Monday, November 5, 2012

Jim Stafford takes Lake Worth elections back to the dump

Jim Stafford joins the ranks...
Once again, a candidate for Lake Worth's City Commissionthis time it's Jim Staffordis taking dirty donations from Southern Waste Systems (SWS). This company, which also runs several other operations under different names (including "Sun Recycling"), has been a source of grief for residents in Lake Worth's Osborne Community, a historic black neighborhood, for years. SWS and Sun Recycling operate at all hours of the day and night disturbing residents on Truman Ave with noise, smells, lights and vibrations that have impacted the very foundations of their homes.

(For starters, try and imagine a couple dozen diesel dump trucks all firing up their engines in your backyard at 4am most every morning...)

The fight against the location of this waste dump and "transfer station" has been going on for decades, with the previous facility, owned by a company called Kimmins, being shutdown for creating a nuisance in the community.

The facility only exists because its zoning predates laws of equal rights and environmental justice which would very likely deem it illegal under current standards. It is a case of what can be called Jim Crow-era Zoning, and presents a blatant case of environmental racism.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, 47 percent of all waste transfer stations in the U.S. are located within one mile of African-American and Latino neighborhoods. [Source]

Like candidates before him (Lisa Maxwell, Retha Lowe, Carla Blockson to name a few), Jim Stafford has decided to accept money from this company. [Have a look for yourself at his last quarterly report, titled 'G4' in this link.]

Sadly, but not surprisingly, Stafford shares many common campaigns contributors with the above list of former candidates in Lake Worth, the majority of whom are real estate investors, developers and your typical cast of Chamber of Commerce lackeys, with a smattering of right-wing Republican bigwigs. (You guessed it, Stafford is registered Democrat... His donors, not so much.)

Last year, SWS said they were scaling back their operation on the Lake Worth/Lantana border. Instead they appear to be moving forward with a plan to expand their operations (despite public outcry and city legal challenges against it.) How to most easily crush your opposition? It's a classic plan that never seems to get old: Buy their elected officials.

For a glimpse of the history of SWS and their shady dealing in Palm Beach County, check out a recent article in the Palm Beach Post, "Palm Beach County commissioners push bid change to help hauling company".

In case you're wondering, the Palm Beach County Environmental Coalition endorses the other guy.