The Roads We Travel

A few days in a life journey.

Posts Tagged ‘activism

My First Town Hall, CA-25

Being a newsie, as I’ve shared before, I look forward to the Sunday morning news shows and the arrival of my Sunday paper. It is a lot of information to take in, but I love to hear other people’s stories and learn about what’s going on in our country and in the world.

During the week, I don’t get to watch as much television news, but I do read news alerts and updates regularly. The weekend presents a great opportunity to get caught up and reconcile what I’m hearing nationally with what I’m seeing locally.

Since the presidential election, I’ve challenged myself to make more time to become involved in issues that deeply and directly impact the community in which I live. This local hyper-focus may come from a feeling of not having much of a voice at the national level. As it stands, I don’t feel that the current incumbent of the oval office has my family’s best interest in mind, nor do we have the level of representation that we need to better balance this out in either the House or the Senate. All I can say is thank God for the judicial branch.

Last week, I attended a public hearing to determine whether or not Los Angeles county would approve the massive expansion of a local landfill. Every person who showed up to testify in support of the expansion had received some monetary benefit — employees who earn a salary for working at the landfill, public officials who received campaign donations, non-profits and trade groups who receive donations and membership fees from the landfill, citizens whose families received scholarships from the landfill. They all showed up with glowing reviews and green-colored t-shirts and caps. The other side of the story was shared by residents living within the community directly impacted by the landfill. They shared stories of health concerns, air quality concerns, water contamination concerns, and corporate bullying and intimidation. I couldn’t believe that this was unfolding right in front of me — in my own small community.

The good news from the fallout of the presidential election is that more people, like me, are starting to become aware of what’s happening in their communities. I think, in the past, I was guilty of thinking that my civic duties ended after the vote, but not anymore.

There were so many people at the public hearing that it was standing room only in a junior high auditorium. Since the meeting had a hard stop at 9:30 p.m. and there were still more than 50 people waiting to testify, the committee has decided to hold a second hearing in April. It’s a really important issue and residents should have the opportunity to voice their concerns for consideration.

I hope the regional planning commission will take the residents concerns seriously. I understand the desire for a business to want to expand and grow, I’m a business owner myself. I just don’t think that growth should happen at the expense of anyone’s health and safety, and certainly not the least among us. Those in the community where the landfill is located aren’t wealthy, so they can’t speak with dollars, just words and visibility. If there are other options to bring about a win-win (like moving the landfill to a more remote, less populated location — I hear there is one already setup and ready), then those options should be fully explored.

Following that experience, my daughter and I got up early on Saturday and trekked about an hour out of town to attend a town hall put on by our congressman, Steve Knight. In my opinion, the congressman did everything possible to minimize the turnout. He picked a remote venue (one not centrally located in the district). He chose to hold the event at 8:30 a.m. on a Saturday, doors opening at 7:45 a.m. and only the first 275 were allowed in with id. Not only does this discourage turnout, but it sends a message to the people he represents all over the district that he is not accessible and doesn’t care about their views.

The town hall was streamed live by the local television channel, so hopefully, lots of people got to watch, BUT it’s important for his constituents to have easy access to VOICE their concerns and ASK questions and GET answers. That doesn’t happen when all you can do is watch it online or on tv.

Unfortunately, we didn’t get into the town hall, but we were one of the hundreds who stood outside to share our concerns and rally support for another more centrally located town hall so that Rep. Knight could respond to why he says one thing to appease his constituents in person and then votes another way.

We’ll continue to stay engaged. We’re learning a lot. I encourage parents to get children involved in this process to learn how your local and state government work firsthand and to show them how to let their voice be heard on issues of great concern. This IS what democracy looks like.

CA 25 Town Hall in Palmdale, CA.

CA 25 Town Hall in Palmdale, CA.

Written by Shara

March 5, 2017 at 2:37 pm