McKeon Mammoth Deal Sparks Unlikely Alliance
In the 1984 film Ghostbusters, Bill Murray in the role of Dr. Peter Venkman describes to the Mayor of New York what will occur during an impending disaster of biblical proportions:
“Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!”
(Photo left to right: Scott Wilk, Dr. Lee Rogers)
In Santa Clarita today, there were no dogs and cats, but how about donkeys and elephants working together? In this case Republican State Assembly candidate Scott Wilk and 25th District Congressional candidate Dr. Lee Rogers appeared together to address the CEMEX mega mining operation problem and to denounce Representative Buck McKeon’s lack of progress.
Rogers said he and Wilk have conversations every once in a while about the CEMEX legislation but when they saw a recent deal brokered on behalf of Mammoth Mountain Ski Resort by Congressman McKeon, they thought of one another.
“We both saw this come through at the same time and called each other and said you know this looks exactly, if you would exchange CEMEX for Mammoth Mountain Ski area, you would have thought the CEMEX deal would have been done. I think we were equally astounded by the irony,” said Rogers.
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On Tuesday McKeon took to the House floor to speak on behalf of his legislation, H.R. 2157, which complete a land exchange between Mammoth Mountain and the Forest Service.
“This land exchange will be mutually beneficial for all parties involved and I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 2157,” said McKeon.
The legislation passed by a vote of 376 to 2.
The KHTS story on the legislation can be found by clicking here.
Rogers says the Mammoth Mountain bill and the CEMEX bill have striking similarities, except McKeon isn’t putting his full effort behind CEMEX.
“What’s confusing is that Buck McKeon refuses to go to bat for the CEMEX bill and the citizens of Santa Clarita. In the previous six sessions of Congress he’s introduced a bill to engage CEMEX in a land swap. In four of those sessions he hasn’t worked to get a co-sponsor of the bill,” said Rogers.
Rogers (right) alluded to some incentives for McKeon on behalf of Mammoth Mountain.
“This morning we found something troubling in McKeon’s fundraising report. In the first quarter of 2011 Buck McKeon took $6,900 in campaign contributions from the CEO and the employees of Mammoth Mountain ski area. In the second quarter he introduced a bill to help them,” said Rogers.
Rogers remarked that McKeon had more co-sponsors on his bill to prevent private citizens owning lions and tigers than he’s had on the CEMEX legislation.
The KHTS story on the Big Cats and Public Safety Protection Act 2012 can be read by clicking here.
“And let’s be serious, what’s the risk to citizens being attacked by a tiger compared to the impact one might feel from 1,200 trucks a day up and down Highway 14 and the potential threat to our air and water quality were the Mega Mine to be implemented,” said Rogers.
Wilk is a former McKeon aid and has endorsed him for re-election (although he’s running against McKeon’s wife for the State Assembly), but disagrees with his handling of the CEMEX issue.
“We need to move this forward and there’s just one impediment for whatever reason and that’s Mr. McKeon and we need to encourage him to do the right thing and push forward to resolve this issue,” said Wilk.
Bob Haueter, (far left) Deputy Chief of Staff to Congressman Buck McKeon, stood on the sidelines observing the Rogers/Wilk unified front.
“This press conference today demonstrates either a lack of knowledge on Scott Wilk’s part about the legislative process, where he claims to be able to be able to hit the ground running because he’s spent all these years working for legislators and understands, or a cheap political ploy,” said Haueter.
What both men don’t understand, according to Haueter is the difference between the two bills as viewed under House rules which prevent legislation to be introduced that includes earmarks. Haueter emphasizes the Mammoth Mountain bill is not an earmark because no cost is associated with it. He says Mammoth Moutain Ski area is paying the federal Treasury because the value of the property they are getting from the Forest Service is greater than the lands being exchanged.
“The Mammoth Mountain bill is a bill that is providing for a viable business to continue that business and to be able to exchange property. And actually Mammoth will be providing money to the Treasury on top of the land exchange that they have done and that is the main difference here,” said Haueter.
Rogers and Haueter disagree on whether or not the ban on earmarks is a self-imposed Republican rule, but the Democrat says McKeon picks and chooses when to make it a road block.
“If you look at the National Defense Authorization Act which is a bill that he authors it’s littered with pork and earmarks. And he was called out on this last year for having over almost a billion dollars in earmarks alone. So, he’s willing to go to bat for an earmark,” said Rogers.
Haueter says McKeon is as opposed to CEMEX today as the day he first proposed the legislation.
“Mr. McKeon has said repeatedly that he is doing everything he can within the rules of the House to oppose the CEMEX mine. He is continuing to work with CEMEX, with the new president of CEMEX and would vote for Senator Boxer’s bill were it to come before him in the house,” said Haueter.
Rogers says Senator Barbara Boxer has introduced a bill in the Senate, but a companion bill is needed in the House.
“It’s time we had a representative in Washington that’s there working for us. Buck McKeon puts special interests and party interests ahead of what’s best for the district,” said Rogers.
Rogers says CEMEX has delivered another deadline for action: May.
“Unless they extend this deadline, which I’m working for, then preparatory work will begin to start mining in Soledad Canyon,” said Rogers.
Wilk was asked if he was taking a political risk appearing with a Democrat.
“Yes, I was told yesterday not to come. But you know what, again, I’m going up there to represent the district. I’m not going up there to represent my party. And I’m going to do what I think best,” said Wilk.
Haueter took one last verbal poke at the man who’s running against his boss’s wife Patricia McKeon.
“It’s amazing that someone who claims to have knowledge of the legislative process can’t see the very obvious: one bill provides money to the Treasury and jobs, another bill would require federal funds to be paid out,” said Haueter.
Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!