Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Will McKeon's CEMEX Arrogance Kill His Shot At Reelection?


Elliot Astur worked with Lee Rogers to put that video together. I think you'll enjoy hearing the song; give it a look. It's one way for Rogers to show voters in his Santa Clarita, Antelope Valley, Simi Valley district what he stands for and how he differs from the corrupt hack who currently holds that seat, Buck McKeon. But Rogers has been relatively lucky when it comes to getting out his message. The DCCC has no interest in going up against McKeon or any other senior Republicans-- they're spineless and take money from the same sources, so they never do-- but the local media in the district has been far more open to Rogers' message this cycle than they have ever been towards any Democrat before. Part of it is probably because Rogers is such an extraordinary candidate. And part of it is because the truth about McKeon's corruption has oozed out and scandalized the community. But there's more to it than that.

Everywhere in the country, the Blue America candidates tell me that the incumbents have cultivated the publishers of the local newspapers and the general managers and owners of the local radio stations and that they are shut out. Clear Channel's billboard division, one of the slimiest outfits of all, has gone so far as to tell us they refuse to put up any "liberal messages," and in Santa Clarita they laughed when we told them we wanted to run a billboard about McKeon's voting record to kill Medicare. But, like I said, local newspapers and local radio stations have been more open to Rogers than most of our other candidates are finding in their own districts. And a lot of that is because of the CEMEX Mine. No one living in Santa Clarita wants their families coming down with emphysema (McKeon lives in Alexandria, Virginia and, since losing the Assembly race his wife has been living in Utah.) And no one wants the traffic that the mine is going to bring to the area. Barbara Boxer has been trying to fix the problem but McKeon has arrogantly refused to help. Everyone, regardless of party, is fed up with him. He could win up losing his reelection bid on an issue no one in Washington has even a notion about. Rogers has been beating the hell out of him on it and the local media has embraced his arguments. In fact, McKeon is so scared that he's desperately trying to figure out a way to get out from under this without acknowledging Rogers' number one campaign issue. This week the biggest daily in the district, The Signal ran a devastating OpEd by Rogers about the CEMEX mining catastrophe.
On Saturday, I toured the location for the proposed Cemex mine with Andy Fried from Safe Action For the Environment (SAFE). The location is about 3 miles North of Hwy 14 off of the Soledad Canyon Road exit. It’s a long walk to the mine site, up a private road in disrepair. The first thing I noticed was the wind. It was constant and blowing dust and the leaves on brush.

The mining plan calls for weekly blasting at the mountain... [I]magine that dust being carried by the typical winds in the SCV, not to mention the occasional strong Santa Ana winds. Significant dust would also be created from loading and hauling of the aggregate. Winds would carry this particulate matter throughout the valley. The minerals exposed during mining would be carried by rains into the waterways, risking contamination.

The second thing I noticed was the traffic noise from Hwy 14. I was standing on the South side of the mountain to be leveled and couldn’t see the highway, but I could clearly hear the road noise. The North side of the mountain is visible from the Highway and it is likely that mining operations could be seen from the road.

The Environmental Impact Report estimates 1,200 rock trucks per day would enter and leave the mine. This added traffic along a congested Hwy 14 adds to the commuter problems of the Santa Clarita Valley and the Antelope Valley, which already has the longest average commute time of any similar sized community in the US.

These factors cannot be mitigated. The only way to prevent the impact is to stop the mine.Nearly 120 local organizations oppose the mine and the City of Santa Clarita’s recent poll indicates a majority of citizens disapprove of it. But how do we stop it? The City and interested parties have exhausted legal options. It requires a legislative solution in Congress to cancel the mining contract. Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced S.759, which would stop the mine and all parties have agreed to it, including Cemex.

The problem is that a companion bill is needed in the House of Representatives and our Congressman, Buck McKeon, has refused to introduce the legislation.  I’ve called on him numerous times to put aside politics and take care of our community. The Santa Clarita City Council sent him a clear message with a 5-0 vote asking that he work with Senator Boxer to help stop the mine. McKeon has stated he will not act during this session of Congress.

I have vowed to make this my top priority if elected to Congress. There are few things that your US Congressman can do to directly impact your life, but this is one and for our community’s sake, it must be done.

And in case, Congressman McKeon was still not getting the point-- his arrogance and pigheadedness are legendary-- The Signal also ran another news story this week, Rogers Scolds McKeon During Cemex Site Visit. This isn't the kind of article McKeon has ever seen run about him at election time in his entire career. He's panicky and may finally be forced to act.
Lee Rogers, who’s running against Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, for the 25th Congressional District in November’s election, toured the proposed Cemex mine site on Saturday, calling for action against locating a sand-and-gravel mine there.

“This mine would negatively impact 250,000 people in the Santa Clarita Valley,” Rogers said. “It threatens our air and water quality and will clog traffic on Highway 14 by adding up to 1,200 trucks per day.”

Stopping the mine has long been a goal of local officials.

A deal has been struck that would grant federal land near Victorville for the company that would then relocate its plans there. The deal needs to be formally approved in Congress through legislation because there’s federal land involved.

McKeon said he would not re-introduce the most recent version of such a bill during the current legislative session, which ends Dec. 14, due to a Republican ban on earmarks in the GOP-controlled House.

McKeon is the single most vulnerable senior Republican anywhere in the country. If DCCC Chair Steve Israel wasn't protecting him, he would be one of the top targets Democrats would be pursuing. But they've left the independent-minded and incorruptable Rogers-- two traits Steve Israel loathes-- on his own. If you'd like to help, he's on the main Blue America page and on the Prosperity Economics page. And, yes, of course, McKeon is a hardcore advocate of the disastrous Austerity agenda that is ripping Europe apart economically and destroying the social fabric in Greece, Spain, Italy, Portugal and Ireland. The DCCC has refused to help get this ad up on TV. Please contribute to Rogers' campaign so he can do it without them.

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