Tim Marquez’s Letter to Carpinterians about Measure J (the Paredon Initiative)

marquez_smTim Marquez wants to drill for oil from inside Carpinteria, the small town where I live. Technically, it’s Venoco, Marquez’s oil company, that wants to drill. But I’m pretty sure that for the purposes of the current discussion, when we talk about Venoco, we’re talking about Marquez.

He was going through the usual environmental review process for his project (called the “Paredon” project, after the oil field he wants to drill into), but a little over a year ago, just as the environmental impact report, or EIR, was about to be reviewed by Carpinteria’s planning commission, he announced that he was putting the project on hold, and instead would use a ballot initiative so voters could decide the project’s fate directly. He hired a bunch of signature gatherers, and succeeded in qualifying his initiative for the ballot. We’ll be voting on the initiative — which is now called Measure J — in June.

Marquez took out a full-page ad in my local paper last week, urging Carpinterians to vote “Yes” on Measure J. The letter is pretty interesting. Everything — or nearly everything — Marquez says in it is true, technically. But some of the impressions it creates are pretty misleading.

Disclosure: I’m a member of Carpinteria’s planning commission (though I’m writing this as a private citizen, not in my capacity as a planning commissioner). I’m also a volunteer with Citizens Against the Paredon Initiative, the grass-roots organization that is working against Measure J. Again, I’m doing that as a private citizen, separate from my role as a planning commissioner.

marquez_letter_smYou can view Marquez’s letter on the web site of our local paper, the Coastal View News (A Personal Message to Our Carpinteria Neighbors).

The letter starts off like this:

Dear Friends and Neighbors:

When I founded Venoco here in Carpinteria back in 1992, we had no revenue and no income. I had a small office at 5655 Carpinteria Avenue where I spent the next two years struggling to create this company. In those days our family survived on my wife Bernie’s income as a nurse at Cottage Hospital.

The story of Marquez’s founding of Venoco, and his subsequent history with the company, is actually really interesting. I recommend a 2003 article from Inc magazine (Oil Slicks), and a 2007 article from the Denver Post (Tim Marquez: Oil and opportunity), if you’d like to learn more of the details.

These days, Marquez is doing really well financially. I don’t have a problem with that. But I think it’s important for Carpinterians reading his letter to understand how much his circumstances have changed since 1992, and how closely those circumstances are tied to Venoco’s stock price.

According to the latest SEC filing, Marquez currently owns 32,271,532 shares (60%) of Venoco stock, either individually or through the Marquez Trust and the Marquez Foundation. A year ago, when Venoco stock was trading at $3.05 per share, Marquez’s holdings were worth about $98 million. As of March, 2010, with Venoco stock at $14.04 per share, his holdings are worth about $453 million.

Returning to the letter:

I’m very proud of what we have accomplished since 1992. We were recognized last year as the top operator in the Pacific Region by the U.S. Government with the Safety Award for Excellence. And we now have almost 80 local employees here in Carpinteria — of whom you probably know from their active participation in the community.

Marquez doesn’t actually say who gave Venoco that award (other than “the U.S. Government”). As it turns out, the award was given to Venoco by the regional office of the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service (MMS), and covered operations on Venoco’s offshore platforms Gail and Grace during 2008. MMS officials report that they performed 20 inspections at the two platforms that year, and found “only three, minor incidents of noncompliance” with safety regulations.


I’m not sure how much confidence Carpinterians can place in the MMS award, though. The agency has been widely criticized as being overly friendly to the oil and gas industry, and was the subject of a 2008 internal government investigation that found extensive wrongdoing. According to Wikipedia:

On September 10, 2008, Inspector General Devaney found wrongdoing by a dozen current and former employees of the Minerals Management Service. In a cover memo, Devaney wrote “A culture of ethical failure” pervades the agency. According to the report, eight officials accepted gifts from energy companies whose value exceeded limits set by ethics rules — including golf, ski, and paintball outings; meals; drinks; and tickets to a Toby Keith concert, a Houston Texans football game, and a Colorado Rockies baseball game. The investigation also concluded that several of the officials “frequently consumed alcohol at industry functions, had used cocaine and marijuana, and had sexual relationships with oil and gas company representatives.” According to the New York Times, “The reports portray a dysfunctional organization that has been riddled with conflicts of interest, unprofessional behavior and a free-for-all atmosphere for much of the Bush administration’s watch.”

As far as I’m aware, Venoco was never implicated in the MMS scandal. But I think voters should be aware of it, and take it into account when evaluating the significance of Venoco’s MMS safety award.

When it comes to safety, oil companies tend to fall into a spectrum, with those that have the highest safety standards at one end, and scofflaws that treat spills and fines as a routine cost of doing business at the other. Venoco definitely is better on safety than some — see, for example, this recent article on Greka Energy, another local oil company: No Really, Greka Spills Again. But Venoco’s record isn’t perfect.

One incident involved Venoco’s drilling operation in Beverly Hills. This was one of the first drilling operations Marquez bought when Venoco was starting out. In some ways it’s a good analog for what Marquez wants to do in Carpinteria: It’s in a populated area, just a hundred yards or so from the Beverly Hills High School athletic field. Supporters of the Paredon project like to cite the Beverly Hills operation as evidence that Venoco can operate in a residential area without causing problems for its neighbors.

Except that there have been problems. In March 2003 Venoco was the subject of a lawsuit that alleged the company had released benzene, a carcinogen, into the air at the Beverly Hills facility. The suit was dismissed by the court when studies found no connection between the facility and cancer rates, but not before the increased scrutiny had resulted in Venoco being fined by the Air Quality Management District (AQMD) for violations regarding gas releases. See the following AQMD announcement for details: Venoco to monitor air quality at Beverly Hills High School.

Venoco had a similar run-in with the Santa Barbara County Air Pollution Control District (APCD), our local version of the AQMD, in 2006. The issue concerned the height of six smoke stacks at the Carpinteria Processing Facility (CPF), the same place where Marquez wants to do the Paredon project. According to the APCD (see Santa Barbara County APCD Health Risk Assessment Report), Venoco submitted a report to the APCD in 1999, and again in 2004, giving the height of the stacks as being twice as high as they actually were. In 2006, after an outside party raised questions about the issue, the APCD measured the stacks and discovered the discrepancy.

The difference between the reported and actual stack heights was not very large (the stacks were reported as being about 30 feet high, when in fact they were about 15 feet high). But the discrepancy was enough to make the difference between the APCD reporting that the facility’s benzene emissions did not represent a significant cancer risk to the surrounding community, and reporting that those emissions did represent a significant cancer risk. And Venoco probably was aware of that, since Chevron, the company from which Venoco bought the CPF in 1999, had asked for, and received, an assessment from the APCD on exactly that point at the time the CPF sale was being negotiated.


From the time he founded Venoco, Tim Marquez has had a pretty consistent strategy: find oil and gas operations where production has declined, such that the current owner is having a hard time making a profit, but where there still are significant reserves in the ground. Buy out the current owner, then upgrade the operation to make it more efficient and increase production. The result: A profitable well.

It’s an approach that has been very successful. But for Marquez’s neighbors, it’s important to understand the economic realities under which Venoco operates. It’s all about cost-efficiency, finding ways to squeeze out a little more oil for a little less money.

My impression is that problems like the Beverly Hills gas releases and the misstated stack heights at the CPF are not common for Venoco; the company really does have a pretty good track record on safety. But the track record isn’t as good as the picture Marquez paints in his letter, and Carpinterians should be aware of that when considering Measure J.

Marquez continues:

My experience leading a local company has a lot to do with why Measure J is on the ballot this June. The State of California has never before allowed a local community the right to receive royalties from oil development. That’s why Measure J is so important. It is a one-time opportunity to generate enough royalty and tax revenue to double city revenues and meet critical needs of local school children.

A casual reader could interpret this passage to mean that Measure J somehow changes how the state would distribute royalty payments from Paredon. But that’s not true. All Measure J does is to rewrite Carpinteria’s planning laws to approve the project, and require the city to issue Venoco the necessary permits to proceed. Any royalty split between the state, county, and city would be up to the state, as it always has been. Measure J does nothing to change that.

I also was struck by how Marquez tries to create a sense of urgency here by describing Measure J is “a one-time opportunity.”

Here is how we got to this point. Eleven years ago we acquired a lease from the State of California to explore for oil and natural gas just off the coast of Carpinteria. Environmental reviews identified two basic options for pursuing these reserves — either from an onshore facility or from an offshore platform located in coastal waters. Independent experts stated that the best choice for the environment was to drill from our existing onshore facility. [underlining in original]

This is all true. The EIR for the original Paredon project goes into detail about the environmental benefits of drilling from shore, as opposed to drilling from an offshore platform. That isn’t to say that any particular onshore drilling project is environmentally superior, though. Part of what makes onshore drilling environmentally superior is that it allows for easier monitoring and maintenance — but you only get those benefits if the monitoring and maintenance actually happens.

By bypassing the city’s review process, Measure J tries to avoid a lot of monitoring and maintenance that the city was trying to include as mitigation measures in the original project. Steve Greig, Venoco’s government relations manager, admitted as much during a public hearing before the Carpinteria City Council. Here’s the video:

A Venoco Confession (running time 1:15) from Ted Rhodes on Vimeo.

Grieg subsequently tried to walk these comments back a bit, but I think this probably is one of those cases where an official accidentally told the truth.

Returning to Marquez’s letter:

Our existing onshore facility covers 55-acres and it has operated in Carpinteria since the 1950s. Our plan would use just one-acre of this facility for our exploration activities.

Measure J simply modifies the current land use designation (this is already an industrial site) to allow us to use a small portion of the land for exploration activities. But you should know that Measure J does NOT actually approve our application. It is merely the first step in a long review process. [underlining in original]

I think this creates a misleading impression. Yes, there are other hurdles that Paredon would have to clear even if Measure J passes. But as far as any oversight or review by the city of Carpinteria is concerned, Measure J absolutely does approve Marquez’s project. That’s the whole point of Measure J.

Approval of Measure J would be followed by a full environmental, health and safety review. The reviewing and approving agencies include the State Lands Commission, Coastal Commission, Air Pollution Control District, Regional Water Quality Control Board and the Summerland/Carpinteria Fire Department.

This statement would be true, except for the word “full.” A full environmental review under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) would be led by the city of Carpinteria. That’s the one agency in the long list of those required to sign off on the project that has the principal responsibility for evaluating the project’s cumulative, overall impact on nearby residents. Those other entities are charged with doing more-limited reviews dealing with specific aspects of the project (its impact on air quality, or water quality, or provisions to assist firefighters in the event of a fire or explosion). It’s the city of Carpinteria, as the “lead” agency under CEQA, that is supposed to do the most-comprehensive analysis of the project’s impacts. And it is that review that Measure J would bypass.

If Measure J is not approved, then we’ll have to submit a new application to drill from offshore and the State will keep all the royalties.

Again, I think Marquez is being misleading. Defeat of Measure J would not force him to drill offshore. All it would do is require that he go through the same review process that any other developer has to go through to do business inside the city limits. If Marquez wants to try to get approval to drill offshore he’s free to pursue that — just as he’s free to pursue it today. But Measure J’s failure wouldn’t compel him to do so.

This is an exploration project. After we drill the first well we may not find enough oil and gas to continue. If that occurs, then we’ll stop the project and remove all of the equipment. However, if oil and gas supplies are found (we estimate as much as 11,000 barrels of oil per day could be produced from this project) then there will be substantial benefits to the Carpinteria community.

A successful project would mean the City of Carpinteria could receive enough income to double its current annual budget for years to come. We have also pledged to donate up to $5 million to the Carpinteria Education Foundation to help local school children. [underlining in original]

It’s important to read this passage carefully. “…the City of Carpinteria could receive…” “…pledged to donate up to $5 million…” Those phrases I’ve emphasized are terms of art. They’re easy to overlook, but they’re important. Because of them, and because of similar language in Measure J, neither Marquez’s letter nor Measure J actually guarantees any money to Carpinteria or its schools. I think it’s likely that if Measure J is approved Carpinteria will eventually see some money. But how much? And at what cost? You can’t actually tell from what’s written in Marquez’s letter, or in Measure J.

My parents were both school teachers, so I have a special affection for public education and the great teachers who can make a difference.

I think this part is true. A lot of the goodwill Marquez enjoys in Carpinteria comes from his practice of donating significant amounts of money (tens of thousands of dollars per year) to local educational nonprofits. Even more, when Venoco went public and Marquez became wealthy, he donated $85 million in Venoco stock to establish the Denver Foundation and the Marquez Foundation, creating scholarships for Denver public school students. (See The 2006 Slate 60: Donations, which lists Tim and Bernadette Marquez among the largest charitable donors in the US during the year 2006.)

Returning to Tim Marquez’s letter to Carpinterians:

There is some false and misleading information being distributed about Measure J in the community. I encourage you to read and study the facts about Measure J for yourself.

I agree that there is false and misleading information being distributed about Measure J, but I’m probably thinking of different information than Marquez is. For example, when his paid signature gatherer came to my door as part of the effort to qualify the initiative for the ballot, that signature gatherer told me that 1) the signature-gathering effort had been underway for several weeks (it hadn’t; I knew that it had started only a few days before), and 2) there was a deadline that very day at 5:00 p.m. if they were going to gather enough signatures to qualify for the then-upcoming Fall election (again, not true; there was no deadline, and Venoco had no intention of trying to get the initiative on the Fall 2009 ballot). When I told the signature gatherer that I didn’t think his statements were true, he backed up like I had physically threatened him (which I hadn’t; I thought I was being pretty reasonable), and told me, “well, that’s what my supervisor said; she told me that before I came out today.”

There was fairly widespread outrage in Carpinteria over the tactics these signature gatherers used. Carp is a small town, and word gets around. But Marquez got his signatures, and the initiative is on the ballot.

I certainly agree with the part about encouraging voters to get more information about the initiative. A good place is to start is the City of Carpinteria’s Measure J page. In particular, I recommend the city’s Elections Code 9212 Report (PDF), which gives a more-balanced version than Marquez’s letter of the likely consequences for Carpinterians should Measure J become law.

Update: Some other resources from the city of Carpinteria’s web site (all of these are PDFs):

Returning to the letter:

There are also some interesting claims being made about our existing facility which has been in operation for more than 50 years. If our onshore exploration permit is approved there will be far less oil and natural gas going through this facility than it processed in the 1980s without incident.

It’s hard to get a handle on what Marquez is actually saying here. If Paredon is approved and the amount of oil and gas found is in line with Venoco’s hopes, there will be a lot more oil and gas processing at the facility than has been the case for a long time. Whether the facility will be able to handle that load safely without a lot of costly upgrades and mitigation measures is a complex question, one that would have been analyzed in detail as part of the now-suspended environmental review of the original project.

I want to offer you a tour of our existing facility so you can see the location for yourself and ask us questions. You can make a reservation for a tour or get answers to your questions by either calling us at 745-2165 or emailing us at lm.rivas@venocoinc.com.

Actually, I think I’ll take Marquez up on this. I’d like to get a tour of the facility. I’d also like to ask some of the questions I’ve raised here of Lisa Rivas, Venoco’s Carpinteria community relations manager. One thing I want to ask, more for my own curiosity than anything else, is whether she’s the supervisor who allegedly told my paid signature gatherer misleading facts to pass on to voters.

Imagine the possibilities for Carpinteria — making the best choice for the environment by moving oil exploration onshore, providing significant new revenues to meet community needs for years to come, and generating millions in new funds to support our local school children.

I can promise you that our company and our employees will continue to be strong supporters of this wonderful community. And it won’t matter if you vote “YES on J” to start the formal environmental review of our onshore permit or vote NO on J to send us offshore to explore for these resources. [underlining in original]

For me, this is probably the most misleading statement in the letter. According to Marquez, it doesn’t matter if I vote “Yes” (thereby starting the formal environmental review) or vote “No” (thereby making it so Venoco uses offshore drilling to tap these resources). The reality, of course, is just the opposite: a “Yes” vote means Venoco gets to bypass the most-comprehensive environmental review. And voting “No” doesn’t “send Venoco offshore”; that would be up to Venoco (and to state and/or federal policymakers and voters, who would have to approve any new offshore drilling). But by misrepresenting a “No” vote as leading inevitably to offshore drilling, it sounds like Marquez is trying to trick low-information voters who oppose offshore drilling into voting “Yes”.

Offshore drilling is very unpopular around here (and likely to become more so, with a push currently under way at the state level to approve new offshore drilling in the Santa Barbara Channel). The 1969 Platform A blowout and the oil spill that followed hit Carpinteria’s beaches hard. The outrage provoked by that 1969 spill is credited by many with being the trigger that launched the modern environmental movement, which eventually led to passage of the very same laws Marquez appears to be trying to evade with Measure J.


I would be delighted to hear from you. Please send any comments or questions that you might have to us at the email address or telephone number listed above.

Yours Truly,

Tim Marquez

I have a question for Tim Marquez: Is Measure J an attempt to evade CEQA? Why would you want Carpinteria voters to decide this issue without the benefit of a detailed analysis of the environmental impacts? I’ll grant that you may have the legal right to do this (the courts have sided with you so far), and I can certainly see how it is in your interest financially. But is pursuing the Paredon project this way — bypassing environmental review, and using misleading statements to try to sell the project to voters — morally right?

I know you live in Colorado now. But to the extent you still think of yourself as a Carpinterian, let me speak neighbor-to-neighbor.

I really like Carpinteria. I like raising my family here, and pursuing my own modest version of the American dream. The thing I like most about Carpinteria is that it’s sort of a throwback to an earlier time. It’s a place where a farmer will take a break from plowing a field to chat with a passing stranger and his son, then offer the boy a ride on his tractor. That actually happened to me one day while I was out walking at the Carpinteria bluffs, about a hundred yards from where you want to drill.

I probably don’t have much in common with that farmer in terms of my politics or how I make my living. But in that moment we shared something more important than what divided us. What we shared was that we saw ourselves as part of a community, as neighbors.

Neighbors look out for each other. And as a neighbor, I have to say, I wish you’d give some more thought to how you’re going about this project.


8 Responses to “Tim Marquez’s Letter to Carpinterians about Measure J (the Paredon Initiative)”

  1. shcb Says:

    Interesting, is this something you have published somewhere else? It sounds like this facility is somewhat isolated? At least it is built on 50 acres. I worked in the oil field many decades ago and my kids work in the biz now, one thing I know for certain is the oil industry and a residential area don’t mix. We had oil and gas wells on out here when we moved in, been here for decades, no safety issues, you won’t even know they are here, until one night a cracking station blew up, no one was killed, but they evacuated everyone up to our front yard and spent the night putting out the fire. Now we have no oil and gas wells in our development.

    Good luck with your endeavor, is there any way you can reach a compromise and at least have some of the safety concerns evaluated? Probably not, usually once you get a process in a government entity going it’s all in.

  2. jbc Says:

    No, I haven’t published it anywhere else.

    On the isolation question, it is and it isn’t. The CPF is inside the city limits (which is why this whole issue even exists), but it’s out past the edge of current residential development. There’s a residential neighborhood to the west; it looks from the map as if it’s about 500 feet from the CPF industrial site’s property line, and a little less than 1000 feet from where the drilling would take place. There’s a parcel of land to the east of the drilling site that is considerably closer. It’s currently used for open field agriculture (that’s where William got his ride on the tractor), but there are various plans to develop it as a resort or housing at some point in the future. There also is an Amtrak train track that runs right by where the drilling would take place (less than 100 feet away, it looks like), and a nearby harbor seal haulout and pupping site with an overlook that gets a couple hundred human visitors on a busy day.

    There was a process ongoing to evaluate an earlier version of the project, in the course of which the city would have been working with Venoco to address safety concerns. But that version of the project was pulled by Marquez when he switched to trying to pass it via initiative. If Measure J passes, it would basically write into law that the drilling operation is safe.

    One of the concerns that have been raised about that is that there is language in the initiative that seems to say that as long as Venoco is pursuing the (fairly loosely defined) project described in the initiative, the company’s actions cannot be restricted or modified by the city, even if Venoco decides to modify its practices or sell to another operator.

  3. shcb Says:

    Boy, this sounds dirty to me, so they upgrade everything now, but 20 years from now there has been no oversite and the thing blows up, I think this one is worth the good fight, good luck.

  4. knarlyknight Says:

    Aaargh, another instance that I agree with shcb. Good luck jbc, you’re certainly qualified for the battle. Keep it simple on the front lines, that’s where the points of your lance-like arguments go; the complex arguments remain behind as rows upon rows of artillary to be launched as precision strikes.

    Sounds like Marquez has the simple front lines for main (public) battle well set-up, it may be a natural talent or a lot of work on his part or both. But you’re well on your way to out-flanking him on every point.

    I’m betting that he took his approach because his artillary won’t hold up so he’s choosing to engage at close quarters.

  5. shcb Says:

    Personally I think this is one of the most interesting posts on this site in a long time. All of politics is encapsulated here; you have the entrepreneur that is the backbone of our economy, the small town politicians looking out for their best interests, balancing present and future needs. Then there is the issue of pure democracy over republican government. This is happening in every town and city everywhere; my town is building a jail in an inappropriate place, my old home town is building a new hospital that many people don’t want, I’m sure your town has something going on as well.

    So we have Marquez, shrewd businessman, but a decent guy, give back to the community fairly honest but doesn’t mind gaming the system. He likes the regulations when it keeps his competitors out of the way, but finds ways around them when it doesn’t fit his plan. The city fathers, they are willing to give him a pass on regulations they fought so hard to obtain from a disaster just a generation ago for a few shinny coins. JBC is writing about is as a private citizen when he is in the loop, can he really do that? Then we have one of my pet peeves, voters voting on this, you have an intelligent city planner that has obviously done his homework that will be overridden by voters that quite possibly have read one letter from only one of the players.

    And it will all come down to fate when the history is written, if the thing doesn’t blow up the city fathers will have gotten 5 mil for the children, Marquez will have made a little money and the case will be made that regulations are too tight, and they may be, or it may be that Marquez just ran his operation well, and the voters will pat themselves on the back thinking democracy really does work. But if it blows up…

    Well, I’m off to check out, “ten days on the road and I’m a gonna make it home tonight.”

  6. jbc Says:

    On the question of whether I can inject myself into the discussion in a private-citizen capacity, despite being involved as a planning commissioner (if I’m interpreting what you said correctly), yeah, it’s kind of complicated. My understanding of the issue goes like this:

    On the one hand, any citizen has the right to take a position and engage in political speech regarding a candidate or ballot measure, even if that citizen is an appointed or elected official. On the other hand, if such a person makes statements that indicate bias or prejudgment of a matter that will later come before that person in his or her official capacity, that would be bad, since the person is sworn (and under California law, at least, specifically required, legally, with only a few exceptions), to make those official decisions objectively and on the basis of information brought out in the course of open public meetings.

    The city attorney’s office in this case has advised the elected members of the City Council (and, by extension, the appointed folks like me on the Planning Commission), that taking a position as a private citizen against the Paredon Initiative is not a problem in terms of the Brown Act (the California law I was alluding to above). In fact, they’ve gone farther, and said it’s legally okay for the council to take an official stand on Measure J, as a body (which they’ve now done, voting to oppose passage of Measure J 4-1). The City Attorney argues that the project that Measure J seeks to authorize is actually substantially different than the project Venoco was previously pursuing through the normal review process. In the event Measure J fails, and if Venoco then chooses to go back through the normal process to try to get the approval they failed to get via the initiative, that would be a new project, and presumably a different one from the one described in Measure J, and the public officials’ having taken a position on Measure J would not compromise their ability to take official actions on the new project.

    I guess in the scenario where Measure J fails, Venoco could choose to pursue a project via the regular channels that was exactly the same as the one they pursued via initiative, and thereby argue that city officials were disqualified from deciding on it by virtue of their previous actions? I’m not sure how credible a claim they could make of that. I’m also not sure that, given the policy consistency problems that have been identified with Measure J, an official-channels version of the project that matched the Measure J version could even get off the ground.

    All of this is pretty inside-baseball, though. In a real world sense, it could certainly be argued that by taking a public stand against Measure J (whether as a private citizen or in an official capacity), I am making it easier for someone to argue that I’m biased against Venoco, compromising my ability to serve as a planning commissioner on any future items involving Venoco as an applicant. There’s a Measure J supporter who lives just a few doors down the street from me who has made public statements implying just that (she didn’t mention me by name, but it was pretty clear from at least one of her statements that she was including me in the group she was saying had done that). There’s actually a mostly-unrelated item involving Venoco coming before the Planning Commission in the next few months, before the election that will decide Measure J. It will be interesting to see if anyone makes that case at that hearing. All I can say for now is that I’ll be giving careful thought to that question myself, since if I honestly believed I could not be objective, I would need to recuse myself from hearing that item.

    But returning to your original question, my response is basically this: My objections to Measure J are based on process issues specific to the initiative. I’m not prejudicing my ability to participate in an open, objective, public analysis of the underlying project; I’m just trying to make it so that that open, objective, public analysis can actually take place. If making that case compromises my objectivity in some people’s eyes, well, that’s unfortunate. But it’s necessary, in my view, in part by virtue of the very same oath I took when I became a planning commissioner that they see me as violating. I swore to defend the Constitution and uphold the law, and more specifically, to participate openly and in good faith in the carrying out of the city’s planning function. And objectively, doing my best to set any pre-existing bias aside, I honestly think Measure J represents an assault on that planning process, and that I’m obligated to oppose it, both in my official capacity as a commissioner and in my private capacity as a citizen.

    To boil it down even more, I’d say this: If Measure J passes, I’m not sure how much value remains in even being a planning commissioner. So if opposing it somehow compromises my ability to do that job in the future, I’ll take that trade, if only so someone else has an opportunity to fill that role.

  7. shcb Says:

    I figured it was probably legal for you to have an opinion, I was more worried about the public perception and how it would be used against your ability to function officially in this or future matters as you have described. That is my biggest gripe with these ballot initiatives, it circumvents all the work of elected officials and just turns what should be a carefully thought out decision into a media battle.

  8. enkidu Says:

    funny, now the google ad at lies.com is for “OilandGasDividend.com”

    oh google, is there no irony you cannot **search algorithm interrupt, illegal buffer overflow, terminating**

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