Town rejects Blackwater facility

DailyKos diarist Juls reports some very exciting news from California, an inspiring story of people-powered politics:

A tiny town called Potrero just north of the border in California, an area ravaged by the recent wildfires, just stood up and resoundingly said no to another impending disaster: Blackwater moving to town. I am so unbelievably happy to have such a huge victory to celebrate!

It was the nation's first ever electoral vote on Blackwater and it was a massive people-powered grassroots victory over the mercenaries. Every “stop Blackwater” candidate won by at least 63% (results here). It was an an enormous statement to Blackwater: stay out, you are not the kind of neighbors we want in our community. It is also a blistering statement by a very conservative town to reject the Bush world view. Our nation is not better served by having a privatized Army. There is nothing pro-troop about supporting Blackwater.

Blackwater has been working this little town of 509 registered voters hard. They deployed Brian Bonfiglio, a Vice-President at Blackwater out to San Diego County to regularly show up to town meetings in Potrero. They send out propaganda mailers and generally try to ingratiate themselves with residents of the community. In short, Blackwater has invested a great deal of resources into P.R. within Potrero and cares very much what the residents feel about the company.

At first it worked, and the Potrero Community Planning group, an advisory elected body, rushed through approval of Blackwater's plans for a massive mercenary training base for 360 staff and “students” on 824 acres of enviromentally sensitive land, consisting of 15 firing ranges, a helipad, and a heavy vehicle driving track. But then residents in the town fought back. Big time.

The result of the citizen effort: “All five members of the group that vote[d] for Blackwater were recalled and replaced by the “Save Potrero” slate — the culmination of a year's worth of hard work.”

Another take on the victory from head of the Courage Campaign, which helped organize the community.

But the work isn't over. Juls again:

To block Blackwater's base, we are going to need to build a people-powered movement. The townsfolk in Potrero cannot win this on their own. They are asking for your help. Join the Courage Campaign today and sign the pledge opposing Blackwater's base at