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In the Pipeline: Tired of AQMD's non-responsive behavior

May 15, 2013|By Chris Epting

People keep asking me whether I think the South Coast Air Quality Management District (AQMD) will vote June 7 to ban beach bonfires in much of Southern California.

I've been invited to speak before several groups in the last few weeks, and the question persists. I get daily emails from all kinds of people — young adults to a 92-year-old man.

I even heard from an AQMD employee who was just as fed up because of the very real perception that some board decisions appear to be made for political rather than scientific reasons.

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Remember, this all started with a couple of intolerant Newport Beach residents who were able to wrangle a one-to-one meeting with AQMD head William Burke.

The AQMD employee, after venting (poignantly and intelligently) several times to me, frustrated, asked, "What do you think will happen?" And I answered, as I do to everyone that asks me, "I just don't know. But I don't like the signs."

That said, I do have a new respect for many AQMD employees. I realized after getting to know this person, that there are those inside who are frustrated too. They do not like appointed officials who don't always follow science — or even basic reason.

I contacted AQMD to ask about that. I'm still waiting for a response.

I don't like that AQMD has stopped answering questions that I pose, both to their spokesman, Sam Atwood, and to individual board members. I don't even get non-responses anymore. I'm just flat out ignored.

And I, like you, pay their salaries.

I don't like hearing from people who have been in meetings, who tell me that several AQMD board members have taken a severe dislike to me personally and state so aloud.

Why?

Evidently because I have quoted them, described their behavior and pointed out odd little facts like how they never notified our city about this or how the decision was made absent of specific scientific data regarding Huntington Beach.

I don't like how AQMD board Chairman William Burke and Chino Mayor Dennis Yates compared Newport Beach bonfires to Vietnam War carpet bombing, then became unhinged when I told them I found it offensive.

These men are in charge of science?

I don't like how some factions of the AQMD seem, in this case, to use science to suit their beliefs, rather than pursuing truth at its highest level. Or how Burke dismisses people like Huntington Beach Mayor Connie Boardman, who actually is a scientist.

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