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Conspiracies and grains of truth

Conspiracy theories seem to be woven into the fabric of human DNA, beginning perhaps with Eve and that wily serpent.

Some are enduring (the New World Order/Trilateral Commission actually rules the world, fluoridation is a communist plot, there’s a space alien entombed in Roswell, N.M.), some have enough threads of credibility to warrant careful scrutiny (the JFK assassination), and some are sheer lunacy (Princess Di and the entire British royal family are actually alien reptiles from a distant galaxy, the contrails made by passing jets are actually deadly chemicals and biological agents to control either the weather, or human population growth, or both).

Other grandiose leaps off the ladder of sanity include the belief that the fate of Building 7 at the World Trade Center Plaza proves a U.S. government cabal was responsible for the 9/11 attacks; the so-called Clinton Body Count (Bill and Hillary eliminated 50-to-60 people standing in their way, including White House counsel Vince Foster); and Barack Obama’s healthcare death panels, private gun confiscation and diabolical plan to destroy the U.S. economy in order to usher in socialism.

Homegrown, Sonoma Valley conspiracies may pale by comparison but they seem to gain significant traction. It has been asserted, for example, by some citizens who question the wisdom of spending $2 million for a roundabout on Arnold Drive at Aqua Caliente Road, that there must be a more sinister explanation for the project, perhaps a clandestine agreement between the county and Hanna Boys Center, which will somehow benefit financially from the project. Some have speculated that the roundabout was designed to coincide with Hanna’s $15 million capital campaign, a sort of free façade improvement, or that it provides better access to the center’s 60-acre parcel on the opposite side of Arnold Drive.

Hanna officials, who appear baffled by those theories, point out they donated land at three of the four corners of the intersection, for a traffic improvement they did not request and about which they saw no great need.

We have voiced concern in this space that the roundabout appears to solve a problem that doesn’t exist and that the money could have been spent more productively on numerous other road improvements almost anywhere in the Springs.

But, hard as we try, we simply can’t translate that concern into a Hanna conspiracy.

Similarly, as the patient population at the 1,000-acre Sonoma Developmental Center drifts ever lower, and as the future grows cloudy for what is arguably Sonoma Valley’s most valuable, non-commercial real estate, voices can be heard speculating that development deals are already being made, one of them including an Indian casino.

Concern about the future of SDC – and about the future of its fragile resident population – are valid. Assumptions that it will be converted willy-nilly into a Costco/casino complex are absurd.

The popular advertising dictum that perception is not always reality contains some good advice. Conspiracies are usually wrapped, like pearls and sand, around a grain of truth, but most conspiracies don’t produce a pearl. And that’s certainly true of the ones we’ve heard of late.


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