Monthly Archives: September 2012


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Termed Out

I was appointed to the Harbor Commission in May, 2005 by Mayor Greg Hill. I was re-appointed in August, 2008 and served until my second term expired in September, 2012. The city’s Municipal Code limits commissioners to two terms. It was a privilege to serve the people of the city of Redondo Beach in my capacity as a Harbor Commissioner.

I’ve kept my eyes and ears open throughout my time as a Harbor Commissioner and learned a lot about government, city government and the city of Redondo Beach. I haven’t said or written a lot publicly about my experiences in city government during my time as a commissioner. That would have required me to take positions that potentially criticized the same government I had sworn to support. In my opinion, it’s hypocritical to be inside and outside at the same time.

That doesn’t mean I didn’t disagree with many of the policies, positions and practices that were adopted or in place while I was a commissioner. Within the guidelines of my job as a commissioner, I probably disagreed more than I agreed. I was never quiet about it.

What would have been hypocritical, would have been if I decided because things weren’t going the way I thought they should be going, I had a right to exert influence from outside the commission, using my column or my blog or other methods to get my way. That’s a line I believe shouldn’t be crossed.

I’m no longer bound by that sense of obligation. I can speak and write freely. I intend to do so.

The text below comes from a message I sent to the commission at the September, 2012 meeting.

September 9, 2012

My fellow commissioners,

I wanted to deliver this farewell message to you directly but I had a family obligation that brought me out of town.

I would have told you that it has been a pleasure and honor serving the people of Redondo Beach as a Harbor Commissioner for the past 7 years.  A big part of the personal reward I’ve enjoyed has been the chance to work with and get to know all of you and the commissioners with whom I’ve served before you. I think each one of you brings an impressive set of qualifications to the volunteer work you do for the city.

I can say the same thing about the city staff at every level. They are an impressive group of highly competent professionals who do a great job of running our city. This includes the department heads and the city manager. I complain. I question and I object to a lot of things but through it all, my admiration and respect for the individuals who oversee the city’s business has never wavered.

I can’t leave out the mayor and city council. I’ve worked with and gotten to know each of them to various degrees. I disagree with them at different times on different issues but I know they’re all decent people who try their best to do what’s right for this city.

You probably all know I have some fundamental disagreements with some of the interactions between this commission and the city. Specifically, I feel strongly that the talents of this commission are intentionally underused by the city.  Some of you and some of the commissioners I served with before you have been very frustrated that the city gives the commission very little real work to do. I feel  the same way.

I also feel that the city council has allowed city staff to have way more influence on the Harbor Commission than was ever intended by the previous councils who created the commissions. Redondo Beach commissions are intended to work as partners with the City Council not as a “speed bump on the way to the council” as one councilman has described the purpose of the commissions. This City Council doesn’t see it the way I see it.

Twice they have approved a set of guidelines for commission behavior that are meaningless and in my opinion unenforceable. They did it because the City Manager instructed them to do so. I’m sure they don’t see it that way but that’s the way I see it.

My struggle with these issues is over. If I’ve learned anything from my years in city government it’s that this commission won’t get any meaningful work to do from the council or city staff unless it demands work that reflects its talents. That’s what I tried to do for 7 years. I know I made some noise but I’m not so sure I made a difference. If I could wish you anything for your remaining time on the commission, it’s to do whatever you can to make a difference.

Sincerely,

Harry Munns

Redondo Beach Harbor Commission Chairman

Redondo’s Open Sidewalks

When I  got out of my car at the Bank of America on Catalina, I was greeted by a familiar sight. Two guys stood by a card table with pictures of President Obama slogans for a former presidential candidate, Lyndon Larouche.

They were familiar because they did the same thing in front of the Hermosa post office. I complained to the HB police. I asked the police whether they had a permit to solicit support for a political cause on a public sidewalk. Apparently they didn’t have the necessary permit. The dispatcher sent a patrol car by to talk with them. They haven’t been back since.

One of the Larouche campaigners pointed out to me that they had the right under the constitution to assemble and exercise their rights of free speech. I’d be the last person to suggest we deny anyone their free speech rights. I’ve been threatened, accused and insulted because I’ve exercised these rights but I’ve never felt threatened because I know I have the right to do so.

I don’t know much about Lyndon Larouche other than he’s run for president a few times, had something to do with the U. S. Workers Party and served time in prison for violation of postal regulations. My problem is with their imagery.

The Larouche campaign table had a few large pictures of President Obama with a Hitler mustache. I’ll admit, if I’d seen the same picture with G. W. Bush under the mustache, I probably wouldn’t have had as much of a personal reaction. But my objection wasn’t about my personal political beliefs or freedom of speech. It was about community standards.

Almost 70 years after the allies defeated Adolph Hitler and his Nazi party, the memories those images evoke still offend a lot of people. It isn’t illegal to display a Nazi flag or to give people the Nazi salute. We don’t see those things happen because they would violate the community’s sense of right and wrong.

Based on current polls, about half the country disagrees with Obama’s policies. That’s healthy, democratic discourse and it’s part of what makes our country great.

Kids learn about the criminal and immoral behavior of the Nazis. We also teach them that the President is our country’s leader, the person who represents the American people to the rest of the world.

I believe mixing an image that represents the horrendous evil of the Nazi era, with the image of our President, sends a message to kids that’s confusing and inaccurate. Whether you believe in the policies of this administration or any other, our community has standards and these images lie outside those standards.

Unlike Hermosa Beach, our police department has no regulation it can enforce to remove these images from our sidewalks. I stopped in at the RBPD and spoke by phone from the lobby to someone in the building. She said the Larouche supporters have a perfect right to do what they do on the sidewalk and display the images of Obama with the Hitler mustache.

I asked whether that applied to everyone. The officer on the other end of the phone hesitated, then said it did. So I asked if it would be OK for others to set up their card tables up and down the sidewalk. She said yes.

So it seems if you have a cause or a political point of view and you want to set up your table and posters in Redondo Beach, our sidewalks are open. Come on down.