Bruce Gibson orders a gag order on fracking opponents

May 25, 2014

OPINION By JEANNE BLACKWELL

Anxiously and proudly the students against fracking, Cuesta College and Cal Poly coalition, attended their first San Luis Obispo County Board of Supervisors meeting in the middle of midterms and finals. The students delivered 750 signatures calling for a countywide ban on fracking and about 20 other persons from all over the county and local grassroots organization SLO Clean Water Action used the public form to deliver 3,500 plus signatures collected from county residents and farmers, people across the state and around the world, calling on the board to adopt a countywide ban on fracking.

frackI was one of the persons representing local grassroots organization SLOCWA standing with the students against fracking.
Bruce Gibson, chairman of the board, during a recess approached me. Why me in particular? I do not know.

He announced that too many people signed up to speak. I didn’t know what that meant. I did not know there was a limited number of people allowed to speak in the public comment segment. It’s not posted anywhere. Gibson further announced to me that only four people could speak and time is limited to three minutes each. I knew about the three minutes.

I was told we were limited to four speakers for the first time. I was stunned to learn this just minutes before we were due to make our presentation. Again, why was he giving me this information and not the entire audience?

Coming from the chairman of the board, I trusted this change was something of an official nature and compliance was the only option. There were more than four people who had signed up to speak. I was sure of that. I had no idea what was regarded as “too many.” I begged for more time. I begged that everyone be allowed to speak.

He was insistent, “No”, he repeated.

Five people I begged, 15 minutes I begged, my hands grasping his in desperation. Please, I pleaded. Reluctantly he nodded and agreed. I thanked him.

I only know Mr. Gibson as an official. When he approached us I assumed it was official business and from the request forms we filled out he knew why we were there. Also, we were all wearing tee shirts espousing to a countywide ban on fracking. There were other green tee shirts in the audience and I wondered if they were presented with the same directive from Mr. Gibson? And what about all the people who had filled out speaker slips? Were they all being informed of this sudden change that only five people total were going to be allowed to speak?

Public comment is an agenda item. Addition, subtraction, corrections to an agenda item must come in the form of an addendum which must appear with the agenda. This is how Item # 19 on May 20th appeared on the agenda.

“19. The general public comment period is intended to provide an opportunity for members of the public to address the Board on matters within the Board’s purview that are not scheduled on the current agenda. Individuals interested in speaking are asked to fill out a ‘Board Appearance Request Form and submit it to the Clerk of the Board prior to the start of general public comment. When recognized by the Chair, each individual speaker may address the Board and is limited to a MAXIMUM of three (3) minutes or a reasonable period of time as determined by the Board Chairperson.”

There was no addendum to this Item.

Telling us only moments before we were prepared to make our presentations that a total of five speakers were allowed to speak on this agenda item is an addition to item #19. Clearly an addendum was in order. No addendum was posted.

When the meeting resumed, agenda item #19, public comment was introduced, Mr. Gibson, rather than calling names from the submitted slips as was the usual procedure, he unexpectedly announced that five unidentified speakers will come forward, state their names and the time starts ticking. This was unprecedented. A point of order was in order. Where was county council? Where were the other board members?

The supervisors must have known that their constituents from their districts there to speak had just been indiscriminately culled by the chairman of the board. Every supervisor must have known that every person who filled out a request to speak form and will not be called, was served a gag order by the Chair. They had to know this. It is their job to know these things. It is county councils job to know these things and insure proper legal procedure is adhered to. Not a peep from anyone.

The chairman speaks for all the members. So unless a supervisor objects, county council or clerk of the board calls for a point of order to what the chairman is doing, it is assumed that it meets with their approval. Silence is consent.

We have to trust at this point that what is about to happen is legal and proper. Since those put in charge of making and enforcing the law are allowing this to proceed, then it must be legal with consent and with knowledge.

So here is how it all went down. When Mr. Gibson, who had approached us just moments before, looked in our direction and said “speakers step forward” we assumed this was our cue to do what he instructed us to do.

Heidi Harmon opened the comments, followed by three students, David Kooi, Cuesta, Andi Fieber and Lucas Carlow, Cal Poly, who spoke elegantly expressing their concerns about their future and the future of our environment while delivering 750 plus signatures from students calling for a ban.

I closed by delivering petitions from local farmers and residents, petitions signed by people from across the state and around the world, official letters from the board’s peers, the San Luis Obispo City Council and the Arroyo Grande City Council, calling on the board of supervisors to join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking insuring our health, safety and well-being. I included a draft response to our request for their consideration in the interest of saving staff time which always seems a reason to delay action.

I had tied the petitions up in a gold bow and as I left the podium to deliver it to the clerk of the board across the room, when I hit the center of the room, I turned to the audience and rather triumphantly waved the petitions in the air. The entire room waved back. We are not allowed to clap or make noises in chambers. Raised hands is an accepted protocol to show approval. Every hand I could see was raised to the rafters.

Four other people did come to the podium. I honestly do not recall their names being called. But if they were, how did that happen? We were told there was only time for five speakers.

At the end of ‘public comment’ Mr. Gibson instructed staff to alert water resources Board and the planning department to look into the fracking issue. I do not think anyone knew what it was he was instructing them to do or how that was going to qualify as a response to join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking. Nonetheless, everyone on the board nodded in agreement to Gibson’s instructions. No one objected. Silence is consent.

Gibson estimated that it would probably be several months before anything will get on the agenda.

I don’t think the Board gets it. I don’t think they were listening. It was like they had their own private agenda they were carrying out independent of what was taking place at the meeting. Calling on the water resources and the planning department was a totally inappropriate response to, ‘will you join us in adopting a countywide ban on fracking?’

I don’t think they got the message that we are telling them we do not want fracking in this county. And what we were asking from them was a vote to assure us that they share our vision of a safe, healthy, happy, livable and prosperous future.

Or, maybe they did hear us. Maybe they did know exactly what we were saying and they did respond. They responded with a lie. They told us we cannot speak. They told us they do not want to hear what we want. They told us they do not care. And how ironic is that? That is exactly the same message the oil industry has been sending to every community across this land. We can lie and we don’t care.

I want to thank the board. Now, we get it. We get that you don’t care and you can’t be trusted. And now it is our turn to respond in kind. We do care. A lot. And we will make lying, cheating and the stealing of our natural resources and quality of life a crime in this county. We will not be silenced. We will prevail.

Jeanne Blackwell has lived in San Lus Obispo for eight years and says that the entire board is responsible for Gibson’s action because no one on the board objected. CCN wrote the headline.


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fishing village

I’m thinking there is more to this story than we’ve heard here.


OnTheOtherHand

Now THAT is always a possibility on this site!


givemeabreak

Ms. Blackwell,


Am hoping you encourage all of the students that live in district 2 to vote Gibson OUT of office and vote for Muril Clift! Gibson is a ARROGANT, self consumed, power hungry, self loathing pathetic excuse for a leader.


givemeabreak

And do not forget to vote his avid supporters OUT of office in Morro Bay Mayor Jamie Irons who is running for reelection coupled with their newest puppet Matt Makowetski who is running for city council. They are both avid supporters of Mr. Bully, Bruce Gibson.


kayaknut

And once again you have provided no proof of this theoretical connection and until

you do your comments will carry no weight.


givemeabreak

kayaknut, go down to city hall in MB and take a look at his financials that he had to submit prior to running for mayor. There is your PROOF.


kayaknut

Figured the reply would be something along the lines of having me go find the proof. Wild a$$ accusations are easy to make and even easier to support when you tell someone else go find the proof.


givemeabreak

No need to “find” anything. Its there.


OnTheOtherHand

If they are there, why don’t YOU just provide them. It shouldn’t take you anymore effort than it would kayaknut (maybe less since you know exactly where to look). Make yourself believable — don’t expect others to take your word unchallenged.


nurse1

In regards to all of the above comments about looking at your mayor’s financial disclosing, you all sound like a bunch of first graders. Perhaps I am giving you all too much credit? Pre school would be a better reference. It is no wonder why your community is in such a mess under its leadership. Is that what you call it? I just moved here and am flabbergasted by the immaturity of these comments. I am not taking one side or the other, as at this point your mayor and city council in Morro Bay present themselves as clearly questionable. Not to mention their supporters and the majority posting on here.


unlisted

Jeanne, I admire your compassion, but get a grip on reality. The board can’t vote on anything that isn’t on the agenda.


MaryMalone

QUOTING UNLISTED: “The board can’t vote on anything that isn’t on the agenda.”


That does not mean that members of the public cannot speak to an issue that isn’t on the agenda.


If you wait until the issue comes to vote, it will be too late because the supervisors will have already decided how they are going to vote.


Jeanne Blackwell

I understand. Public comment is reserved for comments on issues not on the agenda. Using this public form to make our case with the intent that it would warrant further discussion and be placed on the agenda as a specific item was the reason for the show of support to achieving that end.


Being singled out and approached by the Chair, during a recess, that seemed to have resulted in an apparent deviation from public comment protocol gave the appearance that our group had something to do with the unannounced, unscheduled change. It was the appearance of an impropriety that did also seem to have resulted in some persons who had come to speak not being duly recognized.


I truly believe that improprieties of a very serious nature have occurred. If this is due to a misunderstanding or misinformation I welcome the opportunity to set the record straight.


cliffclaven

Fracking information is plentiful, with the exception being of what chemicals are being injected.


In North Carolina it’s a felony to disclose the ingredients.


Peruse:


http://serc.carleton.edu/NAGTWorkshops/health/case_studies/hydrofracking_w.html


Remember: What’s good for General Bullmoose, is good for the USA.


LameCommenter

FAIL, Blackwell. You failed. You get an “F” in Civics Class, or Government Participation Class. Gibson beat you, out-foxed you, erased your voice, violated the spirit and letter of the Ralph Brown Act. Check the Government Code. You complied and laid down for it. Shame on you.


Fracking happens to be safe tried technology, but that’s not the point. You disagree and invested a LOT of time gathering public opinion to condense. You let him shoot you down in a private conversation which happens ITSELF to arguably be a violation of conducting meeting business away from the microphone and the public eye. What a violator this tyrant is. Learn from this: toad-ish county counsel isn’t going to speak up accurately about the G Code violations of his/her employer.


He CANNOT insist you write a “request” card. He cannot demand your address nor anything past the name you chose to give at the podium. He CANNOT limit public participation by a large group of people except by trimming comment time to one minute or less, then must SIT through your input. You can be factual, rude, crass, but not profane. The LA City case, which LA lost, said (paraphrasing the judge) “sitting in political office opens one’s self to attack speech and hostile speech as a part of public expression”.


You ought to be outraged, engaged, going back EVERY MEETING and demanding your time be it one or three minutes for each speaker, AND be walking door to door in Gibson’s election district handing out copies of your article and explaining that Bruce Gibson is an autocrat with closed mind to alternative public opinion. Help us rid the county of this tyrant.


MaryMalone

QUOTING LAME COMMENTER: “Fracking happens to be safe tried technology….”


Listen, if you are going to start out with a lie, don’t expect anyone to believe anything else you say.


hijinks

If he’s a “lame commentator,” what can we expect? Doesn’t have any facts, so makes things up.


OnTheOtherHand

The funny thing is that the rest of what he said is true. On that I am in agreement with him.


Perspicacious

What do you know? Gibson FINALLY does something I agree with. fracking technology has been around since the 50’s. It HAS been studied to death! The anti-fracking crowd’s intent is exactly what the last poster said.


walter brasch

No, horizontal fraxcking has NOT been around since the 50s. Vertical fracking dates from late 40s, but the more powerful, more destructive horizontal fracking is about a decade old. The “newer” version uses significantly more water, chemicals, sand, and fractures more shale, causing greater damage. Now you know.

walter brasch, Pgh.D. (author: Fracking Pennsylvania)


kayaknut

Proof? None provided…….. I’m sure you would be willing to tell me the proof is out there and that I just need to go find it……


givemeabreak

What is the big deal k nut? Get on your bike and go down to city hall and ask for his financial statement. Not looking for you to “find” something. It is there for the asking.


MaryMalone

WRONG.


“New Study Links Fracking to Birth Defects” (http://ecowatch.com/2014/01/30/study-fracking-birth-defects/)


“Four States Confirm Water Pollution from Drilling” (http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/some-states-confirm-water-pollution-from-drilling/4328859/)


“Documents: A Case of Fracking-Related Contamination” (http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/us/drilling-down-documents-7-intro-page.html?_r=0)


“Scientific American: Groundwater Contamination May End the Fracking Boom” (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/groundwater-contamination-may-end-the-gas-fracking-boom/)


“EPA: Hydraulic Fracturing” (http://www2.epa.gov/hydraulicfracturing_


Old Salt

I’d bet that not many in that crowd drive Hybrid Electric cars…and I’d bet the old gray hairs in that crowd protested against Diablo Canyon in the 1970s…


Krusater

WOW, this lady sounds like she’s on the edge. Just demand “No Fracking”, and we better comply or else. Her bully tactics weren’t working to her satisfaction, so she is going to keep pushing, until she gets her way.

Despite the fact that fracking has been going on for decades, there has been no evidence to demonstrate any danger to the water supply or to anything else. This whole attack on fracking is just a smokescreen for the true agenda of these plotters. Just like their objectiion to the Keystone pipeline has nothing to do with environmental concerns. Their primary objective is to force people to stop using fossil fuels completely, no matter what the collateral damage is to the environment or to the economy.

No lie is too big, no deception is too sneaky for these people. They are against anything beneficial to our country if it has to do with securing a larger or cheaper source of oil, gas, coal, wood or even nuclear energy. Any means necessary to coerce the rest of us to obey their demands and only use solar and wind, despite their obvious deficiencies and exorbitant cost. These mobs don’t even believe they need to provide any proof of their assertions. To them, it’s settled, no more dialog tolerated.

Let’s not allow these mini-tyrants to dictate to us their herd-mentality pronouncements. Let’s stay informed and use our own minds to decide what the most reasonable course of action is.


walter brasch

Please get your facts and then you can disagree or agree all you want, but much of what you say is just plain wrong. Want DOCUMENTED information? My 466 page book, FRACKING

PENNSYLVANIA,. has more than 1700 references, most of them in independent scientific journals or unbiased media reports or from my personal analysis and investigation.

walter brasch, ph.d.


GoneBabyGone

1. Methane contamination of drinking water accompanying gas-well drilling and hydraulic fracturing. – Stephen G. Osborn – Hydrogeology, Aqueous Geochemistry, Methanogenesis, Isotope Geochemistry, California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (2011)

2. Increased stray gas abundance in a subset of drinking water wells near Marcellus shale gas extraction. – Dr. Robert B. Jackson, Professor, Duke University (2013).

3. Impacts of shale gas wastewater disposal on water quality in western Pennsylvania. – Dr. Nathaniel R Warner, Department of Earth Sciences, Dartmouth College (2013)

4. An evaluation of water quality in private drinking water wells near natural gas extraction sites in the Barnett Shale Formation. – Dr. Brian Fontenot, Life Scientist, US Environmental Protection Agency Fort Worth, Texas (2013)

5. Analysis of BTEX groundwater concentrations from surface spills associated with hydraulic fracturing operations. – S. A. Gross (2013).

6. Estrogen and androgen receptor activities of hydraulic fracturing chemicals and surface and ground water in a drilling dense region. – Christopher Kassotis, Fellow at University of Missouri


These are but a few, very, very few, of the real scientific studies out there, and ones that I’ve read, that are in direct conflict with your “Despite the fact that fracking has been going on for decades, there has been no evidence to demonstrate any danger to the water supply or to anything else.” contention to Ms Blackwell’ s efforts.


The studies having prevalence in the corporate media outlets are almost always the ones done by the Natural Gas and Petroleum industry who in turn either control the media outlet (example; MSNBC = GE = GE Oil & Gas) or are their largest advertising purchasers. If you expect these industries to come out with ANY negative reports on an industry they make billions of dollars from, well, I would suggest your expectations are either very low or very much suspect.


Combine the chemical dangers to our almost non-existent potable water supply here in San Luis Obispo with the up to 1 million gallons of water used in each fracking event, at each well, up to 10 times for each well (average) it’s absolutely ridiculous to think this type of activity should even be considered here.


And as far as money being saved with this technology? Right now independent studies show that it costs about $1.40 for $1.00 of natural gas produced.


This is a lose-lose situation on all fronts…


Myself

Lets see, the new solar plants over in Carrissa Plains are frying birds as they fly over the acres of glass coming to earth in mini fireballs, and the wind mills up on Techappi are stopped because they seem to eat stupid birds that fly into them,the anti nukes don’t want nuke plants and the fish peiple don’t want hydro electric dams,just what the hell we going to do here.


hijinks

Go to China.


OnTheOtherHand

Now this is a legitimate critique of some in the “anti-energy” crowd. It is not realistic to think that we can have a civilized society without some forms of energy development and all forms of it have some degree of hazard to the environment. What is needed is an impartial analysis of which forms present the least hazardous side-effects and do as much as possible to switch to them.


Unfortunately, those who are invested in a particular form of energy generation will use all the economic and political might they can to make sure that their preferences are favored over others and they will lie, bribe and exaggerate to achieve that goal. Too many people will accept those lies for any reasonable plan to be made within a reasonable time frame.


Personally, from what I have read, oil development via fracking is the most likely source of major environmental problems (contaminated ground water and possible mini-quakes). We won’t be able to escape dependence on oil anytime soon but we can at least insist that any development be done in a less risky manner. It is unlikely that the number of dead birds from wind and solar generators will be a problem outside a local area. Dams can be built to accommodate fish migrations although they also destroy local habitat. Even nuclear power with its radiation danger is low on the probability scale for problems.


GoneBabyGone

” Even nuclear power with its radiation danger is low on the probability scale for problems.”


While it may be “low on the probability scale” it is at the top of the “huge long term effects scale”, which means one incident has far more real long term consequences than the “low probability scale” justifies.


While Fukushima is over two years old it’s still not done doing it’s damage, not even close! HBO’s “Vice” just did a great expose on that incident, the lies and coverups by the Japanese Governement in collusion with TEPCO, and what’s going on to date, one that all of should watch. Here’s a couple of others:


https://www.youtube.comwatch?feature=player_embedded&v=iTqzqoKMLEg


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0IkQlmAlTVo


https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=llM9MIM_9U4


The collusion between these two parties, the Japanese Government and TEPCO, should be THE object lesson to what would surely happen if this type of thing happened on our soil. Combining that with the long term consequences has convinced me that we should not only not build any new reactors but QUICKLY remove the ones we currently have on the grid.


We need energy, no doubt, but what we should be doing is looking to the less intrusive types with less adverse effects; solar, wind, hydrogen and (this one will raise a few eyebrows) cold fusion. But this country has no long term vision, none! We’ll pour money into the here-and-now trying to improve on technology that will always have huge downsides but won’t spend anywhere near the same amount on those technologies that will take us into the future with much, much, much less downsides.


Pro-action is costly, but nowhere near as expensive as being re-active has proven to be.


GoneBabyGone

I meant to say “Pro-active” not Pro-action”… damn fingers!


MaryMalone

WRONG. Either you are quite uninformed or not being truthful.


OnTheOtherHand

I am inclined to think that Krusater is another follower of the right-winged propagandists who dominate talk radio and much of Fox News’ commentary. I know a few of these people and they are usually otherwise decent people who have been hooked by commentators who gain their trust by agreeing with them on some points and then go on to con them with subtle lies on others. The gullible then disregard any contrary viewpoint since their information sources tell them that all others are liars, fools and whackos.


This is not to say that conservatives are wrong about everything or that liberals are always right. But broad generalizations by people who define themselves as one or the other almost always have some major failings. Anyone who rejects the thoughts put out by a group of people because of a label given to them by pundits they like is guilty of intellectual laziness. Similarly, everyone needs to be more critical of those on the side they generally support and not accept their views without investigation. Politicians on both sides (and the media who support their views) lie regularly to cater to voters’ prejudices and to gain the support of moneyed contributors. They may not lie all the time but they do it enough to justify skepticism.


NorthCountyGuy

Gag orders are only needed for arrogant, over-reaching fascists like Hill and Gibson.


Gibson and Hill need to be kicked out of office like footballs.


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