Al Bedrosian and the politics of ignorance

Roanoke County Supervisor Al Bedrosian has every right to his ignorance, but if other supervisors allow his views to win the day, the entire county will be poorer for it.

At a recent meeting with the  members of the Roanoke County Citizen Leaders Environmental Action Roundtable, Bedrosian’s ignorance was in full bloom.

“You’re about pushing man-made global warming, and I don’t believe in that,” he said. When RCCLEAR chairman Jesse Freedman informed Bedrosian that 97 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming is occurring and pollution from human activity is the driving force, Bedrosian said he was mistaken.

That, again, is Bedrosoian’s ignorance speaking. The scientific consensus is undeniable. The vast majority of climate scientists have no doubt that rising temperatures across the globe are due to the enormous amount of carbon pollution human industrial activity pumps out.

This is not a matter of opinion. It is the truth. It is not subject to political debate. It is a fact.

Bedrosian wants to ignore that fact. He wants to pretend it doesn’t exist. He would rather believe in some far-flung United Nations conspiracy than attempt to comprehend what thousands of scientific papers have concluded.

It was a sad day when Bedrosian was elected to the commission. What’s worse is that two of his colleagues appear ready to appease him, though they don’t share his rabid beliefs and ignorance.

Bedrosian won only one seat. That shouldn’t be enough to poison the entire Roanoke County Commission, even with Commissioner Butch Church in his corner.

But if, as appears likely, supervisors Jason Peters and Joe McNamara, side with Church and Bedrosian to end the county’s involvement with the International Council of Local Environmental Initiatives, which helps the county track and find ways to reduce carbon emissions, and disband RCCLEAR, ignorance will have won over common sense.

Peters and McNamara are better than that, and the people who elected them to office certainly deserve better.


What part of public sidewalk don’t they understand?

Updated: My former colleagues did not disappoint.

I certainly hope – and fully expect – that my former colleagues on The Roanoke Times editorial board have an editorial on a yet-to-be-published weekend page bashing this unreasonable, unwarranted and unconstitutional decision to ban assembly on the sidewalk in front of the Market Building. As could have been expected, the American Civil Liberties Union is already raising questions about the decision by the Market Building Foundation Board to deny a request by a group that wanted to restart its monthly, silent peace vigils on the sidewalk in front of Roanoke’s recently reopened iconic building.

The rationale, such as it is, expressed by the board is completely underwhelming. “Our conclusion was it would have an adverse impact on our tenants — the vendors who are using the spaces in the market building to serve their patrons — to have public assemblies on that sidewalk,” Chairman Doug Waters told The Roanoke Times.

Surely, commerce and free speech can coexist at the Market Building, as they did for decades before the building was turned over to a private foundation to facilitate the tax credits needed to finance the renovation.

I was especially disappointed to see board member Beth Deel , a well-known artist who organized the “Must-See TV” performance art spectacle that last saw the Market Building’s sidewalks in the news, defend this indefensible stance. “The issue is that the common space in the building is leased to the businesses in the building,” Deel said. “It’s not our space to permit assembly. So the common spaces that look like sidewalks are leased to the businesses in the building.”

I’m pretty sure that the sidewalks in front of every other building in Roanoke is presumed public. I see no reason why the sidewalk in front of the Market Building should be any different.

The board should rethink its decision, and Roanoke public officials should make clear that the board has overstepped its authority.