At the October 21st Chula Vista City Council meeting, Chula Vista resident Carlos Lopez approached the podium for his three minutes of public comment. Trailing him was his friend and neighbor, Theresa Acerro. In Lopez’s hands was a roll of gray duct tape.
Once at the podium, Lopez tore off a piece of the tape and, while the councilmembers and Mayor Cheryl Cox looked on, applied the tape over his mouth. Acerro read Lopez’s statement for him, directed mostly at the mayor.
“I voted for you upon the recommendation by a friend and someone’s opinion I trusted very much and is a person very close to you and your husband. When I inquired about you, he referred to you as being a good person. I told my family and friends that we were voting for a good person who cares for our community, only to find out that you are a nightmare to the health, safety, and welfare of the children attending Otay Elementary School and the Chula Vista community at large.”
Lopez was referring to the council’s support (with the exception of Councilmember Rudy Ramirez) of an expansion of a power plant in southwestern Chula Vista. Many community members have said the plant violates setback requirements for schools and neighborhoods and jeopardizes the health and safety of residents and children in the immediate area due to pollution and dangerous particulate matter.
Lopez and fellow community members have united in their efforts to stop the expansion of the plant, forming Communities Taking Action. The organization has coordinated an effort to recall the mayor.
“I know you are not ignorant, dumb, unaware, uneducated, uncaring for children’s health, safety, and welfare,” Acerro read. Lopez looked directly into the eyes of Mayor Cox, who stared back from 15 feet away. “But if you are not that, then what are you? The message you are sending is exactly that. This is real anger by a community that is not going to take it anymore. By a community that demands environmental justice for its sons, daughters, and self. If you think you will be allowed to do this without any protest — any effort from us to seek due process, justice, redress of our grievances — you are totally mistaken.”
When the three minutes were up, Lopez and Acerro returned to their seats and Lopez ripped the tape from his mouth.
There was no response from the mayor or councilmembers.
For more on the opposition to the expansion of the MMC Peaker Plant, go to communitiestakingaction.com.