Monthly Archives: February 2015


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Pseudo-facts

The existence of conflicting truths and facts make parts of modern life confusing. It’s no wonder people disengage from important issues. They want truth and facts but instead they get opinions and interpretations that come disguised as truth and facts.

Take the issues surrounding Measure B as an example. I got an email with the subject; “Quick Facts Why NO on Measure B”. I love facts, so I was anxious to dig into the message.

One of the first facts stated, “Southern California Edison has made it clear they will not be awarding AES a long term power contract so AES will not build.”

I asked AES for their take on that fact and got, “Certainly over the next decade, while we are operating our existing units, there will be additional opportunities to get a contract to build a new power plant in Redondo Beach.”

When the fact from the email can be so clearly refuted by a credible source, it isn’t a fact at all. It’s an opinion. You need to ask yourself, why would someone try to give their opinions more credibility by labeling them as facts? The simple answer is, he wants something and he believes it’s worth sacrificing his integrity to get it.

It would be unfair to say self-serving messages like the Facts email don’t contain any facts. They’re just mixed in with opinions and it’s hard to tell them apart. For example, down near the bottom it says Redondo Beach should, ”…find a way to finance the purchase of the site for $200 million.” How could that be a fact?

The text leading up to that suggestion summarizes what the property might be worth. Not only is it a little vague about where the city will get the $200 million, it’s pretty vague about how the city will force the company to accept a purchase price that’s considerably less than the fair market value.

Granted, the value of the property is variable based on its zoning. But one has to wonder whether the city could be legally liable for withholding a zoning change that would be favorable to the owner if its motive is to force AES to sell out to the city at a lower price than it would have sold the property for otherwise.

There’s more to the message but when I add it all up, I see a set of opinions about future power generation in Redondo Beach, some opinions about the potential revenue to AES and the city and some opinions about what should be done with the AES property.

That’s all fine except the message was billed as Facts. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Calling the content of that email a set of facts is simply not factual.

Here are a few facts.

  • Passage of Measure B will set the city on a path that could and should lead to replacement of the power plant with a development the community can use and enjoy.
  • Failure to pass Measure B will put AES in a position where it needs to come up with some other plan for its property.
  • Failure to pass Measure B will retain the current zoning for a power plant and/or a park.

Look at the second and third facts on that list. If you ran AES and on March 4th you were looking at a failed initiative and your plans to develop your property were cancelled, what would you do?

I will admit there are a number of ways to run the various scenarios that result in AES surrendering to the will of the small group of people who oppose Measure B. But before that happens, years and probably decades of fighting will have taken place. Many thousands, probably millions of our tax dollars will have been spent in legal fees.

Here’s a fact you might not see elsewhere. If AES is going to be forced to lose, Redondo Beach is also going to lose. It isn’t a matter of “if”. It’s a matter of how much.

The people who oppose Measure B would probably call my predictions fear tactics. I disagree. I moved to Redondo Beach knowing there was a power plant on harbor Drive. I’ve lived here the past 20 years knowing the plant is there. I’m not afraid of the AES power plant nor am I afraid of it continuing to be here.

I just don’t like it. For the first time in my 20 years living here and the 15 years visiting before that, I can see a clear path toward a waterfront without a power plant. There’s no fear about the plant staying or going, just hope. Hope that the rest of the community will see what a growing number of concerned citizens see, a realistic, comprehensive plan for what can be the most exciting development in Los Angeles county in our lifetime. It all starts with Measure B.

Oh, by the way, everything I’ve written here is my opinion unless it’s labeled otherwise.

An Open Letter to Voters in Redondo Beach District 3

Dear Neighbor,

Unless you’ve ignored all the mail, the doorbells ringing, the TV ads and the phone calls, you know there’s an election March 3rd. I’d like to ask for just a few minutes of your time to tell you who I am and why I believe this election is so important.

Like you, I live in District 3. I’ve lived here for more than 20 years. I served two terms on the Harbor Commission. I was both vice chairman and chairman of that commission. I also write a column about our harbor for Easy Reader. It’s called Harbor Lights.

I support Measure B, the initiative that will rezone the power plant property but I’m writing to you for a different reason. Passing Measure B is only the beginning of the process that will replace the old, ugly power plant with a vibrant community we can all use and enjoy.

We also need a city council that will make the dream of a beautiful, exciting waterfront into reality. If our community is really committed to the process of replacing the power plant, we need to band together behind our shared vision.

Contrary to rumors from some corners, the community will decide what will be built, how much open space will be set aside and most of the details of the final project. See for yourself. There’s a full text version of the initiative on my blog, www.buildingthebestredondo.com.

Measure B isn’t the end. It’s just the beginning. That’s why it’s so important to elect city council members who will help move us toward the goal of a waterfront that serves the needs of this community and makes us even more proud we live here.

We will elect a new city council member to represent our district from a field of five candidates. It isn’t my place to suggest which candidate to choose on your secret ballot. I would simply ask you to consider voting for a candidate who supports Measure B.

You may need to tune out some of the noise to realize that our new council member will have plenty of opportunities to act on our concerns about traffic, revenue and other issues that will arise down the road.

Voting for the candidate who opposes Measure B will guarantee division and obstruction on the city council. We deserve better. We deserve a representative from District 3 who wants to work toward our shared goals, not stand in the way of our dreams.

Once again, I won’t try to tell you how to vote. But I have listed the four candidates who have shown some degree of willingness to move ahead with a comprehensive plan to help our waterfront reach its full potential. It’s up to you to decide.

This election is incredibly important. Vote March 3rd!

Sincerely,

Harry Munns

www.horvathforredondo.com

www.marchese4redondo.com

www.samforredondo.com

www.colemanforredondo.com

 

Measure B

The No on Measure B (the Redondo Beach ballot initiative that will re-zone the AES power plant property) campaign doesn’t seem to be gaining the momentum it would need to succeed. My years of immersion in the issues and interacting with the personalities on both sides of the seaside development debate, lead me to a few theories that might help explain the apparent lack of energy behind opposition to Measure B.

My first theory has to do with Measure A, the 2013 initiative that proposed rezoning the AES property to exclude power generation, among other things. The petition that put Measure A on the ballot got thousands of signatures by asking a simple question. Would you like to get rid of the power plant?

My second theory came to life immediately after the reelection of District 2 councilman, Bill Brand in the same election. I concluded his decisive victory was attributed to a number of factors, chief among them his success in convincing property owners he was their champion in the fight to rid their neighborhood of the big, ugly, old power plant.

According my theories, thousands of residents showed their support for getting rid of the power plant by signing the petition. A majority of the people who cast votes for District 2 city council, in 2013 believed Bill Brand could help remove the power plant from our waterfront.

Those two theories lead to a third theory. The reason we aren’t seeing any ground swell of enthusiasm for opposing Measure B is because the core supporters of Measure A and councilman Brand see a clear path to the goal they all share with many of the rest of us.

Memes like reducing air pollution and removing the power plant for the good of the community have been used to shield the ambitions of a very small group of people. They successfully seduced thousands of citizens into supporting their campaigns but this one seems different.

AES drew the curtain back by offering a realistic, comprehensive plan to give them exactly what they claimed they wanted, removal of the power plant. Now, the same people who brought you Measure A want their fellow citizens to follow them in opposing Measure B.

Only this time, they can’t offer voters the chance to reduce air pollution and rid the waterfront of the power plant because that’s exactly what Measure B offers. In addition, Measure B offers a way to get it done that would benefit everyone.

So what’s left for the opponents of Measure B when AES has taken the pollution and monstrous power plant arguments away from them? Their yard signs say, Big Traffic, Big AES Profit$ and Big City $ lo$$e$.

Nobody likes traffic but if you want to avoid it, you’ll need to move somewhere lots of other people don’t want to live, like the desert. That just isn’t going to happen so traffic will be a reality with or without Harbor Village.

I haven’t seen any realistic projections of the amount of money AES stands to make from the proposed Harbor Village development. It’s probably a lot. I just don’t get the logic behind the argument that if AES, a public corporation, makes money, Redondo Beach loses something. They aren’t stealing the money they make from the city. They’re exercising their right to sell what they own and use it to do what corporations do, make money.

I won’t claim to speak with any authority about the economics but I will make a personal observation. I paid about $6,000 in property taxes per year for my modest house in North Redondo. Based on what I would expect to be much more valuable residences in Harbor Village and the number proposed, there should be a ton of money generated in property taxes. And that’s just one source of revenue. There will be others.

In my humble opinion, any voter in Redondo who doesn’t vote for Measure B is nuts. If the measure fails, you can expect to live with the power plant for a long time to come. If you like the power plant, vote NO on Measure B. If you don’t, you know what to do.