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.