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No informal discussions, Mr. Conn

DeSoto County Attorney Don Conn sought direction from the County Commission to ask Mosaic to alleviate the financial burden of hiring a Special Magistrate (Sept. 13 Arcadian). He was also to negotiate a number of stipulations that he himself laid out. They were essential conditions for the county’s willing to participate in the mediation process with Mosaic. One of those stipulations was “public participation guaranteed.” Another was adherence to “Sunshine and public records.” Another, “Quasi-judicial hearing.”

Now it appears that Mr. Conn is encouraging the county and Mosaic to “continue informal discussions” to avoid the expense and time of dispute resolution. Oh? This, unfortunately, is what the national press refers to as a “backdoor channel.” It’s a soft way for government and other entities to co-mingle outside of the public eye.

We would prefer Mr. Conn convey to Mosaic only what the commissioners asked him to convey, and nothing more. He should be advocating for a process that would allow all communications between these two adversaries to proceed to formal dispute resolution, and allow all interactions to be quasi-judicial and in the public eye. Like the rezoning hearings, where the whole community turned out to express their views to the commissioners.

Read Ordinance 2018. It addresses the impact of phosphate mining on property values, public health and safety, adverse living conditions, land-use patterns, traffic congestion, drainage issues, and scale of operations. And it denies rezoning from agriculture to phosphate industrial. End of story.

No informal discussions, Mr. Conn.

Dennis Mader

Executive director, People for Protecting Peace River (3PR), Ona, Fla.

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