Dear Fellow citizens, On Wednesday July 15, 8 of us went to Sacramento to voice our support for the Assembly Bill AB 385, created by Assemblyman Kansen Chu of District 25.
It was a whole day meeting of bill hearings by the Senate Environmental Quality Committee, one bill after another, with no break. The committee members brought food and ate while they listened. Our bill was discussed at about 1:00 pm. In the rather small hearing room, about the size of a classroom, Kansen Chu stated the proposed bill, along with the support of City of Milpitas’s Director of Public Works and a Fremont Council woman. Then 7 of us from the community took turns to speak in support of the bill. After that, the committee chair, Senator Bob Weickowski warmly invited Republic Services’s Don Litchfield and other two men representing three other businesses to take the seats and spoke against the bill. Litchfield gave a prepared statement, quoting the reduced odor complaint numbers from BAAQMD,as proof that the South Bay Odor Stakeholder Group that they started is making changes to the odor situation. At the end, Senator Bob Weickowski of the 10th District (from San Leandro, Castro Valley to Santa Clara) explained his vote against the bill, stating that the existing odor group would suffice the purpose of the proposed committee. Then the hearing was over for this bill.
Litchfield disclosed that the South Bay Odor Stakeholder Group will be meeting on July 30 at 7:00 pm, at the Beverley Heritage Hotel in Milpitas. It will be a Thursday, and the hotel is at corner 880 and Montague Express Way. Please make an attempt to attend.
During the 3 hours of wait, a few of us outside the hearing room were invited by Kansen Chu to his office, where we learned a few things about how things work in the State capitol, or any political arena. Everything centers around votes. In order to get more votes, the politicians look at the registered voters, the final votes cast, and they segment these data into racial groups, and weigh the opinion from each group according to their number of votes cast in the immediate past. The Chinese, unfortunately, have pretty low vote counts – population in the tens of thousands, registered voters in the thousands, yet actual votes only in the hundreds (according to Kansen’s assistant Daisy). The Vietnamese, on the other hand, had 4,000 registered voters, and about the same number of final votes were counted. As a result, the Vietnamese group’s opinions are much valued now by our local politician.
We would like to point out that a committee member mentioned “there is always next year”. Kansen Chu’s term ends in 2016. Bob Weickowski’s term ends in 2018. Be sure to come out and cast your vote at every election.
The bill was not passed. However, we learned some valuable lessons, which may shed light on how we continue our fight. The odor stakeholder group has not informed the public about their meetings before. Now it has, and we will want to show up at that meeting, especially when it’s just a short drive away.
Date: 7/30/2015, Thursday
Time: 7:00 pm
Location: Beverly Heritage Hotel, 1820 Barber Ln, Milpitas, CA 95035
We will be posting any changes to the time and location of this meeting as we hear more about it. Make an effort to go, be informed about what is going on and think about how we can make it better.
Thank you very much for your continued support. Let’s keep working to improve our environment.