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~ EDITORIAL

Accretive seeks to impoverish its political opponents

The term “sore loser” doesn’t even begin to cover the Accretive Group, which has just funded a lawsuit to punish the five people who signed the “no” argument that appeared on the November ballot next to Measure B, which would have authorized the Lilac Hills Ranch project.

Let’s add some additional adjectives, such as “bully,” “mean” and “coward” to the mix.

Over the years Accretive has very carefully crafted a reputation for meanness. If you criticize them publicly, or challenge them in any way, they will find a way to sue your ass if it is at all possible.

The desired result of such tactics, of course, would be to create a chilling effect so that people who would ordinarily line up to oppose their project will think twice or even just back away. Most people would willingly hold their tongues rather than take the risk of losing their homes to a bullying lawsuit.

Since it’s kind of difficult to sue all the county residents who overwhelmed Measure B by more than 300,000 votes, the next best thing is to sue the people who dared to put their names next to the No on Measure B ballot arguments.

Accretive is attacking the very foundation of the law that allows it to promote its proposed project by assaulting the right of people to express their opinions against Lilac Hills Ranch.

There are some — I am not among them — who argue that developers such as Accretive, and other corporations who seek to go around elected officials by putting propositions on the ballot, should not be allowed to do so because they have so much more money to spend in favor of their propositions than “just folks” must spend to fight them.

The results of the Measure B fight in November was a resounding rejection of that argument, since Accretive outspent the opponents 50 to one, and was still pasted. Money doesn’t buy everything, apparently.

And if you are going to say that opponents of big developments can gather signatures to stop them it is only fair that developers should have that same right. But . . . but, it is possible to abuse your rights.

The Soviet dictator Stalin is said to have remarked that everyone has the right to be stupid, but that some people abuse the privilege. It might well be said that big developers have the right to be insensitive, boorish, mean, greedy, and to shove the public’s face in the dirt, but that Accretive is coming mighty close to abusing the privilege.

We recognize that the results of November’s election have set up a Board of Supervisors that is likely to look with favor upon Accretive when they bring their project back in a few years, especially after Fifth District Supervisor Bill Horn is termed out of office. But even supervisors or potential supervisors who are bought and paid for by Accretive (and you know who you are!) might be inclined to look askance at a project proponent whose “public be damned” demeanor makes Mr. Burns from the Simpsons seem like Mary Poppins.

When you have a developer that is this “in your face,” the Board of Supervisors will have to steadfastly adopt a “Finding Dory” level of forgetfulness to brush aside the developer’s obnoxious behavior.

I have an idea. How about we debate projects such as Lilac Hills Ranch in the marketplace of ideas instead of mugging critics in order to advance your schemes? I know the answer to that one: because intimidation and threats are so much more effective.



*Note: Opinions expressed by columnists and letter writers are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the newspaper.

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