Monday, October 15, 2012
POMONA - The community organization United Voices of Pomona continued its protest against the approved waste transfer station, and added to its demands the mayor's resignation. The Los Angeles district attorney filed charges filed against one of Mayor Rothman's donors, alleging that Alfredo Solis, the owner of Western Recycling, had laundered $15,000 in contributions to Rothman's 2008 mayoral campaign through acquaintances.1 This latest scandal propelled the United Voices to demand Rothman's resignation, declaring, "we don't want trash money running our city."
It started with a rally at the corner of Mission and Garey. Thirty or 40 people held signs, chanted, and gave speeches about their opposition to the waste station and their support for a clean environment. Some of the candidates arrived too, to demonstrate their support for their cause and to do a little campaigning. Among them were John Nolte, who is pursuing the council seat representing the first district, and Tomás Ursúa, who is running for mayor.
At about 5:30 Food Not Bombs arrived to serve the hungry demonstrators and the homeless community in the area. Shortly thereafter, the group decided to march up Garey to the downtown area, chanting, "No corruption! No trash station!" and "Rothman resign!" The march ended up on the steps of city hall just as the council was preparing for the evening's meeting. There, the rally got quite loud as one-by-one, the members of the city council, with the exception of Cristina Carrizosa, were called out for supporting the waste station. Rothman, in particular, was condemned for accepting the laundered money.
As the meeting came to order, the United Voices filed in and filled several rows of the council chambers. Following the recognition of the House of Ruth women's shelter in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness month and a proclamation conmemorating Red Ribbon Week, we were treated to a presentation about the "HIP" program, which aims to promote "Health in Pomona." The program, which was subsequently adopted, would encourage, among other things, that the planning commission and the council consider health risks when authorizing new development.
The irony was not lost on the Voces Unidas speakers, several of whom brought up the contradiction during the public comment section of the meeting. They also lauded the portions of the plan that will facilitate bicycle transportation in the city, but questioned how safe the streets would be for cyclists with 600 trash trucks delivering waste daily.
One young man read a poem to express his discontent. A young woman, a teacher, questioned the timing of the district attorney's filing of the charges against Rothman's donor. "If they have been investigating this since 2008, why are they just filing charges now, in the middle of the election season?" Sources close to Pomona politics have suggested that the timing of the filing of the charges was orchestrated by associates of mayoral candidate Freddie Rodriguez's campaign in order to have maximum impact on the election.
Javier Hernandez, an undocumented youth and a member of the Inland Empire Immigrant Youth Coalition, spoke very frankly about the failings of each of the councilmembers and swore to use all of his organizing prowess to remove the incumbents from office. "If the Obama campaign is afraid of us, then you should be too," he said, referring to his organization's success in securing the deferred action policy for undocumented youth through occupation, hunger strikes, and civil disobedience.
An organizer with the Pomona Economic Opportunity Center, the city's day labor site, spoke about United Voices. "It's a diverse group, both racially and ethnically, but also in terms of age. There are a lot of older community members, but also a lot of youth. I've been involved in groups before where the voices of the elders have been allowed to dominate over the youth, and it has been a disaster. Here, we've been learning how to follow the leadership of the youth." He asked the audience members who have volunteered for opposition candidates or who have worked for or against the local measures to stand. Nearly half the room stood.
As public comment came to a close, the Pomona professor asked to read the statement of a young woman who had had to leave early. She was denied, but read it aloud anyway and promptly deposited the written statement with the city clerk so it would go on the record.
The corporate media journalist, Monica Rodriguez, although invited to the demonstration, and despite being present at the city council meeting, made not a single mention of the action or the group's new demand in her report about the meeting.2
1. Rodriguez, Monica. "Suit filed against Pomona mayor's 2008 donor." Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, September 26, 2012. http://www.dailybulletin.com/pomona/ci_21639204/suit-filed-against-pomona-mayors-2008. Accessed October 20, 2012.
2. Rodriguez, Monica. "Pomona council approves sale of $1.125 million property." Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, October 17, 2012. http://www.dailybulletin.com/pomona/ci_21797780/pomona-council-approves-sale-1-125-million-property. Accessed October 20, 2012.
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