OpEd by Linda MacKay
Linda MacKay read this statement at the emergency MAC meeting June 15 about the county’s removal of heritage oaks from the library site.
Since I was appointed to a position on the Municipal Advisory Council, I have been disappointed by several aspects of the MAC. This MAC is not what many of us who sat on the MAC working group worked for.
After originally being against it, Supervisor Watson finally yielded and said he would recommend creating a MAC for the Mountain Communities. But from the beginning the supervisor seemed intent on limiting the MAC to as little authority as possible. Even though the state law that created MACs for unincorporated areas like ours allows for the option of elections, Supervisor Watson has not agreed to an elected MCMAC.
The supervisor is only comfortable with appointing members to this body.
Another issue that has bothered me from the beginning— even though state code allows for MACs to freely communicate with other governmental and regulatory entities that may have jurisdiction over something relevant to our concerns, supervisor Watson has chosen that this MAC be allowed only to communicate with his office.
We live in a tri-county area, it would be helpful for the Mountain Communities’ MAC to be able to communicate with Los Angeles or Ventura counties on issues that could impact our region. It would be meaningful for this MAC to communicate with the several air districts that are within our region, Fish and Wildlife, the Forest Service, school districts, water districts and mutual water companies. But we’re not allowed to communicate with these entities directly on our own.
Even though this is just a simple advisory council, Supervisor Watson doesn’t trust this group to reach out on its own and communicate with the necessary entities to find out necessary information on what is happening within our area.
Every single communication must be cleared with and/or go through the supervisor first. The other municipal advisory councils in Kern County and elsewhere in the state don’t have such rigid restrictions.
Why has Supervisor Watson placed such strict restrictions on this MAC’s communications?
Having no elections, tying the hands of the MAC so it can have very little ability to adequately seek out information for our region, all of this has been very disappointing to me.
In addition, I have been discouraged and disappointed that the other members on the MAC are resistant or don’t have the will to examine and make recommendations on land use issues.
Again, the state code allows for—and seems to imply and to expect—municipal advisory councils to explore land use issues. I believe land use issues like the Frazier Park Estates development are the big ticket items for MACs.
Proposed developments will make the largest impacts on a region. Current members have said that they don’t feel comfortable reading and understanding the environmental impact reports on these developments. It seems obvious to me that municipal advisory councils should play an important role in what is proposed for the region within a MAC’s jurisdiction.
Frazier Park Estates has been on more than one of this MAC’s agendas, but I believe every time it’s been on our agendas it’s been there due to my actions, my requests and persistence.
This whole MAC experience has been very uncomfortable for me. Like I said, I believe this MAC is not what the MAC working group worked for.
In fact, it feels like Supervisor Watson has taken what the working group wanted and hijacked it for his own purposes. I’ve concluded that Supervisor Watson finally agreed to create a MCMAC, not to give the Mountain Communities a meaningful voice, but instead to give an appearance that our region has a voice.
As I already stated, I’ve had a lot of problems with the MCMAC from the beginning. And with Supervisor Watson’s recent actions on Frazier Park Estates, and comments he’s made since the approval of the project, this all makes me very angry and upset. Life’s too short to be that angry and upset.
Therefore, I’m going to take this time, right now, to announce my resignation from the Mountain Communities Municipal Advisory Council.
This is my last meeting.
To continue as a member of the MCMAC, I believe, would essentially condone and give validity to something, I feel, at this point, has minimal validity.
I believe the other members of this MAC are good people with good intentions, but I feel its harmful for me to continue what I believe is only a facade of what community members worked for. I think my energies will be better spent on other projects within the community.
I will be providing the council with a formal letter of resignation before the council’s next meeting in July.
MacKay, who works as a Family Advocate at the Mountain Communities Family Resource Center, is co-founder and president of the board of the Mountain Communities Boys & Girls Club. She is also president of the TriCounty Watchdogs.
This is part of the June 25, 2010 online edition of The Mountain Enterprise.
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