Lynn Jensen, Executive Director, VC COLAB, goes head to head with County Supervisors, April 26, 2011, Ventura, CA
That's the bad news. The good news is that they have been somewhat mitigated in the last 60 days of review and a last minute rear-guard action by Supervisor Kathy Long and Peter Foy.
Fot the last two months, VC COLAB, under the able leadership of Lynn Jensen, has negotiated with the County to mitigate the statist nightmare proposed and take out some of the more objectionable aspects, which would protect at least some property rights and contain soaring costs of regulatory compliance and subsequent adverse effects on doing business and creating/protecting jobs. Ventura County Farm Bureau and other organizations were also involved. The VC Libertarian Party was the strongest political force opposing the excesses of ISAG, suported by what is now called the Tea Party Action Alliance, consisting of groups totalling over 800 members.
For those unfamilair with the document, the Biological Initial Study Assessment Guidelines are a major expansion of environmental regulatoria in Ventura County, ratcheting down already oppressive property rights infringement, higher costs and constraints, under the rubric of making the environment pristine. VC bureaucrats further maintain that it is a formalization of de facto policies and a further bringing into line with state and federal requirements. the fact that the latter are totally outside the scope of federal enumerated powes seems not to matter at all.
As of noon on the day of the hearing, they were down to three major areas of dispute, in the areas of:
- Identification of species to be protected
- Thresholds for triggering environmental impact reports (HUGE $$$), private covenants
- Use of a private, left wing environmental study called "South Coast Missing Link Report"
(please pardon my lack of proper technical jargon/politically correct phraseology)
The huge costs of Audra Strickland's loss of the County Supervisor election last year and Parks' victory were once again shown in spades. The board is basically split 3-2, Progressive/Statist (Bennet, Parks & Zaragosa) vs Conservative (Foy and Long)-- and that's how it played out today. Parks and Bennet couched their positions in terms of consensus, compromise and complying with legal requirements. Foy and Long expressed serious concerns about the cumulative effect of bureacracy on costs, business operations and continued economic viability/employment. Zaragosa, who kept his own counsel until the very end, seemed to abandon his March 1 meeting position of protecting agricultural jobs and jumped on the bandwagon of praising the infinite wisdom of "staff," then voting yes without further comment.
What played out today was the culmination of a multi-year effort by environmentalists/Progressives to force additional layers of stifling regulation upon farmers, ranchers and developers. The entrenched VC bureacracy portrayed it as a magnanimous compromise, solititously incorporating the wishes of the "stakeholders. But in truth, it was a continuiation of the relentless push to statism, loss of property rights maybe even eventual collectivism. Does that last one sound over the top? Well, then stay with me here on that for a moment: at this point, landowners have to get permission for almost any substantial change or even actvity on their OWN property- that they bought, borrowed against, paid for, improved, maintained, paid confiscatory taxes on, poured blood sweat and tears over, maybe over multiple generations. Now, the screws are being tightened down more and more: more permission, more rules, more restrictions, conditions, even "voluntary" restrictions on deeds, which are de facto mandatory.
Owners have only been retreating before this onslaught, as rules and fees keep getting stacked atop rules and fees. it only gets worse and worse. it never gets better, there never seem to be initiatives to strip away layers of bureacracy and costs, to simplify, ELIMINATE, constraints.
Once most of the decisions for running/use of a farm or ranch are taken away from the owner and most of the profits accrue to the state, but all of the costs and risks remain with the "owner," how is that much different from collectivism? In fact, it's even worse, because worker bees on a collective are at least removed fom financial risks. Sorry, but seeing this movie so soon after Atlas Shrugged last week has overloaded my brain cells.
It appeared to me that advocates were trying to downplay the potential effect of ISAG, claiming that it's only a "report" (yet it would be used by County people and have the effect of the force of law), that it wouldn't affect "regular farming" (farmers strongly disputed that), that it only formalizes actual practices and brings us into compliance with the law (it introduces major new restrictions and exceeds any applicable laws on the books), and much more.
Dozens of ranchers and farmers spoke out against the ISAG and the bewildering and inefficient regulatory burden, as did numerous other people involved in civic affairs (such as the Tea Party Action Alliance) and even Supervisors Foy and Long. The county, federal govt, state, Sierra Club and SOAR spoke in favor of it. What a surprise. Consultants were divided.
Various Tea Party people were at the meeting, such as Ed, Sally, Joyce, Diane, Susan, Dana, Flavio, Lauren, your truly, etc.
A Chinese delegation was there early on, escorted by Tax Collector Steve Hintz. They were there to study how we tax and assess. Hope they don't learn the wrong lessons. It would have been more beneficial for them to stay for the ISAG hearing. They exchanged gifts with VC, via Linda Parks, who made an excellent Emcee.
So, why am I making the effort to write you, when this has already passed? Several reasons:
- It can be modified
- We need to be aware of the overall threat of excessive regulation and begin to roll this back. this could noty have happened at aworse time, with California and VC relling from a serious recession, maybe even depression.
- Some say that ISAG is only part of the much more comprehensive UN "Agenda 21 initiative, which calls for draconian restrictions on where we can live, what we can do with our land, how we can travel, what energy we can consume, what we can grow and eat, even how many of us will be allowed to live. Lynn Jensen disagrees with that characterization, calling it instead a NIMBY reaction.