Laurel Taylor: Proud to Be an American?

Opponents and supporters of the Chiquita Canyon landfill expansion filled Rancho Pico Junior High on Wedesday, March 1, 2017 to voice concerns or support for the project to county commissioners. The expansion passed last week. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

As we celebrate our nation’s founding, it is a good time to reflect on our pride of being Americans, and we have a lot to celebrate in that respect.

But right now I am not feeling so proud. Democracy has been choked out of the living body that is our country’s system of governance, and she is one her knees.

There is a persistent and pervasive plague choking the political system in this country. The infection is malignant and leaves innocent people and the environment vulnerable to egregious exploitation daily. The infectious agent is money.

All across this country right now there is a systemic pattern of marginalizing the poorest and weakest of our citizens for profit and expediency. Either moral complacency or total incompetence has led to a series of environmental injustices, like Flint Michigan or the DAPL.

Chiquita Canyon Landfill is just another example of the people of this country becoming utterly expendable for the sake of profit, corporate greed, and political malfeasance.

Democracy has been sold to the highest bidder, whether it’s the Koch brothers or Chiquita Canyon Landfill and Waste Connections. The people no longer have a voice unless they too have enough money to buy compliance.

I saw first hand on Tuesday how the voice of the people has been silenced. As part of a group appealing the Board of Supervisors to deny the request by Chiquita Canyon Landfill, I was shocked by what the “system” did.

Our Supervisor, Ms. Barger, had finished her approval and proposal of the landfill expansion before we even had a chance to speak. The entire hearing was a ludicrous farce.

The chairman, Mr. Ridley-Thomas, was not even present for much of the morning’s testimony and was walking in the hallways chatting with people. Supervisor Solis got up from her seat and was chatting with her aids during my testimony, but I guess it didn’t really matter since they had already rendered their decision before we even spoke.

I wish they had told me not to waste my time because it cost me a day’s pay, which I can sorely afford to lose. The SCV has been sentenced to another 30 years of being dumped on by Los Angeles County.

Everyone complains about politics and money. Everyone knows that lobbyists have purchased Washington, and that only money talks. I have to admit my own naiveté to think that at a local level, in California, the state that is so proudly progressive, and in L.A., the city of liberal thinkers, that it would be different.

I feel a fool for believing in a system that is inherently rigged to benefit only the rich.

It seems the infection has spread and now not even your local board supervisor is free form the corrupting influence of money. Most people I talk with don’t even know who their supervisor is. I didn’t before this.

But as it turns out, the local level of politics is where you can have the most impact, so I would suggest that we all start paying attention to the local political arena. If you live in the SCV, your county supervisor is Barger, and if there is a conflict between you and a large corporation, she will side with the corporation, just F.Y.I.

Since Waste Connections funded her campaign she is a puppet of corporate interests and her constituents’ need for a healthy environment are irrelevant.

You may already know this, but if you don’t, let me make this crystal clear: you no longer have a voice. You no longer have anyone advocating for you and your rights unless you are a $12-billion-a-year corporation that wants to dump trash on people. Something to think about as families gather to eat BBQ, drink beer and light fireworks during this holiday season.

I am frankly heartsick at what I have witnessed and am having trouble feeling proud to be American right now.

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