Well, it's been a busy couple of days here in our little town. In two days, Deborah Brasket, Lynn Melville and Toru Miyoshi all chimed in with their voices to urge citizens to vote for Santa Maria City Council candidates Joan Leon and Hilda Zacarias on election day, Tuesday, November 7th.
Lynn Melville's Santa Maria Times letter to the editor on Thursday, November 2, 2006, detailed the 1999 California Coastal Commission's report that the diluent contained in the Guadalupe Dunes soil ". . . contains several compounds (benzene, toluene, ethylene and xylene, aka BTEX) that are known to the State of California to cause cancer or reproductive harm."
(And yet this week's Santa Maria SUN had Mayor Larry Lavagnino telling us once again that "There's Nothing Hazardous About the City's Plans". Can you believe?)
Melville noted that the 1999 report also referred to 60 percent of the Guadalupe oil field being contaminated with diluent.
In addition, Melville stated that Chevron could really just truck its contaminated soil up the road to a Class "A" dump in Kettleman City or Buttonwillow -- and the City of Santa Maria could simply cap its landfill with its own fill dirt from the Santa Maria River bed, for free. What a concept.
Then came Friday's letter to the editor from former Santa Barbara County Supervisor Toru Miyoshi. Miyoshi accused the Santa Maria City Council of not returning state water funds to the citizens when new houses (developments) are built, as had been promised.
Miyoshi notes that the new state water in the city is expensive water. When the Santa Maria City Council agreed to bring in state water (charging the citizens much more than they had been paying for water before), the citizens were told that as new homes (developments) were built, the funds would be applied to the water bill, thus lowering it in the future.
Miyoshi notes that now the City Council is using the additional water funds from the new developments for other purposes.
Miyoshi also applauds the City of Santa Maria employees for their courage in expressing their displeasure with the leadership of the current city council by not endorsing the encumbents, Marty Mariscal and Alice Patino.
In addition, Miyoshi touches upon the city council's approval of City Manager Tim Ness eliminating the elected city clerk position, along with the council's indifference to the citizens' health by recently allowing the city staff to lower the safe criteria for PCBs to be dumped into our landfill (as if cancer-causing diluent weren't enough).
PCB's??? Where did that come from? Those things are cancer-causing, too. Hopefully Miyoshi will tell us more about that in the future.
Then came Deborah Brasket's Friday commentary, titled It's Time for a Change at City Hall. Brasket describes the city council's votes as being more aligned with the "interests of wealthy developers and landowners than with the needs of average citizens and small business owners of Santa Maria."
Pointing to the city council's failure to "listen to the people they were elected to represent," Brasket hearkens back to 2003, "when the community turned out in full force to protest -- in vain -- removal of a very popular police chief" (former Police Chief John Sterling).
Brasket also points to the city council's agreement "to haul tons of contaminated soil through our streets without giving people the opportunity to voice their objections."
Wow. Santa Maria's waking up and standing up for itself. Very satisfying to watch.
P.S. Check out the Santa Maria Times November 3, 2006, article titled 'Local Teen Files Lawsuit Over Cancer'. It seems 18-year-old Scott Chenoweth has filed suit against Unocal and five other oil companies, "claiming his diagnosis of acute lymphoblastic leukemia was the result of living in a neighborhood [Sunrise Hills] contaminated by past oil drilling."
And Mayor Larry Lavagnino still says "There's Nothing Hazardous About the City's Plans." Hogwash.