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September 24, 2011 (Alpine) – Alpine Community Planning Group member George Barnett resigned following last night’s meeting, Barnett has informed ECM. “It’s time for me to move on towards other community service activities I wish to pursue, and for others to pick up the baton at the Alpine Community Planning Group,” he said.


Barnett had been the target of persistent criticisms from APCG member Lou Russo. At last night’s meeting, Russo circulated a hand-out claiming that Barnett “changed his story repeatedly regarding the Powerlink Ad Hoc Committee.” He has forwarded contradictory emails suggesting Barnett first indicated members were being kept apprised, but that Barnett later conceded that he knew of no other members nominated or appointed. Russo had previously asked for an investigation by the APCG and to have his complaint added to the agenda; no disciplinary action has been taken.

Barnett has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. “I refuse to tolerate slander at a public form, month after month, and not have the ability to defend and respond appropriately.”

He served as an elected member of the planning group for four years and was later appointed for his last year of service.


“I consider my `greatest’ accomplishment was working to get a pair of residential developers off the board; individuals that chaired the Private Action Subcommittee (which deals in land use and zoning issues related to development projects) and that chaired the Circulation Subcommittee (which deals with roadways),” Barnett told ECM. “Both persons were found guilty in a civil trial of defrauding a third partner in a property development project and pled guilty to criminal charges to avoid prosecution in Superior Court by the District Attorney. They have subsequently left Alpine.”



Barnett also served as a member of the ACPG’s Trails and Parks Subcommittee for several years. He says he is “proud to have been a part of the effort to bring forward two real parkland possibilities, a small 2-acre passive pocket park in East Alpine and a large 10-acre active sports complex in north Alpine—projects that have been worked on over the past six years by many, many people including former ACPG member Brad Bailey.” He expressed disappointment that he has not seen those projects brought to fruition and expressed concern that whether the ACPG will continue to pursue those possibilities may now be in doubt, adding, “There are forces in the ACPG working at odds to them.”


The process for filling a vacancy is as follows:


1. ACPG accepts a resignation and agrees that a vacancy exists
2. The ACPG posts public notice of the vacancy and invites applications to fill it
3. The ACPG reviews applications and applicants, and votes its choice
4. The ACPG advises the County of its choice
5. The Board of Supervisors appoints a replacement; typically the ACPG’s suggested applicant.



The process typically takes approximately three months before a new member is seated.

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Response to Mr. Lou Russo


In regards to these questions, I believe they should be addressed to Mr. Barnett to answer himself or SDG&E, or if you don't feel comfortable asking him then set up an enquiry with the County to address these questions for you. I'm not here to be your investigative secretary and I know many others on the Planning Group feel the same. If you have a personal vendetta with Mr. Barnett, it is very clear that you will do whatever you can to get at him. Please explain to me or the world that wonders, why? As far as Mr. Barnett's resignation, it has been rescinded by Mr. Barnett due to the fact I did not accept it, and asked him to reconsider which he did. As the Chair this is my right. Emotions can run high at meetings and knee jerk reactions typically happen. However, in this case I felt that Mr. Barnett is a huge asset to this Planning Group and Community so I fought to make sure he did not see his resignation through.

Until, you sent the BCLT tax return, I was unaware of any monies being received by the BCLT from SDG&E for the use of an Easement for Land Access ($184,000), or the fact that George has stated that Educational Grants issued by SDG&E to the BCLT for the use and benefit of the back country schools were awarded to BCLT in the amount of $35,000. If I'm not mistaken the BCLT donated money in part for children right here in Alpine in 2010 and 2011, in addition to a few other programs related to education, the most recent being the Summer School Program in 2011 that was supported by the BCLT and held at Alpine Elementary School. This support coming during a time when the State of California had zero budget to offer the same. I am confused when money is coming from the BCLT back into our childrens education, how this can be a bad thing? Again, is it bad that George and the organization BCLT, were strong enough Grant writers that earned the money through the Grant writing process? Or is it the fact that George, while in the capacity of being the SRPL Ad Hoc Chair, was also in the position of being part of the BCLT board? In Alpine, many people wear many hats. I too am part of other organizations in town called the Alpine Business Networking Association and another called Kiwanis. Both of which serve the Community as non-profits giving back time and money. Being on the Planning Group does not keep you from being part of other organizations. So why is this important to you! What I believe in this case is the fact that Alpine has been turned upside down by the Power Link project and you are looking for someone to blame it on. George did not make the decisions, nor did the Planning Group to support the route SDG&E took or for that matter the Power Link project as a whole. Supervisor Dianne Jacob, who we report to, did not support the Power Link or the route it took through Alpine. So why try to find a scapegoat in a situation that nobody supported. Maybe we should blame the route on you. Maybe we should say that you didn't put this much effort into stopping the Power Link the first time you were on the Planning Group. You and I both know this has been a topic prior to 2003. Why didn't you spend more time and energy when you were on the Planning Group prior to 2009 in making sure Alpine wouldn't get turned upside down? I know that you don't want the media to start asking you these questions do you? As a matter of fact, it is because you and I both know that we did not have a say in the process at all. Our Supervisor didn't, the County of San Diego didn't, George, You and I didn't. So lets stop wasting time on issues that we didn't have any say and instead work on issues that are before us that we do have a say. The Community needs us to represent them and not just a few constituents.

I don't see George getting paid personally in any of this. Therefore, what is his gain? Did he "personally" gain from his involvement with BCLT & SDG&E? I don't believe so! If I am wrong, then this is too bad. I hope and believe I'm not! As far as why he would choose to resign in my opinion stems from your continual smear campaigns. Lou, as volunteers nobody should be subjected to the garbage you dish out. What you call questions can and should be addressed civilly, but you don't know how too. This is too bad. This isn't the Art of War, but a small Community that needs our support and doesn't give a rats behind about all the infighting that has taken place since your came back onto the Planning Group.

As far as what is negotiated as a price between SDG&E and the BCLT for the right to travel over private property is between them. What someone is willing to pay for the right to travel over another person or entities property is measured by the benefit of paying the requested amount or the alternative of not paying for the right to the easement at all. It appears to me that SDG&E needed the right and the easement. Therefore, they were willing to pay for that right to the tune of $184,000. Does it matter why SDG&E needed the easement, I'm not sure. If there was something that the County felt should be addressed in regards to that easement, I would hope that the County would have protected our Community by letting us know it had some negative impact. I did not hear this at all in 2010.

In closing, I've always felt that if you have questions, you should just go to the source. I hope this is the route you will take. There are two entities that have the answers, the BCLT and SDG&E. I am not here to defend George because he can do this himself, but I will stand up for those that are being unjustly portrayed.

Greg Fox Jr, Chairman
Alpine Community Planning Group
P.O. Box 819
Alpine, CA 91903

Seems the APG is Now Protecting Each Other

Mr. Fox - what part of conflict of interest do you not understand? What part of impropriety do you not get? What part of just how bad this looks do you fail to recognize?

That's fine. The truth shall prevail and you will be recognized for the liar that you are as well. I wonder what was in all this for you?

Barnett is chair of the committee that allows the PowerLink project to come through Alpine unfettered, while accepting $219,000 in private donations from the company that he is supposed to oversee and control via the committee process. Disrupting and bankrupting businesses. Causing unemployment. Basically making life miserable for all of us. And you see nothing wrong with that? Then you sir, are a fool and should resign. You myopia is offensive. Your continued support of this man who perverts the law is tasteless. Alpine deserves way better than your backroom politics and shady deals done in the cover of darkness...that you apparently support.

This wreaks. It smacks of insider trading at a political level. You and your cronies need to go. RESIGN TODAY!

BTW - Mr. Barnett can continue to offer his education programs without his seat on the APG.

Dog Gone it

This article just surfaced in the Union Tribune.

Well shucks. Even more money than what I originally thought. Another $35k in grants from an SDG&E foundation. What a noble and honest guy. The Chairman of the PowerLink Ad Hoc committee for the Alpine Planning Group accepts $219,000 in payments to his environmental organization and tells nobody. No transparency.

If this payment were made directly to him, it would be a crime, punishable by fine and jail time. Since it is to an organization he runs, he gets away with it. Splitting hairs if you ask me.

George Barnett is a loathsome individual who has hurt Alpine in ways that are only now coming to the surface. Accepting this kind of money while supposedly working in the public interest of the people of Alpine is criminal in my opinion. A trip up and down Alpine Blvd during the middle of a weekday is proof of that.

The good people of Alpine should insist that the BCLT use the full $219,000 on beautifying Alpine Blvd, above and beyond what SDG&E is doing. More plants, trees, shrubs, etc... Or how about the BCLT take the money and help the businesses who are suffering with PowerLink? Or how about the BCLT pays the people that have lost their jobs because of the construction?

Lastly, lest we not forget that the $219,000 came from the rate payers of SDG&E. You and me and everyone else who buys their electicity and natural gas from the utility.

What an outrage. What lies. What distortions. And what sleezy political backdoorsmanship.


Heads should roll. The APG President Greg Fox should resign immediately as well as this happened under his full view (hmmm). The other APG members involved with this need to be found and removed as well. Supervisor Jacob's office should investigate this.

Oh wait...sorry... “I refuse to tolerate slander at a public form, month after month, and not have the ability to defend and respond appropriately.” Accusing Mr. Russo of slandering him. Typical political tactic. Attack those who accuse you of wrong doing. Too bad for Mr. Barnett that Mr., Russo was right.

In the words of Doc Holiday (Val Kilmer) in the movie Tombstone when he wins another hand of poker "OOPS!".

Something Stinks in Camelot

More lies again. New evidence has surfaced that Mr. Barnett's group, the Back Country Land Trust, took $184,000 from San Diego Gas and Electric in 2010. It is in their tax return. Page 9 – line 11a.

While doing some investigation of the BCLT website and their newsletters, I found not a single mention of the payment. Not one. Why? Let’s get back to that in a minute.

So let me get this straight. Barnett serves as the Chair of the Alpine Planning Group PowerLink Ad-hoc committee on the APG, never tells anyone about the $184,000 payment to his beloved eco group, never recuses himself from votes with respect to the PowerLink project, and we are supposed to believe what a wonderful human being he is? Wow – can you say corruption of the highest order?

I have to ask the editor of this publication to investigate the facts. This eco group is in bed with the corporate utility who has screwed Alpine with this project.
And, are we supposed to believe that colossal payment of money DID NOT INFLUENCE Mr. Barnett’s decisions making, especially since this supposed environmental paragon of East County voted in favor the PowerLink project which is choking Alpine’s businesses? I would have thought someone in the environmental area would have fought the PowerLink project tooth and nail. Hear that? That is the sound of crickets chirping when it comes to the BCLT and the PowerLink project. Hmmm!

Now, we’re supposed to believe that he stepped down from his post on the APG because of harsh criticism from one member, rather than this massive payoff of almost $200,000 becoming public. Interesting how his skin got sooooooo thin all of a sudden.

Oh, he will probably say it was a legit transaction between the BCLT and SDG&E. But I have to ask, why the secrecy then. Why not be upfront with it? Why hide this from public scrutiny?

He says he is “proud to have been a part of the effort to bring forward two real parkland possibilities, a small 2-acre passive pocket park in East Alpine and a large 10-acre active sports complex in north Alpine.” A couple of decades in Alpine’s political system and this is what he has to show for it. Oh but wait, the APG voted down the small 2-acre park because the neighbors complained bitterly about it at last night’s meeting, and the 10 acre sports complex; there’s no money for that.

Like I said in a different post, you would think Barnett and his cronies at the BCLT could donate 10 acres of their precious lands for a sports complex. A measly little 10 acres out of 230 that they own in the middle of Alpine. Nope, they’re too busy getting titanic payments from the local utility giant.

Me thinks something stinks in Camelot, and I wonder who else on the APG is involved. Or maybe what kind of other dirty backroom deals are being cut.

We are looking into this.

At the time we learned of this resignation we were not aware of the payment received by the BCLT from SDG&E, which is why that was not referenced in this story. Mr. Russo asked a question at the meeting that could have been a fishing expedition for all we knew, though subsequently we have reviewed records that documented this.


We have requested additional records and comment from several other sources, and will post a followup story specifically on the payment/conflict of interest issue in a couple of days.