Emails Flooding County Servers Opposing Tejon Mountain Village Called ‘Spam’

By Patric Hedlund

Frazier Park, Calif. (Friday, Sept. 2, 5:45 p.m.)— On the last two working days before the Kern County Board of Supervisors’ special hearing on Tejon Mountain Village (Monday, 9 a.m. 1115 Truxtun Ave. in Bakersfield),  well over 14,000 emails to members of the board have flooded into their email accounts carrying messages that oppose the development.

On Friday, the information technology department for the county began blocking all incoming emails from two sources of the letters, according to Christy Fitzgerald, assistant to Supervisor Ray Watson: "It is spam; the few I looked at were from other countries like Canada, other states, I didn’t see any from California. So they have blocked them from coming in the email account, but they are keeping track of our numbers. I saw a log…."

On Thursday, The Mountain Enterprise received an email mentioning the Center for Biological Diversity with a request to the public to weigh in on  the development they said is "the worst kind of sprawl" which will cause harm to the recovery efforts for the endangered California condor and other species. [See contents below.] The email asked recipients to go to a website to sign a letter that would be sent to the five members of the Kern County Board.

Fitzgerald hastened to say that "Any emails that came into our office we’ve read. Usually in these kinds of things you go [to a website] and edit the letter, but this one does not let you edit the letter, so these are all identical; once I see them from other countries and other states, I’m not going to print them out and give them to my supervisor." She said she’d personally gone through about 1,400 of the emails yesterday.

A key definition of spam to Fitzgerald is whether or not people are able to alter the form letter on the site. "Our IT people went in and said you were not able to submit your own content," she said. After hearing Fitzgerald’s comments, The Mountain Enterprise tested the site and the letter-sending process. It appeared that one is able to customize the letter, but It could not be verified with the IT department Friday evening if the county has received our test email with unique "test" content.

"They (the IT department) blocked the source addresses from flooding the supervisors’ boxes [Thursday] so we can still communicate with legitimate constituents from the county—in four hours we got 10,000 emails within the county."

Fitzgerald added that the county IT staff "wiill explain on Monday [at the supervisors’ hearing about Tejon Mountain Village] that they are keeping track of how many we are getting. No matter what, anything that comes in on a project has to be kept track of and we will report about it on Monday."

Does Fitzgerald believe that there could be that many people around North America who care about the restoration or possible extinction of the California condor? "Oh, no doubt!" she said emphatically, "but our IT people have told us this is spam. They will explain all that on Monday."

CONTENT ON THE WEBSITE referred to in the Center for Biological Diversity letter:

Last Chance to Stop Tejon Mountain Village’s Sprawl

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The California condor needs your help.

On Monday, October 5, the Kern County Board of Supervisors will decide the fate of the condor in the southern San Joaquin Valley. The majestic and endangered California condor and more than 60 other rare plants and animals are threatened by Tejon Ranch Company’s proposal to stick a high-end luxury megaresort in the middle of the last bastion of unfettered wilderness between Northern and Southern California. Please send the letter below to the Kern County supervisors asking them to deny the Tejon Mountain Village proposal and send it back to the drawing board until the Tejon Ranch Company pulls out of all California condor critical habitat and avoids the 83 rare species and communities that occur within the proposed project area.

The Tejon Ranch Company still hasn’t secured permits that could allow for development, yet they are plowing ahead to try to get Kern County to approve this ill-conceived urban-sprawl development in the middle of wilderness. This proposal is a poster child for poor planning — not only guaranteeing impacts to a host of rare and endangered species, but fragmenting habitat, increasing fire threats, increasing smog in the most polluted area in the United States, and substantially increasing greenhouse gases by plopping down a new city in the middle of what is considered the wild heart of California — currently home to more California condors than people.

Tejon Mountain Village, like all large-scale urbanizing projects located far from population centers, is a "dinosaur development" that has no place in current smart planning. Please voice your opposition to this development to the Kern County supervisors. Ask them to deny the plan as proposed and get the development out of condor critical habitat.

[After the above explanation, readers were invited to sign and send the letter below]

Subject: Tejon Mountain Village Bad For Kern County

Your Letter: The Tejon Mountain Village proposal is bad for Kern County. A high-end sprawl development will not benefit the county, but will instead tax local water supplies and county emergency services while urbanizing Kern County’s most spectacular wilderness.

The proposed speculative sprawl development would be a stake in the heart of critical habitat for the endangered California condor, threatening to send the species back to the brink of extinction. Tejon Mountain Village impacts condors and more– 60-plus other rare species would be negatively affected, while adding more smog to the smog capital of the nation, further burdening local health services, creating greenhouse gases that intensify global climate change, creating much more traffic on already overburdened roads and highways, increasing the risk of wildfires, and sucking up yet more drinking water (water that doesn’t even exist).

Please deny the Tejon Mountain Village project as proposed. It needs to go back to the drawing board and be reworked to avoid exacerbating air quality problems, greenhouse gas emissions, fire hazards, and water and traffic issues. All development must stay out of condor critical habitat and avoid other environmental impacts.

Your letter will be sent to these recipients:
John McQuiston, District 1
Kern County Board of Supervisors
Don Maben, District 2
Kern County Board of Supervisors
Mike Maggard, District 3
Kern County Board of Supervisors
Ray Watson, District 4
Kern County Board of Supervisors
Michael J. Rubio, District 5
Kern County Board of Supervisors

This is part of the October 02, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.

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