter? Some mysterious letter arrived from Arcata, it was not introduced to the public at the debate, but because of it (and because of obvious concerns from the professionals in the room who had clearly let their
clients, I mean their representatives, know about their concern.) Amazingly, this outcry from a very narrow group with specific interests had the power to change the 4 board member’s minds from only 2 weeks ago. This is important because the Supervisors drafted that clause and agreed to it right before our eyes (when the room was full of people thanks to the fact it was held after hours and more people could show). The upshot is of course that heaven forbid we “discourage conversion of resource land” – which is now removed from guiding principle #4.
3) Apparently it is very handy to be a friend of Supervisor Bohn. His sampling of public opinions seems to come largely from his friends. His two ranching friends who he visited with last weekend apparently are so influential that their opinions outweighed a Farm Bureau Survey taken in 2004 and presented by Supervisor Lovelace.
4) Public Participation Working Group. Someone needs to write about this story. Everyone is familiar with the Republican’s strategy in Washington. How to deal with a lost presidential election? Stop government and governing. It’s done with a minority in the Senate in the form of the filibuster which has been used (by both parties to be fair, but much more aggressively by the Republicans) and by the ongoing government shutdown instigated by the conservative wing of the Republican Party. This is the philosophy, stall until we are in charge again. This is all the PPWG was doing and they were doing it in the name of public participation which drives me nuts because I DO believe in public participation.
They believe in public participation too. As long as they get to define “public”. This is demonstrable and I wish there was a reporter who would take this story up. It’s a long story and partisan and depressing and full of double-speak, but it is so important. The end result is Dan Taranto got his precious Citizen’s Handbook added to the guiding principles over a clearly reluctant board.
In words and now statue (is that the term?) Dan Taranto, Supervisor’s Fennell, Bohn, Sundberg, and Bass have played homage to public participation but have acted demonstrably in a contradictory manner. They will play nice with the words public participation, but when it comes actually making it happen, they have failed. The result is of course a double tragedy. Not only was the public precluded from this process, the Mr. Taranto’s of the world will have the language, even to the extent it is codified in the guiding principles, to play the exact same game 20 years from now. Honestly I agree with the idea of what Dan’s doing, but when it is done with such duplicity and cynicism and without a hint of shame, well, it get’s me a little miffed. (and I allow for the possibility that Dan truly believes he serves the public at large’s interests, but if he is that blind…then the previous sentence would have been less complimentary)
The tragedy is we have no business model for local papers who can do the necessary work to bring these complicated issues to light. Additionally, our political system is currently broken. So if is anyone interested, or maybe this will go onto my to do list, Here are some questions…who was a member of that august body other than Dan and Bonnie? What defines a public process? Was this guiding principles process demonstrably more engaging of the public than the 2004 process they decry? Isn’t the real definition of “public” “people I know” to Mr Taranto?
We are not served as a community if we are going to allow our language, our politics and our governing institutions to be steam rolled by those who possess the most time, money and influence.