Whenever elected officials pander to the special interests or the wants of themselves instead of the needs of the people, problems for both themselves and the jurisdiction they're supposed to represent are sure to occur. As many are aware, former council member and Mayor Pro Tem Marcelo Co of the City of Moreno Valley is in big trouble. He is charged with multiple counts of felony fraud, accused of illegally collecting nearly $15,000 taxpayer-funded government assistance money that was supposed to go toward the care of his mother. He was also the target of renting out properties that were not up to code. The City Clerk reported on the same day of his bust that residents initiated a move to recall Co. The accused councilman eventually resigned from his post the next day. His days in power are over.
Things aren't much better for the remaining City Council members. Both the Riverside County district attorney's office and the federal government have been investigating a potential political corruption probe in the city separate from Co's case. We really cannot pass much judgement of the probe until the facts are made public; however, one of the city's pet projects--The World Logistics Center--deserves further straight talk.
Moreno Valley Protests & Proposed World Logistics Center
Fed up with the political circus and officials pandering to logistics developers, Moreno Valley residents are fighting back. On Tuesday, hundreds of protesters showed up outside of City Hall to support a recall of the remaining council members, voice opposition to the sprawling World Logistics Center, and demand Co's replacement be elected from the jurisdiction.
Last May, this blog brought up a point regarding the proposed World Logistics Center: Don't throw out the baby with the bathwater. The baby being the private sector jobs in the logistics sector, the bathwater being unnecessary urban sprawl, added diesel truck pollution and excessive truck traffic. It's no question that the locals oppose the bathwater as the World Logistics Center demonstrates.
However, the region could use a well planned marketplace job hub to increase wages, and logistics would fit well with the area's blue-collar demographics. Local unemployment is still above 11%. Robust facilities along existing rail corridors and industrial areas near the March ARB which link to the proposed GRID project in Long Beach would be prime spots to develop these job sites. Incentives for the private sector to develop clean ways to move freight would be welcome. If Moreno Valley wants to build up logistics jobs, do it right. Having sprawling industrial parks like the World Logistics Center at the base of the Badlands hills adjacent to the San Jacinto Fault with no rail line for miles is undesired runaway urban sprawl.
A disgrace to free speech
Lastly, local residents including our high school youth ordinarily would have every right to go to City Hall and question government proposals and development projects which includes the World Logistics Center and voice their opinion and concerns to their elected representatives; however this Press Enterprise blog post suggests otherwise.
Since becoming mayor in December, Owings has regularly taken on the city’s critics. He has called them “smear merchants,” accused opponents of the World Logistics Center of being racists and anti-Semitic, and even cursed on occasion. “We’re a great city and we don’t need to hear this crap every damn council night,” he said during an April 23 council meeting.
To be fair, Mayor Tom Owings did openly apologize during a June 4 meeting about this type of behavior, but it's all too common to turn toward personal attacks when one cannot win the debate and not concede. Does that mean that if we go to City Hall and question the World Logistics Center and bring fact-based evidence into the discussion, we're going to be publicly humiliated without any evidence to back it up?
Officials know they cannot defend such vile personal attacks, and many politicians reserve such behavior to their election campaigns, not the public chambers. The political madness caused by residents simply questioning the logic of the World Logistics Center clearly demonstrates that City Hall does not care of the negative impacts caused by developing the hub at the base of the Badlands. What the city appears to be doing is catering to the will of developers while ignoring the legit and fact-based concerns of their residents.
What the heck is going on in the city "where dreams soar?" Fed up residents are looking to fix that.