Friday, December 21, 2012

There is no North Redondo or South Redondo, but one Redondo.

On the way out to Vegas there's a town; Baker California, population 735. Baker wanted to put themselves on the map so they built a thermometer. Not just any thermometer but the world's tallest thermometer. After time, money, and effort the project was completed. Ribbon was cut, pictures were taken, and stories were circulated; Baker had the world's tallest thermometer! Only, they didn't. Word got back to Baker that there was a town in Germany with a taller thermometer, by about 10 feet. The City sucked it up, tore down the thermometer, and built another 25 feet taller; hitting 134 feet.

There's a moral in there somewhere.

If we're going to do something let's do it right, plan it out, and build something that will last. And let's not break an arm prematurely patting yourself on the back.

This post is about the Pier 'Revitalization' deal. First, a few questions. Why did the City violate its own charter during the contract bidding process? Is it really just a coincidence that the contract's finalization is due in March; the same month most of the City Council will be termed out? Why is North Redondo being treated as a step child?

A little background. On May 27 1988, after being hit by two winter storms, the Redondo Beach pier burned down from what was concluded to be an electrical short. The Fire Department was short staffed that night. The incident ushered in the sixth incantation of the structure. Having learned their lesson from wood, the new version features re-enforced concrete and is essentially fire proof. Now the City want's to redo Redondo. The last time such an effort was proposed, in 1994, the City performed liquefraction right up to the door step  of AES. If the near-sighted engineers had gone farther we would have the most toxic harbor in the Western Hemisphere. Waking up to find a million dead fish would be commonplace.

There are two parts to Redondo; North and South. North is landlocked, is home to Redondo's largest employer Northrup Grumman, and in many ways is very different from South Redondo. South has the money. The Pier 'Revitalization' deal is worth an estimated 200 million dollars over 10 years. Not peanuts or palm trees. Not much has been done to help the North, unless you count a million dollar project to repopulate its boulevard's center dividers with palm trees. It was seen as a beautification project, unless you've had an eye-full of palm trees, in which case, I suppose, it was an uglification project. Like painting a mural with a toothpick this does little to improve the picture.

True this beautification busy work created jobs but not for the people of Redondo. Furthermore; a 200 million dollar Pier 'Revitalization' deal, as well as lack of consideration for the needs of North's residents, essentially amounts to the building of a metaphorical wall between the North Redondo and the South Redondo. 

I say to you Mayor Gin, tear down this wall.

Just as Redondo has two parts; my proposal, too, is a two-part solution.

To revitalize North Redondo, we must first revitalize and reutilize North Redondo for business and residents.

The City makes it difficult for businesses to start up, operate, or expand in Redondo through ribbons of red tape, permit application fees, and seemingly endless bureaucracy. And when the City Planning Commission null and voids business expansion, they're doing it for your own good.

 Moreover, why are we discouraging employment? An example; the Riveria Business Association charges 25 dollars per employee, over 2 employees. Why in the name of capitalism are we penalizing businesses for hiring? As Mayor I'm offering zero percent property tax for any business willing to start up in, or relocate to Redondo Beach; along with incentives for businesses to hire new employees. Local businesses; high-end restaruants, additional dog parks, movies in the park, public pools, a trolley car line, coffee shops, a nightclub where Artesia meets Aviation, recreational centers, more park space, gathering places, and street festivals are the life blood of our community.

Events within walkable distance. A street festival that spans blocks. Welcome to the party South Redondo. In retrospect; considering the company who greased palms to get the 200 million dollar Pier 'Revitalization' contract is from outside the area, perhaps the palm tree planting project was the perfect throw back to North Redondo, because like palm trees they too have shallow roots.

A few more few questions;

Why is there currently a 'freeze' on street festivals?

Mayor Gin undo that freeze.

We'll skip the Pier Entertainer Paperwork and Garage Sale Affidavit, and move right to the block party permit, shall we? 

$72 : Amplified Noise Permit made payable to the Police Department.

Excuse my French, but just what in the heck is that?! I guess it just goes to show you; one man's sound is another man's noise. And one resident's dollar is another agency's cash cow. Oh yeah, and evidently, Cannery Row isn't allowed to display Art past 9PM.

But wait, it gets even better;

If you want to BBQ you have to use the City's BBQ. The cost is 25 dollars.

I couldn't make this stuff up if I tried folks.

Utilizing park space is an idea whose time has come. More park space now. The strip of land that runs up 190th Street is prime for a sprawling park space. Sand could be trucked in to create something akin to sand dune park in Manhattan Beach, which has recently been closed down by the fun police. Furthermore; when a residential lot adjacent to an existing park opens up and becomes available it may behoove the City to purchase the space. A wise investment for  sure, since property around parks, as well as the land itself, appreciates.

Lastly, I bring up trolley cars. Picture this; a quaint open air trolley car system connects South Bay Galleria, the businesses along Artesia and Aviation, Hermosa Pier to Redondo Pier. A hop on hop off tour of scenic Redondo connecting North and South. 

What happened to the fun?
You can't spell Redondo without Redo
"Hey, I'd Vote For Me." - Coleman

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Butcher, the Baker, and the Kilowatt Maker

The door-in-the-face (DITF) technique, similar to the Overton Theory, is a compliance method commonly studied in social psychology. The persuader attempts to convince the respondent to comply by making a large request that the respondent will most likely turn down; much like a metaphorical slamming of a door in the persuader's face. The respondent is then more likely to agree to a second, more reasonable request, compared to the same reasonable request made in isolation.

As far as I see it the AES debacle started a long time ago.
Back in the good old disco days, for some reason that probably involves graft, Southern California Edison was given an exemption when it came to pay the U.U.T. or Utility Users Tax.

In 1998 Edison sold the plant to AES for peanuts under the condition Edison wouldn't have to clean up the site before sale. In December of 1998 the city entered into a M.O.U. or Memorandum Of Understanding with AES and Williams Gas Marketing. That understanding was that AES got to keep Edison's tax exemption.

Then, in 2005, the city sent a letter to Williams Gas Marketing demanding 72 million in back taxes; that amount later being reduced to 56 million. AES filed a complaint in court. The city filed a cross complaint. Both citing the MOU. This goes back and forth for years and finally the city wins and gets a check for 56 million smackers; but that's not the end of the story.
In an appeal Judge Janavs reverses the previous courts decision and forces the city to give back the money. I wonder who Judge Janavs' campaign contributors were? Judge Janavs also ruled no further appeals will be heard by her court.

If we go up against AES again can we really win? After all the court costs and attorney fees are added up will we, the tax payer, be left holding the bag? And are the City Council officials who are passively calling for the plant's dismantling, the very same ones who were in office in 2008 and signed that agreement, really just doing all this to court voters?

Lastly, in regards to the MOU, who is responsible to clean up that land? While a Memorandum of Understanding isn't quite as good as a contract; I suppose it's better than an I heard it at the water cooler understanding. In that agreement AES was given the same exemption that Edison got. Oddly enough; AES sells its electricity to Edison. Is this a bait and switch, so Edison wouldn't have to tidy up before they left. How toxic is that soil? Where is the Environmental Impact Report? Why didn't our City Council do it's job ?

Just questions.

I think the elephant in the room is Edison who has stated, categorically, they have absolutely no intention to remove the power lines that run up 190th Street. AES is the patsy. If we want to make a dent in this thing let's go up against Edison and skin the fat cats for what they've done to our land. Edison has a long history of operating shell games. Who else would publicly fry an elephant just to prove a point about how dangerous Alternating Current is compared to DC, his electricity? Incidentally, we use AC now, it's much more efficient and won out despite Thomas Edison's attempts to stifle it. Times Square still smells of burnt elephant hair; and the AES plant's reactivation looms on our horizon. City Council won't directly come out against AES while decrying potential future pollution from that plant every chance they get because, ultimately, they will side with the company's second plan for a smaller more energy efficient plant and make sociologists proud in the process. Door in the face; oldest trick in the book. Well, not on my watch Redondo. 



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Saturday, December 15, 2012

On the Campaign Trail

Redondo Beach Pier Redevelopment Meeting 12/15/2012

Let me ask you this; are you better off than you were four minutes ago?
Vote Coleman March 5th, 2013 and Save Redondo!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

First Hundred Days in Office

Too often politicians don't have a comprehensive plan of what they'll do when elected and instead deal with what they have to when it presents itself, or simply just lands on our collective doorstep. We need a far reaching vision with the bold strokes of an artist.

So, here is my plan of what to do starting day one:

How many laws does it take for you to know that you're free? Not as many as some may trumpet. The South Bay and the State of California have become increasingly draconian. For instance, in Manhattan Beach they are now issuing tickets for reading in your parked car. The sad thing is, when a money is paid for a citation it goes first to the County, then the State takes its chunk, before the City gets its small stipend. The question is, if hardly any of our budget comes from such Nanny Nation annoyances as seat-belt tickets, why is so much time, money, and effort being wasted targeting residents of Redondo with what essentially boils down to an extra tax. No more. Also, as others have done, I will make it my priority to law comb; going through the books to remove archaic, irrelevant, and out-dated ordinances.


The City Planning Commission has put a 'freeze' on permits for any new street festivals. This is no way to build a community and I will undo this freeze, and ease the permit process for street festivals provided promoters showcase local talent and vendors.

Collective bargaining by the city for more affordable prescription drugs, increase monies to senior centers, and expand senior busing services are all important issues to me. 

Cut and reduce red tape, permit restrictions, fines, and fees businesses have to endure to operate in the South Bay. Boost employment through tax credits to companies who hire new employees. Offer incentives to green technology firms, dot com companies, and others who are on the forefront of innovation. A first year zero tax to any companies who start up or relocate to Redondo. We can't rely on one store, like Nordstrom, being so responsible for so much of our economy. The tax difference could easily be offset by trimming the budget.

Bureaucracy in local government has ballooned to unsustainable proportions. For instance, in fiscal year 2011 total revenues to the city was 88.1 million dollars, yet expenditures exceeded 88.2 million. That same year the city spent 4 million to replace vehicles, many of which did not need to be replaced. This is just one more example of a government agency spending money because they have it, and are afraid that if they don't, the same amount won't be available for them next year.

There used to be a hospital along Prospect Avenue just south of Beryl Street; the Beach Cities Health Center. The hospital was built from bond money approved by the voters. This sprawling complex now houses a Pilate's Studio, Pacific Imaging, Silverado Senior Center, and Little Company of Mary Research Center. Perhaps we, the residents, should be researching where all that bond money went to? Why don't we have a hospital and where did the money go? I say give people what they voted for in the first place.

Athens Services collects our trash. Not only do they make a pretty penny from our recyclables but they charge us to do it. How did they get that contract? Whose palms did they grease? Athens also has the audacity to proclaim our trash belongs to them, and is a misdemeanor punishable by law (City of Redondo Beach Code Article 5-2.501). I, as well as many residents and probably Pete the pelican, would like to see our trash turned into electricity. Many plants around the world already do. Plants like Baxter in Los Angeles. All possible through a public private partnership; an environmentally friendly move which would lower our tax burden in the process.

In short, "Give The People What They Voted For!"

Save Historic Redondo
Stop the Real Estate Tycoons
Vote Coleman March 5th, 2013

Friday, December 7, 2012

The Blue Zone

As my friend and occasional Tony Bennet stand in, Robert Heart, pointed out to me;

Something to remember: None other than Otto Von Bismarck ('laws are like sausage - it's better not to see them being made') observed that the British democratic system had a peculiar quirk: Conservative governments seemed to pass liberal laws, and liberal governments passed conservative laws. And look at the past 40 years: Clinton rolled back welfare - GW Bush *expanded* Medicare benefits. Nixon made peace with Mao's China - Carter appointed 'inflation hawk' Paul Volcker to the Fed. It's uncanny really.

Furthermore, periodically throughout history, Utopian dreams have ended up being draconian nightmares. We saw it in The French Revolution when the mob, (called the Council on Public Safety) turned so ugly they finally guillotined their head executioner Maximillien Robespierre. Under Stalin's five year plan rations were endured and dissenters were met with gulags, Cossacks, or residency in a Siberian stone splitting yard. Now, again, we're seeing proposed changes to the social order with the Blue Zone. I guess it's like Richard Nixon said, "you can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, and the rest you carpet bomb back into the Stone Age."

1. What is the Blue Zone?
    A: Thrilling New Theme Park Attraction.
    B: Social Engineering Scheme.
    C: A new brand of yogurt.
    D: All of the above.

If you guessed D, you're right on the money. And there's a fairly large pot at stake; 2 million dollars to be exact.

It was in beating out 55 other cities, Redondo Beach won the opportunity to be 'transformed' by some company from Minnesota. The company, Healthways, courted Beach Cities Health District and in the process left their Board of Directors tickled absolutely pink. The Blue Zone Vitality Project TM stated motto is "Live Longer, Better", without much mention of how this is going to occur other than largely symbolic gestures. Moreover, I suspect we, the tax payer, will find ourselves holding the bag like the winner of a shoddy Extreme Make-Over TV show, where they build us a home facade we can't afford, and that raises our property taxes to the point of eviction. The whole mess reminds me another Vietnam era quote, "at some point it became necessary to destroy the village to save it."

Let's face it; if we really want to change the world widening bike lanes, putting in an extra crosswalk, and turning a power plant into a park will not lead to our salvation as a species. And what should we do minus the AES plant? Lest we forget, many are still without power following Hurricane Sandy, and many from Hurricane Katrina are still waiting for their ice. Getting serious about global warming requires a radical reversal in the way we operate. For instance there is a floating island of plastic goods called 'The Great Pacific Garbage Patch' that is hardly ever addressed. More realistic solutions to the problem of climate change include Coleman's One Cup Solution: everybody gets one cup, so put your name on the side of your cup, cause you're not getting another one. Either that or hooking up equipment at the gym to the electrical grid and harnessing power that way.

Lastly I mention the red cars which used to frequent our fair community. The strip of land currently being utilized for jogging and exercise known as the greenbelt was once a light rail track that connected the beach cities. Circa mid 20th century, General Motors and Firestone bought up the line only to tear it up and use Los Angeles as a test case to see if people will hold their elected officials accountable in rebuilding one of the most efficient trolley and light rail systems in the world, at the time; or will they just break down and buy cars? We all know which way that fight went. Similarly, I surmise Healthways has their own interests in mind. Basically it boils down to, what do we really care about; quantity of life or quality of life? Is this really a plan to help people live longer, or just another another scheme to make lawyers rich and raise our taxes in the process? What of the people who don't follow the rigid health regiment? Will the hand of tolerance be extended to them or is something else in store? 

Perhaps Robespierre said it best, right before he had is head lopped off, "pity is treason."

Vote Coleman March 5th, 2013! Contact/Volunteer for Cause: