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A Message to Redondo Beach Voters in Districts 1 and 2

When you do some things that no one ever did before, you may be considered innovative. Other times, you realize when it’s too late there was a good reason no one ever did what you’ve just done.

No other city anywhere in the state, the country or the world ever passed a ballot initiative that re-zoned the land under a utility while it was still operating and in compliance with all applicable laws and regulations. If you’re thinking about voting for Measure A and it passes, I believe you will soon realize there’s a good reason why no other city passed a similar initiative. Passing Measure A would certainly make Redondo Beach unique, but hardly innovative.

There are other things that happen in Redondo Beach that don’t seem to happen elsewhere. In my experience, when you’re elected to serve as part of a legislative body, you make a pledge to work within the structure of that body. You forgo your right to work against that body. You accept the fact you have only one vote. You recognize that sometimes your opinion will be in the minority. You accept the times you get outvoted.

The process of majority rule actually makes the body stronger than the sum of its parts. The legislative body makes a statement, we’re a team and the goals of the team and the work we were sent here to do is more important than the opinions of any individual team member.

It’s a little different in Redondo Beach. In late 2011 councilman Bill Brand gave the rest of the city council an ultimatum. Either you pass a resolution stating the city is against re-powering the AES plant or I’ll go outside the structure of the council to make that statement. He made good on that threat. He co-authored the document and promoted the petition that led to Measure A.

In my experience, when a legislator feels so strongly that the legislative body has taken a course that violates his or her fundamental beliefs, the legislator resigns. He or she may choose to work outside the legislative body or even against it to satisfy some deeply held conviction the legislative body did not share. They talk the talk and walk the walk.

Not in Redondo Beach. Councilman Brand continues to sit on the council. He even pulled papers for a re-election campaign shortly after the process that led to Measure A was begun.

The city doesn’t have any guidelines to prevent this kind of disruptive action because it’s never happened before. When people believe so strongly that some government action is wrong, they take a stand against the government. Has anyone ever heard about someone standing with the government and against the government at the same time?

Would you call Brand’s stand a semi-conviction? If he and his fellow insurgents picket outside city hall, will he have to cross his own picket line to conduct his city hall duties? If it turns violent, will he pelt himself with rocks and bottles?

The city conducts a portion of the business between itself and AES in closed sessions. Bill Brand has excluded himself from some of those sessions on the advice of the city attorney. So as business between the city and AES increases, we could expect a re-elected councilman Brand to be barred from fully participating in more city council proceedings because of his extracurricular legislative activities.

Along comes Bill Brand’s sidekick, Jim Light, who’s running for city council in District 1. He’s the co-author of Measure A so if he were elected, the same rules would apply to him in matters concerning AES.

So if Jim Light and Bill Brand get elected, the citizens of Districts 1 and 2 will send representatives to the city council who cannot fully participate in council proceedings. Anyone in Districts 1 or 2 who casts a vote for Light or Brand needs to truly believe that their representative can function effectively inside city government at the same time he’s fighting against city government. This doesn’t make any sense to me but like I said before, some things happen in Redondo Beach that don’t happen elsewhere.

This is their second initiative together, third if you count Measure G. Brand was on the council when he engaged in the actions that led to Measure A. Does anyone believe this is their last initiative? Does anyone in Districts 1 or 2 believe he or she will be fully represented by council members who invest so much energy in extracurricular legislative activities? If these guys got elected and don’t get their way, history shows us there will be more initiatives, more disruption, more wasted energy.

Read some of Jim Light’s blog post comments and you will see a person who’s so convinced he’s always right, he will spend endless amounts of time looking for little fragments of information that prove his arguments. Imagine that kind of a personality disorder in our city government. If you believe as I do the City Council accomplishes much less than it should accomplish, adding Jim Light will effectively paralyze the process.

I can’t think of an election for anything, anywhere in which two candidates could brag to voters about their work against the institution they want to get voted onto and stand any chance of winning the election. Add to that the guarantee they won’t be able to fully participate in council proceedings and the very real possibility they will create other disruptive initiatives during their council terms and you may feel what I feel when I think about the possibilities, fear.

I believe that in the end, the city of Redondo Beach will have to negotiate with AES. In the end, the city will need to compromise. If Measure A passes, it will do nothing but delay the inevitable and cause us to miss the opportunity to work with AES now, to get the best deal for the city of Redondo Beach.

Jim Light and Bill Brand have stated emphatically they will not compromise and they will not negotiate unless they get to define the basis for that negotiation. They’re willing to waste the taxpayers’ time and money pursuing a strategy that has very little chance of success. I’ve heard the Measure A camp state that under some circumstances, they will to sue the city . Are these the attitudes of people we want on the team that runs Redondo Beach? Can you really have a team with members who harbor deep resentment toward the institution they want you to vote them onto?

The city of Redondo Beach has big challenges ahead. We need leadership that understands and values cooperation over personal agenda and ego. I’m hoping the voters of Districts 1 and 2 will help Jim Light and Bill Brand continue to do what they do best, oppose, obstruct and disrupt. I’m just hoping the voters ensure they do it from outside Redondo Beach government rather than from inside and outside at the same time.

6 thoughts on “A Message to Redondo Beach Voters in Districts 1 and 2

  1. David Mallen

    Dear Sir:

    I am your neighbor. I make my living as a Mediator and a lawyer. Three weeks ago, I did not know the name of my City Councilman and I did not know much about Measure A. I had not read it. Now I know what to fear and what not to fear about Measure A.

    I have read each of your blog posts, and you sound like a reasonable Man. While I do not agree with some of your conclusions and fears, I probably share more common ground with you than not. I also respect the fact that you are sharing your voice with other neighbors. That is Democracy in action. I have tried to have a conversation with the “No on Measure A” folks, but they ban all opposing views on their Facebook page, they adopt a “victim mentality” if anyone disagrees, and they appear to suffer from a serious case of “Group Think.”

    I also tried to talk about the issue with Councilman Kilroy, Councilman Aust, and soon to be ex-Councilman Steve Diels, and that went nowhere fast. Councilman Aspel and Councilman Aspel are the only two, in my opinion, who are capable of showing leadership and talking to their constituents about the real issues surrounding Measure A and the City’s future.

    I, too, have put my name and legal reputation on the line. I am not a land-use lawyer, but I have done extensive legal research, discussed Measure A with serious land-use lawyers, and listened to Measure A’s opponents. I even got called out online by the CEO of AES-Southland. Every time he opens he mouth he threatens “lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit” against our City (meaning: your family, my family, and our neighbors). His company spends millions shouting “lawsuit, lawsuit, lawsuit.” But when a serious lawyer comes on the scene and calls him out man to man, and says, “Back it up with facts and law,” he pipes down and slinks away. When it comes to making a legal case for AES, Mr. Eric Pendergraft is like a “eunuch in a harem” — he know how it’s done, he see how it’s done by real men, but he could not do it to save his life.

    I would like to talk to you and your friends who oppose Measure A, before or after March 5, because Measure A is the beginning of an interesting conversation, and I think your heart is in the right place. If I am wrong about this whole lawsuit thing, believe me I will be wiping egg off my face in this town for the rest of my life. But I am not losing sleep, because I think I nailed the issue.

    I don’t belong to any group, I don’t get paid a dime for my work, and I don’t tell my neighbors how to vote. My wife and I have never felt more at home than with the people of Redondo Beach, and we would like to retire here.

    Keep the conversation going. I am optimistic that many good things will come of this, whether Measure A passes or fails.

    Best regards,

    David A. Mallen

  2. funbooker Post author

    Mr. Mallen,

    I can’t speak for any group because, like you, I’m just one person making observations and commenting on them. Your thoughtful comments are always welcome here. I have no expectation that anyone will agree with me although I know quite a few people do.

    I see Measure A and the people who believe that kind of activity is the right way to solve problems, as an impediment to the harmonious manner in which I’d like to see our city run. I have frequently stated my agreement with my fellow citizens who would like to see something other than a power plant on the AES property. I believe very strongly that ignoring AES’s rights and making sleazy moves to force them out is the wrong way to achieve that goal. I’m not for a power plant. I’m just against Measure A and its bullying tactics.


    1. David Mallen

      Thank you for your reply.

      I have tried to focus on the issues and ignore the tactics from both sides of the argument.

      Whether Measure A passes or fails, AES will make plenty of profits from the land sale. At least that is what I am told by some land use experts and old-school property developers in Redondo Beach. AES wants more commercial space and less open space so it can sell its land for more money IF the State says it cannot have a power plant. Big IF. Like most disputes, this whole thing will resolve through negotiation and compromise. I am not aware of any legal theory that allows a land owner to sue for zoning that increases the value of land. I ask this question to the Mayor and the City Councilmen who lobby for AES, but they don’t want to say the answers.

      I understand the AES marketing campaign. I can imagine City Council feels like they got “out-flanked” by Measure A and its supporters. I do not understand or support Councilman who act like AES lobbyists when they should be putting aside political differences and positioning the City for strong negotiations with AES.

      My two cents….


      1. David Mallen


        I am curious to know your views on the INTERESTS of the stakeholders. As a mediator, i try to ask people to focus on the “interests” ( not the legal issues or the issue of how Messrs. Brand and Light and the Moms outflanked city council on the issue).

        I’ll start with the stakeholders:

        1. City Council: interested in knowing which way the political winds blow; getting elected or re-elected; setting themselves up for lobbying or consulting gigs; interested generally in a pro-business, pro-development agenda. Nothing wrong with that in my book, by the way. It has worked fairly well.

        2. AES: interested in building a new power plant (maybe) or maximizing the commercial value of its 50 acres. AES is not interested in lawsuits. AES likes the threat of lawsuits for leverage, but that’s it. AES knows the lawsuit threat is good for some fear-based votes, and it always works because people fear lawyers and lawsuits. I think we can agree on the last sentence, haha.

        AES has a real interest in maximizing the value of the land whether Measure A passes or not. Right? If Measure A fails, its land is still zoned “industrial” and “park” and it needs City Council on re-zoning. if Measure A passes, and the power plant goes away in 2020, and AES finds a viable developer to do great commercial things in the harbor, that is the time to go to City Council for variances on Measure A and maybe even go back to the voters to amend Measure A to give AES and the developer a little more commercial meat on the bone. The interest is $$, pure and simple. We are a fly-speck in the AES universe.

        3. Developers, realtors, construction guys, project managers: the more commercial, the better; although these guys need to wake up and recognize that they could be building state of the art sports complexes, golf and tennis courts, music amphitheaters, and other cool projects requiring open space. Remember, “open space” can include profitable open space, not just ducks farting in tall grass. I suspect the developers want some residential down there too.

        4. Residents: Most, in my opinion, prefer life with no power plant as long as it comes at a reasonable cost to the city.

        Any other stakeholders I am missing?

        I like to look at conflict in terms of a negotiation strategy. Have you considered that passage of Measure A would put City Council in a better negotiating position against AES, with more leverage to cut the deal it wants with future developers and AES? (assuming the Caliifornia Energy Commission denies the new permit to make power after 2018). My premise is that power plants don’t play nice. You can’t negotiate over tea and crumpets with an 18 Billion Dollar company. You need a little leverage here. I am mad at certain City Councilman, not so much because they repeat fear-based talking points of AES, but more importantly, I feel like they killed some of the City’s leverage before the negotiating game had begun.

        It’s like the old joke: What did France say to Germany when it saw 50,000 troops massed on its border during World War II? Answer: “Table for 50,000, monsieur?”

        Your thoughts?


        1. funbooker Post author

          Mr. Mallen,

          Your thoughtful comment deserves a thoughtful reply. Unfortunately, I won’t have time to devote to it between now and the election.

          I would ask one thing before I dig into your comments and questions. Please post a message with your assurance that the time and effort I invest in this conversation is not intended to be used as part of solicitation for your professional services.

          While I respect your right to promote yourself in any way you choose, I would prefer not to become an unwitting participant.


          1. David Mallen


            Promoting myself? I do not solicit business online and I will not solicit you for anything but your opinion.

            I am a labor and employment lawyer who represents small business employers and employees, and I do occasional mediation, usually for free. No promotion here. I am a concerned neighbor and family man having a conversation and an occasional dust-up with neighbors on an important issue.

            Just so you know, I have talked to about a thousand people On Measure A in the past month, including: City Councilmen, land use attorneys, realtors, developers, real estate attorneys, and neighbors from all walks of life. I did my homework before putting my reputation on the line. I would like to think my views are balanced on the issue and I am equally interested in what happens after the vote on Measure A. Not many folks seem to be talking about that.


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