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The Verde Independent | Cottonwood, Arizona

home : opinions : letters June 28, 2016

10/18/2011 1:09:00 PM
Letter: Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise


Sporting a monk-like hairdo and speaking with a silver tongue, Cottonwood’s own real estate mogul and rancher, Andy Groseta, held a majority of Cottonwood’s Council spellbound as he outlined how the special interest Arizona Cattle Growers’ Association’s political manifesto was the answer to proper federal forest management.

Taking a cue from the playbooks of Republican presidential hopefuls Michele Bachman and Rick Perry, he launched a broadside attack on the National Environment Policy Act (NEPA) and regulations associated with it demanding that a five-year moratorium be placed on any legal challenges under the Act. With profound emotion, he singled out lawyers, litigation, and pesky regulations as the culprits standing in the path of the Cattle Growers’ plan to populate the federal forests with thousands of cows. He was actually serious about a manifesto goal of persuading citizens to tolerate unlawful activity under the Act during a five year moratorium --just to see what might happen.

Preying on fears of catastrophic fires and citizen dismay over federal government gridlock, he promised a doomsday future for Arizona unless the Cattle Growers’ manifesto was approved. According to him, without cattle munching more of federal forest grass, calamitous fires would continue and future famine was just around the corner. For good measure, he threw in a claim that the Cattle Growers’ manifesto opens up the prospect of future jobs.

Mr. Groseta’s ultra-right wing special interest political group has the same right as an ultra-left wing political group to peddle fact, propaganda, and demagogue local governments to endorse a political agenda. However, local governments should possess sufficient wisdom to recognize the folly of jumping on either side’s band wagon; especially on an issue that is dividing the nation. Management of the national forest is an issue, after all, for Congress where committees will hold extensive hearings and receive expert testimony from all sides of the controversy. Local governments have neither the time, money, nor expertise to arrive at a reasoned well-informed decision on an issue as complex as management of the federal forests.

Further, they have no legal jurisdiction to do anything about federal law governing the federal forests.

There is the old axiom, “Where ignorance is bliss, ‘tis folly to be wise.” The axiom was certainly alive and well at the Council hearing on this issue.

For example, the Council rejected citizen suggestions that it should “hear the other side” of the controversy; not just Mr. Groseta’s. It likewise rejected suggestions that it should seek serious scientific verification of Groseta’s claims or at least sponsor a forum where all sides could fairly present their views so the Council could thoughtfully educate themselves on the topic. A majority simply plowed ahead demonstrating little of no actual knowledge about the efficacy of the special interest manifesto.

Councilmember Ruben Jauregui, who as former mayor, had led the charge to rezone acres and acres of Groseta’s prime cattle grazing land so the Mesquite Hills housing development could be built, also led the charge at Tuesday’s meeting to endorse the Cattle Growers’ political manifesto. In 2004, by the way, a check with the County indicates that the prime cattle grazing land turned into a housing development was sold by Mr. Groseta’s land company for $6.9 million.

The Mayor, who once claimed credentials as a staunch environmental conservationist, painfully appeared throughout the process, including the Work session and Tuesday’s meeting, more interested in courting Mr. Groseta’s approval than in achieving a fair result on the endorsement issue. She rejected out-of-hand a request from a member of the Sierra Club to delay a vote on the matter until “other sources could be checked.” She ignored other citizen input from persons who claimed expertise about NEPA and who opposed the manifesto as written.

The Vice Mayor seemed particularly perturbed by suggestions from citizens that Congress, rather than local government, should be left to consider the political agenda of a special interest group attacking federal policy. She was not disturbed by the fact that the Cattlemen Growers’ Assn. has an obvious financial stake in the outcome of the dispute with NEPA (beef futures are skyrocketing). Even more to the point, the fact that the dispute involves federal regulations, federal statutes, the federal forest, and will be considered by the federal government after investigation by federal Congressional committees who will hear serious scientific testimony, carried no water with her.

In the end, the 5-2 vote endorsement of Mr. Groseta’s Cattle Growers’ Association political manifesto came as no surprise to those of us who have watched Cottonwood City Hall for the past half dozen years. It was consistent with past practices and simply reaffirmed the obvious fact that powerful moneyed interests remain in firm control of a majority of local public officials and the local government itself. In Cottonwood, this is not news.

Bob Oliphant


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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Out doorsman

I was at the meeting and this is not how it went.
You mention about one comment (which by the way was not there) and three at the meeting - to about 10 people who wanted to see this done by the town.
If you didn't want to see it passed by the town, why didn't you show up and voice your opinion instead of clearly bashing a respected person in this community?
I hope it wasn't because you were at home writing your comments for the local papers.

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Blow Hard Oliphant At It Again

Bob, wow, vendetta? I am one of the many who pass over your ENDLESS comments on all subject matters.
Please please go west young son, to the land of San Francisco, SOON!

Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Article comment by: Phil Falbo

Bob, you just have to know that a whole bunch of economic development has to occur in Cottonwood and Verde Valey before we can get out first Olive Garden and Chili's.

We all must bite the Environmental bullet so we can, at long last, finally can have some fine dining choices in Verde Valley.

Life long goals, right?

But Wait! There's more!! as a free extra-added onus, the loggers hard work will probably improve the views of some property owners.

Win win, right?

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