Tag Archives: Redondo Beach City Council

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Vision and Opportunity, King Harbor’s Future and Its Past

A twenty-year career in recreational boating afforded me some insights into that industry and the places where people enjoy their recreational boats. I often called on that expertise during my two terms on the Redondo Beach Harbor Commission.

The boat business taught me many things, not least of which was to look for other examples of any endeavor I was about to undertake. So as I examine the inevitable conversations that have arisen around the Redondo Beach waterfront development plans, I find myself looking at other harbors for answers.

Recreational boating didn’t exist when most of the major U. S. harbors began taking shape. People, goods and commodities crossed oceans and moved along coastlines by ship. Harbors and bays were places where ships could load and unload their cargo and passengers. Warships used coastal harbors during and between wars.

Up and down the east coast, fortunes of places like Portland, Maine, Boston and New York ebbed and flowed with changing trends in transportation, war and society. Wooden shipbuilding, once the lifeblood of many northeast port cities, disappeared in the early 20th century. Steel hulls required a different set of natural resources, tools and skills. It was no longer necessary to set up shop near forests and logging operations to ensure the supply of lumber.

Railroads spread out like a spider’s web connecting cities and towns. Farmers discovered it was cheaper to send their crops and livestock to larger ports by rail instead of using smaller, local ports.

Industries such as whaling boomed for a while then nearly disappeared. Harbors that were once home to whaling fleets, vibrant wooden shipbuilding industries and transshipment of agricultural products adapted and evolved to accommodate changing times.

History of west coast ports doesn’t stretch back as far as that of their east coast cousins but we see the same patterns. The Navy had a substantial base in Long Beach for nearly a century. It included a shipyard and shore side facilities including housing and a hospital.

Most of the Navy’s activities in Long Beach were curtailed by 2000. The shipyard, docking and land facilities have been converted to accommodate commercial shipping. Every harbor I know that has been used as a harbor for any substantial amount of time has undergone change due to the changing needs of the community that uses it.

Redondo Beach had a robust commercial harbor around the time the Navy began expanding in Long Beach. Mariners discovered the deep water trench leading up to what’s now King Harbor enabled them to bring in deep-draft ships laden with lumber and other materials needed to support a growing population.

A shift in commercial shipping to the Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach forced Redondo Beach to repurpose itself. The 225-room Hotel Redondo helped the city transition into a popular tourist destination. Reliable rail and steamer service made it easy to get here. (For a much more rich and detailed account of Redondo’s history visit the historical society, www.redondohistorical.org)

The industry that had serviced commercial shipping moved south and a new industry devoted to tourism took its place. The embedded community grew along with the hordes of visitors.

The next repurposing of Redondo’s harbor came in the early 1960s when the current breakwater was built to accommodate recreational boating. It became King Harbor. The transition may not have been as drastic as the change from commercial harbor to tourist destination but it allowed the city to diversify.

Leisure time had become an important part of American Life. King Harbor gave people access to fishing, recreational boating and other water-related activities. Numbers of people who came to enjoy the shore-side attractions grew even bigger than those who used King Harbor for boating.

We’re lucky. We don’t have to figure out how to change from a commercial harbor to something completely different or even how to accommodate a new population of recreational boaters. The transition facing us will not alter the purpose of King Harbor. Our little man-made water feature will still provide access to Santa Monica Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Our harbor will still have a collection of shops, restaurants and other recreational attractions adjacent to the water.

Proposed development plans will consist of some fairly basic reconfiguring, some rehabilitation and rebuilding but that’s about it. The bulkheads that make up the shore-side contour of the harbor will remain the same. The moles that were created by dumping thousands of tons of fill behind concrete bulkheads will remain unchanged. The breakwater made from huge quarried boulders and arranged to define the outer contour of the harbor won’t change. When you look at harbors that transition from commercial to recreational or others that change due to quantum shifts in an economy or a society, the proposed changes to King Harbor seem more like redecorating than repurposing.

Those of us who support the Centercal plan believe it’s time to move from the harbor that served our community’s needs when it was built in the 60s, to something that’s more relevant to the world we live in today. Clearly, times have changed since the 60s. Someone cryogenically frozen in that period of history and thawed out today (Austin Powers?) wouldn’t recognize our travel, recreation, information and entertainment options. Yet, the South Bay’s premier waterfront complex hasn’t changed in any substantial way in the last half century.

You can visit harbors such as Mystic Seaport in Connecticut and see all the elements of a working harbor from a bygone era, the 1800s. They build wooden ships with hand tools that were forged by a blacksmith. It’s fascinating. I go there whenever I get a chance.

The people of Mystic Connecticut chose to use a portion of their community’s seaside resources as a museum. They entertain thousands of people every year and treat them to an education they couldn’t get otherwise.

Have the people of Redondo Beach chosen to use part of our seaside resources as a working museum that exhibits a southern California coastal waterfront from the 1960s? That’s what we have here and I can tell anyone who hasn’t been to Mystic Seaport, our 60s museum lacks all the charm and educational aspects of that wonderful place in Connecticut. Ours is just old and run down.

Even though the people of Redondo Beach have not chosen to make their waterfront a 1960s museum, the possibility exists it will remain exactly that. If the small minority of Redondo citizens who oppose the Centercal project were somehow able to derail waterfront development by making good on their threats of ballot initiatives and lawsuits, we could all bear witness to the continued decline or our city’s most valuable and unique resource, its harbor.

If you think that’s an unwarranted accusation against our progress-phobic neighbors, consider the defeat of Measure B. I won’t bother predicting what happens to the property that contains the AES power plant. I will predict that whatever ends up on that land will be a lot less desirable than the community that Measure B would have enabled. I will also predict Redondo Beach will host the current monstrosity for at least another generation.

I watched the Centercal video http://thewaterfrontredondo.com/ and came away saying what I was supposed to say. “I want to go to this place. I want to go there now!”

Watch the video then take a walk through the Redondo Beach Marina property and up the International Boardwalk. We will all be asked to choose between those two options multiple times before any construction begins.

Amateur community planners will try to convince us they know a better way, a more desirable opportunity. What they’re actually offering is what they were offering when they opposed Measure B., status quo…an opportunity to leave things exactly the way they are now. In my humble opinion, that lack of vision offers no opportunity whatsoever.

Measure A and District 1

It would be inaccurate to say people who voted for or against Measure A in the March, Redondo Beach election, were voting for or against the AES power plant. A majority of the votes cast were against Measure A but I really don’t believe those voters were saying they want a power plant. More likely, the No voters recognized it was a poorly written law that was destined to cause the city more harm than any good it might do.

The Yes voters were a different story. I think most of them believed they were voting against the power plant.

61% of the voters in District 2 voted for Measure A. These are the people who live closest to the plant, people who have to look at it. The other 4 districts in the city voted against Measure A. In fact, there wasn’t another district with as much as 50% support for Measure A.

At 47% each, Districts 1 and 3, the next closest to the plant, were the highest ratio of votes cast for Measure A. Districts 4 and 5, representing the furthest parts of the city from the plant, both came in at just above 40% for Measure A.

Understandably, the people in District 2 were voting their self-interest. It’s safe to say a majority of the District 2 residents who voted for Measure A were property owners. If the power plant goes away, their property becomes more valuable.

It’s ironic that proponents of Measure A whined after the election about the results being determined by money. AES spent considerably more money on advertising. They complained that money was the only reason Measure A lost.

From where I stand, money is the only reason Measure A got 61% of the vote in District 2. No matter what anyone tells you about the rest of the city, the AES plant doesn’t influence property values anywhere except the parts of the city where you can see the plant, District 2 and small portions of Districts 1 and 3. Voters in Districts 1, 3, 4 and 5 were unwilling to vote for a bad law to increase property values in District 2.

District 2 city councilman Bill Brand was re-elected with about the same percentage of votes as Measure A got in his district. He got 56% of the votes cast. Councilman Brand convinced voters in District 2 his crusade against the AES plant would help them. He may have been right.

District 1 voters are being asked to vote for a Bill Brand clone next month, his sidekick Jim Light. Brand and Light have spent countless hours and invested tremendous energy over the last ten years fighting to get rid of AES, fighting to increase property values in District 2.

That raises an interesting question. Will voters in District 1 elect a councilman who, by his own admission, will continue devoting time and energy to increasing property values in District 2? They rejected the idea of voting for a law that was intended to have the same effect. Will they elect a city council candidate who will invest his time and energy working for a cause whose greatest benefit will be enjoyed outside District 1? We’ll know soon enough.

Hope for District 2

There’s definitely a place in this world for people who feel so passionately about a single issue that they devote most of their time and energy to that issue. Elected office in general and elected office in Redondo Beach is not one of those places.

The reasons are simple. When you get elected to serve a group of people, they have a right to expect you to devote all the time you have available to a variety of issues that effect them. Every hour you spend fighting for some obsessive cause is an hour you don’t spend tending to the needs of your constituents.

I have long held the opinion that serving on the Redondo Beach city council has evolved past the point where we can reasonably expect volunteers to have enough time to do the job right. A full-time job and/or a young family compete for a council person’s time, which is why I don’t currently harbor any aspirations of serving on the council. If you add a time-consuming crusade like forcing a local business out of the city, you just can’t expect to have enough time left over to do a job that requires more time than you have without the crusade.

My friend and colleague, Michael Jackson, has a flexible work schedule, a grown family and no crusades. I have worked with him and I know he’s a reasonable, hard-working guy who understands how government works and has a sincere desire to do what’s best for all Redondo residents.

I’ll have plenty to say about Michael’s candidacy as we get closer to the election. Today I want to point out he has the endorsement of the city’s police and firefighters associations. Follow his campaign by clicking here, www.jackson4redondo.com. He needs to unseat an incumbent, something that’s always difficult. Join me in helping him bring leadership and fair representation to Redondo Beach’s District 2 and the whole city.



The $100,000,000 decision

One of my major complaints about Redondo Beach city politics is that city staff has way too much influence on everything from the strategic plan to the award of contracts.

Opponents of this opinion would say that’s the way city government was designed. Our elected officials are volunteers who generally have full-time jobs. In some cases, they have young families that require quite a bit of their attention. Council members rely upon professional staff to take the time to delve deeper into issues than they are able to do themselves. The city pays the staff to provide guidance on some issues, especially the ones they don’t have time to thoroughly research.

I’m sure this is very helpful in some, maybe most instances. Anyone who’s read a city council agenda has seen each item has some indication of what the staff recommends. Some recommendations are  written on the agenda. Other items have a staff report attached within which the staff recommendation is clearly displayed.

Staff reports usually weigh the pros and cons of an issue in a way that appears unbiased and fair. Recommendations are usually explained briefly after the major issues have been weighed and discussed.

We can’t know how much each council member relies upon staff recommendations. I suspect they would deny any claim that the staff exerts undue influence on their decisions. I beg to differ.

More often than not, the information provided by the staff makes up 100% or nearly 100% of the information that’s entered into the public record on a particular issue, other than council discussion. In addition, council decisions follow staff recommendations something like 96% of the time.

I’m not suggesting there’s anything inappropriate about that. Maybe the staff gets it right 96% of the time. Just don’t try to tell me the staff doesn’t wield major influence over the direction our elected officials lead this city. I have evidence to the contrary.

I do think there are times when staff recommendations are not appropriate and may call into question the reasons why staff attempts to move the council toward or away from a particular decision.

Case in point, the staff recommendation on the award of a contract for development of the 15 acres that’s available in the center of the pier/marina complex. The staff has issued a recommendation the way they always do. I have no opinion one way or the other about who gets the contract. In fact, I trust the council will make the decision that’s best for the city. But if there was ever a time when the council should exert some leadership over the staff, it’s now.

Unlike something like waste disposal or pollution standards, there’s no reason to believe city staff would have more access to relevant information than members of the council. There’s also no reason to believe the council won’t invest all the time and effort necessary to make the best decision.

The major risk I see with following the status quo of staff leadership on this issue is the possibility that a losing bidder some other commercial interest or the public would question the basis for the staff’s recommendation. There’s potentially $100,000,000 at stake. That’s more than enough to make people ask questions.

One question that could get asked is whether anyone on the city staff, their relatives or associates has any prior relationship with the bidding companies or anyone connected to those companies. They might also want to know exactly what contact each staff member has had with the bidders and their representatives. It would also be fair to ask whether there are any financial relationships, even something as seemingly insubstantial as a pension invested in one of the companies, its parent company or some subsidiary. If I lost a $100 million bid I’d certainly be asking these questions and more.

Of course, council members should be held to the same scrutiny. But staff recommendations are a single source with a verifiably powerful influence on council decisions. I’d like to see the council tell city staff, “We’ve got this one.” and instruct the staff not to provide recommendations. That would bolster the confidence among everyone involved that the contract award is a council decision based on what’s right for the city.

Misplaced Initiative

The July 10th City Council meeting was a real eye-opener. One of the things we learned forces me to retract statements I’ve made earlier and admit I was completely wrong.

I had assumed there were two sides to the AES Redondo Beach debate. The no power plant side that wants to force AES to stop generating power, had dominated the discussion. There also seem to be a few voices like mine saying we should work with AES to get the best deal for Redondo Beach, side #2.

We discovered Tuesday night there’s another side. There are people in the community who want a power plant in Redondo Beach. According to Councilman Aust’s count, only 40% of the people who spoke at the meeting supported no power plant. It’s never fun admitting you’re wrong but that’s what I’m doing. I’ve written repeatedly, no one wants the power plant and I was proven wrong.

We also discovered that the 4 of 5 coucilmen won’t let the high-volume rhetoric and threats of being characterized as taking no action on the power plant issue force them into voting for some meaningless resolution that sends a message that simply isn’t true. Councilman Brand says a resolution will send a message to the California Energy Commission (CEC). But considering there are at least two points of view that conflict with the no power plant opinion, can we really say that the community has a single message to send? Answer : no, and 4 of our 5 councilmen understood that fact and resisted pressure to follow the crowd. Bravo!

Councilman Brand and his long-time, no growth crusading partner Jim Light, have filed a document with the city of Redondo Beach stating they intend to circulate a petition to have an initiative placed on the March, 2013 ballot. The Light/Brand team may have lost the Measure G bout by a decisive knockout but they’re back in the zoning ring and ready to slug it out with anyone who dares to challenge them.

The initiative would call on voters to agree to phase out industrial uses of the AES land. A statement by Councilman Brand said, “The new zoning allows for 30-40% commercial development such as hotels, and 60-70% for museums, sports fields, wetlands, educational facilities and open space, among other uses.”

We sure are lucky to have people like Messrs. Light and Brand to figure all this stuff out for the rest of us and put it all into a neat package. We’re fortunate these two individuals routinely take the burden of figuring out things like community planning off the shoulders of our elected officials and do all the heavy lifting for the City Council and the rest of us.

In fairness to Mr. Brand, he is a member of the City Council. He was elected with 827 votes, which were all cast in district 2. With approximately 40,000 registered voters in the city, that comes to about 2% of the total voting population who have affirmed Mr. Brand’s authority to represent them. As far as I know, Mr. Light doesn’t currently hold any elected, appointed or hired position with the city of Redondo Beach.

The 2% of the people who chose Mr. Brand may be happy that he does much of their thinking for them but I’m pretty sure the 98% of the rest of us feel we might stand a fair chance of understanding and making decision all by ourselves. For the moment I’m going to stay away from examining the unfettered arrogance of these two men thinking they and they alone have the answers to how, when and why the AES site should be transformed and the only thing the rest of us need to do is sign off on their plan by giving them our votes in March.

Instead, I’m going to speak to the people who, like me, agree that we would be better off without a power plant in the South Bay. Mr. Brand and Mr. Light are hoping your agreement on that issue will allow them to leverage the rest of their no-growth agenda. Here’s where I’d like to ask my friends and neighbors to be very, very careful.

I see the situation this way. When politicians ask me if I want lower taxes, I say yes. So they can now legitimately say Harry Munns is on their side.

When they take steps to lower taxes that include laying off my nephew the firefighter, moving my sister the teacher into a lower-paying job and chiseling away at my mother, the retired teacher’s pension and benefits, I’m not necessarily still on their side. Yet, they still count me as a supporter even though I had no say in the tactics they used to achieve our common goal.

That’s exactly what’s happening here. The latest number of no power plant petition signatures I heard was 4,000+. Were all 4,000 of those people involved in deciding on 30-40% commercial development and 60-70% open space? Do they all know the full impact an initiative to change zoning will have on future and current development plans? Do they all know how much it will cost? I could come up with a whole list of other questions, all of which have the same answer, no.

There are 2 people driving this movement and almost none of the rest of us voted for the one that’s on the council and no one voted for the other one. The vast majority of voters weren’t even eligible to vote for the one who was elected. We have had no say in the decisions they made on details of an initiative that could have a huge impact on all our futures.

It’s OK to want cleaner air, a more attractive waterfront and new uses for the AES land that better serve the needs of the community. Almost everyone agrees with that.

The two main tactics Messrs. Brand and Light have proposed, a resolution from the City Council stating the community doesn’t want the power plant and an initiative to re-zone the AES land to exclude industrial uses are short-sighted, ill-conceived and potentially dangerous and costly mistakes.

Four of 5 city councilmen agreed with me on the first issue. They refused to second a motion by Councilman Brand to bring a resolution to a vote that would have said the city doesn’t want a power plant. Time will tell if the Light/Brand propaganda will continue to claim the City Council failed to act. Rest assured, they acted. They just didn’t act the way Mr. Light and Mr. Brand wanted them to act.

The City Council took action on an item that had already been approved. They voted again to have the city become an intervener in the AES application process. It means our City Council and the staff they rely upon to run the city on our behalf will have a seat at the table throughout the application process.

That settles the resolution. Now the citizens have to take control of the initiative issue the same way we took control of Measure G. Mr. Brand and Mr. Light have already begun asking for your money and your signature to get their initiative on the ballot. Don’t give them either.

Mr. Brand’s best argument for the resolution and the initiative are the need to “send a message” to the CEC. He’s willing to spend our money to send his message. It isn’t the first time.

If this initiative looks like it’s going to appear on the ballot, there’s only one way I see to combat it, one or more competing initiatives on the same ballot. The initiative that’s being proposed gives voters one choice, approve the terms and conditions Mr. Brand and Mr. Light have chosen for the AES property or don’t approve them.

There are other choices but if this initiative appears on the ballot by itself, we’ll never get to consider them. I’ve already heard talk of one or more competing initiatives.  Maybe there will be 3 or 4 competing initiatives and we’ll really have a choice. I won’t make any predictions about whose initiative will win other than to ask whether anyone remembers Measure UU?

Do the citizens of Redondo Beach really believe this is the way to govern our city? Sure it’s legal to follow the proper procedures and get an initiative on the ballot. What happens if every crybaby who doesn’t get his way at city hall re-tries his issue with an initiative? I’ve got a half dozen issues of my own that I believe deserve a vote by the people. I think I could convince enough people to sign a petition to get them on a ballot.

The initiative process is intended to allow citizens to have a method of getting popular, proposed legislation passed if a legislative body fails to comply with the wishes of the electorate. Listen closely to Mr. Brand’s reason for the initiative. He wants to send a message. It won’t change the outcome of AES’s re-powering application, although he claims it will based on his opinion alone. It won’t get the power plant torn down. It won’t get a park built. It will simply send a message. Is there a public outcry for a message? I haven’t heard one.

That message has been crafted by two individuals, one was put on the city council by 2% of the voters and the other holds no office. I hope I’m not the only one who noticed how wrong this is.

As Mr. Brand was repeating some part of his manifesto for the umpteenth time last night, he said, not passing the initiative was a green light for the CEC to grant AES’s license renewal. Dude, seriously? You expect anyone to buy that nonsense?

I agree that it’s time to send a message. My message goes Messrs. Brand and Light. Your agenda is not our agenda even though we may agree on some issues. Don’t continue to insult us by assuming we won’t notice you’re making huge, inaccurate presumptions about what the people of this city want and don’t want.

I made some inaccurate statements about what the people of this city want and don’t want. I got some new information and I admitted I was wrong at the beginning of this post. Well Mr. Brand and Mr. Light, it’s your turn.

Council gets it right

A series of events that wouldn’t seem remarkable by themselves, have come together to create an opportunity to develop a considerable amount of property in King Harbor. It comes to about 15 acres, most of which is contiguous. There hasn’t been this much property available for development since the marina was built in the 60s.

The events that enabled this exciting opportunity have been recorded and reported but it hasn’t always been clear how they depend on one another and how they all fit together. The first event was the completion of the city’s asset management plan. A consultant named Larry Kosmont prepared a comprehensive report that outlined how the city should plan for the future of the pier/harbor complex. Kosmont presented his plan to the city council and harbor commission in January, 2008.

One of the most unambiguous elements in the Kosmont report was the advice that the city should aggregate existing leaseholds. At the time there were approximately 35 individual entities contracted with the city to control some portion of the pier/marina complex.

That patchwork of different sized properties controlled by different people and companies created one of the biggest obstacles the city faced if it wanted to encourage any kind of cohesive development. The Kosmont report provided some guidance for overcoming that obstacle.

Then came the business plan, which wasn’t really a business plan at all. It was more of a conglomeration of a bunch of existing documents. Having a business plan was a worthwhile goal. So generating the document the city calls the business plan had a purpose. The plan they came up with failed to lay out any comprehensive outline that included a timeline, benchmarks and budgets. Still, the city had a business plan that included all the elements of the Kosmont report. It was approved in August, 2010.

By then, the city was hard at work consolidating various disparate land use documents into one set of zoning regulations that would define the amount of development the city would allow in the harbor along with what types and where development would be allowed.

The amended land use document was approved by the city council. Measure DD made it necessary to give the voters the ultimate decision on any major zoning changes in the city.

Ambiguous zoning was as big of an obstacle to meaningful development as the collection of unrelated properties. That obstacle was overcome in November 2010 with the passage of Measure G.

At the end of 2011, the city announced it would acquire two leaseholds that comprise the entire upper deck of the main parking structure, where the courthouse was located and the boardwalk, the shops, restaurants and bars along the water in Redondo Beach Marina. Those two deals brought two parcels of property that were previously controlled by different, private companies, under city control.

In May the city of Redondo Beach signed an agreement with JJJ Enterprises, Ltd., the company that holds the master lease for Redondo Beach Marina. It gives the city the option to buy that lease for $12 million. The property lies immediately north of the boardwalk.

End to end, the city now controls a 15 acre parcel of property that stretches from Torrance Boulevard to Portofino Way. Redondo Beach also has a pretty clear goal to determine the best use of that property and do whatever it can to facilitate development.

Word had gone out the city needs a partner. It hopes to attract some of the best and brightest visionaries from the pool of potential developers.

It’s exciting to think that sometime in the foreseeable future; Redondo Beach might have a place beside the water that was designed and built according to the present and future interests and needs of the community. It will be a place where our friends and neighbors will want to spend more time. It will rival Pier Plaza and downtown Manhattan Beach in its ability to attract and retain people from the community. We’re looking at the possibility of getting a downtown in Redondo Beach after a half century of living without one.

So much has been done yet so much remains to be done. It’s a fantastic vision that’s been a long time in the making. The people of this community deserve to have the vision realized.

Past experience forces me to wonder, what could possibly happen to mess it up? The answer is, only what we allow to mess it up.

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.