Vote for change in Black Diamond | Letter
October 21, 2011 · Updated 5:38 PM
The economic and political unrest that was the setting of Charles Dickens’s novel, "A Tale of Two Cities", could surely be set again in the city of Black Diamond over the last couple of years. The point is that the city of Black Diamond is in turmoil due to the lack of political leadership and limited economic viability. This has been nursed along by the teat of private funding agreements and an addiction to spending that is fueled only by levies and taxes.
Nowhere in America does the sheer uncertainty of how we will govern become clearer than in our small, rural community. This is not about land use. It is about open and transparent government, accountability, and the right of the people to govern themselves versus their government being controlled by lobbyists and corporations.
The issues in Black Diamond appear so complex that it is sometimes easier to put the issues into stereotypes of, “Them or Us”, “For it or Against It”, yet this does a disservice to all those who have put their time, their passion, their beliefs and their money into the issues, including the developer. In fact, the development is not the primary issue here anymore, it is the way the city of Black Diamond has gone about its business and its total lack of regard for the public it is supposed to serve.It is about a city that has a history of poor fiscal management and reliance on easy revenue; it is a city that conducts its business behind closed doors under the guise of executive sessions; it is currently a city that believes the ends justify the means; it is a city filled with hubris; it is a city that has knowingly and capriciously afforded special rights to a for-profit corporation at the cost of the rights of its individual citizens and it is a city that refuses to take accountability for its actions.At every turn I hear about how the developer has rights as a property owner and has rights to due process under the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution.
They absolutely do and I will be the first to stand up and fight for their rights alongside them. What they don’t have is the right to an entitlement; they don’t have the right to violate multiple components of the BDMC, (Black Diamond Municipal Code) and Black Diamond comprehensive plan; they don’t have the right to transfer wealth from my pocketbook to their bank account to pay for their development and they don’t have the right to create an environmental impact on other property owners without adequate mitigation.Under the BDMC we have the right to speak before the hearing examiner about our concerns regarding the MPD (master plan development) projects, the right to due process and the right to appeal the hearing examiner’s decision without intimidation and harassment by the city. It is outlined by the city’s municipal code and federally under the 14th Amendment.Under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution we have the right to speak freely without government interference and the right to gather in public to march, protest, demonstrate, carry signs and otherwise express our views in a nonviolent way. This also means people can join and associate with groups and organizations without interference and that all have the right to appeal to government in favor of or against policies that affect them or that they feel strongly about.
This freedom includes the right to gather signatures in support of a cause and to lobby legislative bodies for or against legislation.
The relevancy of this in my letter is tied to the city’s continued insistence in their responses and supplemental response to the hearing examiner and the courts that somehow blame the citizens for trying to participate in the public process, and the city’s dogged efforts to actively watch and search for citizen organizations and then to call them out as something conspiratorial.I am very concerned that the developer’s right to due process, as zealously facilitated by the city of Black Diamond, is coming at the cost of the citizen’s First Amendment rights.
The citizen’s right to due process should be equally defended. The city is the one who has violated the law with its illegal process that has put us into year (two), month (four), of a quasi-judicial state. We have to continually fight for the basic right to participate, as the city continues its collateral attack on the public participation process. In our quest to always be politically correct and consensus based we have forgotten our civic responsibilities. Civic responsibilities include paying taxes, voting, serving on a jury and obeying the law. The power of the United States government comes from the people, so it is important for people to understand their civic duties and responsibilities.We must engage in the basic principles of democracy, become informed on the issues, and be willing to speak out and engage in robust debate about current affairs. We need a government that represents our values. This is what it really means to be an American, where we came from, and where we are going as a nation. Vote for change; Vote for a voice; Vote Nov. 8th!