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2003 - U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon introduces the first of several bills intended to block the 78-million-ton Cemex gravel mine in Soledad Canyon [story]


Commentary by Steve Lee
| Thursday, Aug 25, 2016

steveleeOn Monday, the tired town of Val Verde once again drove out to the Embassy Suites Hotel to express its concerns about the noncompliance of the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. As you may know, the landfill was given a “clean hands” waiver which basically said it had to stay open because it was too dangerous to close.

The waiver that was supposedly signed in March was not produced for public view until August. Landfill reps did not mention the waiver in June, when they had informed Val Verde residents that they had no plans to close and the county had no plans to close them, or the county would have instructed them to close.

The landfill would be right. It never submitted closing papers or even started the process in good faith. It would appear to those in Val Verde that the county and the landfill had been working together to make sure the landfill expands.

The game of having meetings to make sure the community is involved and is allowed to have input, and maybe even stop the expansion, is just that. It is a game where the landfill and the county can sit behind closed doors and laugh. Laugh at how constituents actually think they have a say in their own health, or their own right to live in a house that is free of stench.

At this meeting, the big concern was that the landfill ignored the contract with Val Verde. The landfill denied that it was supposed to close at 23 million tons, because it also had an end date of 2019. The clause in the contract, “whichever comes first,” did not matter. The landfill believes it actually meant whichever came last.

The debate got heated with the audience upset and with the landfill just as upset.

Then it happened – the Freudian slip.

A representative of Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich said: “The goal of the county is to get the approval of the CUP” (conditional use permit).

There it was. The goal of the county is to get the expansion approved.

Of course it is the goal. The county gets paid for each ton of trash the landfill takes in.

When asked if it was a done deal, the reply was: “I don’t know. It will come down to the five county supervisors.”

The same supervisors who have been sent donations for political races from this exact landfill will decide if they turn their back on the donations and represent the constituents.

I hate to say it, but as the Antonovich representative said, the CUP for more trash is the goal.

When the system is designed such that the people getting paid are responsible for policing the people who are breaking the rules, the system will fail.

 

Steve Lee is an asthmatic resident of Val Verde.

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9 Comments

  1. jim says:

    I suggest that it may not have been a “Freudian Slip”. Instead it may have been a brief moment of honesty by a county underling. It might have been an honest comment on the process. It might have been a dumb mistake by a county employee who may have limited his/her future in their employment.

    In any case Steve, it was a promise to you and all that live in that part of the west side of the Santa Clara Valley that the County of Los Angeles is looking out for you. They are just trying to make sure that you and your neighbors give your all for the benefit of the County.

    Remember, a promise from a politician (or their lackeys) is just another line in a newspaper column that no one will ever read or remember.

    Especially when the cash register is still ringing in the money.

  2. Susie Evans says:

    What ever happened to our Constitution? Does that not mean anything any more to our politicians? That is a rhetorical question. With what the County is doing to us it is obvious that the citizens don’t matter, just the money. I personally want a refund from all county elected officials and all county employees and directors who are allowing the almighty dollar to come before the lives of the people they work for.

  3. Stephanie Ebia says:

    With the County making all those major improvements for the last two years kind of gives us a heads up. I don’t think they would be spending all that money unless they had complete confidence that the would get approval.

  4. waterwatcher says:

    This waiver was REALLY underhanded. The County just expanded the landfill by 25% behind closed doors and without ANY environmental review. Its amazing that the Supervisors would allow the Planning Director to do this. It is so dishonest and sheds such a bad light on County government.

  5. Richard Hood says:

    If they are breaking the contract, doesn’t that mean Val Verde does not now have to uphold its end of the bargain – namely, it can use the funds now that it got from the dump to sue them?

  6. Richard Hood says:

    1993:
    “A Superior Court jury awarded just over $1.2 million in damages Thursday to a businessman who convinced a jury that Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich conspired to influence a judge on behalf of a campaign donor.

    …Antonovich said he was disappointed because he did nothing wrong…”

    Hello? A campaign donor. Of course he thinks he can take the money and it won’t affect his judgement. Nothing wrong here… no conflict of interest. I’m sure his underlings feel the same way, including the council members who swear to uphold the Constitution but have never read it, and so in my opinion perjure themselves. The people who swear them in have never read it, or abhor it, or had it explained to them from a Constitution adjunct by the real name of Berry Soetoro.
    Let’s hope it was Antonovich’s money, and not ours, that paid the fine.

  7. jim says:

    Mr. Hood, I admire your point and the information that supported it. The Prince of the Fifth District has long been the elephant in the room when it comes to interests points north of the San Gabriel Mountains.

    However, since most of the elected official you cite are well over 40 in age, there can be no excuse for a lack of knowledge of either the US Constitution or the Laws of the State of California.

    Why? Because they could not have possibly graduated from high school in the 60’s or 70’s without passing exams on this very subject. Civics, or Government classes were required in those days in order to graduate. Any of those people who didn’t understand the laws of the land in those classes should not have received a passing grade.

    Therefore, any actions by them in the past 35+ years are simply by their own choice. In other words, they have engaged in criminal activity in furtherance of their own interests, or of the interests of those who influenced them.

    Just to fuel the fire, as far as I know, California State law has not ever and does not now allow the selling or gifting of legislation for the purpose of private profit.

    Of course, there does not seem to be any legislation regarding imposition of toxic landfills in a particular location. Unless of course, the agency in charge (LA County) says it is toxic. Just ask the folks near Sunshine Canyon landfill a few miles to the south.

    And by the way, if the neighborhoods around Sunshine get their way, the truckloads NOT going to Sunshine will end up in Chiquita.

  8. Andrea says:

    Jim, As a resident living in the “odor zone” of the Sunshine Canyon Landfill, I want to let you know that although we have been subjected to landfill gas and garbage odors for many years, at no time did we suggest that garbage that might be diverted from Sunshine Canyon Landfill be placed in the Chiquita Canyon Landfill. Yes we are fighting the dump. We are for the AQMD Order for Abatement currently on the table. You say “And by the way, if the neighborhoods around Sunshine get their way, the truckloads NOT going to Sunshine will end up in Chiquita.” That is not true, as we have no say in where the trash will go. People like you and others keep blaming the residents of Granada Hills and Sylmar. This needs to stop. Yes we would like a solution to the odors we have had to endure. No we are not in favor of harming any other community.

  9. Jim says:

    Andrea,

    Sorry if my fast final line in that comment was read as declaring that you and your neighbors (and some friends of mine) in GH would be directly responsible for more truckloads of trash/garbage/etc being diverted to Chiquita.

    If the AQMD orders require changes in operation at Sunshine that limit, delay or stop trucks from dumping at Sunshine, they will be dumping somewhere else. The nearest landfill since Lopez Canyon closed is Chiquita.

    That’s not blaming you or anybody else. Blame means responsibility, and nobody living in GH or Sylmar has responsibility for anything that goes on at Sunshine. Unless you count putting full trash cans at the curb.

    The action you wish for will have subsequent reactions and consequences. I believe that one consequence will be diversion of waste material from Sunshine to the nearest and cheapest landfill the County can justify. It’s even more likely given the latest fun and games between the County and the Chiquita Canyon Landfill owners and management.

    If I were going to blame it all on anybody, I’d accuse the people in charge of LA County.

    By the way, best of luck for you and your neighbors.

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