Editorial: Landfill decision reflects county board’s insincerity

A view looking down on John Smith Road Landfill that was started in 1976 on 90 acres.

Supervisor Anthony Botelho’s statement Tuesday night to a packed crowd of residents opposing a proposed recycling park summed up the board’s collective hypocrisy, along with officials’ willingness to spout double talk about the environment and economics in making the case for such an arbitrary endeavor.
“We certainly can do this without infringing on your quality of life,” Botelho explained to the largely rural audience of residents living near the John Smith Road Landfill concerned about a range of potential impacts such as traffic and odor issues. “We sometimes fear change.”
That came from the District 2 supervisor who has defined his decade on the board by an uncompromising fight against expanding Highway 156, in his own back yard. He and others in the San Juan Valley have fought incessantly against a much-needed highway expansion due to their concerns about added traffic and impacts on quality of life for residents in the San Juan area.
Talk about fearing change. And talk about hypocrisy.
Botelho and two other supervisors, Margie Barrios and Robert Rivas, explained away their long-rehearsed script of economic and environmental reasons to support the Resource Recovery Park’s crucial rezoning. Supervisor Jaime De La Cruz did the same and indicated his support for the proposal. Then, to no surprise, he waited until the roll-call vote to share a final verdict and, to no surprise, went with the path of least resistance. De La Cruz backed a purely symbolic proposal from Supervisor Jerry Muenzer, who represents the John Smith Road area, to support the concept of a Resource Recovery Park but not at that location. It was political fluff from both, as they knew a board majority was ready to approve the crucial rezoning with or without their official blessings.
It appears as though the majority of supervisors made the decision due to its potential fiscal benefit down the line to county coffers – think tightening long-term budget pressures – though it is immensely difficult to tell with any certainty, because board members continually regurgitate the same baloney about their love for the environment and the project’s potential benefits to the economy.
Their own company line and insistence on moving forward against fierce headwinds have begged some serious questions: If this board chooses to focus on environmentalism, why is that environmentalism so selective? And why is the local government getting involved in any sort of private business enterprise, let alone one in the garbage industry, altogether?
Those questions are beside the reality that supervisors are choosing to defy the public’s will and steamroll ahead. They are doing it without a real business plan and are, instead, playing blindfolded darts.
In other words, throw as many ideas at the board and see which ones stick.
That crowd full of disappointed residents, meanwhile, may have left the board chambers feeling more appreciated Tuesday night – feeling heard – if only supervisors would have provided a genuine explanation for their actions.

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