Blackwater Abandons Plan For California Training Facility

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Almost a year after Blackwater scrapped plans for a training facility to be located in the Philippines, a company representative said Friday that the private security firm is no longer seeking to build “Blackwater West” in Potrero, California.

The prospect of Blackwater expanding its training operations to the area had sparked political controversy in the small town of Potrero, about 45 miles east of San Diego, where locals organized protests to prevent the move. Blackwater responded with a PR campaign that included an appearance by the firm’s Parachute Demonstration Team (seriously, how many companies have one of those?) during the half-time show of a San Diego State football game. If that wasn’t enough, Blackwater upped the ante when it provided a tent city for families displaced by last fall’s California wildfires. But alas, even that was not enough to win the hearts and minds of southern Californians. (Watch the YouTube depiction of the mythical “Blackwater Surfer” for a comic representation of some residents’ fears.)

From Bill Sizemore at the Virginian-Pilot:

The Moyock, N.C.-based private military company has learned that the project
would not comply with the county noise ordinance, spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell
said Friday.

“Although the site would have brought a great benefit to San Diego County –
providing local, state, and federal law enforcement with access to low-cost
superior training facilities while bringing much-needed jobs to the area –
the proposed site plan simply does not meet the county’s parameters or our
business objectives at this time,” Tyrrell said in an e-mail statement.
The proposal had stirred a storm of opposition from a coalition of rural
residents, environmentalists and anti-war activists.

In December, five members of a local planning board who had voted to approve
the project were recalled by voters in Potrero, the tiny community 45 miles
east of San Diego where Blackwater wanted to build its facility on an
824-acre chicken and cattle ranch.

Raymond Lutz, one of the leaders of the opposition, said Friday he believes
the company simply yielded to the popular will.

Lutz had just announced his candidacy Thursday for the local state Assembly
seat, pledging to run largely on an anti-Blackwater platform.

“They just said, in my view, ‘We’re out of here,’ ” Lutz said. “‘We have to
get out of this and cut our losses right now.’ ”

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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