For representative democracy to have any meaning, citizens have to trust their elected officials to tell them the facts about important issues.

But, all too often, we don’t find out that we’ve been bamboozled until after our votes are cast, giving trust in government another kick in the pants.

Maybe not this time, though!

Dan Griffin, the current chairman of the Planning Commission, wants to fill the commissioner seat being vacated by Dana Kjome.

Space constraints force me to limit my observations to just one Planning Commission meeting where Mr. Griffin’s strained relationship with the facts was on public display.

I refer to the 1/22/15 meeting (video of this meeting is available on the county’s website) concerning a draft mining ordinance Dan was trying to ram rod through, but it was wisely voted down by the Houston County Board of Commissioners a couple of months later.

During that meeting, Dan repeatedly tried to keep the door open for frac sand mining with comments like, “sand is sand” and “all sand is crushed quartz.”

Obviously, not all sand is crushed quartz. Some sand is granite, limestone, coral or lava just to cite a few examples.

As for “sand is sand” – this false equivalency is dangerous, because the fine dust particles from frac sand can make you seriously ill or even kill you. The dust from your kid’s sand box can’t.

This draft ordinance contained a provision “limiting” the amount of sand extracted from each mine to 60,000 cubic yards per year.

Sixty thousand cubic yards is about the size of a 10-story office building, and it would far exceed the traditional amount of sand excavated in Houston County on an annual basis.

When asked to explain the rationale for this radical increase in sand mining, Dan blamed it on the cows saying, “We have expanding dairy herds – expanding needs.”

Most of this sand was, apparently, meant to bed cattle.

If Dan tells you it’s a sunny day, you better look out the window. So, I contacted the USDA in Washington, D.C., and I was directed to a chart on their website ( that showed a steady decrease in Houston County’s bovine population since at least 1997.

If you’re happy with the way things are going in Houston County, maybe you should vote for Dan because he represents “business as usual.”

But, I think that letting the Planning Commission chairman also serve on the Board of Commissioners would give one person – the wrong person – way too much influence over county government.

That’s why I plan to vote for Dan’s opponent on Nov. 8 – Fred Arnold.

Michael Fields

Winnebago Valley