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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Friday, Sep 19, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieNight before last at the meeting of the Castaic Area Town Council, there was a vote to accept a contract with the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. The vote was 6 to 4 to accept the contract. Now the problems will begin.

The contract has a lot of problems. I think one of the biggest is that it might cause a divorce or two. You see, within the contract, there is a little clause that says the members of the Castaic Area Town Council and members of their families cannot speak out against the Chiquita Canyon Landfill – or the contract is null and void.

I don’t know about you, but when I was married to Kathryn, rest her soul, if I had voted to accept a contract that said she couldn’t talk about it, I would have been sleeping on the little bed until that contract was replaced.

What is worse, the people of Castaic will no longer have a voice with Los Angeles County concerning the dump. They voted to remove their own First Amendment rights in all matters concerning the dump. So if the smells in Val Verde from the dump are bad, or after expansion they reach Castaic, the Town Council can’t complain or it will lose hundreds of thousands on dollars.

That’s right. The Castaic Area Town Council sold its rights to speak out against the dump. A part of their First Amendment rights are gone. Since they are the liaison to the county for the people of Castaic, the entire population has in effect lost those same rights.

Now if the Chiquita Canyon Landfill folks claim they are not paying “hush money” to the Town Council, we all know they are telling a tall tale.

They did it for the good of the children and the community. Look at all they can do with all that money. We can trust the folks from the dump.

The Town Council members living closest to the dump voted not to accept the contract. They did as the citizens of Val Verde wanted. The rest of Castaic sold Val Verde again. It has happened before – Val Verde being made a second- or third- class part of the Castaic Area.

Which brings to mind another little issue. What is the reason Val Verde is part of the Castaic Area Town Council? And concerning the dump, there isn’t a single reason Castaic should be involved. From the Hasley Canyon exit on I-5 all the way to Templin Highway, the folks of that part of Castaic shouldn’t have anything to say about the dump. It isn’t causing problems in those areas.

So with dollar signs in their eyes, six of the 10 members of Castaic Area Town Council voted to accept a contract with the dump. They will get lots and lots of money from Chiquita for all kinds of things, and they can’t complain.

This writer finds it odd that an advisory group, the Castaic Area Town Council, which advises the county supervisors, can be a signatory to a contract. I thought, if I look at county operations elsewhere, the Board of Supervisors is the only entity that can enter into contracts on behalf of the county.

So they voted to take the money and run. There is a name for that. It is called, in pure and simple terms, greed. You see, the members of the Town Council who live in Castaic saw that the folks in Val Verde were getting a lot of money for supporting the expansion back in 1997, and they figured that if they told the dump they supported the expansion this time, they would get a piece of the action. Well, it worked. At least for now.

Is it legal? I’m a submariner, not a lawyer. When I look at it, it sure seems to fail the “smell test” (just like the dump fails a smell test, too). And then those six who voted for it should consider just how unethical the action is in light of how it could really impact Val Verde in a most negative way.

I know some folks in Val Verde are getting all “lawyered up” and ready for what promises to be a long fight. This isn’t over by any stretch.

You see, there is still the pesky little fact that the community that wants the dump to shut down took a vote, and of the 112 who voted at the Val Verde Civic Association meeting, all 112 voted to say “no” to the expansion. They don’t like money that smells like garbage.

That doesn’t seem to trouble Castaic. Would that the district attorney’s office do some investigation. Little things like a flyer passed out to the residents of Val Verde that was from the dump but looked like it was from the Val Verde Civic Association. In fact, the dump admitted it was a flyer they passed out.

One other item concerning money, a contract, and the dump: There is to be a new contract with Val Verde. It would roughly double the amount now being paid. The dump said folks couldn’t see the contract until before they voted on it.

I can’t believe Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich would allow this to happen. Since when does a dump dictate the terms by which appointed and elected county boards, committees and commissions can speak and vote?

All this makes me a bit worried. Are the dump folks from Chicago? Or worse, is the county so connected, it just has to happen?

Val Verde knows. The dump has smelled for so many years that the residents would think they’ve moved hundreds of miles away if it closed. We can only hope they get to experience that by 2019, as promised.

 

Darryl Manzer grew up in the Pico Canyon oil town of Mentryville in the 1960s and attended Hart High School. After a career in the U.S. Navy he returned to live in the Santa Clarita Valley. He can be reached at dmanzer@scvhistory.com. His older commentaries are archived at DManzer.com; his newer commentaries can be accessed [here]. Watch his walking tour of Mentryville [here].

Comment On This Story
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17 Comments

  1. SCVNews.com says:

    Steve Roter – In your comment, who is the “we” who “got ours”? Do you work for the landfill? If not, what is your interest? And is “Steve Roter” your real name? If not, what is it and where do you live?

  2. Susie Evans says:

    Steve Roter, or whomever you are. You do not live in Val Verde, that is obvious. Your information seems to be from a source that does NOT represent the citizens of this little town, or could it be from someone who sides with the landfill and will be moving out of the Santa Clarita area soon?

    The CATC did post their agenda, but changed it via email less than 24 hours before the meeting. It appeared to be a bait and switch on the citizens of Val Verde. Is that legal to change the agenda within that short of time and only notify a few?

  3. Greg Kimura says:

    To correct Steve Roter, the VVCA Landfill Committee held a meeting in which 112 residents voted against the expansion of the landfill and 0 voted for it.
    The Draft EIR has too may flaws, not to mention things that the community of Val Verde does not want. They took time out of their busy schedule, gave testimony and voted.
    And remember that many of these people receive the benefits which are paid for by the CBFC (organization which receives the landfill funds). They still voted against the expansion. That tells me a lot.

  4. Greg Kimura says:

    To correct Steve Roder again, when there is a vote of 112 to 0, that’s extremely significant. And for 112 resident to vote no in a community where there are 671 households … well, that’s impressive.

    To put this in perspective, if there was a turnout with the same ratios as above in Los Angeles County, the turnout would be 577,893 – they wouldn’t fit in the supervisor’s hearing room. Or lets look at Castaic. The turnout would be 960 – they also wouldn’t fit in the meeting room at the School District office.

    And if the Landfill Committee were able to cast their vote, I’m pretty sure it would’ve been 117-0.

  5. Greg Kimura says:

    At the CATC meeting, Marshall Lefcourt handed out the flier he received on his door – I heard it was passed out to all the residents of Val Verde. When he passed out the flier, he didn’t tell who made it. Member of the Board thought it came from the Val Verde Civic Association, since the name was boldly printed at the bottom. Wrong! Next, it was believed to have come from the Community Benefits Funding Committee (CBFC). Wrong again. When I told one board member that it came from the landfill, he looked at me as if I was speculating. When I told him that the landfill admitted it, the first words out of his mouth was “that’s fraudulent”.

    It’s obvious why the landfill has stooped to levels this low – they’ll do anything to win. We know what they did a wonderful spin on the illegal “sludge” they took in. Or how about their denial of ever taking in nuclear waste? When times get tough, this is how they fight. Do we want someone like this to be our “neighbor” for the next 21-38 years?

  6. SCVNews.com says:

    Vanessa Brookman/Steve Roter – For your gross misconduct (repeatedly perpetrating a fraud by using a fake name to libel people, in violation of the published terms of service), you are banned from posting comments on this website under any name you have used in the past or which you may attempt to use in the future.

  7. John Musella says:

    Susie… You are wrong. The CATC did not change their agenda 24 hours in advance. Chiquita requested weeks prior to their September meeting to have the agreement placed on the agenda for consideration. The agenda was posted 72 hours in advance with the item on the agenda. We all have the posted copies.

  8. John Musella says:

    Greg… We put the flyer out. We have told many people that. I stood up at your meeting and openly stated we had it printed and distributed. The information in that flyer is accurate and we stand by it. It was the Val Verde Civic Association hosting the meeting at 6 p.m. and that was the information we put on the flyer. This small band of VV residents that want the landfill closed no longer talk about all the good that funding from the landfill has done for Val Verde. Scholarship programs, tutoring, sports programs, senior bus passes, etc. $340,000 this year in funding for free programs in Val Verde. You don’t like to mention that now that the DEIR is under public review. You don’t tell your residents the full story. So we did.

  9. Steve Lee says:

    Wow! This needs to be sent to the district attorney. The president of the VVCAC, who is supposed to listen and help with our complaints does this. If Vanessa Brookman/Steve Roter did this, then I ask how much have the residents of Val Verde really been screwed over. I know the names we have been called, and that was from the neutral board.

  10. Thomas says:

    Musella – everyone in VV is aware of the mitigation fees but nobody wants the landfill to stay open. It’s not a small group of people you’re talking about.

  11. Steve Lee says:

    Can someone email her comments? I did not get to see them, and I think the District Attorney would like those comments. I love the video of me, that she put on line. A must see!

  12. Sara says:

    John,

    Did Vanessa help in the production or distribution of that flyer?

    Also, the contract was not presented at the agenda planning meeting. It was put on the agenda at the last minute and OUTSIDE of a public meeting, behind closed doors.

    Since you know a lot about Val Verde, John, tell me who these people are who want the landfill to stay open in our town, because I have never met one.

    To anyone reading this who wants to know what the residents on Jackson and Lincoln live with everyday, spend a couple hours there. You will get nauseated, dizzy, disoriented and come home with a headache. I live on the far side of town, but my heart goes out to our neighbors who LIVE WITH THIS EVERYDAY. They are sick and a few have hurt themselves falling from dizzy spells. If the landfill expands, so will its scope of fugitive gases.

    The contract that was handed out to council members (and approved that night) was watermarked with “draft” and handed out only HOURS before the meeting. If I had reviewed the contract I would have pointed out in testimony that.

    It appears to me that the way the CCCCBF contract is written so that any person, entity or business who resides in the Castaic Area is subject to the gag order. If a person takes part in the EIR/CEQA process, “joins or supports on any way in any appeal of Project approval…” The contract “shall be voidable and of no further force and effect in CCL’s sole discretion.”

    Who wrote this? Was an attorney actually involved? It seems that anyone who resides in Castaic, private or public, can void the contract, just by participating in the EIR process. That seems to give a lot of power to the people to void this – that is if the landfill decides to void it at their discretion.

    Condition 22 is disturbing because they state that the landfill is entitled to a financial award if they have to enforce it. Does this extend to private citizens?

    Including condition 19, which puts a first amendment gag order not only on the Council, but council members who represent their constituents. Their constituents will not have a voice in any matter involved with the landfill; this is a massive violation of free speech. Even though the CATC President stated that the mitigation contract had nothing to do with Val Verde,our VV representatives will have to “support all permitting and approval applications for the project. Before local, state and federal agencies. Support of the project includes letters, appearances, testimony, telephone calls and meetings with local, state and federal permitting and consulting agency’s with respect to project entitlements.”

    The council members who voted for the contract said that this had nothing to do with Val Verde. The Council members who voted for the contract to be approved as-is, claimed that the contract had nothing to do with Val Verde.

    That is blatantly wrong statement because it imposes a gag order on our representatives, including those from Val Verde. How were they able to conflate these issues, they say this is a private contract that does not affect Val Verde — but it does? We have never imposed requirements from our CBFC onto the town Council. How is this new benefits funding committee allowed to impose restrictions on the Town Council?

    One final comment to Mr. Musella: There are some things that money can’t buy.

  13. Sara says:

    I really do not believe Flo Lawrence would post something of that nature. Admin, would you please verify the identity of the poster?

  14. SCVNews.com says:

    The comments from “Flo L.” are fraudulent. They are coming from “Echobutterfly1251@gmail.com” which is not an email address Flo Lawrence has used here previously. We are removing them.

  15. Steve Lee says:

    Every CATC meeting starts with two things. One is the Pledge of Allegiance. “With Liberty and Justice for all.” Those are just words in the air, if people prosper at the cost of the health of others.

    The other thing a CATC meeting starts with is prayer. The most important rule in the dominant religion her in the United States is, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” I would like to think if the shoe was on the other foot we, the residents of Val Verde would put the health of residents first, especially if I was suppose to represent them. Not fight for football or more baseball fields, but actually fight for the sick. Val Verde residents have gone to two boards and have begged, yelled and pleaded for a healthier existence. To be called liars, fear mongers, and selfish for actually wanting a healthy existence.
    The one thing that can be proved on the spot from the majority of landfill internet searches is that asthma is increased in areas near landfills.

    Fast Facts

    Every day in America:

    44,000 people have an asthma attack.
    36,000 kids miss school due to asthma.
    27,000 adults miss work due to asthma.
    4,700 people visit the emergency room due to asthma.
    1,200 people are admitted to the hospital due to asthma.
    9 people die from asthma.

    https://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?sub=42&id=8

    I heard it said, if Val Verde rejects the proposal then they are hurting kids in Castaic.

    Well if Castaic takes the deal kids in Val Verde are hurt, along with adults, and that is just asthma, we have not even discussed the sickness that we feel here daily.

    I am not a religious man by any means, but I do treat others how I want to be treated. It would be nice if those who open meetings with prayers would live the most important rule, I think has ever been.

  16. Ramon Hamilton says:

    John,

    Let’s get something crystal clear. The landfill put flyers up all around the community of VV with bullet points showing all of the “good” the money does. You have made that part clear.

    What needs to be cleared up is that after these efforts by the landfill, not a single person voted in favor of it. 112 voted in opposition to the expansion, so it is not a “small band”. In fact, there is no band of people that actually want it to expand. If you claim we are only a small band that are opposed to the expansion, then please show me where this large band of VV residents are that are in favor of the expansion. They don’t exist.

    Please represent your information accurately as we move forward. You are only doing a disservice to yourself and the organization you represent. It makes it seem like you and the CCL like to use assumptive sales as a means to get your agenda across. And by assumptive sales, I mean your “small band” comment. Very deceptive, inaccurate, and flat out poor ethics.

    Here are the facts:

    1. The landfill put flyers in the VV community prior to a vote asking residents if they were in favor of, or opposed to the expansion. The flyers put out by the landfill listed positive things the CBFC money, which is provided by the landfill, has done for our community.

    2. The VVCA meeting that night, which was one of the highest attendances we’ve seen in years, a vote was held as described in #1 above.

    3. Not a single person voted in favor of the expansion. Again, nobody voted in favor of the expansion. 112 residents voted against it.

    4. The vast majority of VV does not want the expansion. It really is that simple.

    If you do not agree with #4, then please show your evidence to suggest otherwise. Until then, as I mentioned earlier, please represent your information accurately.

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