Traitor Tavaglione Turns on Temecula
Supervisor John Tavaglione listens to public speakers. (FILE PHOTO)
By Paul Jacobs
There is a new coward of the county to be crowned, and his name is John Tavaglione, Chairman of the Riverside County Board of Supervisors.
Tavaglione is now the king of cowards in the Inland Empire for weaseling out of a vote and undermining a seven-year public process.
The last time I accused a political body of cowardice, it was in a newspaper column I wrote for The Californian in August of 2010. I called the Temecula City Council cowards for not fighting the county Local Agency Formation Commission decision that denied only a tiny bit of Temecula's annexation of 4,000-plus acres so that the county could protect a pending land-use project called Liberty Quarry for Granite Construction.
The City Council trusted the county process I was sure would betray the local communities most impacted and opposed to the proposed rock-blasting quarry immediately outside and upwind of the Temecula City limits - and next to the pristine Santa Margarita Ecological Reserve - and in the middle of a thriving wildlife corridor.
I was truly and pleasantly shocked when the Riverside County Planning Commission voted 4-1 to deny Liberty Quarry. At the time, I was thrilled beyond belief to have my jaded opinion of the integrity of the Riverside County planning process proven wrong.
Taxpayers pay the salaries of county planning staff, but they are owned and operated by the development and construction industries.
When it came time for the county supervisors to vote on the quarry, I was sure Temecula was toast, but I was happily wrong again - almost. With one vote, Tavaglione went from hero to zero.
Traitor Tavaglione proved that Riverside County is no place to find integrity. In a weaselly way of voting, Supervisor and congressional candidate John Tavaglione voted twice to deny the Liberty Quarry project, but then voted to keep the project alive. Tavaglione slipped Granite Construction a get-out-of-denial-free card by voting to approve a dusty seven-year-old Liberty Quarry Environmental Impact Report (EIR), just as the final nail was about to be hammered into the quarry's coffin.
Seven years is a long time for an environmental impact report to collect dust. Supervisor John Tavaglione decided to blow it.
On his first vote denying the quarry on February 16, Supervisor Tavaglione said, "In this project, there are just too many uncertainties for me. I just cannot support this project at this point in time."
One of the blatant uncertainties, besides Tavaglione's sense of time and duty, was the flawed EIR that was prepared by a consultant that previously work for Granite Construction.
The most telling part of the devious vote last Tuesday was utter silence from Granite Construction. Nobody from the company spoke to request approval of the EIR, yet Supervisor Tavaglione delivered it to them anyway on a silver platter. The City of Temecula and the Pechanga tribe threatened litigation to urge denial of the EIR along with the denial of the quarry, but Tavaglione had other plans.
As if there had been previous preparation in a backroom, county staff preemptively asked Granite Construction if they would step up to pay legal fees to defend lawsuits against the County. Granite's legal counsel popped to the podium and agreed faster than a super hero for corporate greed.
In a Temecula Patch blog prediction before the supervisor's February vote on Liberty Quarry, I compared Tavaglione to a poker player, but nobody expected a cheat with a wildcard up his sleeve.
In a May 16 Press-Enterprise article, Tavaglione offered a tortured explanation for splitting his own vote, calling it a "compromise." The next day, columnist Dan Bernstein for the same newspaper provided an excellent and more believable exposé of Tavaglione's duality and deceit. Hopefully, Tavaglione didn't get seasick when the pro-quarry political supporter took him for a ride on his yacht.
Congressional candidate John Tavaglione forgets that voters put people in office to make the tough decisions, not squirm out of them. We don't need any more spineless pawns of lobbyists in Washington, D.C.
Rather than a political promotion, Tavaglione is more deserving of a demotion to manager of the café at the County Administration Center. With him in charge, the specials of the day would always be waffles and pigs in a blanket.
Perhaps crooked players are destined for congress where votes are just something to be gamed and bartered. But those votes impact people living in communities that politicians call districts. A way of life is a precious thing that citizens expect politicians to protect. Families that invest in a community are often all-in. In the callous game of politics, precious things are something to be gambled away by heady politicians.
Kenny Rogers sang the "Coward of the County" and "The Gambler." Tavaglione has a band. I wonder if they play those tunes.