We saw this recently in Richmond, CA, where after years of battling with the city over attempts to enforce environmental regulators, restrictions and fines for years of illegal and dangerous emissions from their oil refinery, Chevron Corp decided to buy their own mayor and city council. The company spent in excess of $3 Million to try to win three council seats in a city of 107,000, but local citizens didn’t buy into the lies and manipulation, defeating every Chevron candidate, despite Chevron’s opponents being outspent 30 to one.
This was somewhat reminiscent of the 2010 effort of Pacific Gas & Electric Co. when they alone spent over $40 Million in an unsuccessful effort to pass a deceitfully written state
In California’ San Diego County, there is a near pristine inland habitat called the Agua Hedionda Lagoon that actually was designated as a “critical” habitat back in the year 2000. It is open to the public as a passive recreation area, where activities that disturb neither the flora nor the flauna such as walking and some limited water sport including kayaking, waterskiing and wave runnering are permitted. There is a nature center for education about local natural history, ecology, and cultural history of the lagoon and surrounding area, and an award-winning Environmental Stewardship School Program. The center features free lectures, birding hikes, and a large California native plant garden.
Well, in came billionaire Los Angeles area developer Rick Caruso and his Caruso Affiliated development company, and they proposed building a shopping and entertainment center “adjacent” to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon. It was Caruso’s master plan to incorporate the shopping and nature experiences together, actually having a retail center mixed in with trails and agricultural areas. The proposal ended up on the ballot a couple of weeks ago, and while local citizens managed to raise about $100,000 to oppose the measure, Caruso and company spent $10.5 Million to get it passed.
But, perhaps a big part of this defeat is the fact that after decades of discussions, debates, fights, five lawsuits, later agreements and the like, and then years of construction, right next to the Agua Hedionda Lagoon now sits the recently opened $1 Billion Claude “Bud” Lewis Carlsbad Desalination Plant, the biggest desalination plant ever built in the United States.
That project did not go before the voters.