Well, now its time for the board of directors of the Air District. The board is made up by 8 County Supervisors and 3 City Council members. This means there is no environmental or health voices on a board of directors whose purpose is to represent those elements. Also, the valleys Cities are under represented.
Senate Bill 719 proposes to change this. Given the fact that they have been sternly critised by many parties recently, you would have thought that the board would welcome the help SB719 provides. Oh no, folks – they got offended. Here is an op-ed from the Chairman of the Merced / Mariposa Asthma Coalition which articulates the problem alot better than I could:
Another day and another battle lost for those of us living and breathing in the San Joaquin Valley.
Today the Valley Air District Board diverted their attention away from cleaning up our air long enough to discredit two measures that are trying to help them: Senate Bills 719 (Machado) and 240 (Florez). For the folks that managed to sit out the three hours, the political fireworks were well worth the wait. SB 719 is designed to add more representation to the board that currently consists of eight county supervisors representing each of the eight Valley counties and three city council members. The bill would add an additional two seats for Valley cities thereby increasing the voice of local communities. Itâ€™s also designed to add two public seats. These two board members would be experts in the fields of air pollution science and medicine.
Is this really that controversial? Public health representatives on the board of a public health agency? Outrageous!
But I guess we should keep in mind this is the same board that on April 30 voted to delay the date to clean up our ozone pollution in the Valley until 2024.
Many members of the public spoke in support of these two bills. In fact, supporters outnumbered opponents by more than 2 to 1. These citizens asked the board to consider the size of our Valley and the incredible health crisis we are facing because of our air pollution. No one got up yelling and screaming but the board members seemed highly offended when someone questioned the job they are doing.
I think the Air District Board is just starting to see the publicâ€™s mistrust, and this isnâ€™t even a new formula. The South Coast Air Quality Management District and California Air Resources Board already have publicly appointed members.
I was extremely disappointed that Merced Countyâ€™s representative Supervisor Mike Nelson, voted to oppose these measures. He stated there isnâ€™t a problem to solve and the board doesnâ€™t look bad in the public eye. Other board members openly stated that they didnâ€™t think the Valley Air District was a public health agency at all, but their mission statement states otherwise:
The San Joaquin Valley Air District is a public health agency whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life for all Valley residents through efficient, effective and entrepreneurial air quality-management
And still others took the opportunity to say that they didnâ€™t think physicians were competent or capable to make such decisions. Are you kidding me!
We should all send thank you cards to Board members Perea, Anderson, and Brar who stood up today and voted to support the legislation. As for the others, Iâ€™ll let you decide. To think of our air pollution problem as anything other than public health threat is ridiculous. If you canâ€™t breath, nothing else matters!
Mother of asthmatic sons
Chair of the Merced/Mariposa County Asthma Coalition