Grau Funded by One of County’s Worst Polluters

Editorial

By Nick Bonge

When reviewing contributions to Dave Grau’s recent failed County Supervisor bid, it is clear that the much of his financial support comes from development interests. Yet, Ventura residents may still be shocked to see one name stand out, Staben. Called a “renegade contractor” by former Ventura County Supervisor John Flynn, Tom Staben is president of Staben Engineering, Director of Anterra Energy Services and owner of the Pacific Rock quarry mine in Camarillo. But, Tom was not the only Staben on Grau’s contributor list. Connie Staben, Lauren Staben, Roger Staben, Lisa Staben, Frank Staben and Jamie Staben, most of whom are partners in Anterra Energy, all contributed the maximum allowable.

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Who is Tom Staben? According to a report published by the legislative content network, Granicus, “Tom Staben, a contractor based in Ventura County, has a history of unpermitted dumping into Calleguas Creek and the Ventura River dating back to 1989. In 2005 and 2006, Staben and his construction company illegally dumped 40,000 cubic yards of refuse – enough to fill 2,000 large dump trucks – into the Arroyo Las Posas without the necessary Clean Water Act permits. In January 2012, Staben was fined a total of $725,000 by the EPA for violations of the Clean Water Act. According to the EPA, the impact of Staben’s illegal dumping substantially reduced the active floodplain in the creek, increasing potential flooding of adjacent properties, and contributing to the bioaccumulation problems harmful to the health of endangered species and other wildlife in Mugu Lagoon.” The EPA action was reported in the LA Times while articles in the VC Star and Santa Barbara Independent cite numerous other environmental misdeeds committed over a period of more than ten years, including a criminal investigation of Anterra Energy by the Ventura County District Attorney.

Ventura residents of Mint Lane remember Staben well. It was his company that created the infamous “Goldenring Gash” when hired by land owner and attorney, Peter Goldenring, in 2013 to cut an unpermitted road across the Ventura hillside, leaving a huge scar visible to this day. It was reported in the VC Star that, then City Attorney, Ariel Calonne, launched a criminal investigation into Goldenring’s actions. The City Council however, decided to grant a retroactive permit. Local citizens expressed outrage and the Ventura Grand Jury launched its own investigation that resulted in recommendations for City reforms.

Venturans should be concerned that someone such as Staben, an individual with a long history of defiling of our land, rivers and hillside, contributed so much money to Mr. Grau. We should be even more concerned that Mr. Grau accepted the money. The future of Ventura should not be influenced by those who desecrate our environment for personal enrichment. It is often said, “Follow the money,” to reveal a politician’s true character. Now, Graw is running for Ventura City Council having transferred the remaining funds from his Supervisor Campaign to the City race. Electing Grau has the potential of infecting our City Council with more exploiting influences from big money insiders with disreputable ethics. We, the voters, now have an opportunity to make our City Council better. There are better choices available to us on the ballot this November.

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References:
1. County contractor mines a troubled deal, Ventura County Star:http://archive.vcstar.com/…/county-contractor-mines-a-troub… 
2. Contractor fined $725,000 for dumping in Ventura County creek, LA Times: http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/…/illegal-dumping-ventura-c… 
3. This is Tom Staben. So why is Venturø County doing business with him?, Granicus: http://ventura.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php… 
4. Ventura County Contractor to Pay $225,000 for Illegal Dumping into Calleguas Creek, EPA News Release: https://yosemite.epa.gov/…/0/CEAAFD66053A5A0E85257988006CE0… 
5. United States of America v. Thomas Staben, EPA Consent Decree:http://www3.epa.gov/…/fil…/stabenConsentDecree-march2012.pdf 
6. Creek Dumping to Cost Contractor $900K, Paint Bid Tracker:http://www.paintbidtracker.com/news/?fuseaction=view&id=6993 
7. U.S. EPA orders Muranaka Farm, Inc., Tom A. Staben to restore two sites along Calleguas Creek in Ventura County, EPA News Release:https://yosemite.epa.gov/…/f01ad1c125102e8985257398006efbe8… 
8. Police Seize Energy Company Records. Ventura Injection Well Company Under Criminal Investigation, Santa Barbara Independent:http://www.independent.com/…/police-seize-energy-company-r…/ 
9. Ventura council approves settlement over hillside grading, VC Star:http://archive.vcstar.com/…/ventura-council-approves-settle…

Nick Bonge,  Co-Founder, Neighbors for the Ventura Hillside

 


 

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