It’s becoming crystal clear to me after last week’s Board of Supervisors meeting that the hired guns from the wine industry’s political lobbying arms are pushing an agenda to discredit local people working for the good of Napa County residents.

As Board Chairman Brad Wagenknecht stated in the Napa Valley Register, “I think both sides outlined where they are with this initiative and where the battle lines are on it.”

Who represents these “both sides?” With the exception of one speaker, every single person who spoke against Measure C was being paid for being there from wine industry pockets, and every single person who spoke in favor of protections of our shared water resource was a concerned citizen. I hope Napa voters take note of this discrepancy.

Our everyday kind of citizen should be very concerned that this “one-industry county,” which used to be a farming community, is now controlled by the few powerful and rich voices who are concerned about personal profit above shared public resources like water. We voters lament the days when traffic wasn’t a nightmare, when vintners and growers anxiously shared their knowledge and resources, when our hillsides remained undisturbed by vineyard development, and when local reservoirs and the Napa River were not yet impaired by sediment and pollutants. That was back when democracy was the rule in Napa; now we face the same political angst we see coming out of Washington: this is class warfare and the little guys are losing.

We must ask ourselves: Is the wine industry motivated by profit or preservation? Are our supervisors licking the boots of those who pay for their campaigns or are they concerned about the wishes of all voters? The answer is obvious. Last week began with the supervisors allowing yet another expansion of a winery after they were caught violating viewshed ordinances and illegally building structures without a building permit. Knowing this to be the case, the supervisors allowed increased production at Caves on Soda Canyon and legitimized these unauthorized practices.

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Later in the same week, two of our supervisors posted on their e-newsletters the obviously one-sided Measure C informational report that they had ordered staff to prepare. The law firm of Miller, Starr Regalia, which fought against the 2016 Water, Forest and Oak Woodland Initiative all the way to the California Supreme Court, was hired to complete this supposedly independent analysis. Unsurprisingly, they prepared a completely biased report.

The agricultural heritage that was focused on the common good and that powered our community for so long has died; replaced by a vision of taking shared resources without restraint.

Steve Kuhler


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