I reported in today’s newspaper about a Fair Political Practices Commission investigation into “potential issues” regarding campaign literature from the Canyon City Alliance.
The first thing I want to discuss is the assertion by Azusans Against Mining Expansion that the FPPC found violations the CCA was guilty of violating the Political Reform Act.
Is that claim true? To my best knowledge and understanding, that answer is: undetermined.
Let me explain.
The FPPC’s letter is highly ambiguous regarding any violation. In the second paragraph it states:
In our investigation of this allegation, we have identified several potential issues that may be violations of the Act
The key words in this sentence are “potential” and “may be.” If you are citing someone for a violation, you don’t leverage your claim by adding crutch words like potential and may be. That suggests there is room for error, interpretation or argument. I think that is what we have hear.
That is demonstrated by the claims of a violation over the 410 committee statement paperwork. That potential violation was already taken back by the FPPC after speaking with Vulcan, according to FPPC spokesman Roman Porter. A new letter was issued without that allegation and Porter said the CCA was previously in compliance regarding the 410, prior to the original FPPC letter being drafted. If this letter was citing steadfast violations, the FPPC wouldn’t have changed its tune on one of the “violations” in just a few days.
When I asked Porter what this letter meant, he declined to speak about an open investigation. The fact this is an open investigation directly implies that CCA has not be found in violation. If this was a done deal, Porter would speak freely about the investigation, the violations, and all the documents related to that would be posted on the FPPC website. Maybe they will in the next couple days, but right now, that just isn’t the case. It is very possible that by the end of the week, Vulcan is fined. It is possible this all will be taken back. The point I am making is that none of this is solidified yet.
For now, Porter said this was a “cease and desist” letter, but wouldn’t comment on any actual violations due to the open investigatation. Whether or not anything needs to be stopped or changed, is still a matter of debate. I think we will have our answer soon, but the fact is, we don’t have it yet.
QUICK UPDATE: I did go to the Canyon City Alliance website and found it curious that in the “Who We Are” section, it lists “Yes on A, Canyon City Alliance is a coalition including the Azusa Chamber of Commerce, the Azusa Police Officers’ Association, community leaders and local residents.”
Item number two.
There has often been the argument that if the development agreement doesn’t nullify the entire conditional use permit for Vulcan’s mining plan amendment, why are they fighting to support the referendum election?
Jeri Vogel said just as much to me yesterday.
“If Yes on A gets rid of all the money they have to pay the city of Azusa, then why do they plan to fight that unless they plan on making a whole lot more money later on?” she said.
To her credit, I think it is an easy conclusion to assume. I wondered just the same myself when the referendum was first proposed. In fact, that same thing happened in Rosemead with its Wal-Mart referendum. When the people came forward to the City Council to ask them to take back the development agreement, Wal-Mart stepped forward and said sounds like an awesome idea. Guess what? The city lost the money and Wal-Mart kept its use permit.
So the question arises, why is Vulcan promoting Measure A?
For Vulcan this situation is a lose-lose. Fight for Measure A and you get accusations like Vogel’s (which aren’t without merit).
Yet, if they fought against Measure A, they would make themselves an easy target to be cast as the greedy mining company out to squeeze whatever they can out of the community, including tricking the people into giving them a mining plan without Vulcan giving anything back (except its regular tax rate) to the city.
I posed the question to Vogel.
“That is kind of a hard one. They are in a lose-lose position as far as that goes,” she agreed. ” I still think they are going to make a whole lot more money on the other side.”
For Vulcan, it was an easy choice, especially since they made a promise to the city they would defend against any referendum.
“The city can’t campaign in favor of it, but we can and we said we would,” Vulcan spokeswoman Peg Casey said. “The development agreement requires that if there was a challenge, that Vulcan would defend against that action. It is perfectly appropriate that we defend and support Measure A.”