I wish to clarify my alleged statements in your story published Feb. 23. I did not pledge to violate regulations, and I do not intend to construct anything — including an ag store with a deli — against county regulations and approval. These are the words of the writer.
Because of Supervisor Ruhstaller's comment that "we may not follow the rules," I stated to your reporter that "I probably should just do whatever the hell I want and ask for forgiveness." I was being sarcastic; that is not the way I operate.
Before this hearing, I was advised to seek something smaller and then do whatever I wanted, but I chose not to do that because I am and always will be an upstanding citizen who abides by the rules, even if I do not like them. I have played by the rules and three of our Board of Supervisors have not:
- Supervisor Bestolorides voted on his personal opinion "that one should not serve food in the country." He allowed his personal opinion to rule against existing county ordinance.
- Supervisor Ruhstaller voted against Viaggio because "the Lawrences may not follow the rules," judging us guilty until proven innocent! (This was his public reason, but his private reasons go deeper into his personal relationship with Viaggio's previous owner.) Ruhstaller should have actually recused himself because of his deep emotional feelings on the subject. I have a proven track record of following the rules already!
- Supervisor Vogel voted against Viaggio because he has never voted against the Farm Bureau. So for him it is politics as usual — forget what the county ordinance is!
I understand that the permit is "discretionary" and the board has the final word, but neither Ruhstaller and Bestolorides nor their aides ever took the time to come out to Viaggio and see the very little impact an ag store would have — even after repeated invitations.
The Farm Bureau is rapidly gaining a track record of no longer supporting its members, but instead becoming a land police — much like a communist country — denying owners of land and business a chance to expand the economy and flourish, providing jobs and benefits to the county, simply in a desire to grasp control of something they should not be grasping for.
Viaggio has the law on its side, but we fought the politics and the politics won. The Planning Commission chose the law (5-0); the Board of Supervisors (three of them) chose politics.
Larry M. Lawrence