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Now and Then in the SCV | Commentary by Darryl Manzer
| Tuesday, Oct 7, 2014

darrylmanzer_blacktieHear ye! Hear ye! All ye citizens of the town of Castaic: Know ye that your Town Council is seeking people who want to join that merry group by election in November. You must file your application for the election by October 15 – next week.

I’m hoping that maybe this time, folks will elect Castaic Area Town Council members who are more interested in the community as a whole and not what some company can give them at the expense of the First Amendment rights of just about every citizen of Castaic.

This is a great opportunity to have a Castaic Area Town Council that will listen to the entire town area and not just the money being offered by the Chiquita Canyon Landfill.

Hey, I can dream can’t I? Judging by the last election, not many people voted, and there wasn’t a single seat that was a contested race. This means the current council wasn’t really elected, since nobody ran against the folks now serving. Some volunteered, and next thing you know, the election was called off and all of those who applied became members. At least that is what I read in the Town Council notes on their website.

So I guess they really speak for the people, don’t they? Few volunteered for the job, and nobody got to vote. Sometimes that is considered just a little strange.

Six of the 10 folks on the council voted to accept the money from Chiquita. None of the six lives near the dump. But what does it matter? We don’t know how they were elected because at least some of them were just reappointed and continued to serve.

I’d really like to know how many folks voted in the election of the Castaic Area Town Council the time before last. If it was anything like a West Ranch Town Council meeting a few years back, the total vote count was around 74, if my memory serves me right. Was that anything like the Castaic Area Town Council’s last balloting? Just how many people vote for the Castaic Area Town Council, anyway? What percentage of the Castaic area population takes the time to vote for a “council” that is advisory and has no real power?

But it makes some folks feel like a real community to know they have a Town Council advising the county supervisors about the concerns they have – unless it is the community of Val Verde. That part of greater Castaic may as will have duct tape covering their mouths. They have no real voice as long as the rest of the Town Council acts on the offer of money and not on the welfare of Val Verde.

So, I ask you, this Castaic Area Town Council that has had elections in the past – just how many people voted in your last election? Was it a few thousand? A few hundred? Or just around 74 like your counterparts in West Ranch a few years back?

I’ve not been able to find the results of your last election. I did find the results of the races you’ve held that were sponsored by the dump. That seems to be a very important subject on your website. But to have your own election results not posted is another strange little part of the Castaic Area Town Council.

Along with posting your election results, you should also post your Form 700s that by law you’re required to submit. I only ask this because six of the 10 members of the Castaic Area Town Council who voted for the landfill expansion would certainly have to have a payoff of some kind to ignore the facts of pollution, illegal dumping of material not allowed by the current permit, the stink and smells that are rivaled only by the smell of those six voting in favor.

Maybe I’m giving too much weight to the real input the Castaic Area Town Council has from the community. Maybe the community of greater Castaic doesn’t know about the dump or the council, or doesn’t care one way or the other.

In researching an article about the West Ranch Town Council a few years ago, I found that most folks care little about what a town council does. They are usually more worried about what an HOA can do.

I love the way the Los Angeles County supervisors can point at the various town councils dotting the L.A. County map and say, “See? We have folks who help us listen to the people.”

No, they don’t. Town councils are really just a way for the supervisors to look like they’re listening. If they really wanted input from folks, they would provide funding to operate the councils. If the supervisors provided operating funds, the councils wouldn’t have to accept “gifts” from companies like Chiquita.

Imagine if there weren’t a promise of money for the Castaic Area Town Council to consider. Imagine if they had to vote on the dump expansion based on the facts of past performance.

If y’all can elect four new Town Council members in the Castaic area who will do that, I urge you to vote for them.

Land use should be based on the merits of the use requested and not on how much money the “developer” is willing to give for the community to shut up about the development.

If it were a real elected office, that person would be prosecuted for fraud, graft, corruption and all sorts of other things.

But the Castaic Area Town Council has proven it only wants money and not justice. Maybe the hundred or so folks who vote on new council members will remember that.

One thing for sure: It appears the current Castaic Area Town Council and maybe the future members won’t have a “mandate” from the community.

 

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].

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1 Comment

  1. Susie Evans says:

    OK, am I missing something? Their email said there was a $50 filing fee. For a voluntary non-paid position?

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