Thursday, December 11, 2014

Furey Defers MTA Seat to Butts

Torrance City Councilmember Kurt Weideman sat down with me this morning to share recent developments regarding Mayor Pat Furey's interest in MTA rep for the Southwest Corridor Sector.

Torrance City Councilmember Kurt Weideman

Weideman described the "brilliant political theater" of Furey's moves this morning at the Carson meeting.

He was nominated chair of the committee to conduct business. He then discussed for the next few minutes his frustration with the Metro Transit Authority, since the city of Torrance generates a great deal of revenue, yet sees very little of it.

Then he turned around and nominated Mayor Butts of Inglewood to serve as the next rep for the Southwest Corridor.

Councilman Weideman showed me the agenda from this morning, and outlined the votes. The Peninsula cities, including Rolling Hills Estates, voted for Santa Monica councilmember Pam O'Connor to retain her post, for a total of six. Ten other city reps voted for Butts, who will then be ratified as the next representative for the South Bay.

When I looked over the final voter tally, I was surprised that three cities did not send their mayor or  a proxy to vote on their behalf: Redondo Beach, Manhattan Beach, and Rolling Hills (which was misspelled on the agenda). West Hollywood's rep abstained from voting, which was a sign of disapproval with both candidates

Still, I did not understand why Mayor Furey ultimately did not throw his own hat in the ring.

Weideman explained:

Mayor Butts was already interested in the seat to replace O'Connor. If Pat ran for the seat, it would have split the vote three ways, and O'Connor would have retained a plurality and gotten reelected. With the mayor of Inglewood on the MTA Board, the South Bay will have a representative who is more aware of what we want.

Inglewood Mayor James Butts

I also recognized that Furey has now curried good will with Mayor Butts by nominating him for the seat. Two people contesting of the seat made it more likely that a South Bay representative would sit on the MTA Board, and make decisions more in line with the interests of the South Bay, where so much of the Measure R money comes from, but where so little of it returns.

When Weideman informed me about Butts' interest in the seat, I had to realize that a three-way race would have  made it very difficult for Furey to win or at least a command solid support from his Westside/SouthBay peers for the seat.

Mayor Butts will represent the Southwest Corridor, which goes from Santa Monica and West Hollywood down to the Palos Verdes Peninsula, for the next four years. It would have been better for the Mayor of Torrance to represent the region, and our interests, on that board, but if political realities were standing in the way, what else can one do?

Still, the concerns about the South Bay getting its proper share of attention and revenue remain unabated. Will this mayor pursue increased funding for the North Torrance Green Line extension? Will he ensure that more of the Measure R can go towards fixing our streets, instead of the state main arterial roads? Furey has consistently heard from constituents such as myself about the chronically poor quality of our roads. His advocacy on the MTA Board would have been more direct and informed.

Hopefully, region good will among South Bay mayors will engage Mayor Butts to include Torrance and the Beach Cities in a larger say and better share of Measure R funds.

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