Saturday, May 05, 2007

All politics is local...even for Blackwater USA

This week's edition of the East County Californian (sorry, it's not'll have to trust me on this) is reporting that a Potrero resident has filed suit against the Potrero Planning Group (PPG) and it's members, Chairman Gordon Hammers, the County Board of Supervisors, and the San Diego Department of Planning and Land Use (DPLU). She is seeking to have the PPG's endorsement of the Blackwater West project thrown out. The suit alleges several violations of the Brown Act, the open government mandate in California, including issues involving the inadequate public notice, and the right to anonymous comment. The Brown Act states that citizens may not be compelled to sign in at a public meeting in order to be allowed to speak. Hammers would not allow this individual to comment at the March meeting because she didn't feel comfortable signing in and wanted her name off the written record. Raymond Lutz of Citizen Oversight was attending that meeting, and read the provision of the Brown Act aloud to the PPG and they still would not allow her to speak.

Additionally, In their December 14, 2006 meeting, the PPG mandated certain conditions for their endorsement of this project, including satisfactory results in a "live fire" noise test in the valley. That noise test has not occurred, because the current owner of the property would not allow it. Additionally, a review of the County records reveal the vote record that was turned in to the County reflecting the PPGs approval of the Blackwater West project is blank, and there is nothing in the record documenting the PPG's noise test requirement. There are also no meeting minutes, nor a transcript of that meeting. Based on the written record, you'd never know that anyone in Potrero was opposed to Blackwater USA setting up camp in their backyard.

I understand that Mr Hammers took his gun out to the valley, and shot off a few rounds and is satisfied noise won't be an issue.

Unfortunately, his private and personal live fire test made enough noise that a resident across the valley called Jan Hedlun, another PPG member (and the ONLY one opposed to this training camp) and said, "someone is firing a gun in the valley".


Prior to filing suit, the plaintiff mentioned above filed a "cure and correct" letter asking for her issues to be addressed, and in return Mr Hammers sent a letter of his own cancelling the April PPG meeting. He's also stated that he will not allow Blackwater issues on future agendas because it just gives the "nitpickers" an opportunity to complain, and from now on all Blackwater issues will be discussed in "executive sessions." According to Mr Hammers, the people opposing Blackwater's establishment of a 824 acre military training facility in their beautiful valley aren't being very "friendly".


This is the same guy that said (I'm paraphrasing here) the only people who don't like it are "drug dealers and liberals" because they don't want the increased police presence. The "patriots" are happy Blackwater has come to town.


Additionally, A little bit of digging has revealed that Potrero Planning Group member Emil Susu is not a registered voter and not eligible to hold the elected office. The County has declared his seat vacant. Susu is registered to vote in Florida, not California. Mr Hammers says when Susu reregisters in Potrero, he'll appoint him to the PPG. Sounds like a nice little kingdom he's got out there.

I hate to break it to them, but in the United States, even those living out in the wild wild west, have to follow the law.

So as the result of all this nonsense, residents are starting a recall movement against several members of the Potrero Planning Group, and replacement candidates are stepping forward to run. Not that any one is asking me, but it seems the best thing would have been for the planning board to listen to the citizens they represent, rather than deciding they know what's best for everyone.

All politics is local! Stay tuned!

In other related tidbits:

This has started getting some national coverage. It's been on Michael Moore's website. The story has been on Democracy Now! An independent filmmaker is planning a documentary about the battle between David and Goliath...I mean Potrero and Blackwater USA. Raymond Lutz's is getting hits from all over the country (as is the blog of yours truly).

And in closing, I must share this quote from former Congressman Lionel Van Deerlin which was included in an April 19 editorial in the The San Diego Union-Tribune, stating, “… the operation Blackwater intends would be like taking ‘Evangeline's’ forest primeval and turning it over to a Hitler panzer corps.”

That man has a way with words, AND he's right.

P.S. Sign the petition to keep Blackwater out of California.

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Blogger nunya said...

Thank you for taking the time to paraphrase the article and blog it. Sometimes the political pandering in SD County is just so revolting to me. I told Jeremy Scahill that this "county of 3 million is run like some podunk backwater."

5/05/2007 07:45:00 PM  
Blogger Terry said...

You're welcome. The Californian has been covering this issue so well, thanks to Miriam Raftery.

5/05/2007 08:18:00 PM  

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