Saturday, August 11, 2007

Beware the Big Lie

In the 20th Century, propagandists perfected the practice of the "Big Lie" -- saying something outrageous and repeating it over and over again until people came to believe it.

21st Century Amador County developers have embraced this propaganda technique to push their projects on us.

"Our project is good for YourTown."

"Our project is the solution to YourProblems."

"Our project is smart growth."

The current noteworthy example is Jackson Hills. I've never seen a project get this far along with so many harmful environmental impacts and so many questions remaining about its details. And a couple of smart growth-resembling details do not a smart-growth project make.

But the developers and their minions are simply repeating their big lie mantras: "Jackson needs Jackson Hills. Jackson Hills will solve Jackson's wastewater problems. Jackson Hills is smart growth."

Because Jackson does have some real problems, mostly caused by poor development decisions made in the past and difficult infrastructure challenges, these messages are appealing.

But as I've said before, Jackson Hills is a bad project in the wrong place at the wrong time. The golf course can't dispose of wastewater in winter. There's no place for regular working Jacksonians to live. It would create gridlock in South Jackson. It would obliterate oak woodland and threaten the operation of local ranches. And there are just too many unanswered questions.

Jackson's Planning Commission saw through the Big Lie and recommended rejection of the project. So did the Amador County Transportation Commission.

They relied on fact, not faith, in making their decisions. Faith is a good thing, but putting faith in developers is a very risky business.

Let's hope the city mothers and fathers are also smart enough to see through the manipulation, look hard at the facts (and the missing facts), and do the right thing for their town and our county.

Be sure to attend the public hearing on Monday evening, August 13 if you'd like to weigh in.

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