You can almost excuse zealots for presenting their arguments in a slanted way and cherry picking data that supports their point of view. They’re zealots! That’s what zealots do.
Elected officials and those who aspire to elected positions in Redondo Beach should operate with a whole different set of rules. We expect leaders to have leadership qualities, which don’t include hysterics.
Let’s play a game I’ll call Suppose. Suppose the popular movement to rid the South Bay of the AES power plant prevails in getting the California Energy Commission to deny AES a new permit. That’s a pretty big “suppose” but if it were to happen there would be a specific date after which AES would cease operations.
Well, not exactly. As we’ve seen in the past, AES has the financial capability to withstand protracted legal battles. All it would take would be for the company to get a judge to issue an injunction or for some other government entity like the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to override that decision. If you don’t think AES can afford to make either of those things happen, think again.
But let’s suppose the small but well-meaning group of citizens who are most vocal about kicking AES out of Redondo Beach prevail and the license is denied. You can be sure there will be back slapping and self-congratulations all around. The people who led and the people who followed will all take a bow and they will probably deserve it.
Then let’s suppose and this isn’t a big one, that AES isn’t happy with that decision. They appeal. They sue. They force the city of Redondo Beach into court and as we saw the last time Redondo did battle with AES, they cost the city a lot of money in legal fees and possibly fines.
With an annual city budget of slightly over $100 million, one, two, five or ten million dollars to go to war with AES would hurt Redondo Beach a lot more than it would hurt AES to spend the same amount of money. They’d just take a loss for a quarter and move on. We’d have to make some hard decisions.
Meanwhile, the power plant would stay right where it is – minus the smoke. A number of things could happen at the end of that process but we’re playing Suppose so let’s suppose AES gets re-licensed and the court awards damages to the company in the millions of dollars. Who loses? We all do.
Make no mistake, I don’t want the outcome I outlined above nor am I predicting that it will occur. My speculation on the future of this debate is no more or less accurate than anyone else’s. If anyone tells you they know what will or will not happen, they’re lying.
So in my game of Suppose, if AES resumes operation after the legal battles and the residents of Redondo Beach have to pony up millions of dollars, where do you think you’ll find the people who were patting themselves and their freinds on the back after they waged their ill-conceived war against AES?
They will have had plenty of time to concoct their excuses but I doubt they’ll be taking credit for the final outcome or the pain the process has caused the rest of us. That’s the problem with zealots. They rarely have leadership qualities.
True leaders aren’t afraid to consider every potential outcome and to prepare a thoughtful campaign that will produce the best possible results. Zealots reveal only one side of the equation, their side. They don’t care about things like the cost everyone else will bear to fund their conflict.
We don’t have to look too far back in our national history to find a bunch of zealots who lacked leadership qualities and were willing to drag the country into a war without considering all the possible consequences and with little consideration for the human and financial costs. We’re still suffering for that.
Our home-grown zealots are planning to drag the city into another expensive, unnecessary initiative process. Why? Because they want everything they want and they want it now. My 3 year old behaved the same way. Fortunately, he grew out of it.
The people of Redondo Beach will have a lot of impact on the direction of this debate and the final outcome. I hope my fellow citizens take the time now to separate the zealots from the leaders and do their own cherry picking from the various information and opinions that circulate on the matter.