Addressing the Azusa stacked commission allegations

During the Vulcan Mining Proposal frenzy, a lot of allegations, claims, numbers, facts, questionable facts, mud, and dirt have been thrown around by a lot of numerous parties on all sides.

In an article over the weekend (there were actually two Vulcan mining stories this weekend, including this one about taxes ) City Managers in Azusa and Duarte squared off via letters regarding the release of public records by Duarte and any possible settlement deals between Duarte and Vulcan.

Duarte fired back saying the review process for the proposal has been inadequate, the environmental report on the project is insufficient, and that Duarte has been open and honest throughout.

And all those points have their merits.

But one claim by Duarte City Manager Darrell George struck me as misleading, if not wrong.

In arguing that Azusa’s staff has slanted the review process in favor of support for the mining proposal, George laid out a few “key points.”

One of those was that Azusa packed the Planning Commission prior to the vote. From George’s letter:

“Azusa replaced multiple anti-mining planning commissioners in the months leading up to the consideration of the mine expansion project.”

Some background: In the fall of last year, Azusa made the four seated planning commissioners all reapply for their jobs, as well as opened up the positions to applicants. Azusa made it known that part of the move was in an effort to secure a full commission that could assess and vote on the mining issue. (That didn’t work out as they planned as you can see here)

Three of those commissioners had to reapply despite their terms not being up. Commissioner Sandra Rentschler’s term had expired and would have had to reapply anyway.

Of the four commissioners, Christopher Dodson and Jess Alva were reappointed. Rentschler was found to have a conflict of interest by the Fair Political Practices Commission regarding the Vulcan issue as she lives in the Mountain Cove community of Azusa that rests near future mining if the new proposal is NOT approved and the old mining plan is used. She was not reappointed.

Jorge Rosales, who had previously been apart of an anti-mining group Save Van Tassel was also not reappointed.

In addition, one commission seat was vacant. Commissioners Debbie Kindred, Shawn Millner and Jack Lee were appointed as new commissioners.

In my experience and through interviews with nearly all these persons, the only anti-mining activist previously on the commission was Jorge Rosales.

In fact, it could be argued that Rentschler stands to gain from moving the mining away from Mountain Cove with the new proposal. What she would have voted, we may never know.

So claims of “multiple anti-mining” commissioners being removed is questionable, at best.

Secondly, the vote for the proposal from the commission ended 3 to 1 in favor, with commissioner Jack Lee abstaining after he purchased a home in Mountain Cove and suffered from the same conflict as Rentschler.

Alva, Dodson and Millner voted in favor while Kindred was the sole opposition.

If you are keeping score at home, that means of the two new commissioners chosen to replace the “anti-mining” folks, to help support this proposal, the vote was even, 1 to 1. If Azusa was trying to pack the vote with the new commissioners, they vetted them about as well as Obama’s administration looked over some of its nominees tax records.

When I asked Darrell George about this statement, which he issued as a written statement and read aloud at last week’s Duarte City Council meeting, he backed off, instead saying clarification from Azusa was needed.

“It would be nice to hear back and have a reply to that then, because that is the impression we were getting,” George said.