Federal Judge Grants Blackwater Okay to Continue Border Training Facility

by on June 17, 2008 · 1 comment

in Civil Rights, Organizing, Peace Movement, San Diego, War and Peace

City Attorney Aguirre to pursue appeal, says City Council has right to make land-use decisions

By Tanya Mannes / UNION-TRIBUNE STAFF WRITER / June 17, 2008

SAN DIEGO – A federal judge has granted an injunction to Blackwater Worldwide, allowing the company to continue operating its military training center in Otay Mesa. The company’s permits for the Navy training facility near Brown Field have been in dispute.

In a ruling Tuesday afternoon, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Huff rejected City Attorney Michael Aguirre’s legal arguments for more public review, saying the facility is entitled to continue operating with its existing permits. Huff said the project is of a small scale, and she rejected Aguirre’s arguments that it would pose a substantial burden on city services, such as police. “We’re talking about 24 sailors at a time, training them in an indoor facility,” she said.

Brian Bonfiglio, a Blackwater vice president, praised the ruling, saying it was a “win for the Constitution and the rule of law.”

Aguirre said he will appeal, saying the ruling raises “fundamental issues of discretion and the right of the City Council to make land-use decisions.” Blackwater sued the city in federal court May 23 after Mayor Jerry Sanders, citing Aguirre’s legal analysis, tried to require public hearings before allowing the project to go forward.

Huff granted the company’s request for a temporary restraining order against San Diego, allowing the facility to open June 5. She upheld that decision in Tuesday’s ruling.

Tanya Mannes: (619) 498-6639; tanya.mannes@uniontrib.com

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Frank Gormlie June 18, 2008 at 10:12 am

We received the following from Carol Jahnkow of the Peace Resource Center:

…on yesterday’s ruling; no real surprises in court where we watched as Judge Huff did everything she could to suppress the rights of San Diego citizens to a public hearing on Blackwater. Judge Huff’s comment below regarding putting this issue before the San Diego City Council where it rightly belongs (“doesn’t the city have better things to do…”) is inappropriate and shows a complete disregard and lack of respect for the City’s government and processes. Mike Aguirre and his office should be commended for their stellar job trying to protect the rights of the City and its people. While we may have “technically” lost yesterday, it’s not over in the courts nor in the public arena. The City Attorney’s office will appeal. Blackwater has again shown their true character by making it abundantly clear that they fear the democracy they “claim” to protect. They fought tooth and nail to avoid a public hearing before the City Council because they know they will lose. We’ll keep you updated on next steps. In the meantime, please let the City Attorney’s office know that you appreciate its efforts (cityattorney@sandiego.gov) ; if you live in the city of San Diego, please let your council member know that you want the city to continue fighting on this issue (http://www.sandiego.gov/citycouncil). And many thanks to all of you who have written, phoned and shown up at events to protest Blackwater!
Carol Jahnkow, Director
Peace Resource Center of San Diego


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