Guarionex and Sharon Delgado: We never supported Rise Gold; why do they list us as so?
Earth Justice Ministries is a local interfaith nonprofit organization that we founded with other clergy and laity almost 30 years ago. We have made clear our unwavering opposition to the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine, as individuals and as an organization.
We have circulated petitions, written op-eds, spoken at public forums, sent letters to public officials, and submitted comments on the draft environmental impact report to the Board of Supervisors on the dangers we see posed by the mine. We know that many other community members have done the same.
With all the public opposition to the mine, when we read Rise Gold’s recent press release stating that most of draft impact report comments sent to the Board of Supervisors showed support for the mine (1,600 out of 2,850), something seemed very wrong. It just didn’t add up.
For one thing, that’s not the point of the draft environmental impact report. Rise Gold is misusing the process as a public relations campaign.
The point is not to count how many people support or oppose the mine, but to comment on impacts of the project.
Rise Gold is treating the comments like a poll or survey by tallying up pre-written, postage-paid postcards and electronic form letters supporting the mine.
They did not even check for duplications. It was the hard-working MineWatch volunteers who looked closely at the names and discovered that over 500 were duplicates. Also, the names of several so-called mine “supporters” were actually MineWatch volunteers, like us!
How could that be?
We were shocked to discover that our names were listed as having emailed comments to the Board of Supervisors in support of the reopening of the mine, not just once, but three times!
When we saw the actual emails that had been falsely submitted in our names, all three were identical. Each email was just one sentence that said, “I support the reopening of the Idaho-Maryland Mine,” with our names pasted electronically on all three.
Strangely, although our actual email address was listed, the only return email address we could identify was Sharon and Guari Delgado <email@example.com>.
The same thing happened to Holly Rose, who had five emails sent in her name, identical to the ones sent in our names, also from this third party.
We know that this also happened to other people, and that these false emails were part of what Rise Gold claimed were legitimate comments on the report.
Without Minewatch oversight, we wouldn’t have known.
Jarryd Gonzales, the spokesperson for Rise Gold, did not explain this behavior but rather made the vague claim that “an email was sent to the county whenever someone visited the (Rise Gold) project website and completed a support form.”
Neither of us ever completed such a form, and we can’t imagine other Minewatch volunteers doing so either.
Gonzales also claimed that “there are more duplicates on the side of CEA (Community Environmental Advocates) or Minewatch.”
This is false. Minewatch did not send out pre-written cards or form letters for volunteers to submit to indicate their side by stating their opposition to the mine, but rather encouraged volunteers to follow the draft environmental impact report process by studying the impacts of the mine and making their own comments.
In other words, the Minewatch Coalition followed the rules of the draft environmental impact report process.
Now, appropriately, Minewatch is making public the names of people who have taken a stand in opposition to the mine by submitting petitions to the Board of Supervisors. On Tuesday, July 12, the Minewatch Coalition turned in petitions that included 5,550 names (with no duplications) of people who oppose the reopening of the mine.
Volunteers did the hard work of not only circulating petitions, but also removing duplications. From where we stand, we see these petitions as an honest measure of where most Nevada County residents stand on the mine.
Guarionex and Sharon Delgado live in Nevada City.
Novelist Quentin Reynolds was a combat correspondent in North Africa during World War II. My grandfather, Barry Faris, was editor-in-chief of William Randall Hearst’s International News Service.
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