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Know the facts before voting

It was beginning to look like the upcoming election for county supervisors was going to be a referendum on NH 2020. The incumbents, Bruce Conklin and Izzy Martin, had voted for it, and the many candidates opposing them are all against it. In an effort to give the voters of this county a fair and unbiased basis upon which to vote, last November I wrote identical letters to Bruce Conklin and Drew Bedwell, asking four identical questions. Space limitations made it impossible to canvass all the candidates. I picked Drew because he was the leading opponent of NH 2020, and thus I assumed that he was, in effect, speaking for all of the opponents. Bruce responded promptly, and his answers are set forth below. Drew called immediately; he said he was sending his answers right back, but he never did. However, he has written so much, so often, that I have been able to extract the essence of the information I was seeking from his many writings. Here are the questions, and first, here are Bruce Conklin’s answers.

Question: Please briefly outline your qualifications, including education, background, experience, and any awards you may have attained.



Conklin: “People and the environment have been my life’s work. As the youngest of seven children, I paid my way through college by working in a mental hospital. I have completed a master’s degree, a community college teaching credential and a law degree. I’m a member of the California Bar. Nevertheless, I have spent 20 years traveling around the country, planting trees in areas logged or burned by wildfires.




“Since I was elected to the Board of Supervisors in 1998, I have worked to revamp long-term care, to support the first regional Family Support System, to create an early childhood development system, and have led efforts to save St. Joseph’s Cultural Center and the Miners Foundry.”

Question: Please state your reason for running for county supervisor, i.e., the prime objectives that you hope to obtain.

Conklin: “When I was first elected to the board, we had to respond to one immediate crisis after another. Today, county pay is competitive with other public agencies, all managerial and all law enforcement positions are filled, morale is improved, the public defender’s office is recovering, the lawsuits have been settled, and we have an administrator with a worldwide reputation.

“Now that the immediate problems have been resolved, we are planning for the long term – planning for efficient high technology services, planning to create affordable housing and better paying jobs, planning for moderate growth which retains natural features.”

Question: Please explain how you believe you differ from your principal opponent, i.e., why, in your opinion, voters should vote for you.

Conklin: “No other candidate has a lifetime of experience in practical environmental protection. No other candidate has my background in human services. No other candidate has three years of experience on the board, two years as its representative to the State Association of Counties, one year as chair of a tri-county Air Quality Board, and a founding member of one of the most respected Children and Families First commissions in the state. No other candidate has done more to bring local public bodies together. No other candidate is endorsed by three current county supervisors.

“I have shown you I will keep my promises.”

Question: If there is a single statement you would want the voters of your district to hear, what would it be?

Conklin: “I’m the same person today that I was four years ago when you elected me your supervisor. My commitment to people, and the environment on which they depend, is lifelong.”

Turning, next, to Drew Bedwell’s writings covering much of the same subjects.

Bedwell: “My background is BSME and in later life I did undergraduate and graduate work in earth science, specifically geology and a subset called sedimentology. As a grad student, I taught earth science at San Jose State.”

“Does or has anyone noticed how the Rural Quality Coallition (sic) (RQC) has dropped off the map since the NH 2020 issue has reared its ugly head? The resources (sic) have gone underground and are now popping up in South River Citizens Group, Sierra Club, Audubon Society. They just assume innocuous (sic) roles in the wallpaper and persist in their ultimate goal. Just think about it (all conspiracy theories set aside). If you wanted to ‘do in’ the private property interests in the United States in the interest of the ‘social good,’ you’d go with something like ‘the highest and best use of the land is biodiversity.’ That translates to the Endangered Species Act abuse and the Habitat garbage they dump on us. Oh by the way, Districts 3 and 4 MUST go to people on our side.”

“The roots of the deep ecology movement (Green) can be traced directly to the founder of the Sierra Club, John Muir. In the last half century, the ‘movement’ has gained momentum following the 1948 establishment of UNESCO. Although the players were the same, the Green movement’s thought process did not merge with the UN formally until the combined, UN and Earth Summit meetings in Rio De Janeiro in 1992. The declaration and establishment of the international Agenda 21 and its 27 principles was the result. Implementation began immediately.

“NH 2020 and its cousins (Placer Legacy, Visions 2010, etc.) are in place, and operating all over our state and country. They and their supporters are working very hard at their task of undoing the ownership of PRIVATE property. They are the local manifestations of the international Agenda 21 efforts. Locally, NH 2020 will render most of our properties useless.” [Note: UNESCO was established in 1946, not 1948, and in 1984 the United States withdrew from UNESCO. I know of no international conspiracy involving the UN and our Board of Supervisors, however I have simply tried to accurately quote Drew.]

There you have it, in their own words. Now you can vote based upon what the candidates say, rather than what others say about them. There is only one problem. After all the fuss and fury, NH 2020 is turning out to be a non-issue.

After a year in process, the scientists have completed their survey. For the first time, we now have an accurate mapping of all of our extremely valuable and vulnerable watersheds. In spite of all the dire predictions, not a single person’s property rights have been violated.

The community advisory committees, after hundreds of hours of volunteer effort, have issued their reports. The recommendations of the Forestry and Recreation groups were published in The Union on February 5, 2002. I urge you to read them. They appear to be well reasoned, evenly balanced, and the product of logic and good old common sense. These recommendations will be presented to the Board of Supervisors, and then voted on by us citizens in the November election. This is in stark contrast to what happened under the previous board (the one that was voted out when Conklin and Martin were voted in). Under the previous board, after citizen volunteers had spent hundreds of hours, the board simply ignored their reports and recommendations. That was what brought about the creation of the Rural Quality Coalition – citizens seeking a way for their voices to be heard, as well as the voices of the big landowners and developers who controlled the previous board.

Imagine that. NH 2020 is turning out to be exactly what Conklin and Martin hoped it would be – a sound and useful guide to the future development of our county’s undeveloped areas. These are the facts. Vote wisely. The future of our county depends on it.

Hank Starr, a divorce lawyer who lives and practices in Nevada City, writes a monthly column.


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