I can’t emphasize this enough. Your county government is being run by special monied interests which include or course all the usual suspects, realtors, developers, large property owners/investors, bankers and mortgage brokers, but now includes the HumCo special twist Weed Inc.
One demonstration of this is the Public Participation Work Group (PPWG) which at it’s heart is Bonnie Blackberry and Dan Taranto and Peter Childs. The poor resolution photo you can see them in a pre-GPU meeting strategy session working out their approach to the day’s meeting which includes nicely, current Planning Commission Member at large and former Supervisor Fennel colleague at Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights Lee Ulansey.
This group is currently working directly with county staff to draft chapters 2 (and 3?) of the General Plan Update. Their stated goal is to improve public participation. In practice we can see the actual effect of their work by closely watching how the current BOS handles the GPU and the PPWG’s reactions to it. The result of their work is that the Board of Supervisors (BOS) spares no expense when it comes to reaching out to the county’s 5,000 or so property owners. But on issues that the broader public might be concerned with, say, “protecting agriculture and timberland for the long term”, well, lip service is paid to encouraging public participation, but that is it.
Again, this isn’t public participation, it’s the opposite – it’s private participation. So what is the confusion? The confusion seems to be in the definition of public. I think to 4 of the 5 members of the Board of Supervisors, to Humboldt Coalition for Property Rights founder and current Planning Commission at Large Commission Member Lee Ulansey and to the PPWG “public” is defined as those owning property. It’s that simple. Everything in this process favors either those who have property or other stakeholders such as realtors, home builders, developers, large corporate interests, etc. Those who have a financial stake in the process are those who are listened to – very carefully by the way. This is how something as simple and obvious as “protecting agriculture and timberland for the long term” FULL STOP is not generally accepted as a guiding principle for our county’s plan for the future.
Words have meaning and it’s very interesting if one pays attention to how they are often used to mean their opposite – or in other words deceive. I think the most significant of these word games, is the Public Participation Work Group.
Next time – PPWG and double jeopardy democracy.