EDITORS NOTE: This is a copy of a letter to Madera County Board of Supervisors Chairman Rick Farinelli
Dear Chairman Farinelli,
I had the opportunity to observe the Board of Supervisor’s Aug. 23 meeting online. I was especially interested in listening to the discussion regarding the potential 25% increase in supervisor’s salaries from both proponents and opponents due to the impacts an increase could cause.
Based on the comments I heard, I recommend that the board take one of the two following actions when the item is taken up for a final vote on Sept. 13:
☆ Vote no on the proposed increase.
☆ Vote to postpone the proposed action until January 2017 or after.
My recommendation is based on the following:
The chair doesn’t want to vote for the increase. I could determine from your comments that you are struggling with this issue with statements you made such as, “I really have a hard problem with this” and “I really have a hard time voting for this.” You also stated that you would accept an “amendment” to postpone the vote until the supervisor-elect is in office. An individual in favor of the increase would not have made these statements.
Passage of the resolution to increase the supervisor’s salary by 25% would jeopardize the passage of the county’s 1% public safety sales tax. A vote to increase supervisors salaries at this time could cause people to wonder why they should vote for an increase in taxes when you vote yourself a big increase in pay. The implications are too obvious to ignore. What is the rush to vote for an increase?
Make the supervisor-elect accountable for a vote up or down for a potential salary increase. I recommend that you force me to vote up or down on a potential increase in compensation after taking office and face the political fallout since I am the one who would benefit from the increase, if approved.
Thank you for taking time to consider my input regarding the proposed salary increase as you requested receiving at the last meeting. Please contact me if you need clarification regarding my statements.
Robert L. Poythress, supervisor-elect, County of Madera
I vote no
I feel compelled to write about the article you published Aug. 2, titled “Supervisors to vote on 25% pay hike Sept. 13.”
The supervisor’s current annual salary of almost $80,000 equates to more than $6,500 per month. A person working 40 hours per week making $10 per hour earns $1,600/month (before tax deductions). The person working full time at minimum wage needs to ask the government for assistance to make ends meet, but are labeled “takers.”
The supervisors are elected officials so therefore get 100% of their earnings from taxpayers. In the real world, a person takes a job knowing how much it pays. They work for a time and then, if they want a raise, they go to their employer and make a case that they deserve to earn more.
The supervisors work for us. They knew what the job paid when they ran for office. If it is not enough, don’t run for re-election.
We should be the ones to decide if you deserve to increase your salary to more than $8,200/mo. Where in the real world can a worker expect a 25% increase?
I urge all people of Madera County who make less than $6,000 per month to inundate your supervisor with letters, emails, and phone calls to protest this blatant attempt to supersede our wishes.
If we can afford to pay our supervisors and judges a six figure salary, I guess we don’t need to hold a special election in March to raise our local sales tax.
Raise taxes? I vote no. Raise supervisor’s salaries? I again vote no.
Jean Wolf, Oakhurst
MOC does not speak for me
The past couple of months, there’s been a lot of misinformation floating around by various groups about the Austin Quarry. The Madera Oversight Coalition is using baseless scare tactics to rile people up to fight against a proposal that would greatly benefit our county and area. This group has a history of suing corporations to fund their own salaries and pay their outside “experts” while standing in the way of much-needed progress across our county.
On top of that, another nearby quarry operator is trying to stand in the way of competition, which to me is un-American.
Shimmick Construction out of Oakland owns the “Madera Quarry” just a few miles north of the proposed site for Vulcan Material’s proposed Austin Quarry. They sent a lawyer to the recent Planning Commission hearing to help fight the Austin plan. Seems like a cut-and-dry case of trying to monopolize all aggregates in the area. These materials are essential to all infrastructure projects in the county and region.
If Shimmick has their way, it would drive costs up, and Madera County consumers and taxpayers are the ones who will pay the price.
As a Vietnam veteran, former small business owner and Ranchos resident for nearly 20 years, I know what good developments are for our area and I know honorable business practices when I see them.
Vulcan’s Austin Quarry exceeds my expectations on both fronts, while MOC’s and Shimmick Construction’s tactics are questionable, to say the least.
We need to put our citizens to work, keep construction material prices low and add to our tax base. Let’s not be fooled by the opposition’s fear and greed masquerading as environmentalism and neighborhood protection.
Harold Capps, Madera Ranchos
Restore the public’s faith
Over the last several months, I have been following the articles, ads, letters, and information regarding the proposed Austin Quarry in the vicinity of Highways 41 and 145. I have been appalled by the lack of interest by the Madera County Board of Supervisors and the Madera County Planning Commission in the opinions of the citizens of Madera County.
I understand the Madera County Board of Supervisors intend to take action on this issue at their meeting on Sept. 12 in the Board Chambers at the Madera County Government Center at 9 a.m.
I understand that a large number of residents want to attend and speak at this meeting.
Also, the Board of Supervisors have been asked to change the meeting to 6 p.m. so that those who work can attend and voice their opinion.
The usual arrogance has prevailed, so far, and the Board of Supervisors is still planning to hold the meeting on this particular item at 9 a.m.
I request that they not only change the meeting to 6 p.m., Sept. 12, but change the venue, also. I don’t believe the board chambers is adequate to accommodate all the people who want to be heard.
I believe this gesture would go a long way in restoring the public’s faith and confidence that the board represents us and wants to hear us.
Barbara Bigelow, O’Neals
Look at the facts
Recently I’ve received lots of mail from the Madera Oversight Coalition, claiming that the Austin Quarry project will dry up area wells and be terrible for traffic.
As a retired employee from Vulcan’s facility in north Fresno, I knew these claims were unfounded but decided to look further into the facts. The studies prepared on behalf of Madera County debunk the claims this group is making. MOC’s math simply doesn’t add up.
MOC bases their claims about water from a document they commissioned, referred to as the “Todd Report.”
Certified geologist and hydrologist Dr. Andrew Kopania independently reviewed and analyzed the report on behalf of Madera County. His evaluation showed that “the primary conclusions of the Todd Report are not consistent with documented regional and local groundwater conditions.”
Dr. Kopania demonstrates that the Todd Report’s inconsistencies are due to its “selective use of facts and data” that draws “invalid conclusions” that “cannot be relied upon as substantial evidence for a meaningful evaluation of the project’s potential groundwater-related effects or for a meaningful assessment of the adequacy of the RDEIR’s impact analysis.”
MOC is claiming the quarry will generate thousands of truck trips daily at a rate of two trucks per minute. The county staff, engineers from Cal Trans and outside traffic experts have reviewed the transportation studies. They dismiss MOC’s impossible figures, saying “the assertion that two aggregate trucks can be loaded/unloaded per minute is based on speculation, is not supported by the applicant’s or the county’s experience, and leads to an artificially inflated assertion regarding the number of trucks that could enter or exit the facility in any given hour.”
Madera County and its residents would be best served by looking at the facts about Austin when making a decision, not disproven talking points from a group with an agenda.
Justin Caudel, Coarsegold
From a Vulcan employee
Editor’s note: This is an edited version of a letter sent to the Madera County Board of Supervisors.
After working as a geologist for 20+ years with a California-based environmental consulting company, I was a bit weary of jumping into the industrial sector - I had become accustomed to guiding industrial companies to do the right thing from an environmental and outreach perspective. I was concerned that doing the right thing would somehow be more difficult from the inside. I could not have been more wrong.
I can tell you from firsthand experience that Vulcan is one of the most responsible companies I have ever engaged with and I am proud to say that I am an employee. Vulcan consistently does the right thing, the right way. This is simply the way Vulcan does business. The Austin Quarry project is no exception to this business philosophy. Vulcan has worked diligently over many years to develop a project that will provide many benefits to the Madera community.
There are some, however, that continue to portray Vulcan as an irresponsible company that should not be provided the benefit of consideration. These folks do not know Vulcan. I wish each and every one of these opponents could walk in my shoes for a day or a week so they could experience the essence of Vulcan.
I would like them to observe how we operate each of our facilities responsibly, exceeding regulatory metrics for the industry.
I would like them to listen to the complimentary conversations that I have with our resident neighbors after we sit down to resolve challenges together through open and honest communication.
I would like them to understand how seriously we take the long-term disposition of our properties.
I would like them to feel the pride that I feel every time I enter a site that is well maintained and manicured so it blends seamlessly with the surrounding community and landscape.
I would like them to understand the gratification that comes with someone saying to me, “thank you, Vulcan, for keeping your word.”
I would like them to feel the sense of wonder that comes with watching a young student on a site tour finally connect the dots regarding some aspect of earth science or engineering.
I would like them to be touched by the sincerity in our hearts and handshakes when we participate with local charities.
I would like them to feel the pride that goes hand in hand with being fortunate enough to work for this world class company.
I urge you to evaluate the Austin Quarry project not by the false narratives promoted by the opposition but rather on the character of who we are as a company and what we can contribute to the next chapter in Madera County. You know that Vulcan is right for Madera. Please vote yes on Monday.
Barbara Goodrich-Welk, manager, projects and external affairs
This is regarding Harold Capps’s letter about the Austin Quarry in the Sept. 8 edition of the Sierra Star. While Mr. Capps certainly has a right to his opinion, he has overstepped those boundaries in stating that MOC (Madera Oversight Coalition) sues corporations “... to fund their own salaries ....”
The people in MOC are not paid for their work. They volunteer a great deal of their time to benefit the community. Mr. Capp’s misinformation, coming just before the Sept. 12 meeting of the Board of Supervisors, is inappropriate.
MOC states: Our primary objective is to encourage responsible growth through the adherence to California Land Use Law, Madera County General Plan Policies, and to promote the Health, Safety and Welfare of the public within Madera County.
MOC’s position is that the Austin Quarry would actually obstruct the health, safety, and welfare of the public. I hope the supervisors listen to reason.
Barbara Ulman, Coarsegold
Consider the issues before casting your vote
Editor’s note: This letter was sent to Madera County District 5 Supervisor Tom Wheeler.
I have been informed that you are 100% in favor of the proposed Austin Quarry. As my county supervisor, I don’t believe that you not open to information critical to your constituents in District 5. Consequently, I hope you will take into consideration our very personal concerns with regard to the quarry.
☆ All hospitals serving our area are in Fresno. Highway 41 is our life-line. Trucks in the numbers provided by the quarry are so numerous that traffic will be impeded on days the trucks are on the road, and could result in delays of emergency vehicles critical to our ability to reach a hospital in time to avoid a catastrophic health emergency. My husband has congestive heart failure, and a timely response could be life-saving for him.
☆ As you know, we are in a high-fire danger area and immediate evacuation is a distinct possibility. Again, the huge number of proposed trucks on Highway 41 could be a potential disaster.
☆ Highway 41 is a dangerous road as it is. Traffic continues to increase and accidents are becoming a frequent problem. Trucks of the size proposed will only add to already serious and dangerous travel on the highway.
The proposed road improvements will not be adequate or timely enough to ensure the safety of your District 5 constituents.
Please, Mr. Wheeler, carefully consider our issues before casting your vote on Sept. 12. Our lives and safety are in in your hands.
Sandra Phillips, Coarsegold