All posts by Met00

City of Los Alamitos Loses to Citizens in Court

Press Release

From: Citizen For A Fair Trash Contract


Friday 10/7/11 the Hon. Andrew P. Banks issued a ruling from the bench in favor of the Citizens for a Fair Trash Contract, stating the City Council violated their own City Ordinance in the awarding of the exclusive solid waste contract to Consolidated Disposal Service, LLC. Hon. Andrew P. Banks voided the contract and has stated that the City Council has a “reasonable time” to re-award the contract. In the interim, CDS shall continue to collect solid waste.

The plaintiffs are pleased with the Hon. Andrew P. Banks decision and action in regards to the City Councils violation of the City Code, as well as his enforcement of the remedy.

JM Ivler, one of the members of Citizens for a Fair Trash Contract stated, “The circus of politics was used to claim that this suit was everything from a political stunt to frivolous. Judge Banks decision shows unlawful actions were taken by members of the City Council. While validating “Citizens” claims that the City Council actions were unlawful, the question of why these actions were taken has not been addressed by the court. The process was corrupted, today’s decision validated those claims.”

Art DeBolt another member of the Citizen group commented, “The ordinance enacted by a prior city council led by Ken Parker and Catherine Driscoll was to insure the award of the future trash contract to the lowest responsible bidder. In the 50+ years of Los Alamitos Cityhood the trash contract had never been competitively bid. The violation of that city ordinance by Troy Edgar, Marilyn Poe and Ken Stephens resulted in an improper transfer of $6.5 Million from the pockets of the Los Alamitos residents and into the pocket of the trash hauler. Judge Banks has ended this fleecing of the public.”

Citizens For a Fair Trash Contract wish to thank our neighbors and businesses who have expressed support for our legal endeavor. Our victory in court gives the current city council a second chance to do what they should have done the first time… Act in the best interests of all who live and work in Los Alamitos; especially the businesses, apartment owners and renters who bore the brunt of the $6.5 Million fleecing.

The Citizens for a Fair Trash Contract have opened the door, created the opportunity, now is the time for the “silent majority” to attend a council meeting and be heard. Troy Edgar, Marilyn Poe and Ken Stephens were not voted into office to violate city ordinances, overcharge Los Alamitos citizens $6.5 million and then spend multiple $100,000s in city legal fees to defend their improper actions.

Now is the time for the community to stand up,and DEMAND A FAIR TRASH CONTRACT! One that awarded to the LOWEST RESPONSIBLE BIDDER. If there is a message to be sent, it is that Los Alamitos is not for sale to the second highest bidder; not for sale to those that purchase political power; not for sale to those that will hurt the citizens for their own political or financial gain.

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Overview: In July 2010 after months of citizens coming before the City Council to advise them that they were not following the law, the City of Los Alamitos inked a contract with Consolidated Disposal Services for the exclusive solid waste franchise. In response to the actions of the City Council majority a group of residents and business interests came together an filed a lawsuit in the OC Superior Court.

The filings associated with the suit can be found at

Commentary from the suit can be found at the local Los Alamitos Blog

This was a people powered movement that was seeking to save the residents and businesses over $6.5 million dollars in over charges by the people that were involved in financing the campaigns of the council majority either directly or indirectly. A true David verses Goliath story in which David wins. And a story that also finds a hardcore liberal Democrat working hand-in-hand with a hardcore conservative Republican to do what’s right for their local community.

Standing Up For The Constitution

On May 5th 2008 the Los Alamitos City Council put on their agenda an item that seemed innocent enough. It was a decision to add a plaque with In God We Trust to the walls of the City Council. This is part of an effort led by Christian fundamentalist Bakersfield Councilwoman Sullivan from her non-profit, In God We Trust – America. A number of cities in the State of California have fallen to this attempt to de-secularize city government, a few have stood up for secular government and said “No.”

I decided to stop it in Los Alamitos.


Something silly to do with the state being secular. You know, that kind of silly stuff pushed by those old fogies Madison and Jefferson way back in the 1770’s.

Below the fold are the speeches I have given in the Council Chamber (and the reactions from the Los Alamitos City Council if there was any).

First Speech – May 5, 2008

In god we trust. Singular and plural. We, all the people of Los Alamitos, trust a monotheistic god? Not in lower case “g” In gods we trust? As a city we are diverse. In our personal lives we have our own faith. We all are different. Taxpayers and residents of Los Alamitos fall into all sorts of faiths. From those that believe in no gods, to those that question, to those that believe in the earth mother, to those that believe in a single god to those that believe in the holy trinity of the father, the son and the holy spirit, to those that believe in the many gods of Hindu, the many gods of druidic life, and even the many Gods of what many consider mythology.

The founding fathers of this country were a diverse group. There were Christians, Deitists and non-believers. They understood that faith was a personal thing. That it was personal faith, and for that reason when they created the founding document on which this country was based, the Constitution, their only reference to religion was that there be no religious test for office. Some like to point to God in the Declaration of Independence, but it is not God who gets mentioned there, but Nature’s God. Ask a Wica’n or a druid about Nature’s God and you will hear not of one God, but many. Talk to a Hindu or a Sikh of their God and they will ask which one you speak of. Ask and American Indian of their God and they will ask you to clarify on which of Nature’s God you ask.

1.1 Billion of the worlds people are secular/non-religious/agnostic or atheist. 900 million are Hindu, 394 million are Chinese Traditionalist, 376 Million are Buddhist, 300 million are indigenous tribal beliefs, 100 million are African Traditional, 23 Million are Sikh’s. Not one of these groups believes in a monotheistic entity known as God. Of the top 10 religions based on the number of adherents in the world, only two have a monotheistic God.

If you were to plaster the monotheistic belief on this city, would not Hindus who live within our fair city have the right for equal representation? Would this city be forced to add placards to our city walls that contain a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita? Would the atheists of our city not have an equal right to demand “In nothing we trust” be added? Will all those that have a belief differing from that of a Monotheistic God be permitted equal access to these walls? Or has the tyranny of the majority in religious faith now raised it’s ugly face here in our fine city? Do we no longer protect the minorities around us? Does our city council now show such disrespect to the personal faith of the minority of it citizens that it will shove the faith of the majority down the throats of the minority? How totally un-Christian.

Yet tonight, before this city made up of so many with differing faiths and beliefs, there is the call to place the monotheistic God above all other beliefs and adopt it for a city where some of the people within do not share such beliefs. The founding fathers of this country were wise men. They left their faith out of their government when they created it. There is no place for God in the Constitution. There is no place to raise a monotheistic God within these council chambers or within this city above all others.

I pray, that the Christians among you on this Dias remember Mathew 6:6 where Jesus said, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” And for those of you who are patriotic, remember the words of Thomas Jefferson who in his letter to the Danbury Baptist Association in 1802 wrote “Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man & his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their legislature should make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof, thus building a wall of separation between church and state.” The letter was the subject of intense scrutiny by Jefferson, and he consulted a couple of New England politicians to assure that his words would not offend while still conveying his message: it was not the place of the Congress or the Executive to do anything that might be misconstrued as the establishment of religion. And so it is not the place of the Los Alamitos City Council to put any one religion, such as that of a monotheistic God, above any other religion, those with many Gods, or no religion or Gods at all.

We the people of Los Alamitos are blessed with diversity. Will this city council seek to offend some with this declaration that the city officially accepts and believes only in a monotheistic God? How can this city claim to represent and protect the minorities within it, from Buddhist, to Hindu, to agnostic and atheist and all those that don’t subscribe to the belief of a monotheistic God by adopting a formal policy that there is one and only one God and we trust in that monotheistic belief? I ask, no pray, that you don’t adopt a city policy that claims that our city is only trusting in a monotheistic God. Protect the minority, be as wise as Thomas Jefferson, keep religious belief systems out of our government and protect all people by staying secular.

The result of this was a vote by the City Council to have an unofficial survey done to give them an indication as to how people felt about having In God We Trust added to the council chambers. After 4-6 weeks the mater would be brought up for a vote again with the community feedback considered although no one stated how many votes or what percentage would have to object before the council would decide to not add this to the walls. During the debate in council there were any number of things stated that indicated that the members of the city council had no idea as to the history of how God has been added to our secular society. Thus necessitating the second speech.

Second Speech – May 19, 2008

It’s time to correct a few statements that were made from this dais the last time we were here. Mayor Parker, you stated that the motto for this country for 200 years was “in god we trust”. That is in fact false.

The motto E Pluribus Unum, (“from many, one”) was approved for use on the Great Seal of the United States in 1782. The motto In God We Trust was placed on United States coins largely because of the increased religious sentiment existing during the American Civil War. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase received many appeals from devout Christians throughout the country, urging that the United States recognize God on United States coins. President Lincoln had in 1861 fortuitously appointed the religious zealot and National Reform Association member James Pollock as Director of the Mint, The NRA back then was an organization with the stated and well-known goal of the creation of a Christian theocracy in the United States (they even made two attempts at changing the preamble to the Constitution to “We, the people of the United States, humbly acknowledging almighty God as the source of all authority and power in civil government, the Lord Jesus Christ as the ruler among nations, his revealed will as the supreme law of the land, in order to constitute a Christian government, and in order to form a more perfect union”). It should not be considered surprising that Pollock in 1863 submitted several designs to Chase that incorporated variations of the mottoes “Our Trust is in God” and “God and Our Country.” In God We Trust first appeared on the 1864 two-cent coin. American presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt strongly disapproved of the idea of evoking God within the context of a “cheap” political motto. In a letter to William Boldly on November 11, 1907, President Roosevelt wrote: “My own feeling in the matter is due to my very firm conviction that to put such a motto on coins, or to use it in any kindred manner, not only does no good but does positive harm.” In God We Trust was first used on paper money in 1957 when it appeared on the one-dollar Silver Certificate. E Pluribus Unum still appears on coins and currency, and was widely considered the national motto de facto. However, by 1956 it had not been established so by legislation as the official “national motto”, and therefore In God We Trust became the official U.S. national motto after the passage of an Act of Congress in 1956, two years after the Knights of Columbus got Congress to amend the Pledge of Allegiance to include the words “one nation under God.” The same Congress had required, in the previous year, that the words appear on all currency, as a Cold War measure. In 1955 during the debates over adding God to our national identity a representative from Florida told Congress the following: “In these days when imperialistic and materialistic Communism seeks to attack and destroy freedom, it is proper” to “remind all of us of this self-evident truth” that “as long as this country trusts in God, it will prevail.”

In the 1950’s it was “Yes God, No Communism.” Today as we saw from Mr. Grose, it’s “Yes God, No terrorism”. In response to Mr Grose, you brought up the specter of 9/11, terrorists, and our troops. As Zacarias Moussaoui was being transferred to Supermax by U.S. Marshals to serve 6 life terms for being one of the 9/11 terrorists he called out “allah akbar,” which translates to “God is great.” Last time I checked, his Monotheistic God is also your Monotheistic God. I’m sure that Zacarias Moussaoui would have no problem having this city council proclaim his god as the god of our fair city.

Much has been made of this not being religious. That it is all from a non-profit. But let’s consider the words of the founder of that non-profit. Bakersfield Councilwoman Jacquie Sullivan, 68, said she first got the idea in 2001 after hearing on a Christian radio station about attempts to remove the term from U.S. currency and buildings. She then started a nonprofit, In God We Trust – America, with the goal of having every municipal building in America display the phrase. Christian radio station, hmmm. Why am I not surprised.

And yes, we have Mayor Rice in Westminster, who was responsible for bringing this to our neighbor city who doesn’t seem to understand basic civics when she stated, “Our country was founded on religion.” And to think that most of the people who came here were running away from counties where the governments embraced a state religion. Just proof positive that we need to start teaching civics again in our public schools.

Since I stood before you two weeks ago I have been chastised by people in town who have told me that I’m going to burn in hell. Who have said that I am evil. Who have questioned how I could have my daughter go through her Bat-Mitzvah and speak against putting up this phrase. As if somehow by standing up for people that don’t share my faith and trying to ensure that one that is not theirs is not enshrined as part of our city was somehow wrong. It is not.

I believe that one of government’s roles is simple; To protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority. You were elected to represent the will of all the people. The Buddhists. The Hindus. The agnostics. The atheists. All those that are a minority. This is their city government too. They do not share a belief in a single monotheistic god. Rather than trusting in something that they do not believe in, they are trusting in you to do the right thing and protect them.

As to why I do this, I quote Pastor Martin Niemöller (1892-1984)

In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;

And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;

And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;

And then . . . they came for me . . . And by that time there was no one left to speak up

I will not be silent while my fellow Los Alamitos citizens who do not believe in a monotheistic god have their city make a belief in such a city policy. I will raise my voice. I may be turning 50 tomorrow, but I will not let the half-century mark slow me down or silence my voice to speak for those that can not speak or are afraid to speak for themselves. There is no Los Alamitos agnostic Church I can go before to bring those that do not believe in a monotheistic God before you to speak, so I will continue to give voice to them.

This is not about my beliefs or my faith. This is about protecting the meek. This is about protecting those who are afraid to speak up or speak out. This is about embracing the beliefs of our founding fathers, who were wise in their creation of this country, to ensure that there was no mention of God in the Constitution. I will speak up because I believe in that Constitution. I will speak up because I believe in the first Amendment. I will speak up because the belief in a single God is religion. I will speak up, for whether it be “In God we trust” or “God is great” it is wrong for the State to embrace a monotheistic God in a pluralistic society.

Small problem here. I had five minutes to get this education into the history of Christian influence into the record (that is all the time they allow) and speaking even at breakneck speed (sounding like an auctioneer) I was unable to get the last paragraph into the record.

Skipped Meeting – June 2, 2008: The following speech was NOT given instead the local weekly The News Enterprise ran the piece that follows it as their lone Letter to the Editor.

This is my third time before you on this mater. No mater how many times you on the dais claim that it is not about religion, there are many who feel that it is, and they have let me know in no uncertain terms. When a good friend who I respect tells me I’m going to lose this battle because our City Council is made up of five good Christians, it’s religious. When a letter-to-the-editor writer has to stoop to using the American Heritage dictionaries fourth definition for god, and it should be noted the god in that definition is with a lower case “g”, do you on the dais really think that is the same definition for the God in the “In God We Trust”? Does anyone?

A non-profit organization headed by a Baptist fundamentalist who got this idea after listening to a Christian radio station rail about people like me wanting the secular society created by our founding fathers and it’s not religious? Councilwoman Sullivan doesn’t have any doubt where she stands. “‘In God We Trust’ is the perfect expression of what it takes to be a good American because from my perspective as a believer, patriotism means love of God and love of country.” Although I can’t prove it, my guess is she is not talking about Jefferson’s ‘Nature’s God”, but about her Christian one. Maybe this helps explain why on 2/21/08 American Family News Network – A Christian Broadcasting network states. “Sullivan says concerned Christians need to get involved so the motto can be displayed in the nation’s city council chambers.” It is clear to the founder of the non profit that it is religious, as it also was to the Mayor of Westminster.

In your unofficial results from last Wednesday over 10% of the self-selected participants said don’t do this. Ken, that’s more people than fought for the New Dutchaven trees; Cat, that’s more people than fought for the Katella wall. And this was a self-selected survey from people where that 10% weren’t meeting after church service talking about this in the parking lot.

I have heard from the dais that this is about the national motto and that it’s the law. It was religious fundamentalists that gave us their version of laws before. Heck, fundamentalists even got one into the Constitution until wiser heads prevailed and took prohibition out of it. Fundamentalists have given blue laws to any number of cities, counties and states. They even made it illegal to listen to rock and roll in some places because we all know that the devil is in the music.

The last time I was here I showed how religious fundamentalists created the law. How the national motto became law due to religious fundamentalists. And just so we can be clear, it wasn’t Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Seik or other religions, but Christian religious fundamentalists that have tried time and time again to make their God the countries God. And in God We Trust is all about their God. It’s about the NRA of the 1700’s. It’s about the Knights of Columbus and it’s about Christian zealots trying to make a secular society religious. In many ways it’s not much different than Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries where the religious zealots have created state sponsored religion.

Today I am making a final plea to this city council to not embrace religious zealotry. To not disenfranchise those who do not share a faith in a monotheistic god. To do as the founding fathers did and keep the government secular. Ask yourself if you would post “In gods We Trust” up on these walls. Yes, plural, as in the many different higher beings that the diverse community of Los Alamitos residents may believe in. Would you be so self inclusive to use a lower case “g” and add an “s”?

Prohibition was bad law. The laws banning rock and roll were bad laws. Blue laws are bad laws. Separate but equal was bad law. The decision to make a monotheistic God the centerpiece of our national motto during the fear induced McCarthyism of the 1950’s was bad law. Just because there has been bad law made is no reason for this city council to embrace it and make it the law of this city, when it cuts out a portion of the cities population, while it is exclusive rather than inclusive. Leave the monotheism in the churches, temples and masques where it belongs. Not here among the walls of a city hall that is supposed to be the sanctuary of all the people. Follow the lead of James Madison, Thomas Jefferson and the other founding fathers of this nation, remain clearly secular. Respect the faith of others. Respect the 10+%. Keep this chamber the chamber of all the people of Los Alamitos. Do not make the people of differing faiths in Los Alamitos separate and unequal. Uphold the Constitution and the principles of equality for all. For in Jefferson I trust. So help us Thomas Jefferson.

News Enterprise Letter To The Editor: June 4, 2008

This Memorial Day Weekend I had the opportunity to do a little thinking about those that have fought for us and what they were fighting for. Not just now when my nephew is fighting as a Ranger in the army, but going back to when my father fought for this country in Europe in World War II and all the wars between them, and the wars before then.

I thought about why they fought, what they were fighting for. Which made me think about what we stand for. Not the symbols of this country, the words we mouth when we show our patriotism, but more the things that we stand for. The things that are worth fighting for.

I looked back at what we bind our leadership to, the principles that matter most to us. And there it was, staring me right in the face. “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The first oath taken by the first US Congress ever seated, “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States.” A simple 14 words.

It can not be more simple than that. We can use words like “freedom” but what binds us together, fighting for our nation in battle or standing with her in our hearts, is our deep and profound respect for that document. Not the Declaration of Independence. Not laws established by Congress and signed by the President. Not decisions made by the Supreme Court. But the Constitution. That is the centerpiece of our nation. That is the core of who we are and of what we are. It is what we fight for, is what we stand for, it is America.

This train of thought got me back to why was I fighting this silly battle against City Hall on a simple sign to be placed on the council walls. And my answer was, because of the Constitution. The same thing we fight for all the time. The same thing we swear our allegiance to. That document we swear to uphold. The document written without any mention of God. The document that only states that there be no religious test for office. The document only once modified successfully by religious Puritanism, and that amendment being the only one ever to require an amendment to reverse bad law (prohibition).

I looked at the history of this country and saw that God’s introduction came at times of great stress when personal faith was highest and the need for belief was greatest. After the civil war the Knights of Columbus got “under God” added to the pledge and the National Reform Association members added “In God We Trust” to our money. How after World War II and in the midst of McCarthyism it raised its head again with Vermont Senator Ralph Flanders proposing the following Amendment to the Constitution in 1954.

Section 1: This nation devoutly recognizes the authority and law of Jesus Christ, Savior and Ruler of nations, through whom are bestowed the blessings of Almighty God.

Section 2: This amendment shall not be interpreted so as to result in the establishment of any particular ecclesiastical organization, or in the abridgment of the rights of religious freedom, or freedom of speech and press, or of peaceful assemblage.

Section 3: Congress shall have power, in such cases as it may deem proper, to provide a suitable oath or affirmation for citizens whose religious scruples prevent them from giving unqualified allegiance to the Constitution as herein amended

True, it didn’t get very far, but less than two years later “In God We Trust” was made our national motto by the same people that fought for the Flander’s amendment getting it passed as a way to show those godless communists that we had faith.

So, when I’m asked how I don’t stand up for our national motto, and why I fight against this small sign in city hall, it is because of what my father fought for in World War II, and what my nephew is fighting for today. I do it because love of country and patriotism starts and ends with the Constitution of the United States of America. Congress can, and has, made bad law. From prohibition to separate but equal, bad law has been made and has been overturned. A national motto that claims there is a God, and that there is one God and only one God is also bad law. On Memorial Day I remember what they fought for and why I fight.

Faith in country, in the Constitution, is not the same as faith in God. But in today’s environment when people think patriotism is shown by waving a flag, putting a “I support the troops” sticker on your car, and mixing religion in with politics, it shouldn’t be considered surprising that the City Council members of Los Alamitos will put the expediency of “how it looks” over taking a stand for the Constitution. It’s hard to say no to a bad law when a Christian run non-profit is pushing it. But like “separate but equal” it is bad law because it makes us unequal. The city would never put “In Satan We Trust”, “In Zeus We Trust”, “In Vishnu We Trust”, “In Yoponcha We Trust” or “In gods We Trust” on the council walls, and the same hold true in the current case. Now, if it was, “In the Constitution We Trust” I would be fighting to hang that at once. So help me Thomas Jefferson.

End of published works

So where does this stand today? Tomorrow (6/11/08) the City of Los Alamitos will release the final unofficial tally of results on the poll. If everything continues as it has been going I suspect that the poll will continue to show a 10%+ trend against posting the plaque. The next meeting of the City Council should have the item back on the agenda for a vote. That should happen at the 6/16/08 City Council Meeting. After that meeting I will amend this post with what should be my final pitch for a secular approach and the results.


DiFi has shown time and again that she has none. The last judge she approved was another Bush gift. A conservative judge should not be getting appointed to the Federal bench. A judge who has been downgraded by most of the progressive community should not be getting through a Democratic committee. But there was our DiFi delivering in her best Lieberman to King Goerge yet another victory for the 24% man.

This week, DiFi is coming through again for the man she loves. This time she is poised to break from the leadership and from the rest of the Dems to give Bush a man who can’t say that waterboarding is torture. Maybe DiFi should read the work of the former Justice Department lawyer who went out and got waterboarded himself Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin. After he had himself waterboarded he was issuing a statement from the DOJ stating that there is no question that waterboarding is torture when he was forced out of the DOJ.

Maybe DiFi should allow herself to be waterboarded so she can see that it is torture, or if not her, maybe she can have her war profiteer husband waterboarded in her place.

But the part that is most amazing, besides her love for torture, is he love of the unitary executive. She doesn’t seem to believe in the Constitution. You know, that document that she swore to uphold and protect from enemies foreign and domestic (read Bush and Cheney).

The problem we have in CA is one that I didn’t have when I started to help unseat Lieberman. The problem in CA is that we are too damn big. We could find a good choice, but the amount of money needed for someone to actually take DiFi on would be massive. The organization would have to be immense. But unless we do take her on in a primary challenge, we will be stuck with Democrats that think that they can be spineless wimps and give in to the GOP (note, I am not saying that we don’t negotiate, that is part of politics, but DiFi doesn’t negotiate, she gives in on the simplest wins we could walk away with. Wins that are part of what defines our party).

So, where is our Lamont? Where is the person who will stand up for what we Democrats stand for and stand up to DiFi? If we Democrats are going to take back this country, we will not do it by electing Democrats like DiFi, who are willing to give in to the GOP for no gain for our party or our beliefs. Leiberman was pushed out of the Democratic Party becuse he no longer represented Democrats in a state where the cost of pushing him out was not cost prohibitive. What can we progressive and liberal Democrats do to force DiFi out so she can run as the Republican she really seems to be?