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News Release: Stop Blackwater! Says Potrero Recall Election

COPs (2007-12-12) Raymond Lutz

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More Info: Blackwater, Blackwater West, Local Politics, COPS

Citizens’ Oversight Projects

CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator 619-820-5321

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 12, 2007

StopBlackwater! Says Potrero Recall Election

Recall of Advisory Group to Makes a Clear Statement: No Military Training Base in Potrero’s Backyard

SAN DIEGO, CA (Dec 12) - Blackwater West, an 824-acre proposed expansion of the private-military training facilities of Blackwater Worldwide, was put to the test of the voters last night and was soundly defeated.

“It was a 70% to 30% landslide,” said Carl Meyer, the primary proponent of the recall election linked to the project.

The following are the preliminary results as distributed by the San Diego Registrar of Voters at almost midnight, December 11.

Total Registered Voters: 509
Ballots Received: 306
Ballots Counted: 280
Late Ballots uncounted: 10 (These were deposited in the drop box in Potrero.)
Rejects 16 -- 2 signature mismatches. One signed ballot, etc.

Recall Questions Yes No
Jerry Johnson 187 (67%) 93 (33%)
Mary Johnson 189 (67.5%) 91 (32.5%)
Gordon Hammers 196 (70%) 84 (30%)
Janet Wright 186 (66.4%) 94 (33.6%)
Thell Fowler 176 (62.9%) 104 (37.1%)

Seat Questions:
(To replace Jerry Johnson)
Terry Stephens 176 (100%)

(To replace Mary Johnson)
Janet Goode 177 (100%)

(To replace Gordon Hammers)
Brenda Wise 68 (28.5%)
Carl Meyer 170 (71.4%)

(To replace Janet Wright)
Edward Boryla 48 (21.3%)
William Crawley 177 (78.7%)

Tina (Brown) Mc Cunney 161 (74.5%)
Anita Meneses 55 (25.5%)

In one of the first elections since Secretary of State Debra Bowen decertified Diebold voting machines, the contentious issue was decided by voters in the tiny hamlet of Potrero.

The project to open the facility in San Diego County, about 45-minutes east of downtown San Diego and only a few miles from the Mexico border, was opened in June, 2006, and was approved by the Potrero Planning Group by a vote of 7-0 in December. Although their vote is only advisory, five of the six remaining members were served with recall notices in May, 2007, and a vote-by-mail election was conducted with a deadline of December 11. The pro-Blackwater group members have been soundly recalled and a group that is against the project installed in their place.

The Registrar of Voters in San Diego counted the ballots last night using a hand-counting method. A group of about 20 people observed the election. At about 8 p.m., Registrar of Voters Debra Seiler gave a short speech at the counter. They walked the observers back to a caged room where 280 ballots were held in a single mailroom tray.

“We were hoping that we could see all the handling of the ballots,” Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Stop said to Debra Seiler when the group realized the ballots had already been removed from their envelopes. “We took those out about an hour ago, and no one from the public witnessed it,” she responded.

The monotonous process of counting the votes carried on from 8 p.m. until after midnight. The reader would say "Recall Question Number 1. Jerry Johnson. Yes. To succeed, Terry Stephens. Recall Question number 2. Mary Johnson. Yes..." and so forth. The entire meeting was caught on film by Citizens and can be viewed by persons concerned with the election process later this week.

“All the incumbent pro-Blackwater slate of planning group members were replaced by the Stop Blackwater group,” Lutz said. “Blackwater should close this project and stop putting local residents through any more agony. I’m sure that with Blackwater’s deep pockets, they can make life miserable for these residents. But the will of the people was loud and clear in this election. I hope they don’t try to ram this project down the collective throats of the residents in spite of these clear election results.”

Lutz congratulated all the volunteers who worked on the recall election, a project carried out strictly by Potrero locals.

According to company documents filed with San Diego County, the notorious Blackwater Worldwide would turn chicken coops into firing ranges, augmented with a tactical driving track, a ship simulator, a rescue safety training tower and a helipad.

Blackwater Worldwide, known as one of the most powerful and secretive forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex and one of the greatest beneficiaries (reportedly over one billion dollars in contracts with US Goverment) of the “global war on terror,” is increasingly under fire for acting above the law. The recent killing and wounding of 17 innocent Iraqi civilians on September 16th, 2007 further underscored the dangers this company poses to the community.

Local critics also point to the potential enormous and long-lasting environmental impact, including loss of sensitive habitat, depletion of an already fragile and shrinking water table, groundwater pollution and more. In addition, people living in Potrero will be exposed to noise, traffic and disruption of their quiet way of life.

“It just doesn’t match the character of this community,” said Randel Parks, a 30-year resident of Potrero, about a mile from the gates of the proposed project. “If Blackwater gets in, they could screw this place up. Lots of traffic, lots of noise. If this sort of big business gets in here, it is the start of the end of peaceful Potrero.” Parks paused and looked over his property that he developed from an empty parcel. “I like this place so much, I probably won’t pack up and move on if they do move in.” He looked back. “I just can’t imagine that we’ll lose the fight.”

More information about the project and the local resistance to it can be found at Stop

Media Form edit

Title News Release: Stop Blackwater! Says Potrero Recall Election
Publisher COPs
Author Raymond Lutz
Pub Date 2007-12-12
Media Link
Keywords Blackwater, Blackwater West, Local Politics, COPS
Media Type Article
Curator Rating Plain
Author Name Sortable
Topic revision: r1 - 2008-02-07, CathyMiller
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