Friday, October 14, 2005

"Hooligans" Attend Templeton Advisory Group?

Hi everyone! I'm Korie Bayer coming to you from the rowdy North County community of Templeton. Did you hear about the group of hooligans who attended the last regular meeting of the Templeton Area Advisory Group?

Those folks were so angry and abusive that there were citizens who feared for their safety.

Anyway that's Harry Ovitt's version of events but I'm not sure what meeting he was at. Well, come to think of it, I'm sure what meeting he was NOT at. He was not at the September 15 meeting where close to 100 citizens turned out to weigh in on a huge behemoth of a "mixed use" project that county planners are trying to plunk down in our little town.

Harry was definitely not in attendance, but if you read the Tribune you saw how he later sent his legislative assistant to deliver a scathing admonishment to the board of volunteer citizens elected to represent our unincorporated community on development issues. It appears the group is charged with allowing the citizens to actually speak.

Ovitt aide, Cliff Smith, barked out accusations of personal attacks and abusiveness to citizens, planners, and developers then threatened TAAG with dissolution. I was at both meetings and I can tell you that the Ovitt rep's passionate scolding and finger-pointing display at the second meeting far exceeded any emotion displayed at the first.

In the end, he refused to provide a copy of the complaint or the speech instead stomping out of the public meeting with a slam of the door. It was a shocking site even for me and I have a four year old.

There is significant cause for concern over the Ramada Drive Mixed Use Project yet the citizens at the first meeting expressed those concerns with a tremendous amount of respect and poise. Okay, there were a few short bursts of applause--against the rules outlined by the TAAG chair--but hardly worthy of throwing someone out. Only one citizen wrote in to say that he supported the project but felt too intimidated to speak out.

Placed against the more than twenty letters offering a different view, I'd say that might be a personal problem. It's never easy to speak out in public--especially when you represent the minority. Still, all views were welcomed and encouraged, the crowd was a diverse group of soccer moms, retirees, farmers and professionals, and there wasn't a club or a cattle prod to be found.

I'd love to tell you more about the project in question, the unusual way it progressed through the planning department, and the way it's trying to sneak by without the proper environmental studies but I think we're out of time. Stay tuned for more from those naughty kids of Templeton. Thanks for listening. --Korie

(P.S. I hear the Ovitt/Smith "speech" is available as an mp3. Any takers?)

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