On July 31 Assemblyman Devon Mathis kept a crowd of about 50 constituents waiting nearly 20 minutes after the scheduled 5pm start of his town hall meeting. With good reason. After waiting roadside for nearly three hours, having suffered a tire blowout near Selma, Mathis finally got a ride from the CHP to make the meeting. And after ensuring that anyone who wanted it had water–the temperature that afternoon hit about 106–he begin speaking.
The crowd–mostly seniors–nearly doubled during the course of his 15-minute talk, which he concluded by mentioning the location of his new district office, 405 Willow Plaza in Visalia. Then he turned the microphone over to those with concerns.
“I don’t believe in pulling ideas out of you know where,” Mathis said, gesturing toward his posterior. “I don’t think it’s my right.”
People began the conversation by referring to specific bills, and Mathis was sometimes stymied when a bill was referred to by its number alone. Some 300-400 bills are “thrown at” him daily, he said.
The topic of water came up almost immediately. Regarding water policy, Mathis said, “Tulare County is becoming the guinea pig.”
When the discussion on water turned to fracking–and the enormous amounts of waste water involved–Mathis said that some companies are using reverse osmosis to treat the waste water before selling it for agricultural use. When asked directly, “Where’d the toxins go?” Mathis responded by saying, “They’re basically using salt water.”
Continuing the theme of recycling water, Mathis mentioned AB 956–a bill he introduced–saying, “The idea of the bill is let’s get this environmental stuff out of the way.” It is not fair, he said, for some projects to be mired in red tape while the environmental impact report for others, such as sports stadiums, are waived.
Constituents also voiced concern about future groundwater monitoring. “SB 88,” Mathis said, “gives the State Water Control Board police powers.”
When the discussion turned toward the police, in particular the topic of body cameras, Mathis seemed favorably disposed. “The question is,” he said, “how long do you store that data, and is it secure?”
General applause broke out when one constituent shouted that everyone should have a gun. Yet by a nearly unanimous show of hands the crowd agreed that the Arts are important in the state’s K-12 curriculum.
Responding to efforts to repeal SB277, the mandatory vaccination of the state’s K-12 public school students, Mathis said, “We’re trying to protect your kids’ Constitutional rights.”
Mathis defused concerns over the required installation of solar panels in new construction. According to one expert, he said, “farms work better than individual rooftops.”
When asked by one constituent whether anything was being done to prevent businesses “from having this marriage nonsense forced on them,” Mathis responded, saying, “It’s ridiculous.” “Marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “It’s the way I grew up. It’s the Good Word.”
Mathis will be the keynote speaker at a meeting sponsored by Central Valley Tea Party at 6pm on August 20, 135 W. Tulare Avenue in Tulare.