This is my final post in this homework series.
First, I need to bring you up to date on Tuesday's (July 2nd) agenda. The workshop will be held at the beginning of the night followed by the regular council meeting. I recommend you get to the city hall early (at least by 5:45), especially if you want to address the council. If you are going to speak, make sure you have no mistakes when you fill out your permission request to speak. The agenda item number for the workshop is Item 4.a
After the workshop, I recommend you don't leave early. I assumed the vote on this project would come at a future meeting but there is an agenda item for the council to vote to approve this project. The agenda item number for approval of the Heartland General Plan Amendment is 6.d.The staff is presenting the exact same documentation they did on June 4th but this time their recommendation is for the council to bring it back for a vote in a future meeting. There is nothing to stop the council from holding the vote this week, especially if the mayor thinks he has enough votes.
The comment letter from the Johnson and Sedlack law firm continues with more information about the health risks of the project and a long list of recommended measures to mitigate the impact of the project on the environment during construction and the operation of the warehouse. The staff recommended very few mitigation measures in their report. They indicated the measures would be determined later, after the public hearing and the approval of the project. By not including these measures now, they prevent the public from commenting on the full impact of this project on our community and our families.
I believe the council has not done their full due diligence on this project. This is the reason for this series. They have failed to do their homework and ask the tough questions. My hope is this series will help the public ask the tough questions for them. If our elected officials aren't willing to do their homework and none of us are willing to hold them accountable for not doing so, we deserve the government we get.
Asking tough questions often comes across as criticizing, whining, and complaining. I know because I have been accused of this for the last six years for asking tough questions of our school board. While focusing on our schools, I paid very little attention to what was happening in our city government. I regret that I have waited so long to begin paying attention.
When I began blogging on the Patch more than two years ago, I began learning about Judy Bingham. My experiences with the school board helped me to understand her passion and outrage with an administration who refused to answer direct questions and did everything in their power to discourage the public from the information we are entitled to by law. Even more infuriating is watching elected officials support the administration's actions and even help to discredit a member of the public for asking the questions they should have been asking.
Judy's determination and willingness to back up her accusations with her own resources while not caring about her reputation, made me take notice. I began attending council meetings and looking at the audits Judy was financing. It became clear to me there is something rotten in Beaumont. I have since learned Judy is not the only one in Beaumont who has known this for some time. However, I'm sure many of us who are coming to this conclusion just now are doing so because of Judy's actions.
At the June 4th city council meeting there were less than a dozen citizens on hand and only a few of us who stood up to ask the council to reconsider the Heartland Warehouse Project. It was clear to most of us, this vote was just a formality and the council was ready to move forward and once again, blindly follow the staff's recommendation. If it hadn't been for the appearance of the representative from the Air Quality Management District and the comment letter from the Johnson and Sedlack law firm, we wouldn't be having a workshop or even be discussing the future of warehouses in Beaumont. The AQMD representative said he had just been notified of the project the day before and the law firm was hired by a private citizen. I would be willing to bet Judy was the one who contacted the AQMD and hired the attorney.
In Ronald Reagan's first Inaugural Address As Governor of California on January 5, 1967 he said the following:
I believe in your right to know all the facts concerning the people’s business. Independent firms are making an audit of state finances. When it is completed, you will have that audit. You will have all the information you need to make the decisions which must be made. This is not just a problem for the administration, it is a problem for all of us to solve together. I know that you can face any prospect and do anything that has to be done as long as you know the truth of what you are up against.
I don't care what motivates Judy to do what she does. I don't care how she chooses to express her opinion and whether she offends anyone. She has motivated me, and others, to stand up and find out the truth about what we are up against. She has motivated me to work with others to solve our problems together. I hope to see a hundred citizens show up Tuesday night to ask the tough questions, criticize and complain. I also hope to see some show up with their own visions and solutions. I plan to do both.
See you at City Hall on Tuesday at 6pm.