At 7 a.m. on Saturday, June 12, 2010 Kern County Parks Department workers began using chainsaws to cut down two heritage oaks that were supposed to be preserved. Kern County had for ten years promised Mountain Community residents that these oaks would be protected if the library could be built in the oak woodland setting.
Residents of the Mountain Communities have joined together to write a letter to the attorney general of California to protest what they say is a failure of oversight by Kern County. The letter, signed by 56 residents, asks help in urging the Kern County Board of Supervisors to take action to reclaim over $100,000 in taxpayer funds they say was inappropriately paid to Tilton Pacific Construction in change orders following the company’s mutilation of two large heritage oaks at the library site in Frazier Park, resulting in the loss of the trees in June, 2010.
The letter, dated March 7, states that Tilton ignored instructions in a legally binding contract to protect the roots of the trees and failed to obtain “written consent from an arborist before in any way acting contrary to any of the [instructions].”
The letter included seven pages of background on the destruction of the oaks and the aftermath, plus three pages of signatures and three appendices which included the full response from The Mountain Enterprise to the Kern County Grand Jury’s December 13 report about the matter. The letter states that the grand jury’s report “shows bias in its choice of language, selection of facts and misstatements.”
“Instead of defending the citizens of Kern County,” the letter continues, “the Grand Jury’s report belittles both us and The Mountain Enterprise, our local newspaper, for raising our voices to demand transparency and justice. It appears that citizens seeking accountability from government officials will not be assisted by the 2010-2011 Kern County Grand Jury. Instead, they will themselves be attacked.”
The letter concludes, “we want every county employee and contractor to be held strictly accountable for their use of our hard-earned money. Please hold them accountable.”
[UPDATED STORY: Signature count when the final letter was sent increased from 54 to 56, according to Katherine King on Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 3:30 p.m. The headline has been adjusted to reflect this change.]
This is part of the March 18, 2011 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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