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Newsletter No. 49

  • Kalani vs. Chen

  • Flaw in Taiwan push

  • Boon for local control

  • Tributes for Griffiths

  • Mattucci recall update


George Chen has the title of mayor, but three members of the Council are showing they prefer what a fourth colleague, District 3’s Sharon Kalani. is promoting in opposition to his proposals.

 

In Torrance, one of the mayor’s few powers is putting items on meeting agendas. For council members to get issues considered, they need a concurrence. That means at least three of their colleagues agree to have the items considered.

 

At the April 23 meeting, Kalani asked – and received – a concurrence to request staff to bring back a resolution to recognize June as Pride Month in Torrance. Pride Month is designed, as Kalani pointed out, “to eliminate prejudice everywhere it exists and to celebrate the diversity of the American people.”


Chen, who at a community meeting referred to homosexuality as a “lifestyle choice,” had refused to proclaim Pride Month last June. (Making proclamations is another of a mayor’s perks.)

 

District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci told the audience why he didn’t agree to the concurrence: Chen will be put in the position of signing something he has made clear he disagrees with.

 

This isn’t the first time that Kalani has held strong. At the start of his term two years ago, Chen wanted Alan Masnek, who shared Chen’s right-wing political beliefs, to fill his vacant seat. Kalani wanted Bridgett Lewis, a moderate who could work with the whole Council. Then-District 6’s Mike Griffiths and District 3’s Asam Sheikh liked either Lewis or Liz Pino for the post but fell into line as Kalani held firm on Lewis.

 

Chen only had three votes: his own, Mattucci’s and District 1’s Jon Kaji. He wanted Masnek to give him a fourth vote and thus a majority on every issue.

 

When Chen saw that the 3-3 deadlock was going to cause an expensive special election, he gave up without the fourth vote he had sought. In the March election, both candidates Chen was pushing lost to Lewis and to District 6’s Jeremy Gerson.

 

Here’s hoping this concurrence is the first of many to address issues the mayor has sidelined.

 

The Taiwan push:

In fact, Kalani may be doing Chen a favor. The mayor made a second trip – at taxpayer’s expense – to Taiwan in February. His goal: Lure Taiwanese businesses to Torrance.


However, he either doesn’t understand or has chosen to ignore an issue that is important to those companies. Evidently, in Taiwan LGBTQ people have comprehensive rights and businesses prohibit discrimination against employees because of their sexual orientation.

 

Ironically, Chen may pique businesses’ interest in the area, only to lose them to Long Beach, which can offer comparable benefits, such as proximity to a port. And Long Beach is so welcoming to its LGBTQ community that it is helping fund its 2024 Pride Parade.

 

Local control wins in court:

Torrance and four other charter cities sued to stop SB9, and on April 22 Superior Court Judge Curtis Kin ruled it unconstitutional. SB9 forced cities to permit lots to be split with a duplex on each half-lot. His edict applies only to charter cities and will probably be appealed. But everyone fighting to regain local control of zoning was relieved.

 

Tribute to Griffiths:

If you missed the April 9 Council meeting – and it was standing room only – it would be worth viewing online to hear the tributes to the departing council member, Mike Griffiths. There was an equal measure of tears and audience applause with laugh lines galore. Like when he told District 1’s Jon Kaji that he was glad to have him on the Council because he was no longer its oldest member. Or when Lewis referred to Griffiths as Uncle Fester.

 

Or when City Manager Aram Chaparyan listed all – and it was a long list – of Griffiths accomplishments while he was office. The laugh line: Griffiths had wanted a national search when LeRoy Jackson retired so he initially voted against Chaparyan. And the city manager reminded him of that vote.

 

After the laughter died down, Chaparyan talked about how supportive Griffiths had been. Then Griffiths jumped in with praise for the city manager but said he was voting for the process and not against him:


“And I don’t regret that vote one bit.”

 

After everyone had had their turn, Griffiths had the floor. He knew it was his last opportunity to have his say, and he didn’t waste the moment. He thanked his colleagues individually. With each he was gracious, but he also made some points.

 

To Chen, he said, “Please don’t forget the history of Torrance and the fabled Torrance way. It’s so important that we remember the legacy of how we got to be the successful city that we are.” The audience responded with lengthy applause.

 

He warned Lewis, who apparently had teased him that he would be coming back, that “you’d lose money” on that bet. I’m assuming it was a veiled reference to the possibility of his running against Chen in 2026.

 

Recall updates:

The Recall Mattucci campaign is in its last month. Anyone registered to vote in District 5 can sign by emailing jeanadelsman@yahoo.com; I will pass along your information. If you are hearing about this effort for the first time and would like more information, please go to www.TakeBackTorrance.com, and click on The Reasons to Recall Mattucci.

 

To help the effort, anyone can send checks to the Committee to Recall Torrance Councilmember Aurelio Mattucci 2024 at 23223 Ladeene Ave., Torrance, CA 90505, or they can donate online at https://secure.actblue.com/donate/recall-mattucci. (FPPC No. 1466851. Committee to Recall Torrance Councilman Aurelio Mattucci)

 

How late was it?:

The April 23 meeting adjourned at 2 a.m.

 

Before I go:

The City’s deadline for correspondence to be included in the Council’s pre-meeting public supplemental is now 5:30 p.m. the Monday before the meeting. The Council will receive anything that comes in later before the meeting, but it won’t be posted until Wednesday. It will be at the top of the agenda. 


You can also leave voicemails to be included as Oral Communications in the supplemental. Call 310-618-2404 to leave up to a two-minute recording that will be transcribed. Voicemails have the same deadlines as the emails.



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.

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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