Ed. Note: The following piece describes how the state legislature has allowed right-wing billionaire Phil Anschultz to build a stadium in Los Angeles, while bypassing state environmental laws. It should be of interest to San Francisco readers, because Anschultz publishes the Examiner - one of our two leading local papers. Senate Bill 292, which allows Anschultz to get his stadium and the Sierra Club strongly opposed, passed the Senate by a 32-7 vote last Friday. Senator Mark Leno voted "no," whereas Leland Yee voted "yes."
Oh, the forces of deceit and corruption have been busily at work in the state legislature. While the city’s and the state’s bank accounts have run dry, the money flows in the back rooms and corridors of Los Angeles and Sacramento. What else explains double talk and the special favors for billionaire Philip Anschutz? One beauty is the just-passed Assembly Bill 900 (AB 900), which masqueraded as a job creation bill - and its silent companion, Senate Bill 292 (SB 292.)
AB 900 is similar to the Koch Bros sponsored initiative from Nov 2010 which would have killed California environmental controls until unemployment was below 5%. The voters rejected that attack on our quality of life, but a similar threat has arisen in the form of AB 900, Jobs and Economic Improvement Through Environmental Leadership Act of 2011 (aka, The Air for Jobs bill -- you can have clean air or you can have jobs, but you can’t have both).
On its face, The Air for Jobs bill allows politicians to waive significant aspects of California environmental controls for developments sponsored by their campaign contributors. In other words, certain projects may evade California’s environmental standards in order to lower costs to developers, while leaving everyone else with a dirtier city.
The Air for Jobs bill, however, is a contortion of deceit. It is tied to the also just-passed SB 292 which is another piece of villainy imposed upon us by dishonest politicians doing the bidding of billionaires. SB 292 allows far right wing Denver billionaire Philip Anschutz to build his football stadium in downtown LA, while eviscerating California’s environmental review process.
While The Air for Jobs bill pretends to be a generic law that prioritizes certain developments as Leadership Projects, AB 900 is first and foremost for Philip Anschutz and his football Stadium. AB 900 expressly states, “This bill would become operative only if SB 292 is enacted and takes effect on or before January 1, 2012.”
All of The Air for Jobs bill’s purposes are deception. AB 900 identifies the type of developments which could be Leadership Projects: residential, retail, commercial, sports, cultural, entertainment, or recreational use project, or clean renewable energy or clean energy manufacturing project. Thus, AB 900 promises to be an innovative way to hasten the greening of California by singling out certain projects which would lead the way to a greener future. Not so!
No development amounts to a hill of beans unless and until Philip Anschutz gets his football stadium next to the 110 Freeway. That is the aforementioned SB 292, The Anschutz Special Statute to decimate CEQA. If Anschutz had not gotten his waiver from CEQA to construct his beloved stadium without following California’s environment rules, and no one else get anything. Why did all those other potential Leadership Projects get killed so Philly could get his football stadium? If the Leadership Projects are so great for California, why were they all held hostage by one billionaire?
On the other hand, with SB 292 passing, then The Air for Jobs bill allows billionaires like Philip Anschutz to buy more politicians so they may declare more of their pet projects to be Leadership Projects which evade CEQA. Say Good-bye to a Green California, as AB 900 kills off CEQA – provided the billionaires kept their form of green flowing to the politicos.
Taken together SB 292 and AB 900 again show that from the very bottom to the very top, Los Angeles and California have been sold to the highest bidder.
Richard Lee Abrams is an attorney in Los Angeles. This piece was first published at the blog CityWatch L.A.