The Coast News Group

Toll-tally lame meeting at fairgrounds

The first time I wrote about Toll Road 241, I was proud to be an American, because it looked like we were going to prevail, so naturally, I was feeling patriotic. Today, I am not so happy. I am ashamed to be part of the human race, if the truth be told, and it’s not because the road might actually be built, but I am saddened by the way we, the public, were treated, and the utter disregard and disrespect shown by the Del Mar Fairgrounds, the TCA, (the crooks that are financing this boondoggle), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. After the Coastal Commission voted down the project, the TCA appealed, and stated that because of the “circus like atmosphere” they wanted to deny the public any access to their meeting with the NOAA.
So we got a compromise, if you want to call it that. We got treated like cattle. We got treated like crap. Anyone wishing to speak had to send a letter via snail mail, and that didn’t guarantee you would be chosen to speak. You could not donate time to another speaker, and even if you were a politician, like Pam Slater (who was in Washington), you could not have an assistant or representative to speak on your behalf. That was forbidden. No, boys and girls, these were the Feds and they were calling the shots.
The meeting was held in a huge room with no air conditioning. You were not allowed to bring any water into the room. You could not hold signs over your head. Unless you were the media, you weren’t supposed to take any pictures, and the parking fee was a whooping $9 per car. The sound system was ridiculous and it was impossible to hear what anyone was saying. When I was in the bathroom I almost felt like I was in an old church, the echoing was so bad. We weren’t supposed to clap. We weren’t allowed to cheer. I was asked to sit down several times. Our only form of expression and/or protest was to hold our thumbs up, or down. Quite a few of us starting waving dollar bills in the air when appropriate and one guy showed me how to hold my money using my middle finger, which I did with relish and there wasn’t a damn thing the security could do about it.
I walked around and took pictures anyway, and while I was aiming at the pro toll road people, who were paid to be there, a security guy asked me if I was from the media. I lied and said I was a freelancer. “Oh, OK”, he said. However, an hour later, when he noticed I was taking pictures of everyone, he asked to see my media pass. “I don’t have one, I’m a freelancer, remember?”
I asked. “Then you can’t take
any pictures. I don’t make the rules.”
Two hours into the meeting, I guess the Feds had enough of letting us exercising our rights, and a woman in a black power suit with a walkie talkie started making the rounds, checking everyone out and making people obey the rules. Of course, I noticed she only mingled with the side of the room that had the potential to become a “circus” and ignored the other side of the room — the pro toll road folks in their ubiquitous orange shirts. It was a rainbow coalition of security, I must admit. There were regular police, sheriffs, the ELITE guys, Del Mar Fairgrounds staff and who knows how many undercover agents.
As for the speakers, I will say this much. The pro toll road people were the best dressed hookers I’ve seen in a while, oh yes, indeed. Oh yeah, check this out: did you know that the toll road will help National Security? If we have a catastrophic earthquake, it’ll come in handy! The surf won’t be affected at all; in fact the waves will be even better! They’ll be less crowded! Hell, maybe global warming will get better because more cars will be traveling less miles and fewer emissions will be created! The endangered animals will find new places to live and they’ll be even happier in their new locale. The birds will be able to migrate easier because now they’ll have a nice big freeway to point them to their destination! Never once did anyone bother to mention that a toll road costs money to drive on each and every time you use it, but hey, that’s what credit cards are for, so no biggie.
 And then there’s the children. Think of all the happy kids that get to drive on the toll road when they grow up! It’s a win-win, people. Like one of the signs outside said, are you willing to sacrifice your lifestyle because of all this “disinformation”? Are you willing to sacrifice your entitled place on this planet where you get to consume as much as you want and use as much as you desire because that’s the American way? No way, man! I want my toll road and I want it now!
Tell you what, this time the pro toll roaders were expertly organized. We, the people against it, were organized, but we should’ve had a much stronger showing this time, and I’m sorry to have to report this, but, we didn’t. If Good is to triumph over Evil, we must make our voices heard and we must go to the next meeting and pack the house. Even if it does mean shelling out 9 bucks for parking.