There is a problem that won’t go away | TheUnion.com
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There is a problem that won’t go away

“The problem with political jokes is they get elected.”

– Henry Cate

We know what Drew Bedwell and Robin Sutherland are against – NH 2020. What, however, are they for?



Nevada County has a problem that just won’t go away. It is next door to Placer County, the fastest growing county in California. The big land developers are coming. The question is not if, but where? Bedwell, Sutherland, and their backers, fought like the devil to kill NH 2020, and they succeeded. It’s dead. Now what?

If elected, Bedwell and Sutherland have said that they want to burn the maps prepared by the scientists under NH 2020 and return things to the way this county used to be before Bruce Conklin and Izzy Martin were elected as county supervisors. Ah! How conservative! Back to the past!




The previous Board of Supervisors was so eager to assist developers that it issued bonds to underwrite improvements in the Wildwood Estates.

That board was found to have made egregious falsehoods in its bond offering, which led to the SEC issuing a cease and desist order.

This relegated the county’s bonds to “junk bond” status, costing the county millions of dollars. It was only during the past two years, under Conklin and Martin, that these violations were ameliorated. The current board has now saved the county twenty million dollars by lowering the interest the county pays on its bonds!

The previous board, much like Bedwell and Sutherland, was disdainful of state and federal conservation laws so it did not bother to comply with those laws before beginning work on the county landfill. As a result, the county was hit with fines of $1,000 per day.

To ameliorate this violation has cost the county untold hundreds of thousands of dollars. It is only under the present board that this blunder has finally successfully been dealt with.

In 1995, the previous board adopted a General Plan that was inadequate because it was based on incomplete, out-of-date information that was not verified by field surveys. Before building on undeveloped land, a builder has to establish that he will not be violating any federal or state laws relating to protected plants, animals or watersheds.

The problem is that the government agencies have myriad maps and information (some accurate and some inaccurate or conflicting) relating to these issues, but only the bureaucrats and engineers knew where that information was. Now, through NH 2020, all of this information has been gathered together in the Natural Resources Report, corrected and verified, and is available for free to everyone.

This will save builders, taxpayers and the county untold thousands of dollars and many a headache. This is the report, and these are the maps, that Bedwell and Sutherland want to burn.

Wait a minute. All those big signs on the highways say, “Stop NH 2020. Protect property rights.” What property rights? How did NH 2020 endanger property rights? The answer is, quite obviously, it didn’t.

Citizens of Nevada County, you have been victims of the big lie. You have fallen for that propaganda maxim known to all master manipulators that if you repeat a lie often enough and loud enough, people will believe it.

There are some members of this community who are opposed to government regulations of any kind. They are bitterly opposed to the federal Endangered Species Act, the Clean Water Act, and any other federal and state laws designed to protect the environment. They suffer under some misguided belief that if NH 2020 was defeated, the county would no longer be required to comply with those laws. They are wrong.

The truth is that “property rights” had little or nothing to do with NH 2020. Who will be sitting on the Board after the upcoming election is what all the huffing and puffing was about. Large landowners and developers have been the principal contributors to the war chests of Bedwell and Sutherland. We can anticipate that they will have nothing to worry about if Bedwell and Sutherland are elected.

Bedwell and Sutherland’s principal claim to fame is that they killed NH 2020. The joke is that this had nothing to do with protecting anyone’s property rights. Unfortunately, if they are elected, the joke will be on us.

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


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