After not hearing from or about Alliance Metals, Rose Law/PR firm and Mr. Loren Barton for some time, and after the March Supervisor meeting was cancelled due to the pandemic, the trio are back again trying to push their project through by threatening and shaming our County Supervisors.
At best, their push is a feeble attempt, but their statements in my opinion justify a response to their complaint. I pondered for some time to just ignore Alliance Metals because the letter will have no impact, but ultimately decided to voice my opinion in support of the County. If the trio think they can sway public opinion with this letter then they did not learn their lesson when they attempted to get the community behind them which ended in a public Open House which was a total disaster for them. For more information about their efforts or to just refresh your mind follow this link:
For those of you who have not read their letter to the editor of May 25, 2020 follow the link below and you will find it on Parker Pioneer.
In addition to the Parker Pioneer, Alliance also published the letter on ParkerLiveOnline and with the Phoenix Business Journal. It may have appeared in other publication; however, we have not seen it anywhere else. It makes you curious how many people read the Phoenix Business Journal in La Paz County. It’s just another page out of their PR firms play book. It’s always the same…don’t adapt to the circumstances, just do what you always do and send a bill.
That having all been said, here is our response to their letter to the editor:
Using the backdrop of Covid-19 to express frustration has a legitimate place for many suffering from its existence. Alliance Metals Mr. Loren Barton latest death throw statement is far from legitimate with its limited grasp of Democracy and Due Process. Alliance is simply whining. In the face of valid and extensive public push back, Alliance is attempting to get their project pushed through by shaming and threatening our supervisors and Covid-19 fear mongering. This appeal to the public will fall of deaf ears and here’s why.
Let’s play ‘what if’. If the supervisors meeting in March would have happened, it is highly that likely their application to the County for the smelter would have been rejected based on what we know. However, because of the pandemic, it was delayed.
Mr. Barton habitually omits the fact that the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously rejected their application.
Mr. Barton complains about due process, but he seems to not understand the full definition of the term. The actual definition of the term means, “Due process is the fair treatment through the normal judicial system…that the government must respect all legal rights that are owed to a person”. So, while I understand his position, he ignores the rights of all the other stakeholders that are involved in the proposal. Due process is for ALL involved. Specifically, the stakeholders are full-time and part-time residents of McMullen Valley. It is fortunate that we have a Supervisor who understands that all stake holders have a right to have their voices heard which includes many that are gone for the summer and will not return until the fall or winter. She has delayed any meeting until everyone is back in town to allow all who choose to, to voice their opinion.
In his attempt to shame the Supervisors, Mr. Barton is attempting to force a meeting without all of the stakeholders in residence, in order to improve his chances of having Alliance Metals application approved.
I’m sure that he remembers (quite well) the over 300 people who attended the Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, and almost all of who were aggressively against building the smelter in Wenden.
So, lets take a look at the items of Mr. Barton’s complaint:
- “The Board of Supervisors has held numerous public meetings since the pandemic began”.
- Yes they have, but a meeting of 20 or so people now is much different than a meeting of 200 to 300 people. That number still is considered to be unsafe and
Alliance does not have the right to put other peoples health in jeopardy.
- “The County took the unprecedented step of scheduling a hearing outside of the county seat in Parker”.
- The county should actually be lauded for scheduling the P&Z meeting and the subsequent Board of Supervisors meeting in Wenden since this gave the people who would most be impacted by this smelter the best access to be able to have their voice heard. To keep the meeting in Parker would have been unethical by virtue of trying to undermine the public by creating obstacles. Many government entities follow this same practice and it is the preferred method recommended by International Association of Certified Planners…the foremost authority on planning and planning ethics.
Mr. Barton simply knows that despite the lame attempt to win people in McMullen Valley over with their supposed concessions, they failed and they would be facing a crowd of residents that would number upwards of 300, all of which are opposed to the building of the smelter in Wenden.
- Mr. Barton forgets that we have a representative government and our Supervisors are voted into office to represent the people’s wishes and best interest, not to serve a company that proposes to build a dangerous polluting facility so close to people’s residents and schools.
- “Why does the county refuse to give us our ‘day in court’”?
- I believe that the answer is obvious as a process like this requires transparency and the opportunity for all stake holders affected by this proposal to have their say. Additionally, ‘day in court’ is an interesting turn of phrase.
It seems to me that they have already had their ‘day in court’, the public court where they have been resoundingly rejected.
- “Alliance Metals has played by the rules”.
- This statement is wrong on so many levels it is hard to know where to start. First and most important, unlike other responsible companies, Alliance and Mr. Barton never once approached anyone in the community, held any meetings to explain what they were proposing or involved the community in any way. However, they did sneak into the county, applied for a zoning change in April for which they were kicked off the agenda because their application was incomplete.
- And yes, there was a hearing by ADEQ, even though we all knew ADEQ would approve the application because that is what they always do, regardless. And yes, the hearing was in Wenden for which Mr. Barton did not complain about. He should remember that this hearing was held at a time when there were no part time residents in McMullen Valley but still over 100 full time residents attended and no one spoke in favor of the application.
- They had a failed attempt to convince the people of McMullen Valley that they would make concessions and would be a good neighbor and citizen. This attempt was resoundedly rejected. They held an open house which they hoped very few people would attend but they were overwhelmed by residents who opposed their plans. They received no positive feedback despite their claims. I was there. Despite their rejection, they continue to feel that this smelter in this location is a good idea that the residents and taxpayers of McMullen Valley will embrace.
- “We saw support for efforts to bring jobs and new tax revenue to La Paz County”.
- Well here is the thing… this is just a PR statement with no substance. The virus has less affected La Paz County than many other areas. Don’t get me wrong, we need economic development and jobs but not at the price of our health and future. Alliance Metals brings nothing worth considering to the table.
- They always use the phrase “we saw support for efforts to bring jobs and new tax revenue”. Barton made the statement at the end of their open house when they were trying to win support, one year after this all started, that he was surprised at the negative response. Duh!
- As far as jobs and tax revenue are concerned ground was just broken for a $10 million truck stop project on I-10 and Avenue 75E in La Paz County. This project will generate ongoing revenue and 20 plus jobs. This is as many or more jobs than the polluting and dangerous smelter would generate with a business that does not threaten the health and economic welfare of the community.
- “They continue to do neither, violating one of the major tenets of our democracy: Due Process”.
- Mr. Barton forgets that one of the major tenets of our democracy is the will of the people as well. The people have spoken.
- “The violation of our due process, democratic rights and property rights is not only unfair; it is illegal”.
- Ok, so what if in the infinite wisdom of Rose Law and your attorney they sue the County. Let’s see how that turns out for you. Seems to me it will backfire and turn more people against you than there already are. Besides, this lawsuit would be cheaper than the lawsuits that would result if the project were approved.
Here’s the bottom line.
Mr. Barton and Alliance Metals made a bad investment and they underestimated the community.
They couldn’t build this facility in CA where they wanted, because the environmental restrictions were prohibitive so they came to Arizona…where it is pretty much ‘do whatever you want land’. Alliances poor business planning does not sit well with the residents of McMullen Valley and many other people in La Paz County. Loren, if you got your county hearing right now, the residents and tax payers of eastern La Paz County would do everything necessary to stop you. So now is the time for plan B.
Go back to the drawing board Alliance Metals, lick your wounds and put your smelter somewhere else. La Paz County IS open for business as can be shown by the truck stop development and the recent hemp processing facility. We support responsible economic development that does not threaten the environment, the health of the residents and the ongoing economic viability of the McMullen Valley.
Due process is not for you to hoard and exploit at such a sensitive time for us all. Using evocative, trending and inflammatory terminology such as ‘democratic rights’ is weak and undermining. Join the club of patience. You will get your hearing in the fall.