Who can forget the water contamination crisis in Flint, Michigan a few years ago? After Flint was forced to change its drinking water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River, a research team headed by professor Marc Edwards from Virginia Tech discovered Flint's residents were being poisoned by lead in the water. Government agency misconduct and bungling can't get much worse, can it?
Yes, it can. Pleasanton (Balch dissenting) just authorized PFAS-contaminated water from city wells 5 and 6 to be turned on this summer. When children traditionally have lemonade and Kool-Aid stands this summer, the drinks and ice will have some extra ingredients -- bioaccumulative PFAS compounds -- provided courtesy of Mayor Brown and councilmembers Arkin, Testa and Nibert.
Unlike cash-strapped Flint, whose economy has been devastated by the collapse of the automobile industry, Pleasanton is a bit different. Last month, the City Council consent agenda showed it spent almost $27 million ($26,934,251 to be exact) during the previous month.
Also, another $250,000 was approved to outfit not one, not two, but three city office conference rooms with technology to facilitate "satellite locations for public meetings". And where are these new far-flung satellite locations in relation to the existing City Council Chambers? They are just steps away next door at 157 Main St.
On the one hand, the City Council majority acts like the upper crust "Gilligan's Island" characters Thurston Howell III and his wife. Owning a diamond mine, oil well, coconut plantation and downtown Denver, they had more money than imaginable.
With a Century House HGTV-style makeover and a third skate park in the works, in a seemingly endless pursuit to turn Pleasanton into one giant amusement park, the four sure do act like the Howells, who could easily afford to fund such extravagances, which of course, these two projects certainly are.
And the absurd extra public meetings rooms? Well, are those more conference rooms for "special meetings" to haul Councilmember Balch into City Hall to stage some sort of intervention, reprimand him like a subordinate, scold him into silence and adopt their sunny "Everything's Coming Up Roses" persona like they did two weeks ago?
I want Pleasanton's leaders to act like and be individuals, not be strong-armed into joining a herd. And now when we have a major water toxin crisis, we need strong leaders like him to let the public know not just the good, but the good, the bad and the ugly.
And what happened two weeks ago was indeed ugly. I am not just angry, but livid that four elected officials would dare attempt to suppress the First Amendment rights of Vice Mayor Balch. I'm outraged the mayor, who seems to have forgotten Pleasanton is a democracy, even called the meeting.
Zone 7 just delivered PFAS-filtering Ion Exchange (IX) pressure vessels to Stoneridge Drive, deferring three other capital projects to do so. And if North Carolina towns like Wilmington can remove PFAS from their water supply, why won't Pleasanton? I want the unfiltered truth, and these days, like clean and safe water, it's in short supply.
Common decency also seems to be in short supply. Attempting to silence Jack Balch was not only irresponsible, but it was also simply inexcusable. And I want to hear what he has to say.