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Newsletter No. 51

  • Recall drives dropped

  • More on Mattucci's Rant

  • Political future for Chen and Kaji

  • Proposing a pay raise for Council

  • Hahn and the Pride flag

  • Commission appointments' wrinkle

  • Teens training to have impact

  • Free entertainment


The deadline has passed for the Recall Mattucci drive, and the organizers have told City Clerk Rebecca Poirier that they came close but didn't make the minimum of 3,380 signatures to put the issue on the Nov. 5 ballot.


I know the exact number because I have been given all the petitions for safekeeping, but I have been asked to keep the information confidential. They will be used to help connect with the 2026 Council candidate who shares their opinions on good government.


District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci told the Daily Breeze, “I was just elected for being me.” He also said he would take the recall attempt into consideration for the remainder of his term.


The organizers attempting to recall District 1’s Jon Kaji effort have told me that they realize that turning in the signatures at this point would force a special election with its attendant costs for the City. They don't want to incur those expenses so they have decided to drop the campaign.

 

A follow-up on The Rant:

A number of readers expressed concern over the subject of Mattucci’s recent rant. If you missed that newsletter, go to www.TakeBackTorrance.com and look at Newsletter No. 50.



He was focused on a survey that he said had asked his 10-year-old son questions of a sexual nature. I didn’t originally raise it because, as District 4’s Sharon Kalani pointed out, Torrance Unified School District has jurisdiction here and the City Council has no role. In other words, Mattucci’s comments were inappropriate.


As it turns out, he also misspoke. After being prodded by readers, I researched the issue, and thanks to my TUSD source who steered me to the information I was looking for.


Mattucci was referring to the California Healthy Kids Survey, which is a project of the California Department of Education. The survey’s goal: “Helping schools and communities build positive environments for student success.”


Its website adds, “At the heart of the CHKS is a research-based core module that provides valid indicators to promote student engagement and achievement, safety, positive development, health, and overall well-being.” The site also said it is “the largest statewide student survey of resiliency, protective factors, risk behaviors, and school climate in the nation.”


Most of California’s school districts participate, and the information is also used by a variety of non-academic agencies. For example, the Volunteer Center, whose board I serve on, uses information from it to improve its youth programs, in particular the Impact Makers (more on that later). As does the Beach Cities Health District’s Allcove program for teens.


Mattucci repeatedly said his 10-year-old son received the questionnaire. The problem: TUSD administers the survey to sixth-graders, which rarely includes a 10-year-old. So, his son was not 10 when he took the survey.


If you would like to learn more about the survey, go to https://www.cde.ca.gov/ls/he/at/cefchks.asp.

 

An interesting side note: A reader sent me a photo of Mattucci participating with Kalani in the Chamber of Commerce’s ribbon cutting at the March 2023 opening of the South Bay LGBTQ Center in Torrance.


Of course, this wasn’t the first ribbon cutting where he took advantage of a photo op only to denigrate the purpose later. I’m recalling his participation in the ribbon cutting for the Mary K. Giordano Transit Center one month, and then the next month demanding that Metro not build the rail line that was the reason for the center.

 

Looking ahead to 2026:

That’s when Mattucci will be termed out and Kaji and Mayor George Chen will need to run for re-election unless . . . .

 

That’s also when Gov. Gavin Newsom, state Sen. Ben Allen and Assembly member Al Muratsuchi will all be termed out.

 

My Republican friends are telling me that Chen thinks he has a chance to become governor, that Kaji plans to seek the state Senate seat and that Mattucci will take a shot at the Assembly opening.


Even Republicans are bemused by Chen’s ego. And one Democrat, who has managed several campaigns in California, said, "This is the worst fantasy football bracket ever. But I will be following it with irresistible schadenfreude.”

 

On the Nov. 5 ballot:

The Council will have one last meeting in July to officially approve the items it wants voters to consider. While they could change their minds, the Council appears ready to ask for a pay raise. Currently each receives an honorarium of $100 a month. Initially, they were considering asking for a $1,900-a-month salary. Where did that number come from? It’s a 40-hour minimum-wage salary.

 

But they rejected that in favor of one that would give the members authority to simply change the amount by approving it at a Council meeting.

 

Nearer to the election, we will look more closely at all the benefits the Council members already receive – and how Chen quadrupled their car expense allowance shortly after he took office. According to a survey done by the Southern California Newspaper Group, Torrance’s mayor and council already receive more than $26,000 a year each.


An interesting exchange took place at the June 4 Council meeting when the public could comment on the potential ballot issue. One speaker said that he wanted the city manager's job on the ballot so voters could fire staff. Peter Brown, the outside attorney hired to advise the City, said that he knows of no city that makes staff run for election.


Chen correctly pointed out, "If we elected the city manager, you wouldn't need us." Exactly. If the budget has extra money, let's put it into staff salaries because they are the people doing the work.


Hahn and the Pride flag:

Downey's City Council in recent weeks has taken several anti-LGBTQ stances, including barring the rainbow Pride flag on City property. So, Supervisor Janice Hahn did an end run and approved the flag on County property in Downey. And she got great publicity in the process.


Something for Torrance's LGBTQ community to go after next year?

Commission appointments:

The Council was scheduled to fill slots at the June 4 meeting. But at the 11th hour, the agenda item was pulled, and applicants were given until June 13 to file. Evidently, a sudden Planning Commission resignation prompted the need for more candidates. The item has been rescheduled for the July 2 Council meeting.


People were surprised to learn that Steve Choi and not Tony Yeh had resigned from the Commission for personal reasons.


Yeh had unsuccessfully run for the District 6 Council seat. The controversy over his actions as a planning commissioner cost him some votes. If you aren't familiar with the issue, go to www.TakeBackTorrance.com, and check out Newsletter No. 42.


Yeh's transgression had the potential of putting the City at risk. Normally City Attorney Patrick Sullivan is alert for anyone who creates a possible liability. In this case, he reportedly was reluctant to act because Yeh and his supporters could have charged election interference.


However, that threat no longer exists. At the prodding of a reader, I sent the Planning Commission an Orals statement on the issue, and I cc'd the City Council. My hope: The Council will have two Planning Commission seats to fill.

Teens with an impact:

The Volunteer Center, which has been around for 60 years, has had a teen program for about two-thirds of its history. Building leadership skills has always taken center stage, but a few years ago the Center realized something more was needed.


Studies and surveys, such as the one mentioned earlier, showed that teens needed help. So, the Center created Impact Makers -- Building Skills for Life . . . empathy, resiliency, volunteering.


For more information, go to www.volcenter.org/Impactmakers. The summer cohort will begin June 26, but this is a year-round program.


There is no cost because of underwriting, and students receive service-learning certificates they can include with college applications and on their resumes. And they leave the program with presentation skills and personal insights they will use for the rest of their lives.

 

How late was it?:

The June 4 meeting adjourned at 1:30 a.m.

 

Before I go:

v Enjoy free fun on Saturday, June 22 from 11 a.m. till 5 p.m. throughout the Torrance Cultural Arts Center at TOCApalooza. For more details, go to https://torrancearts.org/festival/. One area will have special things for the little ones; another area will have adult libations. And the nonstop entertainment is on three stages.

 

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.





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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