Saturday, January 31, 2009

Economic element to be discussed

Last fall, the county supervisors decided to add an optional economic element to the update of the county general plan. Among other things, the element will address the role of agriculture in the local economy.

The first public meeting to discuss the draft policies in the element will be held on Tuesday, February 17, from 9:30 to noon.

Notice that the meeting will be held on a weekday, during the day. When the board of supervisors limited the economic element committee members to business and agriculture groups, the supervisors said the public can comment at the public meetings. But if you have a business to run during the day, or a job to go to, guess what? Apparently you are out of luck.

I guess you can submit written comments, but that's not the same as being in the room to hear the discussion.

I've asked the county planning staff three questions about the draft economic element:
  • When will the draft policies be available for public review?
  • If people have ideas for policies, to whom should they send them and by what date?
  • Will there be any review meetings held in the evening when working people can attend?
No response so far.

It still annoys me that the Amador County Business Council was asked to participate on the committee. This is a pay-to-play organization, whose board members have paid either $1,000 or $2,500 to belong. The group has no history in the county, no track record, and no regular members other than the ones who've paid the big bucks -- at least none that I know of. But apparently, forking out money to pay a consultant to represent your interest is all it takes for county recognition and a seat at the table, at least if you're among the county's business elite.

The timing of the meeting and shape of the committee send an interesting message to the public. Affluent business owners get a seat at the table while working people can't even get in the room.

Ain't democracy grand?

For background information on the county's economy, see the Meeting 15 information on this county planning department page.

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