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Praise for the Redondo Beach Board of Education

My first contact with the Redondo Beach Board of Education  (school board) occurred a few years ago when my son and a few of his 4th grade classmates were invited to present a dramatization of some California historical events. I was a Harbor Commissioner at the time. I found the environment very familiar, citizens like us giving up their evenings to sit in a meeting room and try to do things to help the community.

My next visit to the school board came a year later when some Jefferson parents sent an email requesting volunteers to speak at a meeting. Jefferson was the last RB grammar school to have 6th grade. The others had all begun sending their 6th graders to middle school. The parents I joined wanted one more year of 6th grade at Jefferson.

I spoke briefly in front of the packed room. Jefferson is a great school run by people who care about education. Like me, the other parents wanted as much of that as they could get for their kids.

The school board ignored me and the other parents and voted to discontinue 6th grade at Jefferson. I couldn’t understand how our eloquent arguments could have received such a cold reception. I was sure this would prove to be a bad decision by the school board.

I was wrong. My son went to middle school and he absolutely loves everything about it. He has me wake him up early because he can’t wait to get to school.

When I look back and remove my ego, (you know, the voice inside that tells me I’m right no matter how much evidence I see to the contrary), I recognize what happened. The board members knew things I didn’t know. They knew the trend in education was for 6th graders to migrate to middle school in preparation for high school and beyond. They spent time like I did as a Harbor commissioner, gathering information and examining the issues.

They did what we elected them to do, make rational, informed decisions to help guide the city’s education system and produce the best results. Even though I disagreed at the time, I know now they got it right.

They got it right again in December when they refused to bend to pressure to endorse Measure A, the misguided ballot imitative that asks Redondo voters to change the zoning of the AES power plant and make it illegal to generate electricity on their property. I admire the courage and wisdom they exhibited in the face of pressure from the loud and ever-present zealots who have attached themselves to this issue.

We elect and appoint people with the expectation they will look rationally at the issues that come before them and make the right decisions. That’s what the school board did with the Jefferson 6th grade decision and that’s what it did when it chose not to support Measure A.

The whole idea behind a ballot measure is to circumvent the city council. So the RB council won’t vote as a group one way or the other on Measure A. But they did vote against passing a resolution denouncing the power plant.

I’ve looked at the no power plant information online, I can’t find an elected official other than councilman Bill Brand who co-authored Measure A, who supports it. Look closely at any responses to this statement. You may see something like, Ted Lieu said the citizens should be able to vote on a power plant but that’s not the same thing.

I’m talking about an elected official making a public statement that he or she supports Measure A. I’m pretty sure you won’t find one.

In fact U. S. Congressman Henry Waxman wrote, “I’m submitting my statement, I explicitly told Councilmember Brand that I was not endorsing the ballot proposal. I think it is unwise and will lead to a great deal of litigation, even though I am sympathetic to their goals.”

So if you hear someone who supports Measure A say they don’t have politicians endorsing the iniatiave because they haven’t asked them for their support, it’s pretty clear from Congressman Waxman’s statement they have all been asked for an endorsement and they have all declined.

As a voter, you should ask yourself why? It sounds like such a good idea to vote against the power plant. Why would the Redondo Beach School Board, the City Council and every other elected official refuse to support Measure A?

I can’t speak for them even though I’m pretty sure the answer can be found in Congressman Waxman’s statement above. I will say our other elected officials, like our School Board and City Council, have taken the time to look closely at Measure A and the potential damage it will cause the City. Their refusal to support the short-sighted ballot measure is the equivalent of a unanimous vote. No on Measure A.

5 thoughts on “Praise for the Redondo Beach Board of Education

  1. Todd Loewenstein

    It isn’t nice to purge my comment if you want real discussion.

    Thanks Harry for the nice comment about the school board. Much appreciated.

    Unfortunately, your comments about “you can’t find an elected official that supports Measure A” is incorrect. I support Measure A as does Drew Gamet. A new power plant with higher particulate emissions than the current plant is harmful to the development of a school aged child’s respiratory system.

    Todd Loewenstein

  2. funbooker Post author

    Todd, let me begin by saying your post was not purged. I monitor blog posts to ensure haters don’t get a chance to spew their venom on my blog. If you’re looking for someone to accuse of discouraging “real discussion”, you’ll have to look elsewhere. I welcome civil dialogue.

    I was not aware of the tally of the school board vote on Measure A when I wrote the article. Now I am aware of 2 elected officials who publicly support the measure.

    That hardly changes the point of the comment. When the no power plant people were organizing their campaign they reached out to every county, state and federal elected official from the area to try to get them to support their efforts. They asked questions that produced the answers they wanted. They got comments like the Ted Lieu comment which admittedly is paraphrased.

    When people like me began to point out to these elected officials how they’d been deceived, they began retreating as quickly as they could find the door. If the support the no power plant people claim they got from all these politicians was real, where is it now that Measure A is on the ballot?

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. You can oppose the power plant without following a group of people who really don’t know where they’re going.

    The point of my article isn’t to argue the extent to which the power plant affects the health of our kids but as long as you’ve deviated from the point, I’ll say this. There is no, none, zero evidence that the kids in Redondo Beach are jeopardizing their health by breathing our air. Quite the contrary, we have some of the cleanest air in Los Angeles county.

    We have nothing more than the opinions of two people, neither of whom is a scientist, to validate the claims of the increased health risks from the proposed power plant. When I acquiesced to the decision of the school board on the Jefferson 6th grade I assumed the people voting were using something more than that as a basis for their votes.

    Measure A and other misguided gestures like it prevent us from engaging in any meaningful dialogue that might bring a solution to the AES problem. That’s the real issue for me at the moment.

  3. Todd Loewenstein

    That’s fine and thanks for clarifying.

    The vote by the school board was not over Measure A. There hasn’t even been a vote, but a discussion at the Dec School Board Mtg. The discussion was about supporting a resolution opposing the construction of a new power plant. It wasn’t about supporting Measure A. We will be voting Tuesday night on this resolution.

    As for clean air, we may have some of the cleanest air in LA County. That isn’t saying a lot, considering LA has some of the worst air in the country.

    I also serve on the Board of Directors of the American Heart Association. There is a lot of scientific evidence that particulate matter leads to high rates of heart disease, cancer, and premature death. The new plant might pump out lower rates of CO2 and NOx, but it will pump out LOTS more particulate matter…and that is from AES’ application to the CEC.

    Maybe this is another instance where we understand something you might not. Particulate matter is very dangerous for kids. That’s why I’m supporting Measure A as an individual. I don’t speak for the Board as a whole.

  4. Jim Light

    We may have some of the cleanest air in LA county. But even AES’ submission (Table 5.1-29) shows it doesn’t meet state and federal standards. (Federal standards were just lowered for PM 2.5 because of its devastating health impacts. So the number in the Table for Federal standards is no longer accurate.) And their submission shows the new plant will make it worse.

    No one can dispute that stopping a new power plant results in cleaner air. And in this case, stopping the plant stops a substantial increase in air pollution. Again, but AES’ own submission, at the application run capacity, AES would increase particulation pollution 15x. But even at the lowest run rate they expect to run (per their submission to City Council), the pollution would increase 5x from what AES currently reports.

    We will not get a full analysis because AES is exempt from fully modeling their pollutant dispersion and evaluating their impact. From the AES submission:

    “Rule 1303 and Rule 1304. SCAQMD Rule 1303 requires an ambient air quality analysis for each new emission source to demonstrate that a proposed project will not cause a violation or make significantly worse an existing violation of the CAAQS or NAAQS. However, under Rule 1304(a)(2), RBEP is not required to perform a dispersion modeling analysis. Therefore, a comparison of potential impacts to the significant change in air quality thresholds presented in SCAQMD Rule 1303, Appendix A-2 is not required as part of this air quality impacts analysis.”

  5. funbooker Post author

    Jim, Measure A is a tactic that quite a few reasonable, rational people who would rather not have a power plant in the south bay, including me, believe is counter-productive. None of the scientific data you cite, whether it’s accurate or biased, changes the fact Measure A is the wrong way to solve the power plant problem. It will cause more harm than good or ultimately may have no impact at all other than to cost the city money and distract us from meaningful actions to protect the health of our citizens.

    Here’s one thought. Let’s suppose for a minute everything you claim is 100% true and accurate. There are a number of issues like increased operation of a new plant and smoke stack design and all the other particulars of a new plant that might pose an increased threat to public health.

    All of those issues could be regulated by legislative action through city ordinances. If the city used the available scientific information to determine whether or not there are opportunities to mitigate any of these items and our elected officials then imposed local regulations the way cities impose regulations on businesses within their borders everywhere in the world, we might be able to reduce or eliminate some of these dangers.

    The time to take these actions is almost past. It will be too late when the CEC approves the new power plant. The distraction of Measure A has stolen all the energy on this issue. Whether or not Measure A passes, if the CEC approves the new power plant, Redondo Beach will be forced to take what they give us rather than have any meaningful input into that part of the city’s future.

    In that event, the responsibility for the increased particulate matter, health risks and anything else that could have been mitigated or prevented during this time period will lie squarely on your shoulders and the shoulders of the other people who have put this misguided initiative before the voters.


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