News Release: Stop Blackwater! Says Potrero Recall Election
COPs (2007-12-12) Raymond Lutz
This Page: http://www.copswiki.org/Common/M385
Citizens’ Oversight Projects
CONTACT: Raymond Lutz, COPS Coordinator
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
December 12, 2007
StopBlackwater! Says Potrero Recall Election
Recall of Advisory Group to Makes a Clear Statement: No Military
Training Base in Potrero’s Backyard
SAN DIEGO, CA (Dec 12) - Blackwater West, an 824-acre proposed expansion
of the private-military training facilities of Blackwater Worldwide, was
put to the test of the voters last night and was soundly defeated.
“It was a 70% to 30% landslide,” said Carl Meyer, the primary proponent
of the recall election linked to the project.
The following are the preliminary results as distributed by the San
Diego Registrar of Voters at almost midnight, December 11.
Total Registered Voters: 509
Ballots Received: 306
Ballots Counted: 280
Late Ballots uncounted: 10 (These were deposited in the drop box in
Rejects 16 -- 2 signature mismatches. One signed ballot, etc.
Recall Questions Yes No
Jerry Johnson 187 (67%) 93 (33%)
Mary Johnson 189 (67.5%) 91 (32.5%)
Gordon Hammers 196 (70%) 84 (30%)
Janet Wright 186 (66.4%) 94 (33.6%)
Thell Fowler 176 (62.9%) 104 (37.1%)
(To replace Jerry Johnson)
Terry Stephens 176 (100%)
(To replace Mary Johnson)
Janet Goode 177 (100%)
(To replace Gordon Hammers)
Brenda Wise 68 (28.5%)
Carl Meyer 170 (71.4%)
(To replace Janet Wright)
Edward Boryla 48 (21.3%)
William Crawley 177 (78.7%)
Tina (Brown) Mc Cunney
Anita Meneses 55 (25.5%)
In one of the first elections since Secretary of State Debra Bowen
decertified Diebold voting machines, the contentious issue was decided
by voters in the tiny hamlet of Potrero.
The project to open the facility in San Diego County, about 45-minutes
east of downtown San Diego and only a few miles from the Mexico border,
was opened in June, 2006, and was approved by the Potrero Planning Group
by a vote of 7-0 in December. Although their vote is only advisory, five
of the six remaining members were served with recall notices in May,
2007, and a vote-by-mail election was conducted with a deadline of
December 11. The pro-Blackwater group members have been soundly recalled
and a group that is against the project installed in their place.
The Registrar of Voters in San Diego counted the ballots last night
using a hand-counting method. A group of about 20 people observed the
election. At about 8 p.m., Registrar of Voters Debra Seiler gave a short
speech at the counter. They walked the observers back to a caged room
where 280 ballots were held in a single mailroom tray.
“We were hoping that we could see all the handling of the ballots,”
Raymond Lutz, coordinator of Stop Blackwater
.net said to Debra Seiler
when the group realized the ballots had already been removed from their
envelopes. “We took those out about an hour ago, and no one from the
public witnessed it,” she responded.
The monotonous process of counting the votes carried on from 8 p.m.
until after midnight. The reader would say "Recall Question Number 1.
Jerry Johnson. Yes. To succeed, Terry Stephens. Recall Question number
2. Mary Johnson. Yes..." and so forth. The entire meeting was caught on
film by Citizens Oversight
.org and can be viewed by persons concerned
with the election process later this week.
“All the incumbent pro-Blackwater slate of planning group members were
replaced by the Stop Blackwater
group,” Lutz said. “Blackwater should
close this project and stop putting local residents through any more
agony. I’m sure that with Blackwater’s deep pockets, they can make life
miserable for these residents. But the will of the people was loud and
clear in this election. I hope they don’t try to ram this project down
the collective throats of the residents in spite of these clear election
Lutz congratulated all the volunteers who worked on the recall election,
a project carried out strictly by Potrero locals.
According to company documents filed with San Diego County, the
notorious Blackwater Worldwide would turn chicken coops into firing
ranges, augmented with a tactical driving track, a ship simulator, a
rescue safety training tower and a helipad.
Blackwater Worldwide, known as one of the most powerful and secretive
forces to emerge from the U.S. military-industrial complex and one of
the greatest beneficiaries (reportedly over one billion dollars in
contracts with US Goverment) of the “global war on terror,” is
increasingly under fire for acting above the law. The recent killing and
wounding of 17 innocent Iraqi civilians on September 16th, 2007 further
underscored the dangers this company poses to the community.
Local critics also point to the potential enormous and long-lasting
environmental impact, including loss of sensitive habitat, depletion of
an already fragile and shrinking water table, groundwater pollution and
more. In addition, people living in Potrero will be exposed to noise,
traffic and disruption of their quiet way of life.
“It just doesn’t match the character of this community,” said Randel
Parks, a 30-year resident of Potrero, about a mile from the gates of the
proposed project. “If Blackwater gets in, they could screw this place
up. Lots of traffic, lots of noise. If this sort of big business gets in
here, it is the start of the end of peaceful Potrero.” Parks paused and
looked over his property that he developed from an empty parcel. “I like
this place so much, I probably won’t pack up and move on if they do move
in.” He looked back. “I just can’t imagine that we’ll lose the fight.”
More information about the project and the local resistance to it can be
found at Stop Blackwater