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Newsletter No. 50

  • Background on successful Pride Month resolution

  • Airport Commission goes rogue

  • Update on City budget

  • C-Line extension back on track

The Torrance City Council approved a June Pride Month resolution on behalf of the LGBTQ+ community, but the uproar it created was still going strong when I returned home almost two weeks after the May 7 meeting.


The motion squeaked through with District 1’s Jon Kaji, District 2’s Bridgett Lewis, District 4’s Sharon Kalani and District 6’s Jeremy Gerson voting for it, and Mayor George Chen, District 3’s Asam Sheikh and District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci opposing it.

Based on watching the session ( and a slew of emails and texts that I received from residents, here are my takeaways:


·       The resolution’s heroes were Kalani and Kaji.


Kalani succeeded in getting the item on the agenda in the first place when, for the second year, Chen said he would not allow a Pride Month proclamation. Kaji’s vote for the measure amazed some, but it didn’t surprise me. We disagree on many issues but concur on stifling shows of prejudice.


Kaji shared the history of bigotry that Japanese-Americans faced long before World War II; he saw those same themes in the anti-Pride arguments.


·       Kalani for the first time talked about her background and how it shaped her stance on the issue:


I was like Councilman Kaji. When I was 7 years old, my neighbors wrote, ‘Go back to Mexico,’ on my door. And I came home from school and I said, ‘Guess what, Mom and Dad. I have new friends, and they have a nickname for me. They called me a Spic.’ And my parents said, ‘Sit down. We need to talk.’ “


She also pointed out that for years Torrance had Pride Month without controversy.


·       Mattucci and Sheikh were the evening’s disappointments. Several people called Mattucci’s comments a disgrace – Susan Niemeyer referred to it as a rant in her FaceBook post on the meeting.


When Chen called on Kalani immediately after Mattucci unleashed his wrath, she was clearly shaken and said, “What can you say after that?”

If you want to hear it for yourself, go to and scroll to the meeting’s 4 hours and 30 minutes mark. Or start at the 2 hours and 50 minutes mark to hear all of Item No. 9C.


·       Going into the meeting, Sheikh had given every indication that he would be supporting the measure, so his “no” vote surprised many. However, Arthur Schaper’s blog offered an explanation:


“The Muslim community came out in large numbers to oppose the pride resolution, as well. I was honored to meet with them the week before, informing that Councilman Sheikh was thinking about supporting this resolution. They were glad that I had informed them about what was going on. They confronted Councilman Sheikh about the resolution at Friday prayers at the Islamic Institute of Torrance, and then they appeared in considerable numbers in person to oppose the resolution!”


Sheikh was clearly conflicted. He asked the Council to make the issue a ballot measure so residents could decide whether to have Pride Month or not. No one else was interested in that tack. Then when it came time to vote on the resolution, he waited so long to cast his ballot that Deputy City Clerk Samantha Cerda had to prompt him to vote.


·       Among the audience’s speakers, the opposition outnumbered the supporters. Unfortunately, the naysayers spewed a slew of misinformation, such as “Pride Month will encourage pedophiles.”


·        I wish I had room for all the comments that supporters made that night, but these are my four favorites:

1.    Janet Payne, winner of the City’s Jared Sidney Torrance Award and the city’s pre-eminent historian, according to the Daily Breeze, pointed out Torrance’s unkind history regarding Mexicans, Japanese and Blacks. Then she said: “I don’t want to be part of people who try to sit on other people.”

2.    Lori FoxWood: “If it is against your faith, OK, but that is for you and not everybody else.”

3.    Adam Schwartz: “Shame on each and every person who calls being LGBTQ+ a choice. It is not. It is scientifically not a choice. Not a lifestyle. It is an identity. And it is important to know what you are talking about.”

4.    An unidentified speaker in the audience: “A lot of what I’ve been hearing is hate. Don’t push your stuff on me. And yet by the fact that we did the Pledge with ‘under God’ in it and we have ‘in God we trust,’ you’re pushing your religion on me. So, I’m choosing to say, ‘Hey, that’s great. Support your religion, but also support everybody.’ And that’s what this is about. Don’t marginalize people. We’ve taken several marginalized groups, and we’ve lifted them up just a little bit so that they can actually see over the fence, too. Most of the people we’ve seen coming up here against this aren’t marginalized.”


·       Chen kept his comments short. Basically, he said he opposed the resolution because he believes being gay is a choice unlike being born not white.

Airport Commission goes rogue:

At its April 11 meeting, the commissioners violated the Brown Act by acting on an item that wasn’t on the agenda. That violation can have legal consequences. The City Council remedied it by ordering the commissioners to rescind their motion and then shutting down the commission for 120 days. During that period, the commissioners will have to take some remedial classes involving their duties.


Evidently, the commissioners were unclear on their roles. They only deal with matters that they are assigned. At the instigation of pilot Jim Gates, they voted to insist on a meeting with City Manager Aram Chaparyan so they could demand an investigation into delays on a runway lighting project.


The Council pointed out that none of that is their job.

Budget looking good, but . . . :

Finance Director Sheila Poisson gave an excellent presentation at the first of two public hearings on the City’s budget. Too bad she made it after midnight. 


Chaparyan responded to the criticism by promising that the June hearing will be much earlier on the agenda.


C-Line extension back on track:

Metro’s board at its May 23 meeting unanimously gave a thumb’s-up to bringing the train down the route that the Torrance City Council and Chamber of Commerce prefer: Using the right-of-way Metro already owns in Redondo Beach. That city and Lawndale are both threatening suits if the approved route goes forward.


But the good news is that Metro has ordered the environmental studies, which are the next steps in the process, and that Mattucci and Kaji’s attempts to derail it have failed.


Before I go:


v 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.

v Want to tell the City Council your opinion on an agenda item or address any concerns? Send it to; 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

Jean Adelsman


Feel free to share this email -- or tell friends about And if you email a response to, 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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