By Andy Hsia-Coron
On March 24, some members of the San Benito County Supervisors set out to do the right thing, but instead publicly committed themselves to break the law and betray the voters. Members of Preserve our Rural Communities (aka PORC), who less than three weeks earlier had beaten long odds and defeated Measure K, were both shocked and disgusted by the public statements of four of our county supervisors, and so too should be the voters.
Anthony Botelho, Mark Medina, Peter Hernandez, and Jim Gillio as well as Supervisor-elect Bea Gonzalez are demonstrating their unfitness to serve during these trying times. We need public servants who both respect the public and intend to honor their oath of office.
Rather than using their time and their positions to address the many crises facing our community during this growing coronavirus pandemic, they instead showed their contempt for the will of the people.
They do this when they claim that PORC “fooled” our voters. Only outgoing supervisor and chairman, Jaime De La Cruz, publicly has stated he wants to respect the will of the people and now opposes Airborne CEO Rider McDowell’s chameleon-like South Florida theme Betabel Node Project. All the others have loudly proclaimed their intention to cast their vote for the project.
If you respect democracy and your fellow San Benito County voters, you should now question the fitness of these four supervisors to serve.
In September, all five supervisors voted unanimously for Ordinance 991 which allowed for intensive development at each of the four nodes including a 125-room hotel and up to 100,000 square feet of retail shopping.
We were required to collect 2,060 signatures in just short of 30 days. While gathering signatures, we spoke to thousands of residents and discovered a dissatisfaction with the leadership of this county and the out-of-control growth and traffic that their decisions had created. We ended up collecting an astounding 4,428 signatures. The response of the developers and the politicians they apparently own was to defame PORC and our volunteers and to attempt to obscure the issues that our county’s first referendum was raising.
In spite of defamation and misinformation, and in spite of being grossly outspent by the developer-funded Yes on K campaign, the No on K side prevailed with nearly 60 percent of the vote. Election law requires the supervisors to honor that vote for at least one year.
During the prolonged discussion at the March 24 meeting, the supervisors decided they could hardly wait to betray the public trust and that they would only hold off for two weeks until April 7. When in all likelihood, we will see an encore of the ridiculously incoherent and frustrating March 24 meeting. That will be a dark day in San Benito County history, and yet in that darkness we will clearly see the content of their character.
We urge all citizens who know that they were not fooled but instead exercised their rights on March 3 to reach out to their supervisors and demand that their vote be respected. If you are represented by Jaime De La Cruz, you should reach out and thank him for having the integrity to honor his oath of office and for his respect of the will of the people.
If on April 7, the supervisors decide to approve McDowell’s project, the people should demand that each supervisor who does this resign from office. And if they do not, the people should use the other precious tool in California’s constitution and recall each of them from an office that they have proven themselves unfit to hold.
Andy Hsia-Coron is president of Preserve Our Rural Communities.