Guest Column: Inconvenient truths or convenient fiction? | SierraSun.com

Guest Column: Inconvenient truths or convenient fiction?

Jon Shanser

Is Incorporation of Olympic Valley really a risky notion? Do we actually know yet? As a full time resident and voter as well as long0term property owner in Olympic Valley who is still trying to keep an open mind about incorporation, I feel equally compelled as Mr. Wirth to try "to set the record straight."

After careful reading of his Guest Column ("Incorporating Olympic Valley is an incredibly risky notion," Sierra Sun, Oct.2), it occurs to me that one first needs to understand the difference between "facts" and "opinions."

Facts are things known to be true, but opinions are things believed to be true. Facts are true pieces of information based on evidence and known by actual experience or observation.

Opinions are beliefs or thoughts not necessarily based on facts nor knowledge, and often the result of a person's perspective, understanding, or feelings.

So, the statement by Mr. Wirth that the "anti-incorporation sentiments" (of some folks in the valley) … are "based on … facts" is unfounded because those sentiments are simply their opinions and beliefs for which no evidence exists.

That they believe "incorporation is a very bad and incredibly risky notion" may be their opinion, but as yet, their case remains unproven.

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For Mr. Wirth to opine that Save Olympic Valley's "analytically and fact based point of view that the town is not financially viable" seems premature at best, especially since the Comprehensive Financial Analysis is just getting started.

As Dr. Fred Ilfeld has stated in his column, "Incorporating Olympic Valley — myths vs. realities," Sierra Sun, Sept. 18, if the CFA shows the town to be viable, then the application is likely to be approved by LAFCO; if not, then it gets denied and the process stops.

But, for the SOV group to continue the misinformation with regards to financial viability and immense risk before the CFA is completed is disingenuous, misleading and deceptive.

Promulgating unsubstantiated conclusions about financial viability should therefore stop once and for all.

Furthermore, while I would agree with Mr. Wirth that while SOV's members "have every right to question the merits of incorporation," their belief that "incorporation is not a good idea" is their opinion.

If there are "fact-based and informed analyses," then the community deserves to see and/or hear that information and determine if it is verifiable, and Mr. Wirth should provide it, in the same transparent manner as the proponents for incorporation have done.

As regards Mr. Wirth's comments about the King Fire, his contentions are pure hearsay and reek of the same "fear mongering" of which he blames IOV proponents.

Once again, he confuses fact with opinion when he states that had the fire "run another six miles," it "would have undoubtedly sent our "town" straight into Chapter 9 receivership."

Really? And then he goes on to say, "This is truth and not at all myth." How could he possibly know what the results of the fire might have been?

It is only his alarming opinion, but certainly not fact?

His suggestion is nothing more than supposition based on emotion, and I'd opine that town or not, even Placer County itself could be subject to significant financial hardship from a fire disaster in our valley.

The fact is that under the aegis of a town, there would be the exact same level of fire protection as now, but with the added benefit that the $117.33 Fire Prevention Fee that residents now pay to the state for Calfire would disappear!

Mr. Wirth claims that IOV is "anti-development", but contrary to Mr. Wirth's assertions, careful perusal of their website does not support his opinion.

Again, the facts appear to contradict him! Quoting from the IOV website, "We realize the limitations of our current Village and want the Valley to thrive economically. We recognize that businesses and land-holders are entitled to profit and that development can co-exist in a long-term sustainable manner with the beauty of our mountains, our history and character, and our natural resources."

And, "Cities and towns incorporate to have a more local government, with more self-determination. The two specific reasons that most cities and towns incorporate are to have greater control of land use planning and regulation, and tax revenues."

There is simply nothing there that is anti-development except for what is apparently imagined and unnecessarily feared by Mr. Wirth.

As to the question of whether or not there are enough qualified people to run a town, all the comments including those of Dr. Fred Ilfeld, Mr. Wirth and Eric Poulsen are conjecture, and simply their personal opinion.

What is fact, however, is that there have been a sufficient number of qualified candidates to fill positions on the many committees that are already in place in Olympic Valley, which leads me to wonder why Mr. Wirth, Mr. Poulsen and SOV members would think otherwise.

That, as Mr. Wirth states, "Eric Poulsen's notion" and the concerns of "multiple members of SOV" about a scarcity of potential competent council members is "experience-based fact" flies in the face of reality and demeans those who have served, are serving or who may want to serve in the future.

While Mr. Wirth claims to welcome dialogue and community input, it appears to mostly be from those who agree with his position.

The monthly Incorporate Olympic Valley meetings are open to everyone, yet I have never seen him attend any.

Continuing to confuse fact with opinion only serves to further divide our community and is certainly not the type of behavior expected from the leader of an organization that holds the keys to development in a community and ski area so rich in character and tradition.

Jon Shanser a resident of Olympic Valley.