Guest View: New chairman’s speech was a ‘breath of fresh air’

Supervisor Robert Rivas, at right, is shown at a Tres Pinos town hall at right.

What a breath of fresh air it was for me to hear our chairperson of the board of supervisors at the opening of the New Year. Mr. Rivas gave a brief but compelling presentation of his hopes and aims for the New Year for San Benito County residents. He is a most articulate and rational spokesperson for his philosophy of county government and his aims for this county. Most of all he is a person that speaks clearly, simply and truthfully and from a genuine commitment to the well being of the people of San Benito County. He is a supervisor we can TRUST.
He emphasized three areas of concern and the changes that he will work towards as a supervisor. The first was a commitment to TRANSPARENCY. Now that is an abstract term that can be interpreted in many ways depending on the agenda of the politician. By transparency, Robert means the ability of the population of this county to read, hear and know what is going on in their county and what outside influences (i.e. money) are being used to bend county employees to their agenda rather than the welfare of the people of San Benito County. I cite just two examples of which I am familiar: the millionaires from Las Vegas (Game One) who did their best to put a casino in our county and lost because the people spoke loudly and clearly against it and the over $2 million Citadel Oil spent in false and fear-mongering advertising to convince the board of supervisors to approve their oil lease. Local lobbying is part of the democratic process.
Outside corporate millions coming into a small community to foster their profit-driven agendas is not democracy. It is plutocracy, the rule of the rich. Supervisor Rivas says we must have information on where and from whom campaign contributions are being made to local government officials and local nonprofit agencies.
The second area he discussed is the General Plan. Few of us, myself included, have struggled through the voluminous pages of the General Plan. Do we want a county that becomes a cash cow for corporate builders that want to turn our farmlands into exurbia? Or do we want planned development that will preserve the purpose of this county, which is to provide food locally grown and much of it organic, to preserve and extend our great national heritage, the Pinnacles, and foster clean air and clean water necessary to health and life.
The third area spoken of by Mr. Rivas I will summarize this way: Do we want to maintain a county government where the “leaders lead” and the “people follow”, or do we want a county where the people (more than half of whom are Latinos and the majority of the residents working class, not the professional or landowner class) are in charge of their working and living conditions? This implies equal educational opportunities, and Mr. Rivas aims to begin by proposing a library which will be the pride of San Benito County, a place where all, young and elderly, monolingual or bilingual can become part of the democratic process of keeping this county on the road to a just, equitable and sustainable future. I hope I have faithfully summarized your address Mr. Rivas and thank you for your truth telling and commitment to our county.

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