It's not every day you hear a public official say he speaks for the silent majority. At least not since Richard Nixon. Yet that was the case at the planning commission's final public hearing for the proposed Master Plan on May 9. Planning commission member Steve Schrock said he would give more weight to the "silent majority in this county who support more oil and gas," while young mothers and elderly women were repeatedly cut off while giving impassioned, thoughtful testimony to the contrary. Indeed, hundreds of people have shown up again and again declaring that Delta's watershed is not the place for oil and gas development.
The majority of 571 respondents to a preliminary survey in the Master Plan process favored agriculture, renewable energy, education, outdoor recreation, tourism, and internet infrastructure as the most important areas of focus for future economic development in the county. Natural gas, followed by coal mining, received the lowest average rating. Additional comments in that survey favored protecting clean air and water by limiting oil and gas. There were very few comments in support of extraction.
The planning commission promised to write a Master Plan that reflected the vision and goals of the residents of Delta County. One vision has been clear and consistent from day one: Delta County must protect clean air and water, prioritize the health, safety, and welfare of its residents over commercial and industrial development. Despite hundreds of comments agreeing with that statement, and almost none to the contrary, the planning commission did not discuss this prior to the formal adoption of the Master Plan May 9. The Master Plan process, despite collecting public input, has ultimately proven undemocratic. The non-participatory "silent majority" have been favored over engaged citizens who participated again and again. Upper North Fork representation was underhandedly eliminated by the county commissioners during the revision process. It stinks of lobbyism and corporate interests at a local level. Anyone who cares about democracy and civil liberties should be deeply concerned. At least Nixon had the decency to ask for the silent majority's support. Steve Schrock and his ilk are happy just putting words in their mouths.