Meandering
Thoughts

  Newberry Solar Alert ! 

Newberry CSD directors are selling-out the
community's residents for a small monetary
settlement that may include partial funds
for the directors' pet civic hub project.

Posted: February 18, 2020
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel

Newberry In A Major Crisis!

    The Newberry CSD directors are reportedly near completion of a settlement deal with the County where the CSD will withdraw their civil suit appeal involving the Daggett Solar Power project in exchange for a monetary sell-out that would allow the CSD directors to move a little forward with their new civic hub project.

    The damaging settlement with the County is reportedly still open to other settlement ideas but the revealing issue is that the CSD directors are trying to circumvent and betray the community by secretly settling.

    While partial funding for the civic hub would allow the directors Robert Springer, Paula Deel, Vickie Paulsen, Jack Unger, and Larry Clark an opportunity to boast that they have provided something for the community, the settlement would green-light the solar development that will have a devastating effect upon Newberry.

    While the details of the eventual settlement are not yet known, any payout to the CSD will be only a tiny fraction of the enormous devaluation of the property values that will hit the residents in Newberry Springs.

    It will also not compensate for the hundreds of millions of dollars for the pain and suffering and loss of life suffered by Newberrians from silica dust.  The County has relegated the lives of Newberrians to the margins of worthlessness.

    The Newberry CSD originally started-out with two positive decisions.  They (1), appealed an illegal Final Environmental Impact Report ("FEIR") and (2), they appealed to the Superior Court, a corrupt upholding of the FEIR by the San Bernardino Board of Supervisors.

    Despite these two excellent defensive actions, the Newberry CSD directors now appear to have buckled and have seriously faltered in not understanding nor caring about the community's survival.

Recent History

    At the January 28th, CSD Board meeting, CSD President Robert Springer stated that he was open to settling the CSD's appeal at the upcoming Mandatory Settlement Conference scheduled for March 9th.

    When I questioned Springer as to why he would consider settling, he dumbfounded me by making a mind-blowing statement that he didn't believe that the appeal held much merit !

    When President Springer was questioned further upon what basis he thought so, he simply stated that he thought so.  He couldn't rationalize his statement.

    Since the CSD's civil action is so winnable, I was further shocked that none of the other directors in attendance, Paula Deel, Vickie Paulsen, and Jack Unger (pro-solar Larry Clark was absent) spoke up.  The directors appeared to be concealing something from the public.

    At the February 12, 2020, Special Meeting, that I previously posted a blog on, the CSD board had a nearly one-hour closed session telephone conversation with their appellate attorney.  Contrary to open transparency, the board declared attorney-client privilege for secrecy and refused to state the topic of the discussion.

    Certainly, the directors had the discretion and the duty to disclose the topic without having to disclose anything that they considered privileged.

    If the CSD board was supportive of the overwhelming desire of Newberry's citizens to stand-up against our corrupt County officials, they would have vocalized their support.  Instead, the elected board was cowardly silent.

The lives of Newberrians,
and their fortunes
are literally at risk
with the solar project.

The appeal is against the County, not the project.

    The Newberry CSD's Superior Court appeal is against the County of San Bernardino's illegal certification of the Daggett Solar Power project's Final Environmental Impact Report and approval of the project.

    The County committed numerous violations against the California Environmental Impact Act as outlined in the CSD's Writ that is now before the court.  The County violated its own General Plan and its Development Code, including Section 84.29.035 and Section 85.06.040(a)(4), the California Public Resources Code Section 21000-21004, and the EIR fails to address under CEQA the required social and economic impacts on the community.

    California Public Resources Code 21000(g): It is the intent of the Legislature that all agencies of the state government which regulate activities of private individuals, corporations, and public agencies which are found to affect the quality of the environment, shall regulate such activities so that major consideration is given to preventing environmental damage, while providing a decent home and satisfying living environment for every Californian.

    The solar project further violates the federal Civil Rights of Newberry's residents who will have their homes inundated with carcinogenic silica dust and have their property values slashed without compensation. (5th Amendment)

    What isn't publicly known yet is what payola the CSD is receiving to play the County's tune.

Any settlement would harm Newberry Springs.

    Silica dust is 100 times smaller than a grain of sand, and exposure can lead to lung cancer, silicosis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and kidney disease.
    Silica dust can stay invisibly suspended in the air for days.

    Any settlement that would permit the solar site would be bad news for Newberry.

    An additional mitigated setback for the project of a hundred feet from the roadways or 30-foot treelines will do nothing to stop the silica dust which unlike much heavier sand can quickly travel hundreds of feet above trees.

    There are a couple of CSD directors who seem to be concerned for the interests of a handful of alfalfa farmers who, with the water rampdown, want to sell their commercial farmland and vacate Newberry.

    Some of these farmers don't even live in Newberry.  When the health and the financial welfare of over two thousand residents are compared to the financial windfall of a handful of well-to-do farmers who have sucked our water table nearly dry, and who have cost some residents tens-of-thousands of dollars for new wells, then who should the directors be concerned for ?

    The CSD has refused requested transparency.  Whatever the monetary settlement, the funds will go into the CSD's treasury.  Like the Kiewit Pacific funds, any settlement funds will likely be squandered, amounts lost and unaccounted for, and the citizens will never recover their financial losses.  What the citizens will acquire will be pulmonary diseases, cancers, and premature deaths.

    In short, the CSD directors need to reevaluate their position so as to be in step with the overwhelming majority of Newberry.

The CSD has a solid case to kill the project.

    The Newberry CSD is holding a strong legal upper-hand to disrupt and probably kill the Daggett Solar Power project.  What doesn't the directors see in their Writ currently before the court ?

    Their CSD attorney has done a great job in writing the Writ.  A settlement can always be done much later if deemed prudent.

    A settlement can be initiated at any future point in the civil suit process, but to throw Newberry "under the train"  before the court weighs-in upon the factual evidence is CSD malfeasance, especially when the CSD's attorney has presented some legal points that the County and Clearway Energy cannot overcome.  Any early settlement at this point begs the question as to what is going on ?

    Newberry has been frustrated by the County's Land Use Services' corruption, it has been frustrated by the Planning Commission's corruption, and Newberry has been frustrated by the Board of Supervisors' corruption, none of whom has followed the law.

    But a new day is here.  The Superior Court, the enforcer of the law, is now going to review all of the violations.  Obviously, the County wants to settle this disaster that it has created and is responsible for.  Why would the CSD directors throw-in the towel before the court reviews the matter ?

Summation

    The CSD's own PowerPoint presentation, given during the appeal before the Board of Supervisors, covers the principle dangers from the solar facility.

    With our westerly winds, a fire at one of the proposed huge battery vaults can have deadly toxic flumes engulfing Newberry Springs within a couple of minutes.  At night?  At the elementary school?  Hundreds can be killed.

    The violations by the County against CEQA are significant, as are the violations against the County's own General Plan and its Development Code, and the state's Subdivision Map Act.  The violations are documented in the CSD's Writ.  So, why does the CSD's board believe the Writ lacks merit ?

    Newberry Springs is an Environmental Justice Community recognized by the State of California.Note  We have a strong preponderance of the law on our side.

    The next CSD meeting is the last CSD meeting before the Mandatory Settlement Conference.  It is not too late to voice your concern to the CSD board.

CSD Board Meeting
Tuesday, February 25, 2020
6 P.M.
Newberry CSD Building
South end of Newberry Road.
Be there or you will be walked on !

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