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SCVNews.com | Opinion/Commentary: Crony Dumpster Diving | 04-05-2017
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Commentary by Richard Hood
| Wednesday, Apr 5, 2017

In addition to leftist (as opposed to liberal) ideology, do you know what else is destructive of American society? Crony capitalism.

It can begin when you run as a conservative to get elected in a conservative area, in an attempt to make a career out of holding public office. Next, we can have what appears to be collusion with business, to the enrichment of both, whether monetarily or politically via ongoing agreements and contributions. Voting “right,” as in conservative, and not having discernment to know how bad it looks to take contributions from concerns like the local landfill does not help conservatism or the country.

If politicians attend dinners where they are honored by business concerns that also contribute to their campaign funds, and then the politicians come out in support of that business, well, how does it make our politicians look? The landfill promised our community of Val Verde it would be closed by now, but instead it wants to double in size, becoming one of the nation’s largest.

Val Verde was simply lied to by both the county and the landfill. It was safe either to buy or stay in Val Verde, residents were told, as the landfill had to close down. It was in writing. But what good are written agreements if your own county government is in collusion with the side refusing to stand by such agreements? Were residents offered top dollar by the county or landfill for their properties? No, they were offered nothing.

Conservatively speaking, one of the government’s limited roles in society is to protect its citizens, but our county government has betrayed these residents and our valley, preferring the landfill. And for what possible reason? Our state and federal representatives support the landfill, too, rather than supporting the wishes of constituents who voted them in.

Val Verde is represented locally by the Castaic Town Council. At least on paper. The landfill offered that council money for Castaic, but only if the council and their family members agreed not to oppose the landfill publicly. Otherwise, the money would stop. The council agreed to these terms. Can you believe this? Do you think this supports our American system, or degrades and corrupts it?

Our new Supervisor Kathryn Barger told our local news in regard to this issue that she would make the right decision for the community. Was she talking about Val Verde, the community that voted unanimously to have the landfill and county keep their word and close down? If not, how dishonest and callous. If so, how condescending and patronizing – or out of touch with her own constituents’ opinion. The people have spoken, so why won’t our elected representatives listen? Could it be that these proud American politicians care more about what lobbyists and other puppet masters tell them rather than what we, their supposed bosses, tell them? Is it foolishness to take the type of campaign donations that cause moral bankruptcy, or is it the other way around?

Politicians, like others who swear an oath to defend our Constitution, acknowledge in doing so that “we the people” are in fact their bosses. When any politician’s actions are not in accord with that premise, one might wonder about the politician’s attitude regarding the Constitution itself, and oaths in general.

As a conservative, I don’t care how conservative Wilk or Barger or Knight say they are; I won’t vote for anyone again who won’t take the time to learn about local issues or don’t care about simple, basic, moral issues of right and wrong. Being business friendly is good, but being so to the detriment of their own constituent’s rights is both a political and personal failing.

It might take longer to do so than leftism, but crony capitalism also brings destruction to our country and is therefore just as poisonous as the actions of those who outright admit to hating our country.

We already have a “Michael D. Antonovich Open Space,” so maybe we can have a “Barger-Wilk-Knight Open For Business Space” soon. They have all taken landfill money as have, it turns out, most if not all of the Santa Clarita City Council. How bad does something have to look before otherwise decent people feel shame?

Crony capitalism makes me sick, but worse, it makes all of us, our entire nation, sick. Our Founders knew capitalism works better than anything else, but as John Adams and others pointed out concerning our Constitution, it too requires a moral and religious people. Otherwise, the Founders and framers thought it an inadequate document.

How moral and decent a people are we? Well, just look at those we’ve chosen to represent us. It’s not what you call yourself; it’s what you do. Would you want your kids to be like them when they grow up? What would make you prouder of your kids – voting “right” and taking the money, or simply supporting that which is morally right?

It’s been said the price of liberty is eternal vigilance, and this would include vigilance against being seduced by lobbyists and led into temptation and rationalization. We are told for good reason to pray for our officials, but how many of us do so?

May our fellow residents in this valley be delivered from the evil of our expanding rogue landfill, its paid promoters, and its paid political protectors who are supposed to be the citizen’s protectors.


Richard Hood is a retired history teacher who lives in Valencia.

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  1. LMAO this guy is all over the place! Between scapegoating leftists, appealing to populism, and then without any irony defending capitalism as the system that works best and distinguishing it from “crony capitalism,” which he doesn’t even define, I’m not sure what I just read. :P

  2. Mark Cezon says:

    Well, Daniel, he sounds like a pretty reasonable person to me. Capitalism, ideally, is terrific. Unfortunately, what we have today is debtism, cronyism, and corporatism. There is no free market, and there is no level playing field. Seems like Mr. Hood got that right. Additionally, conservatives, and “constitutionalists”, should by definition be more concerned about the rights of individuals than the profits of large corporations. Clearly, that definition has been shifted, and perverted, over time. If that is seen by you as populist or leftist, then perhaps it is time to dispense with the labels and simply do what we believe is good and right. When legislators, elected and paid by their constituents, choose to ignore the people who put them in power, and instead choose to represent the interests of those who give them even more money, then the system is truly broken, and we have government of, by, and for, the rich and well-connected.
    Sounds like Mr. Hood is a rare breed, a thoughtful conservative who is questioning what conservatism means. I think he would have liked Barry Goldwater. Have a great day, Daniel.

  3. Tanya says:

    Great points. Thanks for the article. Having followed this issue for almost three years, it is clear that money has certainly clouded the judgment of our representatives and silenced those who should be protecting our communities.

  4. Steve says:

    Richard I agree, when the pockets are lined by those the county is supposed to keep in check rules/laws will be broken or down right ignored by the county.

  5. Susie Evans says:

    In the new FINAL ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT REPORT the deal lets the county off the hook (not legally liable) for any illegal actions by CCL, any violations by CCL and essentially lets the CCL do what they want and pay the county a ton of money. Also the City of Santa Clarita wants a cut of the $$ for their support of the expansion. The City of Santa Clarita fought Elsmere Canyon dumop, but wants the CCL to continue. Has anyone thought about what is in this place that went in before 1997 and there were EPA rules? That stuff I am sure is seeping through to our water and our dirt in addition to our air

  6. jim says:

    There comes a time in every adult’s life when they realize that there is a system in place that does things for a reason that may not make sense to them. It could be in their workplace, it could be their local, state, or federal government, it could be a social organization.

    That system, process, whatever you call it does not always do the morally right thing. It produces a result that seems to be free of, or counter to the concepts that that group claims to stand for.

    The landfill is a perfect example. Of course if you pay attention, almost everything else in business and government offers similar examples.

    Money and power (hard to separate those two) talk so much more loudly than facts or even documented proof that it is hard for people to make the choice. Barger and friends may even believe that they are making the right choice “for the greater good”.

    I guess it all comes down to how you define “good”, doesn’t it? That, and just exactly who gets the “good”.

    Thus we get to enjoy the process of learning which end of the stick is the short end, and which end is not.

    Buena Suerte Val Verde!

  7. Martha Hastert-Simmonds says:

    Well done! You made many truthful and valid points. When our city and county government are brought by the highest bidder what chance do we have as a community to be protected and feel safe. We have been lied to and our health and safety sold. When a government becomes this corrupt it leads to a true breakdown in our society.

  8. waterwatcher says:

    Its not just the council, you should look at the substantial donations given to the Castaic Lake Water Agency incumbents in the last water election. Why – the landfill needs a water hook up to continue watering all their mounds of trash, AND if you have the water agencies on your side, who will worry about leachate from the landfill getting into the Santa Clara River? Not the people that they helped get elected, surely.

    That is why it is so bad to have this water monopoly in Santa Clarita with Castaic Lake Water Agency in control of everything. PLEASE write an opposition letter NOW to
    Anton Favorini-Csorba, Staff
    Governance and Finance Committee
    State Capitol, Room 408
    Sacramento, CA 95814
    Phone: (916) 651-4119
    Fax: (916) 322-0298

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