wealth definition

Letter: The cruelty of Walt Ranch

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Ignorance is ‘not knowing’ or ‘ignoring.’ Cruelty is ‘indifference to or pleasure in causing pain and suffering.’

In current global environmental destruction, the local Walt Ranch project is the most ecologically destructive project in contemporary Napa Valley/County history, helping the local and global timeline for a non-sustainable future.

Sustainability is an intergenerational definition: “Sustainable Development is development that meets the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” (Bruntland Commission, 1987); or “improving the quality of human life while living within the carrying capacity of supporting eco-systems” (J. Wells, 2013).

The Walt meets neither definition. It is an urban subdivision on a mountain imitating medieval European mountain villages or hamlets, for the wealthy, in “The-Napa-Valley.”

Cruelty is one aspect of a wealthy hamlet for the wealthy, contrasting with the thousands of workers who actually produce the Valley/County’s wealth, cannot afford to house, and only have access to three “Farm Centers” with two-person cells in each center housing 60 men only.

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Cruelty is the inevitable Walt destructions that will endure. Destroying thousands of woodland trees losing carbon sequestration, water buffering and filtering; destroying woodland creatures’ habitats that help sustain woodland ecosystems; depletion of mountain aquifers in times of drought and water scarcity including for Circle Oaks, and destruction by 21 miles of roads to be layered with soil-killing agents affecting walking, crawling, creeping creatures, followed by on-site rock crushing for road layering base rock, disrupting animals self-developed trails; and the certain pollution over time of Milliken reservoir.

There is zero mitigation – not by 2050, nor 2040, only perhaps by 2030 — for the loss of thousands of Woodland trees because forests are self-organizing systems and uninformed human interventions disrupt the woodland’s natural self-organizing sustainability.

Public Walt input about project destructions have no impact upon Planning Commissioners nor Supervisors, and if County Planners have pertinent ecological knowledge, they have been silenced beginning at the Meritage grape-wine symposium when then-County Supervisor Chair asserted from the dais: ‘We’re going one direction;’ coupled with the Supervisors’ reward system model for permit violations. In both, the message to staff was ‘follow our direction.’

The judges approving Walt continuation, and project lawyers beg a visible answer: what environmental and ecological knowledge do the approving judges and lawyers have that results in the present? Citizen science-knowledgeable residents had and have contemporary knowledge countering Walt judges and lawyers, but are ignored in informing the county’s administration, elected and selected members.

Leading organizations are learning organizations for contemporary knowledge. A learning organization seeks to create community-serving values, knowledge, integrity, and courage – to counter the money-first, always, and foremost focus.

Napa County is not a learning organization. The CEO is the person to lead such an effort. The most recent announcement for a CEO asked for someone who “will speak truth to power.”

The spear point for vine/wine development, now in our woodland watersheds, is the protégé of Senator Bill Dodd: Alfredo Pedroza, a business major, the economics minor, and banker.

Alfredo with major support of Napa County’s unelected privileged class members has been the recipient of the most donations of any current supervisor. Campaign contributions are investments. We contribute because we believe the values and decisions candidates make will support our values, needs, and interests.

Although Supervisor Pedroza has fronted environmentally inappropriate projects, his voice and vote are not sufficient to carry a decision. Each and every Supervisor, County CEO, Planner, Commissioner, and County Counsel carries the weight of meeting the fiduciary and legal responsibilities for the benefit of Napa County residents. Creating a ‘learning organization’ is imperative and ignored.

The Walt project deficiencies are responsibilities of all above, including those of us who elect supervisors and reject lack of knowledge that informs their decision making.

We have opportunities to elect two new Supervisors with Brad and Diane’s retirements. The most powerful part of any organization is the informal organization which has no boundaries. Private meetings, luncheons, dinners, festive invitations are not subject to the full disclosure of the ‘Brown Act.’

If we want sustainable change our votes must ignore friendships, glossy printouts, endorsement trading like baseball cards, and the Register Editorial Board recommendations which rely on superficial interviews looking for prior government experience, ignoring that skills are transferable.

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