Transparency for a City Sewer Line, None for the Lives of the Unborn

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El Centro city_logoEL CENTRO — The El Centro City Planning Commission met Tuesday evening, March 10, to hear citizens comment on a sewer line and pump station in the Danenburg-Farnsworth section of the City.

“We need to have a little more conversation at the game plan on how we look at this thing.” Board Chairperson Harold M. Walk responded to a concerned citizen who spoke to the commission on issues that troubled him.

Bertha Camarena Tamaya spoke next, a county resident whose property lies adjacent to city land and the proposed sewer line. Her concern: would the city allow her and her neighbor the opportunity to connect to the pipeline? She too received responses addressing her concerns.

Present in the audience, available and approachable, was the supervisor of the wastewater treatment division, Mr. Randy Hines. Also present, available and approachable, was the contractor who was requesting a vote on the money for a pumping station.

The commission chairperson, Walk, addressed all present, “We have heard from a number of citizens. Do we have a few days, some time to study these questions and needs of our citizens?” He was informed they did indeed have time, in fact “ a few years”, as the project was at its beginning stages.

A vote to fund the first stage would go on to the City Council for approval and future meetings would be held for further discussion on each development.

The construction manager even stated that the citizens could continue to have input and opportunity. “The sewer line’s exact location has yet to be determined, and residences requiring connections could still be considered and obtained.”

Same Chambers Just a Week ago: No Transparency or Respect to Citizen Input

A retired teacher, Janet Cowne, then approached the podium. She praised the Commission that it had apparently contacted citizens living within the proposed sewer line area by letters far in advance of any discussion or votes, and was in this meeting participating in open, transparent dialogue with concerned citizens about the project, prior to any voting. The item was even on the agenda.

What a contrast, Cowne pointed out, to the on-going battle with the El Centro City Council on their acceptance of the Planned Parenthood Transfer Agreement, which allowed the multi-million dollar Planned Parenthood Abortion Clinic to open without prior notice, in closed session by the city-owned hospital board by fiat. The vote only came to light recently, without any impact studies, no public notification, never was the item placed on any agenda, and was discussed and voted upon in closed sessions prior to public comments.

“What a contrast: transparency for a city sewer line, none for the lives of the unborn,” Cowne told the commission.

According to those involved in the fight to stop Planned Parenthood, it is totally conceivable that PP has been in discussion with the City Council for over two years. The remodeling and building permits were obtained and construction already in progress when its existence was first discovered by concerned citizens who alerted others. First hundreds attended the City Council meeting, then thousands. Never had the words ‘Planned Parenthood’ been on any agenda of theirs, nor of the hospital board.

The open, long public comments allowed at the end of the last Council Meeting came after a full afternoon of closed session, after all decisions were made.