A lot of this article is about the “inside baseball” of politics. Tonight one of the few vocal voices in the Democratic Party of Orange County who doesn’t want Seal Beach, Los Alamitos, Rossmoor, Cypress, Garden Grove and Westminster to be turned into a traffic nightmare with an expanded 405 that dumps all it’s overflow traffic onto our streets was forced out of his leadership position by the trade unions, and Congressman Lowenthal helped do it.
One of the more vocal critics of the 405 expansion is a gentleman named Greg Diamond. Tonight, by one vote, he was ousted from his leadership in the Democratic Party of Orange County. That one vote was made by Congressman Lowenthal’s representative. After the vote I asked her why she voted the way she did and she said, “Because the Unions.”
A little background. There are multiple plans before the OCTA and Caltrans right now to expand the 405 by two (or three) lanes in each direction. While that sounds like a good idea, there are a few problems with it. The biggest problem is what happens when the new northbound lanes hit the LA/OC border. They just magically disappear. The traffic on them though does not.
So, during rush hour when all those lanes are filled with cars and trucks they will hit the OC/LA border and the lanes that they are on will decrease. When this happens you have to create a funnel to move those cars into the remaining lanes. That funnel will have to start miles before the county line as at the county line we have the 22/405/605 interchange as well.
As traffic comes to a grinding halt on the new expanded 405 cars will search for alternatives other than sitting it what will become one of the larger parking lots in the west coast. They will exit at Seal Beach Blvd heading both north and south to get around the bottleneck. They will exit at Valley View Street and again go both north and south to get around the bottleneck. They will exit at Westminster and… you get the idea.
The cut through north roads will be Katella, Cerritos, Ball and maybe even Lincoln. The south will be Westminster.
One of the major champions that the area had in addressing the issues raised by the 405 expansion was Greg Diamond. But one of the groups behind the expansion was the trade unions. They wanted it because it meant more work and jobs. They didn’t care if there were toll lanes. They didn’t care if there was a funnel that destroyed the communities around the bottleneck. To them it was about government spending that would create 200-300 jobs, not about the effect of this mess on the communities and the residents.
Like I said when this article started, this is “inside baseball”. In most cases we residents would never know what was going on. But Mr. Diamond is a tireless advocate for those with little voice and he was exceptionally vocal in attempting to stop the expansion. Between the 405 and other issues he took on like Anaheim’s raping the future with a potential (questionable) bond issue for lot’s more than they need to do the Convention Center expansion, he was clearly looking out for the affected communities. But he also had a post in the OC Democratic Party and that Party machine is run by the Unions (as was so eloquently pointed out when the membership was reminded by one of the Party leaders that they hold their meetings in a Union Hall).
Clearly, as we have seen by their support of highly questionable projects like the 405 expansion, the Trade Union’s interests are jobs, jobs, jobs. Even at the expense of the communities. But a political Party is NOT just an extension of the arm of the Union, or at least it’s not supposed to be. The Democratic Party makes the claim that they look out for the little guy as well as the Blue Collar guy.
So, where does Congressman Lowenthal fit in? As an elected Democrat representing OC cities he has a vote in all the Committee meetings. Knowing that all the communities that would detrimentally affected were in his district, one would have hoped that he would be voting for keeping a strong advocate to protecting his communities in his party position.
But much like listening to Assemblyman Travis Allen sell out the Los Alamitos, Rossmoor and Seal Beach communities he supposedly represents when he voiced his opinion that he was in favor of putting a massive truck terminal on the Los Alamitos border, listening to Congressman Lowenthal’s representative’s explanation that the Congressman was willing to throw an advocate for his communities under the bus to satisfy the Unions was a bit of a shock.
As a Congressman there isn’t a lot you can do that has an effect on what Caltrans or OCTA is doing or going to do on the 405. But to use your vote to undermine one of the most vocal voices that was attempting to protect your communities just so that you wouldn’t piss of the Trade Unions, well that’s about the worst thing you could have done for the people that you claim to represent. Oh, yes, in the first vote Mr. Diamond was ousted by one vote. Yours.