Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Herald Publications Take on Torrance City Council Meetings

The latest article in Herald Publications Torrance Tribune, published on January 29, 2015, recorded the dispute and final approval from the Torrance City Council meeting on January 27 about the Annual Triathlon hosted at Torrance Beach.

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The private contractor which coordinated last year's race, Pacific Sports LLC, had concerns about paying a 15% gross receipts tax.  A number of residents complained and complimented the city for last year's triathlon. The city informed the residents complaining about the triathlon that they had sent a response mailer asking for questions, comments, or suggestions about the program, yet only 143 people wrote back. Some of the letters were provided in Council Agenda Supplemental Items.

The local paper neglected to report more serious issues about the current city council.

1. The relative inexperience of the members, and their frequent requests of information and directions on parliamentary procedure. Of the seven sitting  members, only two of them have served on the council for more than two years. How many of them are aware of the long-term consequences of their decisions? Are they reading the supplemental materials provided to them in a timely and thorough manner? Some audience members have lightly faulted the council member for asking uninformed questions about apparent issues.

1. The meeting lasted well into the night. Mayor Pat Furey informed me the next morning that he did not get home until 12 midnight. Why are the meetings taking so long? Why are city council agendas so long? One local leaders shared her concern that the city council was extending the meetings in order to discourage residents from complaining about consent items, raising concerns, or asking deep, probing questions about the voting members' views, motives, and decisions on key items. Mayor Furey informed me that he would speak to the City Clerk and her staff to make sure that agenda items are spread out so that the city council meetings do not last as long.

2. The City Council approved time and resources for to investigate the feasibility of Community Choice Aggregation, even though the proposal met with deep resistance from two members in the audience (myself and Mark Stephenson). This program is a vast expansion of government power into energy markets, surrounded by controversy even among green, clean energy enthusiasts. While other cities have moved ahead to investigate the feasibility of forming Joint Powers Agreements with surrounding cities, and providing alternative energy sources through wind and solar, there is nothing definitive which suggests that such a program would bring down energy costs of local residents, nor  provide better energy with a smaller carbon footprint. Much of the prior research has been speculative at best. The argument that government regional programs provide a choice to the current private provider is also unfounded.

These decisions need to be recorded, reported, and reviewed. The Environmental Movement to reduce carbon emissions, combat global warming, and segue from oil and natural gas is fraught with questions about its deeper purpose and core agenda. How much power will cities have to relinquish for these Community Aggregate programs? Why is the city spending time, money, and human resources instead of looking over "Back to Basics" issues, like repairing the roads and maintaining a high level of peace and security?

And why is Herald Publications not reporting on these crucial decisions by the Torrance City Council?

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