I’m going to miss Todd Juvinall (one of our former county supervisors) during his short stint as CABPRO’s executive director. For a while it was “back to the future” in our county for extremist dialogue in the growth vs. no growth debate, among others.
Juvinall, who founded the group, has done his best over the years to paint with a broad brush and blame all of our woes on “liberals.” It is political polarizing at its best. Personal attacks and misinformation sometimes are part of the MO as well.
This week, in a well-publicized growth debate, Todd blamed “Marin County residents” for filmmaker George Lucas’ abrupt withdrawl of a big studio project. In fact, it was a small group of vocal extremists, just like the ones we experience here.
Most people are in the middle, even in Marin. Lucas lives in a modest neighborhood – around the corner from where our 1,000-square-foot-home was located. George just added on (much) more than the rest of us, snapping up some adjacent land, but he was a good, quiet neighbor. And he consulted the neighbors when he expanded.
Most residents like Lucas, and are sad that he’s not going ahead with the studio project. By Marin standards, our family was conservative, too, just like most of our neighbors.
Todd’s characterization is extremist and simplistic, just as it is in our county. It is not constructive.
CABPRO and its supporters have become part of our county’s subculture, going back to the days of NH2020 and the supposed “Gang of Four,” a pejorative term for some progressive county supervisors.
CABPRO’s views on growth and “land rights” have been supported by The Union publisher, old-guard “electeds” in Grass Valley and some leaders of NCCA (the contractor’s group) from time to time.
But times are changing: Our demographics are “purple” now. “Enviros” are working with conservatives. The nonpartisan effort to “Save the Yuba” was a shining example. Collaboration is happening. The internet is changing how we communicate and interact on growth issues; there’s no communications bottlenecks, as in the past – at KNCO, The Union and so forth.
FIELD OF DREAMS?
Here’s an example: The other day, I was surprised to hear that a group has been quietly meeting with civic and business leaders and electeds to promote a big resort in our western county to boost business. It could include a hotel, golf course, event center and so on – a “destination” resort if you will.
Most of the “big wheels” in town know about it. I’m sure The Union publisher must know about it, so I’m surprised to see that it’s getting no ink. I’m a big believer in transparency.
The reaction to the project has been mixed. People are wondering if the project is the proper scale, whether there’s financing, whether our population can support it and so on. The golf project Darkhorse is brought up. This sketipism comes from both sides of the political aisle. It is not “anti-growth liberalism” – it’s pragmatism.
On the other hand, it could create jobs and needed tax receipts.
At some point, the proposal being discussed more privately is going to surface and a more public dialog will ensue.
But here’s what’s different than before: I predict it will be a switch from the past, when people like Todd (or Drew Bedwell and others) tried to polarize the residents. Or the dominant media tried to control the discussion (or outcome for that matter). Instead, it will be a thoughtful, sober, democratic discussion about our future.
It will show, once again, that we’ve graduated from the “rock throwing” era. We are in the process of defining our future, and it is a more democratic, thoughtful process.