By Bill Singleton, ECA President email: [email protected]
Victory has many fathers, defeat is an orphan,” is an oftused quote that can be traced back to the Roman historian Tacitus, who penned this idea in 98 A.D., in his book Aricola, remembered these days because of its praise for the liberty-seeking people of early Britain.
The “victory” we want to celebrate today is an effort that ECA participated in to stop a piece of anti-business legislation in Sacramento, something that is often more important that getting a bill passed. This particular bill was SP 1387, authored by Senate President Pro Tem Kevin DeLeon, designed to pack the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board with three new “environmental justice” appointees from the state government.
Mr. DeLeon thought this action necessary because the SCAQMD board, which determines local air pollution control strategies, changed its direction to a more business-friendly approach. That happened because local groups like ours supported candidates for local government last election, people who took the place of less business-oriented board members. The new board fired Barry Wallerstein, the SCAQMD executive officer who had a long history of anti-business ideas about regulating air quality. The board also embraced a new approach to rules regarding refinery emissions.
These actions enraged the environmental community. The California Air Resources Board wrote a letter to the local board, disapproving of their actions, the Governor complained and DeLeon introduced his bill to pack the board with more “environmentally friendly” representatives.
The Engineering Contractors’ Association joined in the fray early on through our participation in local organizations such as the Construction Industry Air Quality Coalition. Our political advisors, The Southern California Group led by Rich Lambros and Peter Mitchel provided us with critical insight and guidance. We joined with other local groups (114 of them, hence the “many fathers” above) and the State Assembly rejected SB 1387 in the final days of the session.
The guidance provided by The Southern California Group has been extremely valuable to ECA for the last two years, not just in Sacramento, but on dozens of local political and business issues. You will see another example of their work when you read Dave Sorem’s Government Affairs Committee report on ECA’s positions on the 17 Propositions on the November ballot. Lambros and Mitchell work with both Government Affairs and our Political Action Committee to keep our positions aligned with our campaign contributions.
ECA remains committed to improving local conditions for our members, even if it means we have to work on Sacramento issues to do it.