We sat in the and waited for the supervisors to decide the fate of fast tracking surface mines and wind machines. The supervisors bantered back and forth on the issues after public comments were finished. This meeting turned into the most disgusting pretense at a public meeting of a governmental body that I have ever witnessed.
It is bazaar that an issue such as fast tracking a surface mine was being discussed as if they were talking about a city park! At least they called a "spade a spade,” by admitting that the revised Liberty Quarry project WAS the reason they wanted to pass this ordinance. No surprise there.
Liberty Quarry is not a surface mine, but is a deep, open pit hole in the ground. There are reasons that the current laws, rules and regulations are in place. Projects such as mines and landfills carry too many negative issues. The effects on surrounding areas and communities need to be carefully evaluated.
This is the reason the original Liberty Quarry project was denied first by the Riverside County Planning Commissioners, 4-1, and next by the supervisors, 3-2.
Why, NOW, is John Benoit trying to push through "fast tracking?" The answer came from the supervisors themselves: Benoit wants this issue voted on while THIS board of supervisors is still in place. This is in the record.
The "defining moment" came when Supervisor Jeff Stone turned to (his words) his "friend and colleague,” Benoit, and said (I paraphrase): "Please allow the supervisors to make decisions that affect their own district."
Stone spoke eloquently, passionately and from his heart. He stayed calm as he stated that his friend had stabbed him in the back. Stone appeared extremely emotional at that point and told Benoit, "I would never try to tell another supervisor what to do in his district and would support his decisions." Jeff Stone made a motion to request the "supervisor make the decisions for his own district."
Then, Supervisor Benoit, with a smirk on his face, spoke. It was as though Stone had never said a word. Benoit responded to Stone's emotional "plea" by stating cold, calculated praises for the revised Liberty Quarry project. As Benoit talked, the room slowly emptied as people left to wait outside until he was through before returning to their seats.
Then, it became a circus; a sad excuse for a public forum. Supervisor Marion Ashley decided he wanted solar added to the fast track list. They bickered and argued but Ashley's request was accommodated.
At least Supervisor John Tavaglione did not refer to the opponents in the audience as "uneducated thugs," as he did at the last meeting.
Stone's request regarding supervisors' having control in their own districts was voted down, and the fast track issue passed Tuesday, 3-2, with Stone and Supervisor Bob Buster dissenting.
Yes, Supervisor Tavaglione, this was indeed "The Day the Music Died."