Thu, Aug

Commonwealth v. Grayson

COMMENTARY - The word “commonwealth,” be it that of the collapsing British Empire or that of the state of Massachusetts, comes from the olde English “common weal” or common good.

So the question that begs an answer is if elected officials and other decision-makers support the common good or only the commodification of that portion of the common good that benefits the wealthy and Wall Street? 

For well over a hundred years, Wall Street’s interests have never favored Main Street. It’s an economic model built upon separating the hoi polloi from their pennies to aggregate them into fortunes of future Rockefellers. 

Since weal is wealth, it really should be paid into the commons, for all people. 

Perhaps I’m a socialist for prioritizing all people over the primacy of profit. But I strongly believe that the well-being of my brothers and sisters worldwide are more important than using coal, oil and natural gas to poison people and planet. 

Carbon-based energy sources should never be considered assets. They are toxins. To people, to animals, to mother earth and to the aquifers that support all life. 

Squawking about reliability is inherently ingenuous. If Glendale is concerned about the risk of power being delivered from outside, have they considered sourcing their water locally? Or have they already drained their aquifer? 

The arguments made by the purveyors and the supporters of the Grayson Repowering Project and their investment, fiscal and emotionally, in its continued operation sound more than equally spurious. 

Especially since Glendale is pushing ahead when there is no pressing need for more power, at a time when California is on the move to cut emissions to 40% below 1990 levels within the next eight years. 

This echoes the greenwashing claims by companies using the cap and trade system to “buy” more credits… so they can continue pumping carbon pollution into poorer communities and those of color, aggravating asthma and respiratory illness, driving climate change and contributing to more extreme weather. 

Inequality is both created and driven by defining progress in solely economic terms. The neoliberal mentality that arose with Reagan requires even ethics be quantified and rated based on any impact on the GDP. 


When my profit is more important than your life, we get the current situation that has led directly to global warming, environmental destruction, starvation, and genocide. Is this a way to run a world? 

Pollution does not respect neighborhood or national borders. 

Grayson is more of a clear and present danger to the residents living downwind of its location near the junction of the 134 and 5 freeways - Los Feliz and Northeast LA than those who dwell in Mid-Wilshire and West LA. 

The ONLY incontrovertible truth is that the repowering and use of Grayson will lead to more pollution on the northeast border of Los Angeles, more fumes, more particulate matter, more global warming, more illnesses and early deaths. 

Sometimes power fails. People and businesses have coped in the past. 

People can and have learned to live with scarcity when it is in their best interests or unavoidable. Look at how we are already cutting our energy use. Look at how people survived war and famine, earthquake and flood. 

Look at how much Californians cut their water use in 2015 – until those who benefited from excess water use pressured the government to lift sanctions. Without regulations with teeth people slid right back into the same rut of excess consumption. 

Once the inertia of changing ingrained habits is overcome, most Angelenos like feeling virtuous. They like their xeriscape gardens, their recycling, their solar power, and are looking forward to citywide composting. The US meat industry is running scared as more Americans opt for a partial or complete vegetarian/vegan lifestyle that uses less energy and less water. 

We need our leaders to adhere to new goals, to goals that prioritize people over profit. 

It won’t be easy and they will need to know that many of us have their backs. Speak up, speak forcefully, speak often. I do. 

LA City Council’s proposal to make new construction more eco-friendly moving forward and the LADWP shuttering three gas-fired power plants are timid first steps, but if there are enough baby-step efforts made around the world and people support them, soon these will become full strides, and perhaps enough of our planet will endure for our children’s children to survive if not thrive. 

Good men who insist Glendale and Los Angeles continue to use carbon fuel for the good of the people rather than asking the people to conserve more may think of themselves as acting responsibly, but are they? 

My final question is: Would you want your epitaph to read “he made a lot of money” or “he was a kind and gentle man who cared for other people”? 

(Liz Amsden is an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)