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Newsletter No. 37, Sept. 19, 2023

  • Chamber reiterates light-rail support.

  • Reason for Kaji switch?

  • Andrew Lee pontificates on TMMC capacity.

  • Touch-and-go action faces further delay.

  • Chen tone deaf on residents' concern.

  • Recall update.


A Chamber meeting on the Metro light rail proposal did not go well for District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci and District 1’s Jon Kaji.


The two are attempting to scuttle the almost $2-billion infrastructure plan, but the Torrance Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Policy Committee was having none of it.


GAP invited Metro to make an updated presentation on the plan at its Sept. 14 session. The Chamber had officially supported the proposal earlier and the group, which packed its meeting room, reflected an affirmation of that. After the Metro officials spoke, Larry Halvorsen, the GAP vice chair, opened it up to questions.


Mattucci, who quit the Chamber in a huff a few years ago, complained that Metro had not given the City a “no-build” option. Mark Dierking, Metro’s director for South Bay affairs, gently explained that the no-build option is always part of the environmental review. And when Mattucci voiced his complaints about the homeless, Dierking told the council member that his comment was “not a true statement.”


Kaji, who is a Chamber member, also criticized the project, complaining about the routing options rather than repeating earlier claims that the train would be so dangerous he wouldn’t let his family ride it. The real reason for his changing his position? More about that later.


After the q-and-a ended, the group easily approved the motion to send the City Council a letter supporting the project. The Council will discuss the extension at its Oct. 24 meeting; then on the 26th the Metro board will meet to give its final approval.


While the Council had initially approved the project, Mattucci and Kaji have withdrawn their support and are looking for two more votes. Mayor George Chen, who is not a Chamber member, attended the GAP meeting, but said nothing to indicate how he would vote. District 6’s Mike Griffiths has not been a fan in the past, so rail supporters hope he recognizes this project has broad community support.


Put the Council meeting on your calendar: 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 24, at City Hall, 3031 Torrance Blvd.


Why Kaji switched?:

Look at this excellent 8-minute, 40-second video made by Nick Andert, a documentary producer and editor who co-owns Delta-v Productions. Even those who have stayed on top of the light-rail issue can learn something from this compelling video filled with instructive animation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9M-Lf-UC9rc He connects the dots between Kaji’s supporting the rail plan and then objecting to it. He points out that Kaji’s development company had a proposal to develop a piece of Metro-owned land, but Metro turned him down. Then he started his effort to turn Metro down.


What was the question?


Andrew Lee, a candidate for District 2 and a Torrance Memorial psychologist, was in the GAP audience. Lee isn’t a member of the Chamber, but he apparently came because he wanted to go on the record opposing the rail line extension.


During the q-and-a, Lee said he was not speaking for the hospital and then launched into a lengthy description of how the hospital couldn’t handle the homeless services the line would require of it. When he finished, Halvorsen asked him what his question was. Lee said he didn’t have a question; he just wanted to make a point.


Touch and go:


The training practice continues to bedevil residents. As Greg Sparkman put it in an email, the constant onslaught “almost felt like a purposeful act of defiance.”


The Oct. 17 Council meeting will most likely be a critical one for residents concerned about problems caused by the relentless touch-and-goes.


The Sept. 12 agenda item had been a procedural one: District 3’s Asam Sheikh had requested a reconsideration of the Council’s decision not to ban the training practice. Consequently, that was the only issue for the Council – and the public – to discuss.


In the end, the Council did just that. District 6’s Mike Griffiths, Sheikh, District 2’s Bridgett Lewis, Kaji and Mattucci voted to reconsider. District 4’s Sharon Kalani has had to recuse herself on airport issues because of a personal conflict. Chen was the lone no. More about that in a moment.


After the vote, Griffiths asked City Attorney Patrick Sullivan how soon the item would be on the agenda. When Sullivan appeared reluctant to commit to the next meeting, Griffiths pushed, and Sullivan agreed that it could probably be scheduled for the 26th. So Griffiths described himself as not “a happy camper” when he saw the Sept. 26 agenda had nothing about the airport. Residents’ “over 2 months of agony continues unabated since the original motions passed,” he said.

The earliest this can now be on an agenda is Oct. 17 because the Council will be traveling in Asia.


After the Airport item, the Council discussed land-use issues, and Marc Danziger asked to have the airport added to the list of properties to be analyzed.


Scorecard:


Chen introduced the airport agenda item and then immediately announced he would not vote to reconsider.


It is not the first time he has been tone deaf to residents’ concerns. He has been the lone no in votes to let Torrance have a ballot box for voters who don’t trust the U.S. Post Office.


Interestingly, he is taking credit for the turnaround in the City’s finances. That has happened because voters approved the SST sales-tax increase, even though he campaigned against it. If you missed his comments at the Chamber’s State of the City lunch, Teresa Liu covered it in the Daily Breeze: https://edition.pagesuite.com/tribune/article_popover.aspx?guid=44af2b76-4b63-4776-93e8-ea1295869f5b.

Recall update:


First of all, thanks to everyone who responded with offers to help. If you live in District 5, your information is now on the list for the Mattucci recall effort. If you live in Kaji’s area, those organizers have your information. And if you live elsewhere in Torrance, well, there might be a bidding war for your volunteer efforts.

There is much information to share but let me begin by correcting misinformation that Mattucci posted on his Facebook page: The recall will NOT cost the City hundreds of thousands of dollars.


Recalls are usually expensive because they are special elections and/or paid signature gatherers are hired.


Neither will be the case in either the Mattucci or Kaji recall efforts.


Initially, in August, the March ballot was the organizers’ goal. In reviewing the intricacies that recalls require, however, it wasn’t clear the deadline could be met. Rather than risk a special election, the November 2024 ballot became the goal.


Future newsletters will go further into the weeds to explain how the recall process works. In the meantime, email jeanadelsman@yahoo.com if you are interested in volunteering – or simply want to be sure you have a chance to sign the petition.


How late was it?:


The Sept. 12 session, which started at 5 p.m., ended at the reasonable hour of 11:16 p.m.


Before I go:

v Congratulations to Jeanne-Marie Litvin, a sterling member of Sullivan’s staff, on her promotion to the top tier of deputy city attorneys.


v Someone asked whether School Board President Jeremy Gerson can keep that position if he wins the District 6 seat on the City Council. The answer is no.


v Whether you like to make pies or just eat them, the Torrance Farmers Market at Wilson Park has an event for you: The Inaugural World Famous Pie Contest. On Tuesday, Oct. 10, 15 people can enter their homemade pies for judging. A handful of people will get to enter a pie-eating contest. For more information on entering a pie, go to https://www.torranceca.gov/services/community-services/world-famous-pie-contest.


v Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or address any concerns? Send it to CityCouncil@torranceca.gov; in the subject line put the agenda item or the topic. If you also want your comments to appear in an agenda item’s Staff Report, send it as well to CouncilMeetingPublicComment@torranceca.gov. Make sure that you have sent it by 2 p.m. on the day of the meeting – earlier if you want it included in the agenda’s first posting, which can be a week ahead.

Jean Adelsman


Feel free to share this email -- or tell friends about www.TakeBackTorrance.com. And if you email a response to jeanadelsman@yahoo.com, please indicate whether you are expressing a thought for my eyes only or whether I may share your comments with the whole audience.


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