With the announcement of a new museum to house the personal art collection of Hammer, many are again proclaiming his seemingly philanthropic activities. But against the backdrop of Hammer driving to become the greatest international do-gooder is the reality that Hammer will stop at nothing to get his own way . . . especially when it comes to drilling oil wells in the Pacific Palisades.
For 20 years, Hammer and Occidental Petroleum have relentlessly sought to drill for oil along one of the most geologically unstable parts of the California coast in the Pacific Palisades. For a long time, Mayor Tom Bradley valiantly held the oil proponents away, but after a campaign contribution from Hammer that has not as of yet yielded any electoral successes for the mayor, Bradley changed sides. He voted in favor of granting Occidental drilling rights and betrayed the trust of the people of Los Angeles. This is old news.
The new news is that Hammer has again used contemptible means to get his way, no matter the cost and potential danger to his fellow citizens in Los Angeles. Dan Garcia, head of the City Planning Commission, was removed from this public debate due to "conflict of interest." By retaining Garcia's law firm, Occidental forced Garcia out of the oil drilling debate by making Garcia's resignation from his firm the only way for him to keep his decisions free from influence.
The citizens of Los Angeles--those who drive along the already congested Pacific Coast Highway, who live along the already unstable piece of coastline, and who enjoy the extremely popular beaches for recreation--have more conviction and determination to prevent the drilling than Hammer can muster in his many millions of dollars.
Hammer has lots of money. He has always gotten his way using it. But we have thrown out his bought politicians in the past, and we will gladly do it again. The money of one man should never outweigh the safety and well being of the public at large. Votes beat money.
MRS. JAMES GARNER