of industrial solar developments
upon economically depressed rural areas
is unequal and discriminatory.
Posted: March 1, 2020
Newberry Springs Community Alliance
by Ted Stimpfel
February CSD Board Meeting
The February monthly meeting of the Newberry CSD was packed
with an estimated 85 residents who came for the solar issue. A handful
represented the sellout commercial alfalfa farmers but the vast
majority were residents solidly opposed to the CSD settling the CSD's Superior
CSD president Robert Springer, and directors Vickie Paulsen
and Jack Unger were present. Directors Paula Deel and Larry Clark were
This was Clark's third straight board miss. While I
strongly disagree with Clark's solar position, he is a pleasant guy. So,
it concerned me when Clark did not look well at the December meeting.
At the time, I sensed a possible problem that had led me to surgery 4 years
ago. Not knowing the reason for Clark's absenteeism, my prayers have gone
out to him that he is OK.
Due to the build-up of community pressure over the lack of CSD
Board transparency, President Robert Springer started the February meeting with
the first time distribution of a prepared written statement.
The statement revealed 'non-privileged' information that has
been requested and that should have been shared by the Board over two months
The February CSD meeting was interesting. It was competing
for attention with the Democratic Debate being aired in the same time slot.
The CSD meeting, however, probably had more drama than Bernie.
After weeks of unnerving silence from the CSD, the
"Cone of Silence"
appeared lifted and the community directly heard the dirty news that we had suspected.
The CSD is planning on selling out the community if it thinks that the
timing is right. The audience heard it directly from the president
We are back to the Thirty Pieces of Silver. CSD President
Robert Springer is acknowledging that he will sell out the community
if HE THINKS that the time is right to get something out of the litigation.
Pat Flanagan, who drove-in from 29-Palms, eloquently expressed that
the CSD's legal case against the County is exceptionally strong, and that it
would be difficult for the Superior Court judge to rule against the CSD.
President Springer appears fixated, however, upon his feelings
that the solar project promoters can outspend the CSD on litigation. That
the CSD should be prepared accept the County's continuing corruption so that the
CSD can at least acquire something for its effort.
My personal opinion on settling is... bullshit ! Let's
allow the judge to decide the merits of the CSD's Petition. The solar project's
EIR is so convoluted with corruption of CEQA violations that a judge is likely to
rule in favor of the CSD.
Let's allow the judge to return the EIR violations to
the County's Land Use Services Department for correction because
some of the problems are NOT FIXABLE and Newberrians' lives are at stake.
No matter how Land Use Services under director Terri Rahhal might try to
repackage the EIR, some violations of the project are NOT FIXABLE.
For us, this can't get any better ! The CSD's
case is winnable. Unfortunately, the CSD's Board just doesn't want to
spend the Kiewit Pacific funds, that the CSD has been hoarding for 15 years,
should the litigation later drag on.
However, should the CSD win, the judge might allow the CSD to
recover all of the CSD's attorney fees and costs from the County.
Meanwhile, the Board seems more concerned about spending
the CSD's money on land for a multi-million dollar civic hub that they can
place their names on a cornerstone plaque.
The Friends of Newberry Springs
The Friends of Newberry Springs was also discussed
at the meeting. This is an unincorporated group that is included
in the Petition's court filing as a co-Plaintiff and co-Petitioner. At
the meeting, Director
was claiming credit for placing the entity into the filing papers so
that it could be a community fundraising group to help fund the
Unger has appeared unraveled that the actual Friends of
Newberry Springs, members of the community, have been demanding
an active role in the litigation. Unger wants the CSD Board to
have the full control and decision on the matter.
When the Friends issue came up at the meeting, I had
already exhausted my allowed 3-minutes to speak and I didn't want to
further engage with
Unger's argumentative nature,
so I will explain the Friends of Newberry Springs here, according to
What Jack Unger described at the meeting appeared to me
as more B.S. The "Friends" that Unger described in the Petition have
nothing to do with fundraising for the CSD's legal costs and a fundraising
group doesn't need to be listed on the Petition.
The "Friends" has everything to do with what another
CSD director has stated. It is the separate community
residents supporting the CSD's pursuit of defending Newberry Springs.
What Jack Unger is attempting to establish is a second "Friends"
entity to roadblock the residents of Newberry Springs from having any say in
the civil suit. Sadly, over 80 residents had to give up an evening to
protest the CSD directors' intent to sell out the community, and despite the
packed room turnout, the directors are still receptive to possibly settle with
The Friends of Newberry Springs is principally united under
the Newberry Springs Property Owners Association and other community organizations.
Representatives for the "Friends" are me, Bob Berkman, Kathy
Ridler, Robert Shaw, and Linda Snively. Advisors are Pat Flanagan,
and the Newberry Springs Property Owners Association.
The Friends are identified in the court filing as,
"Petitioner and Plaintiff FRIENDS OF NEWBERRY SPRINGS ("Friends" or collectively
with NCSD as "Petitioners"), an unincorporated association, is an organization
in San Bernardino County composed of residents and property owners in Newberry
Springs, dedicated to protecting quality of life and environmental health in the
area. Its members live, work, and recreate in and around the Project Site
and would be affected by the Project. Friends, and its members, are
beneficially interested in and will be impacted by the outcome of this Project."
The Friends are not identified, as Unger stated, as a fundraising group for
the CSD. Jack Unger was claiming that a pseudo fundraising group (consisting
I suppose of himself) are the Friends and not the community's residents.
If the CSD would work with the Friends of Newberry Springs
consisting of hundreds of residents we would have a united front to address
the County's CEQA violations. Unfortunately, the CSD Board members
don't want to work with the community.
Interference by Paula Deel
Overwhelming Opposition To Daggett Solar Project
Director Paula Deel has reportedly been also trying to
actively defeat the community's residents. The Newberry Springs Property
Owners Association / Friends of Newberry Springs have been
circulating a sign-up of residents opposing any settlement that would allow
the Daggett Solar Power project. To date, nearly 300 signatures have
been acquired. Paula Deel has been reported as telling residents not
In contrast to the almost 300 signatures, the Board was presented
with approximately 20 letters from those supporting the solar project. It was
revealed, upon questioning the presenter of the letters, that approximately half of
the letters were from absentee landowners, non-residents who would be only minimally
impacted by the fugitive silica dust.
The elected Board members are supposed to represent the Will
of their constituents. The CSD Board members don't seem to understand
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