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  • jeanadelsman4

Newsletter No. 10, Sept. 16, 2022

  • Civil Service Commission appointment brouhaha

  • Mobile-home rent stabilization ordinance

Full Disclosure: I currently serve as chair of the Civil Service Commission, and I will welcome and look forward to serving with whomever the Council decides should fill any open positions. This edition of the Newsletter deals with the process of choosing, not who is finally selected.


Mayor George Chen told us what kind of leader he plans to be. Apparently, being a consensus builder was not high on his list.


At Tuesday’s Council meeting, Chen announced that the Torrance Municipal Code allowed him, as mayor, to name his choices for commissioners and only ask the Council for approval.

He had interviewed the three candidates who applied for a Civil Service Commission opening and decided he wanted to name Shamindra Mahbahal.


Mike Griffiths immediately raised the question: Why the change in procedure? Yes, he said, the code allowed the mayor to go it alone, but that had never happened before in his memory. City Clerk Rebecca Poirier, who has 13 years with the City, and City Attorney Patrick Sullivan, with 25, said it had never happened.


On the Internet, many residents have been asking, why the change? If you have read previous issues of this newsletter, you were probably not surprised. If not, let me share some pertinent background.


When Chen was elected, he had three solid votes: his, Aurelio Mattucci’s and Jon Kaji’s.

He saw whoever filled his vacant District 2 seat as his fourth. With those four votes he could accomplish whatever he put forward. His candidate was John Magome, but after the deadline for applying, Magome dropped out. That left Chen with seven candidates to choose from.


Arthur Schaper, who had endorsed Chen for mayor and whom Chen had nominated and voted for to fill commission seats, was disqualified because he hadn’t truthfully filled out the candidate questionnaire.


That left six. Two – Bridgett Lewis and Elizabeth Pino – were well-qualified. Both consider themselves moderates with the capacity to act in a nonpartisan fashion. Chen wanted someone who was ideologically in tune with his right-wing views. He nominated Alan Masnek.


The vote ended in a hopelessly deadlocked Council: three for Lewis and three for Masnek. At the 11th hour, Chen capitulated. He understood voters would fault him for a costly special election. He had been willing to have a coin toss, but that failed. So, he called himself “the coin” and broke the deadlock by switching to Lewis.


That meant no guaranteed fourth vote. He would have to work harder to get his way. Obviously, that hasn’t happened.


He looked for ways to bypass the Council and the first one he found was the method of picking commissioners.


Attempting to justify his takeover of commissioner picking, he said, “This will not be the first time that I might do something a little different.” He misspoke – something he does frequently, which sometimes makes it difficult to follow him.


This was the first time. Surely, he meant not his last time. Beware!


He then said, “We will roll with it.”


Well, maybe we won’t. Griffiths asked City staff for an agenda item altering the TMC and giving Council members a say in the selection process.


We know how Griffiths will vote on the issue. Asam Sheikh voted against the mayor’s appointment, so I am assuming he also will approve a change.

If you know Sharon Kalani and/or Bridgett Lewis, please ask them to support Griffiths on this as well.


Before I go:


· Griffiths asked City staff to report on Torrance Airport issues. Residents have many concerns. In fact, a group was formed under the leadership of the Riviera Homeowners Assn. but involving residents from a broad area. They have a petition – https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-reduce-torrance-airport-impacts-now – that had 590 signatures when I posted this. Before the meeting, we will update you on the issues and concerns.


· The Council at its meeting considered a proposal for a Rent Stabilization Ordinance to benefit mobile-home owners who were being victimized by outrageous rental hikes on the land, which they rent. To avoid dealing with the proposed restrictions, the landowner made certain concessions, and the Council voted to hold off on the ordinance and monitor his progress.


· At the same meeting, a side drama also occurred, and it was only another example of the mayor’s ineptitude. Supervisor Janice Hahn had come specifically for that item. She has been helpful to the City, specifically with getting funds for the Little Homes designed to mitigate the homeless crisis.


Did the mayor ask her to speak – a common occurrence. No, the Supervisor had to speak during the audience discussion, and the microphone cut her off at 2 minutes.


Ironically, during the portion where the Council was discussing the issue among themselves, Kaji had questions for her, but the public comment section was closed.


· If you want to be heard on the proposed Downtown Torrance gun shop, attend the Planning Commission appeal of its approval. The session starts at 7 p.m. Wednesday the 21st in the City Council Chambers. If you have written thoughts, send them to PlanningCommission@TorranceCa.gov before 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Jean Adelsman

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