SGV Mystery: The case of the canceled Azusa referendum fundraiser at the American Legion

Too much with the headline? I thought so too.

Anyway… If you are involved in the referendum issue in Azusa regarding Vulcan Materials’ mining project, you are probably aware of the most recent fundraising snafu.

If you aren’t, here is the short recap: Azusans Against Mining Expansion planned a fundraiser for the referendum effort at the Azusa American Legion.

Upon public notice (including a brief in the Tribune) of the event, the legion people got spooked because they feared people thought they were endorsing the referendum effort. Despite another public announcement (another brief in the Tribune) which stated the legion was a neutral party, the event was still canceled.

On the surface, the episode seems to border on the absurd while it sits in the realm of over reaction. Most people know that American Legions, VFWs and other community groups with event halls often rent out those spaces as a way to make a quick buck. In this case, the American Legion was more a location than an entity.

So why the fuss?

For the American Legion officials to react in such a way means their decision became controversial. The question is, how?

Was it public outcry? Possible.

The issue is contentious and the legion is a public facility meant for military personnel of varied political affiliations in Azusa. Maybe they had some angry residents make an issue out of it.

But that’s unlikely.

While the Azusa Rock Quarry is controversial, most of the public outcry has been against the project with support coming at a more tempered tone and often from public officials or pockets of community members.

What is more likely is pressure from public officials. City Council, staff, business partners, Azusa business officials, someone with clout came forward upset with the legion’s decision to host the event. That pressure spawned the political issue and thus the event’s cancellation. Is that true? As of yet, I have nothing to suggest it is besides a whisper here and a grumbling there. But it seems like the most likely reason.

UPDATE: Spoke with councilman Uriel Macias, who has had his own events at the Legion and is a commissioned officer in the U.S. Navy, and he said he knew nothing about the issues with the Legion and AAME except what he read in the paper.

He said he heard rumors that he called the legion to pressure them out of the event, but called that assertion “ridiculous.”

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