Not long after I moved into Amador County I discovered that local politics was the biggest intramural sport here. This year is no exception. A candidate question and answer was in last Friday’s Ledger Dispatch. Amber Hoiska stated that “my desire (is) to restore a sense of altruism, civility and democracy to Amador County.” When did it ever leave? Or does she mean that if Amador doesn’t meet her preconceived point of view than it lacks altruism and is uncivil and undemocratic? She continues with: “We need to better use our transportation taxes.” But she has provided no formation to substantiate this assertion. She appears to be trying to sell an excuse while at the same time opposing tax revenue generators such as Newman Ridge which she feels is “unnecessary”. That statement also assumes that some authority other than the marketplace should decide what is necessary.
Regarding the General Plan Ms. Hoiska states: “We have to make some compromises.” Who compromises what with whom? We already have an anti rural living Agenda 21 style draft General Plan rather expensively written by a consulting firm selected by a stacked process. The situation in Calaveras County is sensible with room for compromise, but ours is not since our basic way of life and freedoms are being threatened. But she somehow sees herself as: “I uniquely understand the needs of working families and young families.” And while I have no reason to doubt her understanding, I fail to see what uniqueness she possesses. In my both professional and citizen experience, I have seen people in positions of decision making run the gauntlet from real understanding to utter disdain for those they were supposed to serve.
The invented election issue of Pine Grove being in three supervisorial districts was clarified by incumbent Richard Forster when he discussed the related issue of Pine Grove incorporation by saying: “I have not heard a massive outcry from voters for change.” However, Frank Axe stated: “I support forming a citizen redistricting commission to start work on this problem so we’re ready for the next census.” What is the point of projecting numbers and testing hypothesizes which will only waste people’s time and some public resources before the official figures? It’s hardly a secret that developments in Plymouth and Ione will shift population eastward and most likely solve this perceived problem.
Mr. Axe went on to cite: “…excessive county supervisor compensation.” Considering what they put up with, I consider the supervisors underpaid. Did Mr. Axe consider his salary in prior positions to be excessive? He goes on to say: “I support adding policies to the county general plan to conserve viewsheds, provided the county also develops ways to pay landowners for easements.” Based on this statement, he either hasn’t read the draft General Plan or doesn’t understand it. Scenic viewsheds, in the plan, have governing authority over other decisions. Paying to preserve them means either more public expenditure (taxes) and/or a developer fee that makes housing more expensive. This entails, just like his proposal about a pre-census commission did, more government involvement and expense.
Mr. Axe also wants the General Plan to make sure the plan reflects what the citizens said they wanted which includes keep development in towns. Looking at the way people now live in Amador County it’s blatantly obvious that people want to live on or near the land. However, environmental activists with voices louder than their numbers appear to have his ear. The draft General Plan is an Agenda 21 cookie cutter plan that slowly forces us formerly free Americans off the land, except for the affluent few, into strategic hamlets. I can only support a candidate that supports our traditional rights to live where we want to live.
Mr. Axe continues with: “I will listen to and work with everyone, regardless of … how long they’ve been here.” Apparently, he is referring to his own experience and attitude and those of his like minded associates with their limited Utopian and primarily tourist vision for Amador County. I moved here a total stranger and had no problem being listened to, nor did anyone else I know. He believes we need: “…a countywide, long term economic plan.” This must assume that government and committees are the answer (because that has worked so well elsewhere?), rather than individual initiative. Certainly an economic plan can create an infrastructure that enables individual initiative, but we already have that. We also have a climate here where something as simple as a chain store proposal or a new quarry in a quarrying area becomes open warfare.
In sharp contrast, Louis Boitano was a breath of fresh air and common sense. He said: “I think we should relax the sign ordinance to help promote businesses in these challenging times (and) Our local long-term economic plan needs to include natural resources.” Regarding the complaints of some about the delayed General Plan he said: “We are working…to carefully address the 1,840 comments…Most of those comments are from the same environmental group.”
That issue of the endless comments was rebuffed, in that same issue of the Ledger, by the Foothill Conservancy’s executive director Cecily Smith. She felt that all those comments were necessary because the plan was “…vague, weak, legally inadequate…” What that remark tells us is that the draft General Plan does not meet the desires of the Foothill Conservancy and little else of value or truth. That Ledger also had a letter to our planning director about the General Plan and fire safety from Edith Hannigan, a board consultant to the State Responsibility Area. She states that we are in danger: “…given the growth pressure faced by Amador County.” Considering that we are losing population along with a declining economy, there is no substance to her fear inducing tactic.
This election season, both locally and nationally, reminds me of that common paraphrase of a Winston Churchill remark: “…democracy is the worst possible way to make decisions, except that it is better than any other way.”
Copyright 2016, Mark L. Bennett