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AES Redondo Beach Announces a New Plan

This is the most exciting news from Redondo Beach since Fifi Maloof’s brothel appeared on the national news (look it up). AES, the energy company that owns and operates the Redondo Beach generating plant, announced it will voluntarily cease generating electricity in Redondo Beach and remove the plant if the city passes an initiative that allows mixed use development on the 50 acre site.

There will be plenty of time for lots of conversation and debate over a project that will take more than a decade to complete at best and probably more like two or three decades if past experience is any indicator. Right now, I’d like to speak to the good people of the community who have expressed their desire to get rid of the plant.

Some of you voted for Measure A. Others carried signs, signed petitions and attended city council meetings. Some of you did all of it.

Throughout it all, a few very vocal and visible individuals made some claims that probably spoke to you and made you think they were aligned with your interests. They weren’t.

Watch what they do next. Remember when they told you they wanted clean air for kids? Remember when they told you they wanted to improve the community and get rid of the ugly power plant? If that was all true, you could expect them to take a victory lap and celebrate the good news with the rest of us.

They won’t. They will reveal their true agenda in the moves they make next. Watch very carefully because they will have to craft future messages in a way that will continue to deceive you into thinking they want what you want. Don’t get fooled again.

Thank you Mayor Mike Gin

Sometimes, I can’t believe what I’m hearing. The City Council approved a motion to formally ask voters if they oppose a power plant in Redondo Beach? I could save them a lot of time and money. The answer is YES, people in the community oppose the power plant.

I can’t even imagine who might support having a power plant in Redondo Beach. I was trying to imagine who those people might be and came up with this imaginary interview.

Me: Why do you want to continue having a power plant in Redondo?

Mr. X: I love the smell of the exhaust. It always reminds me of the beach. Aside from the occasional cold and some severe coughing every once in a while, I feel fine. Plus, it’s a stately, art deco building that enhances the historical beauty of the whole area.

Me: Interesting perspective…How’s the food in this place, as opposed to a non-psychiatric hospital?

The statement that the community doesn’t want a power plant has been made and there’s no opposition that I can see, at least from the community. There’s absolutely no strategic reason to transform that statement into something resembling policy at this time. Although, if I was running for re-election to the City Council, I’d welcome the publicity that comes with supporting mom, apple pie and fighting the huge corporation that wants to destroy our community.

In time, when there’s a plan on the table, there may well be a strategic advantage to be gained from adopting a policy that opposes some or all of the plan. There is no plan and there is no strategic advantage to be gained.

I was so proud of Mayor Gin for exercising one of the few powers a Redondo Beach mayor actually has at his disposal. He took a gutsy stand for the people of this city and vetoed approval of a wishy-washy motion that was intended to offer an alternative to the earlier motion for the council to adopt a resolution saying the city didn’t want a power plant.

As of the middle of May, 2012 there is no plan to oppose, yet a majority of our City Council voted to ask voters if they wanted to oppose the rumor that there might be a plan sometime in the future. We have no idea what, if anything, AES might offer to the community, when and if they petition the California Energy Commission to re-power the plant.

If there is an offer, that offer might be so irresistible that the only person who could oppose it would be the fictional Mr. X I interviewed above. We just don’t know and that’s the problem with following an ambitious councilman who’s willing to use a noble cause to get re-elected. As of this moment, there’s more we don’t know than we do know.

What do you think the leaders of the no powerplant movement will say if AES offers the community something everyone thinks is a reasonable solution, a plan that benefits the community so much it dismisses all opposition? “Well, we were opposing what we thought they were going to do, this is something different.”

The very possibility that outcome could happen should give people pause to think before they support half-baked ideas, even the ones that are based on noble motives.

Look closely at which members of the City Council are willing to lead the AES discussion and which members are being led by forces that have their own self interests, rather than the interests of the community, in mind.

Meanwhile, we should all be thankful we have leaders like Mayor Gin who can see beyond the noise that’s being generated by people who don’t have a handle on the bigger picture.