Thank you to all of you that came out to speak up on Monday night, August 8, 2022, in support of the rights-based freedom from toxic trespass Community Bill of Rights. This article is an update, a progress report.
One of our opportunities to speak to our representatives and to our community is the public comment period at the beginning of each monthly meeting (second Mondays, 6 pm) of the Buckingham Board of Supervisors (BoS). Mark your calendars for the next one – September 12!
Get inspired to speak up by listening to your neighbors (see YouTube video below). We will keep showing up to meetings until the bill is adopted. Our message to the BoS is simple: move swiftly to adopt this strong, protective, empowering ordinance.
The public comment period starts off early, at 5:50 (minutes into the video). Fast forward to Santoshi Young (and Gracie) as the first speaker.
Mindy, Chad, and Heidi Dhivya are up next, representing VACRN and the Friends of Buckingham (FoB), who have partnered in this venture to stop gold/metallic mining from entering Buckingham County. Our comments are pointed to apprehend likely concerns of the BoS for Dillon’s Rule and industry litigation for denial of permitting. Below are the transcripts. Stay on the video to hear from more of your inspired neighbors.
The metallic mining ordinance update was item “O” on the agenda for August 8, 2022 Buckingham BoS meeting. The packet had a 4 page discussion of this agenda item on page 510 of 520! To easily access: in the square at the top of the packet page you’ll see 1-520. Replace the 1 with 510, click enter. The discussion of this agenda item on the video shows up at 2:42:45. They have given us food for further discussion, as we see more education is needed.
Transcripts of VACRN & FoB statements
Here is our message to our elected leaders. Because we are limited to 3 minutes per person, we divided our message into 3 parts.
My name is Mindy Zlotnick. I live in District 5. I am speaking for the Virginia Community Rights Network.
We demand you move swiftly to pass the proposed rights-based ordinance, in full.
We want you, our representatives, to assert your capacity to deny a permit to any metallic mining company that can’t demonstrate that such massive extractive activities can be done without harm to the community.
This is not a regulatory law and, as such, it’s not preempted by state law prohibiting local regulation of corporate mining. The power of this proposed ordinance lies in the fact that it’s rights-based. In fact, it is a civil rights law. It would give the Board Of Supervisors a solid foundation for denying a mining company a permit.
We know that other communities that have passed rights-based laws were faced with the challenges based on the fear of being sued and of the constraints of Dillon’s Rule.
Perhaps you are dealing with these issues as well?
Let’s take a look at the fear of being sued first:
The county attorney is hired by the county government. The county government is his client. He does not represent the people of the county and has no legal obligation to look-out for their welfare – he was not elected by the people.
The attorney, doing his job, will likely advise the supervisors that the county could get sued by the applying industry, if the county does not grant a permit. The industry could sue for loss of future profits. And so, the attorney may judge that the best interests of the county government is to not get sued.
We assert that getting sued is a whole lot less of a problem than getting poisoned. Respectfully, the Supervisors are elected to represent the people of the county and to weigh and advance the interests of the common good, not to let extractive industry threaten us. If, instead of acting in their capacity as representatives of the people, the Supervisors follow counsel’s legal advice to protect the interests of the state’s county subdivision, the people will have been denied a republican form of government. We will not be represented by the government we elected.
We – and as our elected representatives, you, should not tolerate the destruction of our home. Not for fear of litigation, and not in obedience to a legal doctrine known as Dillon’s Rule that can not be found in the U.S. or the Virginia Commonwealth Constitution. But our rights can be found there, quite plainly. These constitutions give this rights-based ordinance its power.
Thank you for your attention.
My name is Chad Oba. I live in District 6.
Thank you for voting on July 11 to develop an ordinance to address industrial gold mining to protect county residents from the extensive harms this industry would bring.
We urge you to move swiftly to adopt the proposed rights-based freedom from toxic trespass ordinance, in full – to protect Buckingham County from metallic mining.
Friends of Buckingham and the Virginia Community Rights Network are partnered in this venture to protect our home from gold mining.
We want our elected officials to represent and protect us from the toxic trespass of a polluting industry that will need your permission, your permits, to poison us. Would you agree that people have a right not to be poisoned? Personal property and Corporate property can’t be legally trespassed on. The people of Buckingham County should enjoy the same right. We are asserting the right to be free from the toxic trespass of metallic mining.
I am continuing where Mindy Zlotnick, the previous speaker, left off.
We were talking about the County getting sued for denying a permit to an applying industry.
Now you could say to us, we would have to take money from present projects, roads, schools, etc in order to fight this expected lawsuit. For those elected officials without clear priorities, for those too easily spooked by the threats of corporate lawyers, the rights of their constituents are quickly surrendered, with the excuse that they were following the advice of their county lawyer.
But you don’t have to be a lawyer to understand common sense and common decency. Our tax money should be used to protect us, if the occasion arises. Well, here it is. Here comes the test of your mettle. Weigh this opportunity for extraordinary service to your community against the other future – that of the well documented, devastating, true costs of unending pollution from toxic metallic mining.
Right now Aston Bay sees Buckingham County as an open highway of opportunity, because our laws don’t protect us, nor deter them. We cannot count on the state to stop this or protect us. We can choose to stop it here.
Thank you for your attention.
Hello my name is Heidi Dhivya Berthoud. I live in district 5.
We urge you to move swiftly to adopt the proposed rights-based freedom from toxic trespass ordinance, in full.
I am continuing the comments of Mindy Zlotnick and Chad Oba, who addressed the fear of being sued and now let’s get back to the second challenge, the constraints of Dillon’s Rule.
As stated before by Mindy, Dillon’s Rule cannot be found in the US or the Virginia State Constitutions. But our rights can be found there, quite plainly. Now which is the higher law: Dillon’s Rule, invented by the Iowa corporate attorney, John Forrest Dillon – or the state and national constitutions? Why would you choose Dillon’s Rule over our constitutions?
Dillon’s Rule is a judge-made precedent. It is about the relationship between a locality and the state. In common use, it says that local municipalities are limited in making local decisions: the state can preempt them.
Dillon’s Rule, though, can not void inalienable rights and our right not to be poisoned. Our right to life is not something that Dillon’s Rule can overrule. Nor can it be used to deny the people a republican form of government.
We understand the state has the authority to regulate industry. What we are concerned with is that Buckingham, and then the state, give permits to industries that violate our right to not be poisoned. We want to enshrine a law that steps forward and says: Here are our rights and they come first. Again, the proposed ordinance will not regulate gold mining in Buckingham County, but rather it insists that the rights of the people and communities in this county cannot be set aside by the issuance of permits that legalize the violation of those rights. It’s not a new environmental law, but a civil rights law for all of us.
This specific law puts decision-making in your hands, our representatives. We want you to do your job to protect us, our home, your home, our children, your children. Our home land, water and air.
Invest now in the health and safety of the County residents and our environment and stand up to the corporate interests that would potentially give the county another superfund site, like the closed Brewer Gold Mine in South Carolina.
It will be a significant demonstration of genuine concern for the people and environment of Buckingham County when the Board of Supervisors considers and adopts this ordinance. The proposed rights-based ordinance is strong and protective.
To truly stop gold mining and the assault on community rights that comes with it, we insist that you, our representatives, get this ordinance passed!