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Newsletter No. 5, Aug. 15, 2022

· Picking a new District 2 Council member.


Note to readers: I normally post the day before the Council meeting, but yes, I am a week early. However, this will be the new normal – I am following a suggestion from Marc Danziger who said I needed to give residents more time to read and reflect on my message. In this case, it’s time to make the Council aware of your sentiments by emailing CityCouncil@TorranceCa.gov.


The City Council on the 23rd will appoint someone to complete Mayor George Chen’s District 2 term. Then, we may learn what direction the City will likely follow until the ’26 election.


There are eight candidates on the list – two I believe are well-qualified and one is unqualified. My personal knowledge of the other five is insufficient to judge their qualifications.


For those of you who didn’t read Newsletter No. 1 or would appreciate a refresher: It appears Chen has three solid votes. He and Aurelio Mattucci are a team and ran as one in the recent campaign.


And if there was any doubt about where Jon Kaji aligned himself, it became clear at the last Council meeting. When Chen asked Kaji if he wanted to nominate someone for a commission opening, he answered that his candidate had already been named. To which Chen responded, “Got it. That’s what I thought.”


So, how about the other Council members?


Mike Griffiths’ choice will most likely be one of the well-qualified candidates. As the Council’s senior statesman, he sees the big picture. He also has acted with respect when offering advice to the new mayor, who seemingly has no interest in accepting it.


Case in point: At the start of filling the appointments to four commissions, Griffiths suggested Planning be filled first. While all four commissions provide useful services, only Planning decisions don’t require Council approval.


One year, when Planning was dropped down the list, the best candidates went to other commissions leaving Planning with a less-than-stellar choice.


Griffiths, a former Planning commissioner, wanted to ensure that didn’t recur. Chen ignored his advice and made Planning third of the four. He didn’t see it as a problem because he already knew who would get that opening. But more about that later.


Asam Sheikh, one of the two new Councilmembers, also has solid Commission experience, and I expect will choose a well-qualified person for the open Council position.


That leaves Sharon Kalani, the most important player in this vote. She has two years of Council experience and tends to vote with Mattucci and Chen . . . but not always.


If Chen-Mattucci-Kaji go for someone such as Arthur Schaper, will she provide the necessary fourth? Or will she join Griffiths and Sheikh, assuming they ultimately agree on a candidate, and give them their third.


A 3-3 split would mean repeated votes with the hope that one of the three will shift to the other side. A hopeless split, however, means a costly special election.


To my knowledge, that has never happened — and, fingers crossed, it won’t on this occasion either. However, this is such an important seat I would rather see money spent on an election than appoint someone who is not just unqualified but who would be an embarrassment.


Why am I so concerned that Chen-Mattucci-Kaji will not press for a competent candidate? The Planning Commission appointment was revealing.


Two names were nominated – Peter Lefevre, an excellent choice, and Ron Riggs, a disappointing one.


Riggs, you may recall, ran for mayor in 2018 and came in a distant third in a three-person field. At the candidate forums, he appeared uninformed on City issues and peppered his responses with references to Torrance schools, which are governed by the School Board. In 2020 he ran for the School Board, and in forums demonstrated he knew as little about education as he did about city government. Consequently, it was no surprise he finished a distant fourth in a four-person field.


When people asked me who I thought would get the Planning seat, I told them that multiple sources were saying Riggs was telling people his friends on the Council said the seat was his.


Indeed, in the first round, he received the votes of Chen-Mattucci-Kaji-Kalani, while Lefevre won the votes of Griffiths-Sheikh.


Seeing Riggs on Planning, however, isn’t nearly as disconcerting as the thought that Arthur Schaper could win an appointment to the Council. Both Chen and Mattucci’s websites displayed Schaper’s endorsements of them for the June election. And they returned the favor by each nominating him to a Commission appointment at a June meeting. The old Council, however, rejected him.


If the name Schaper doesn’t ring a bell, Google him, as well as the Los Angeles Times, and look for Hailey Branson-Potts’ “Meet the Trump backer leading the resistance to the resistance in California.”


Here are a few quotes from the article if you don’t have time:

“Schaper is involved with numerous right-wing groups, including MassResistance, an anti-LGBTQ organization the Southern Poverty Law Center has labeled a hate group. He said financial support from MassResistance helps fund his activism.”

Schaper is so abrasive that the local Republican Party has disavowed him” and “caused the Republican Party of Los Angeles County to pull the charter from the Beach Cities Republicans club of which he is president.”

When asked about his abrasiveness, he responded, “Being nice doesn’t work.”

The Council should name someone who thinks it does.

Before I go:


Do you have Torrance Airport concerns? Check out the petition sponsored by the Riviera Homeowners Assn. It can be signed online by going to ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-reduce-torrance-airport-impacts-now. For more information, contact Judy Brunetti at judyfrooti@yahoo.com. My next newsletter will be devoted to community concerns about the airport for those unaware of the issues.

Jean Adelsman

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