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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.


Harry Munns

Redondo Beach Harbor Commission Chairman

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