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Factual knowledge

It's best to keep your opinions to yourself if you're not well-informed



Al Fonzi has apparently been awarded a bi-weekly editorial in New Times, and his columns are certainly provoking, but the one entitled "Truth as casualty to public policy" (March 16) cannot go unchallenged. Granted, it was written before he had any facts about the SLO County Board of Supervisors decision on the Phillips 66 application to build a railroad/terminal/depot on the Nipomo Mesa to unload mile-long trains of tankers loaded with unstable diluted Canadian tar sands three to five times a week, in an area where thousands of homes are within the blast area of an explosion, but that hasn't stopped him before. Perhaps, that is my problem with his output. As a member of an Air Force family (father, brother, husband, all served in three different conflicts), it disturbs me deeply that a man with a long service as a lieutenant-colonel in Military Intelligence has so little regard for the facts when he states his very strong opinions. Perhaps, he has had little experience being challenged.

If he had been at any of the many, many public hearings on this project, he might have learned that the opposition to this project was not instigated by a few old fogies who yelled "NIMBY" (not in my backyard). He might have seen and heard the hundreds of citizens (fire marshals, first responders, engineers, scientists, students) and state, city, and county officials from Los Angeles to Davis and Sacramento—through whose cities these trains would run. He would have heard the statistics on deadly accidents, which have already occurred. He would have heard about the inevitable air pollution; the sad condition of the rails and bridges over which these heavy, mile-long trains would travel; the lack of money and personnel to deal with fires or explosions along the routes through the centers of cities and towns; the financial immunity from responsibility to deal with the negative impacts that the railroads and oil companies would legally enjoy; and the lack of power the county would have to legally "mitigate" (lessen, offset) the major impacts these oil company activities would have on those suffering from the dangers inherent in what Phillips 66 proposed. Then, he could have really thought about his attack on those who opposed all of it.

Actually, Mr. Fonzi should have thanked those "retirees" he mocks, as their research, intelligence, and persistence inspired the rest who showed up to protect him and his loved ones from powerful interests. Their "bottom line" is their only major concern. Since these meetings are scheduled during hours when most people are at work or in school and sometimes take place hundreds of miles from the potentially impacted areas (Everyone ready to go to San Francisco to testify against PG&E raising rates to pay for decommissioning Diablo Canyon?), the audience usually consists of the applicants, their agents and attorneys, COLAB and other political advocates, and a handful of concerned citizens allowed only three minutes each to make their cases.

In sum, it would be best, Mr. Fonzi, to refrain from attacking others when you are not familiar with the facts.

Istar Holliday from Arroyo Grande has been speaking out against the Phillips 66 project from the beginning. Send comments through the editor at clanham@newtimesslo.com or write a letter to the editor at letters@newtimesslo.com

-- Istar Holliday - Arroyo Grande

-- Istar Holliday - Arroyo Grande

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