By Patric Hedlund
FRAZIER PARK (Thursday, Oct. 29, 10 p.m.)—This evening District 4 Supervisor Ray Watson introduced the individuals he wishes to appoint to a Mountain Communities Municipal Advisory Council (sometimes referred to as the MAC or MCMAC). He also invited those who attended to discuss the merits of the MAC and the projects they felt such a body should address here.
He emphasized that the council is to be an advisory group only, to help him understand the wishes of the Mountain Communities and to focus objectives for the region.
Counting Watson, four staff members and the five appointees, a total of about 30 people participated in the meeting held at Frazier Mountain Park Community Center.
Lorelei Oviatt, Division Chief of the Kern County Planning Department, told of her positive experiences with a MAC formed by Supervisor Maben for her unincorporated hometown of Rosamond. Maben’s MAC is set up to have elected representatives.
Rosamond’s bylaws were used by Lebec minister Fred Rose and the late Lloyd Wiens to woo support in the Mountain Communities for establishing such a body here.
Rose secured the support of the Mountain Communities Town Council for the MAC by telling them the difficulties they’d faced in holding elections without being able to place names on the Kern County general election ballot could be solved by use of the MAC structure authorized in state law.
Town Council members agreed that a problem for our unincorporated rural area is the lack of local representatives certified by the Kern County Board of Elections.
Securing certified elections, they said, was an advancement toward self determination for this area. Rose said that the first members of the council would be appointed, but within a year there would be elections. That, at least, was the way the MAC structure evolved in Rosamond.
Bait and Switch?
It was a surprise to many, therefore, when the bylaws proposed by Supervisor Watson for a Mountain Communities MAC were not those that have proved successful in Rosamond. Watson’s version eliminates elected representatives, eliminates an independent budget for clerical assistance and eliminates the ability of the council to correspond with anyone but Supervisor Watson.
One lonely voice among his five appointees, that of Linda MacKay, objected to these significant changes between what had been proposed by Fred Rose to members of the community and what Supervisor Watson said he is willing to deliver.
Before Thursday’s meeting, The Mountain Enterprise heard from several mountain residents who expressed distaste about accepting Watson’s appointees rather than electing their own representatives. They said the fact that voters in the three mountain precincts gave 67 percent of their votes to Watson’s opponent in the June 2008 election contributes to the cool reception to Watson’s desire to appoint representatives.
Despite these kinds of statements in advance, the meeting itself was cordial and respectful in tone. However, several people spoke up about their desire for elected representatives.
Watson said he did not want to have elections and to make this "political." He said he is interested in the minority and the majroity opinion on the council, and (he reiterated several times) "the council does not have any authority."
The appointees are Rob Peterson who works for Tejon Ranch, Steve Newman of Cuddy Valley, Anne Weber of Frazier Park, Stacey Havener who lives in Pine Mountain (and has a real estate business in Frazier Park) and Linda MacKay of Lebec.
Havener said she thinks that "elections are overrated." MacKay said politely that she knows of many dictators who would agree.
Please refer back as we update our report on the meeting with additional details.
This is part of the October 30, 2009 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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