Sludge Watch ==> Kern County - sludge truckers try to block popular sludge initiative

maureen.reilly at maureen.reilly at
Wed Apr 5 19:43:36 EDT 2006

Sludgewatch Admin

There is a ballot initiative to stop sludge into Kern County..and it has 
10,000 more signatures
than the petition needs.

Now these truckers (bilingual truckers I might add) who drive Los Angeles 
sludge into Kern County
have brought a law suit trying to get the anti sludge ballot initiative 
thrown out.

These two sh*t haulers hope to defeat the hopes of thousands of sludge weary 
Kern County residents.

Civil rights suit aims to block sludge initiative

GRETCHEN WENNER, Californian staff writer

gwenner at
Date: April 5, 2006

Kern's sludge initiative could be wiped off the June ballot if a legal
challenge from two Spanish-speaking truck drivers succeeds. A federal
filed Tuesday in Fresno alleges the truck drivers' civil rights were
violated because a Spanish version of the anti-sludge petition hadn't
circulated when signatures were collected last year.

That same argument has yanked ballot initiatives in at least two
counties in recent weeks.

Now, attorney Roger Parkinson of Borton, Petrini & Conron LLP is working

with high-powered elections lawyers from down south to do the same thing

here. Attorneys Dana Reed and Bradley Hertz of law firm Reed & Davidson
in Los Angeles also are working on the suit, Parkinson said.

They want a restraining order to keep the initiative off the June

The lawyers represent truck drivers Rafael Rivera and Jose Bonilla, Kern

County residents with jobs related to the sewage sludge industry,

"These are guys who would lose their jobs if the initiative went
Parkinson said of the plaintiffs.

In a news release, Parkinson took at jab at state Sen. Dean Florez, the
Shafter Democrat who spearheaded the sludge initiative.

"Who knows how many people were misled into signing that petition
they could not read the English well enough?" Parkinson wrote. "It is
ironic that Dean Florez ... showed so little regard for rights of his
Spanish-speaking constituents to a fair election."

Parkinson also represents Responsible Biosolids Management, the Santa
Barbara company that operates the Green Acres farm south of Bakersfield,

where 99.9 percent of the city of Los Angeles' treated sewage is hauled.

The ballot initiative would ban use of treated human and industrial
as fertilizer on unincorporated farmland in Kern. About a third of
California's sludge is trucked into Kern, mostly from Southern
to grow crops fed to dairy cows.

Critics worry the practice could contaminate soil or groundwater from
pharmaceuticals, heavy metals and thousands of industrial chemicals in
waste stream.

Florez, the state senator, harshly criticized the Bakersfield law firm
behind the suit.

"There's no way to dispute the fact that Borton Petrini not only wants
trash, but now they want sludge," Florez said.

He was referring to Borton Petrini lawyers Brandon Martin and his
George, who represent the Missouri-based company that wants to build a
mega-dump for Los Angeles trash in eastern Kern. The firm is helping
coordinate a signature-gathering effort to put the project on the

Florez said the 25,000 or so signatures gathered for the sludge
were collected almost entirely before a judge's ruling in November
established the need to translate such petitions into other languages in

order to meet fair-voting laws.

The decision led to a federal judge's ruling last week to invalidate a
citizen initiative in the San Bernardino County town of Loma Linda,
according to the Sacramento Bee. Similarly, Monterey County officials
killed a citizen initiative last month using the language issue, the Bee


Sandy Brockman, Kern's elections chief, said work on the sludge petition

predated the language ruling by months.

"This was not a law" at the time, she said.

The suit names the county Board of Supervisors and the county clerk.

-- Staff writer Sarah Ruby contributed to this report.

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