Recent claims by incumbent District 4 Supervisor Louis Boitano and his supporters regarding the supervisor’s role in the Pine Acres Fuel Break have now been disputed by former CalFire Deputy Chief Lee Winton, a resident of Pine Grove and longtime local CalFire official, and Cathy Koos-Breazeal, a local first responder who recently retired as executive director of the Amador Fire Safe Council.
In a written statement provided to the Frank Axe for District 4 Supervisor campaign today, Chief Winton said the following:
“A year after the Butte Fire, we find ourselves in a political race for the Amador County Board of Supervisors position in District 4. The current supervisor is in a tight race with an individual who is running for the District 4 board position. The incumbent in District 4 has made public claims that he is responsible for the establishment of the fuel break around the Pine Acres sub-division. These claims, or statements, appear to be purely for political gain (i.e. to get re-elected).
“I have personally contacted numerous CAL FIRE chief officers who were in positions of authority, and had direct responsibility, for the planning and implementation of this fuel break system. None of those individuals can recall the direct support or engagement of this supervisor in the process. Certainly, no county resources were ever offered, or used, to create the fuel break.
“My inquiry into this matter did find that a helicopter ride, in a CAL FIRE helicopter, was provided for multiple members of the Amador County board of supervisors as well as members of the Fire Safe Council. This ride occurred during the early stages of the planning process for the fuel break system around Pine Acres as well as an over-view of other Vegetation Management Program projects throughout the county. This was basically a ‘show and tell’ ride to keep the board members and the Fire Safe Council informed about the work being done by CAL FIRE in Amador County.
“I personally have no problem if someone in a political position wants to claim that he or she supported a project that provides for public safety and helps protect lives and property. That is simply part of their responsibility as a public servant. However, do not over-state that fact for what appears to be political gain.”
Amador Pines resident Ms. Koos-Breazeal added:
“The Pine Acres Fuel break was a CalFire and Amador Fire Safe Council project. No county official was involved in designing or developing the fuel break and no county funds were spent to create or maintain the fuel break. For any county official to claim otherwise simply flies in the face of the facts.”
In response, Frank Axe noted, “The risk of wildland fire and increased danger from dying trees is an important issue for Amador County. We need to take real action to protect lives and property. Last week, the county rejected a number of recommendations from the State Board of Forestry and Fire Protections for the county general plan. Those recommendations would have made our communities safer places to live, and I support them.
“I am grateful to have the support of two former, local CalFire chiefs and many others who are familiar with our county’s approach to fire safety and prevention and know what needs to be done in the future.”
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