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Potrero planning group recall

Alpine Sun (2007-11-22) Miriam Raftery

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More Info: Blackwater West, Local Politics, COPS

Election proceeds despite fires

By Miriam Raftery
The Alpine Sun

POTRERO — “You can’t burden a community devastated by fire and add mercenaries on top of it,” said Carl Meyer, organizer of a recall election that seeks to oust five members of the Potrero Planning Group who voted in favor of Blackwater Worldwide’s plans to build a private military-style training camp in Round Potrero Valley. Situated on 824 acres adjacent to Hauser Wilderness and Cleveland National Forest lands, the Blackwater West project would include 11 firing ranges, a helicopter landing pad, emergency vehicular training track, bunkhouses and more. “Fire has added to the impact that Blackwater would have on our community,” Meyers said. “Any remaining land that hasn’t burned has increased in importance.” But Gordon Hammers, current chair of the Potrero Planning Group, urged voters not to recall five, “experienced people that have given years of service to the community.” A successful recall may not stop Blackwater’s plans, he noted, adding that a revote on the Blackwater issue, “will release Blackwater from the promises they have made to the current board. It could put a board in place that will become irrelevant and not up to speed on GP2020,” he added, referring to the county’s proposed new general plan. Ballots for the recall election of five Potrero Planning Group members will be mailed out by Nov. 13 and must be received at the San Diego Registrar of Voters office no later than Dec. 11. Voters will be asked whether to remove planners Gordon Hammers, Jerry Johnson, Mary Johnson, Thell Fowler, and Janet Wright from office. (Jan Hedlun, the only planner opposed to Blackwater, is not facing recall.) The ballot will also ask voters to choose five of eight candidates who are running to replace members if the recall is successful.

Stop-Blackwater candidates Five candidates oppose Blackwater and are running together as a stop-Blackwater slate. They are: Carl Meyer — Former member of the Potrero Planning Group and Sponsor Group, Meyer initiated the recall, “because our planning group is not listening to the wishes and desires of our citizens in Potrero. The vast majority of citizens do not want Blackwater there.” A farmer, father, and 35-year Potrero resident, he believes planning representatives should, “not only protect, but enhance our community for future generations” and pledges to protect Potrero’s peaceful environment.

William “Billy” Crawley IV — A loan officer, musician and outdoor enthusiast, Crawley has lived in Potrero for 30 years. “I will work to keep the rural atmosphere by opposing large projects like Blackwater West that do not fit the community character, water, ground resources, and General Plan 2020, while upholding individual real property rights,” he said. “Half the town’s water is contaminated already by the fire,” he said, voicing concern that contaminants from Blackwater’s activities would leave water undrinkable for area residents. Janet Goode — A former member of the Potrero Planning Group and Sponsor group, Goode has lived in Potrero since 1991. “My family’s lifestyle, peace and quiet is not for sale,” she said. Goode shares Crawley’s concern over water, adding that she became ill from well water contaminated by ash. “I’ve been on bottled water ever since.” She promised to listen to the people and vote to overturn the Planning Group’s recommendation of the Blackwater project. Terry Stephens — A communications consultant with Sprint Telephone, Stephens is a past member of the Potrero Planning Group and Sponsor Group. A long-time resident, her children have attended Potrero schools. “I don’t think Blackwater is conducive to a community of families,” she said. “I know in my heart the majority of people moved to Potrero for the quiet and country atmosphere and I will work hard to maintain this for our community.” Tina Brown Mc Cunney — “Blackwater is an inappropriate fit in our community,” said Mc Cunney, a high school teacher who enjoys the serenity of Back Country living. She attended Planning Group meetings where, “people with contrary views were belittled and insulted.” After hearing about Blackwater’s proposal, Mc Cunney said she contacted neighbors of Blackwater in North Carolina. “They told me they were bothered by noise, traffic, and the arrogant attitude of many Blackwater employees,” she said. “Once Blackwater gets a foot in the door, there will be no checks and balances.”

Other candidates Anita Meneses — “I feel that our Back Country community would benefit by having Blackwater USA located in Potrero because it would help the economy,” said Meneses, a six-year Potrero resident, mother, and Kiwanis member with an MBA in global and international business from the University of Phoenix. “I also feel that more law enforcement of any kind would be a wonderful thing,” she noted, adding that, “drugs and illegal aliens” are major issues in the area. Brenda Wise — “My position on Blackwater is I am willing to listen and gather more information. I will reserve judgment until the EIR is put out for public review,” said Wise, who coordinated disaster relief for Potrero and Tecate as chair of the Potrero-Tecate Disaster Defense Team and coordinator of the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT). “During our current fire disaster, Blackwater was one of the first agencies to respond to our call for help and along with many other groups, have furnished supplies which were desperately needed.” Ed Boryla — A past member of the Potrero Planning Group, Boryla has also served as lieutenant governor of Kiwanis and on the community’s fire board. “We were the ones who initiated the volunteer fire station to get stuff out to burn victims who were displaced,” he noted, adding that he is not against Blackwater. “They brought in supplies and have not even asked for a thank you. I feel they are responsive to community needs.”

Blackwater has provided food, other supplies and tents to house evacuees. Some residents have praised Blackwater’s efforts, while others voiced concern that Blackwater is attempting to influence voters. Meyer expressed sympathy for community members who suffered losses in the fires, but predicted that voters will focus on long-term preservation of Potrero’s rural charm and will not be swayed by short-term aide provided by Blackwater. “Life goes on. People will rebuild,” he concluded, “but this Blackwater project could interrupt our lives for generations.”

Media Form edit

Title Potrero planning group recall
Publisher Alpine Sun
Author Miriam Raftery
Pub Date 2007-11-22
Media Link
Keywords Blackwater West, Local Politics, COPS
Media Type Article
Curator Rating Plain
Author Name Sortable
Topic revision: r2 - 2007-11-29, CathyMiller
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