On Wednesday night, Jan 25, 2012, I attended a Solano County Workshop along with about 100 other participants. This was the last of 9 workshops held in the Bay Area, entitled “Plan Bay Area”. This Workshop was a joint effort led by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) in cooperation with the Solano County Board of Supervisors. The Workshop Leader’s goal was to garner feedback and support from Solano County Residents on a strategy on how the Bay Area will be able to accommodate a growth of 2,000,000 more Bay Area residents in its 9 contiguous counties over the next 25 years. The primary driver of this effort revolved around two State Laws AB32 and SB375 that provided design guidelines for much of the planning effort.
What the Workshop Leaders got was a room full of very outspoken, sometimes passionate and sometimes angry residents who did not support what was being presented and resented the format that appeared to be superficial. The residents immediately set the tone of the meeting and it was clear they did not like the process whereby they were to be divided into 3rds and asked to rotate to 3 stations; one every 30 minutes. Most participants refused to leave the auditorium that held everyone and clearly wanted to be heard. They wanted answers to their questions about sovereignty, property rights, freedom and self-determination rights. In one sense, it was civil disobedience at its best but in another sense I am unsure if many of the participant’s points were really heard.
The highlight of the evening, to his credit, was when Jim Spering, Vice Chair, Solano County Board of Supervisors, closed the meeting by reading his notes listing a number of questions he heard during the workshop and he made a commitment to seek answers to each question. He also acknowledged that several of the participants had spoken passionately about United Nations Agenda 21 and admitted that he had never personally heard of that topic. He committed to learn more and during this period he accepted a book from a participant entitled “Behind the Green Mask: U.N. Agenda 21” by Rosa Koire to which he committed to begin reading.
The overall observation I made was the dedication, the passion and the commitment of each participant to be more vigilant, to be more involved in every aspect of our local government’s activity and to hold those we elect accountable for their decisions. The missing element was a respectful exchange of ideas and information. I think if all of us resolve to get more involved in our local government’s activities, we may just be able to make a difference in our own communities; what do you think?