By Katharine Russ
The Declaration of Independence is the
nation’s most revered symbol of liberty — holding that is the people’s
right to abolish the government and replace it with a new government
that will act in accordance with the will of the people.
The opening words of our Constitution,
“We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect
union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the
common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings
of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.”
Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address echoed
the same sentiments, “that this nation, under God, shall have a new
birth of freedom and that government of the people, by the people, for
the people, shall not perish from the earth.”
Those who comprise the government of
the City of Los Angeles have completely forgotten these principles as
they bow to special interests for the sake of money and power.
For many months I have been reporting
on the antics of Home Depot in Sunland-Tujunga. I have met and interviewed
dozens of residents and community leaders who truly care about the area
they live and shop in.
Plain and simple, there are inherent
dangers posed by the nature of this business — air quality, traffic,
noise, water pollution, the safety of school children — all of which
would, irreparably, damage the general welfare of the people in Sunland-Tujunga.
Yet, their elected officials are too
blinded by greed, too scared of losing corporate contributions, and
too stupid to see what is beneath their very noses — a community of
people begging for representation from those they elected.
Consider Rocky Delgadillo and his ties
with Latham & Watkins, the attorneys who are suing the City on behalf
of Home Depot.
Latham & Watkins gave many, many
thousands of dollars to Rocky’s campaign.
Latham & Watkins worked with South
Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQMD) to write Rule 1401.1
adopted in November 2005. This is the very law written to protect schools
from the type of business that Delgadillo struck a deal with after the
City Council voted to halt the project.
Council members Bernard Parks and Jack
Weiss were successful in the passage of a waiver of Conflict of Interest
rules relating to the recent hiring of former Senior Assistant City
Attorney Peter Gutierrez.by Latham & Watkins.
How can a conflict of interest disappear
with a vote? It is either there or it isn’t.
The writing is on the wall for a Home
Depot in Sunland-Tujunga as evidenced by the back room deal cut by Delgadillo
and Latham & Watkins to put any litigation on hold until a resolution
to disputes between Home Depot and the community of Sunland- Tujunga
can be settled.
The City Attorney did not act appropriately
in making this secret deal. It undermined the vote of the City Council
and is now subjecting residents of Sunland-Tujunga to Gestapo tactics
at the hands of two women who haven’t a clue how to settle disputes.
The Community is united in its resolve
to keep Home Depot from building their store. The Dispute Resolution
Program is a smokescreen that gives the appearance of concern on the
part of the City.
Really, what is the point? The litigation
will only be dismissed if the store is approved and opened.
If the community challenges the City’s
decision to let Home Depot build and a lawsuit prevents the opening
of the store — the “stay” will be lifted and litigation ensue.
Instead of wasting taxpayers’ time
and money, the City Attorney should have just done what he is paid to
do — defend the City and the decision to yank Home Depot’s permits
in the first place.
The Sunland-Tujunga Alliance and No2HomeDepot
Campaign submitted a 100-page analysis on Home Depot’s application
of CEQA (environmental) exemptions. It is a stunning report, prepared
by experts and doomed to be mislaid somewhere until the residents are
forced to sue the City for allowing the permit process to continue without
When that happens, the City Attorney
could have to defend the City against two lawsuits – one by Home Depot
to get the store opened, the other by the community to keep it from
It is this kind of arrogant behavior
that breeds distrust and contempt.
Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Every government
degenerates when trusted to the rulers of the people alone. The people
themselves are its only safe depositories.”
The City of Los Angeles has betrayed
this fundamental concept and the people through their right to empower
their government must take it back.
Katherine Russ writes regularly for the
North Valley Reporter.