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Newsletter No. 53

Council considering a $30,000+ pay raise.

Late meetings a deterrent.


Shredded petitions.


E-bike issues.


Meeting on affordable housing.


The City Council is considering asking for a pay hike from their current $1,200 honorarium to a $33,000 annual salary along with their current $23,000-plus in benefits and perks. At its July 2 meeting, the Council approved asking voters to amend the City Charter.

 

District 4’s Sharon Kalani led the request to separate the salary issue from the other matters under consideration. The motion to put the measure on the Nov. 5 ballot passed 6 to 0 – with District 1’s Jon Kaji absent – and, in a moment, we’ll look at what it covers.

 

At one point, it appeared the proposed pay hike had failed. District 2’s Bridgett Lewis and District 6’s Jeremy Gerson joined Kalani in jettisoning the raises. Mayor George Chen, District 3’s Asam Sheikh and District 5’s Aurelio Mattucci voted to put the request on the ballot. It needed four votes.

 

Mattucci stressed that without sufficient pay only the wealthy and retirees would run. The problem with that argument? Chen is the only retiree. And Kaji is the only one with the means to donate $100,000 to North High School.

 

Kalani talked about how she is committed to the City, saying, “Those are the candidates we should be encouraging – people not doing it for the money.”

 

I have talked to community-minded residents who view the $100 as an honorarium. When they learn that Council members already get health insurance and other benefits worth nearly $20,000, they are surprised.

 

If Kaji hadn’t been absent, he could have given the request its fourth vote. So, Mattucci made his pitch to let Kaji weigh in, and the Council agreed to do that.

 

During the discussion, Kalani pointed out that their seven salary increases would pay for another police officer on the street.

 

Interestingly, Chen and Mattucci both campaigned against the tax increase they admit has saved the City financially, but apparently, they are OK with spending on themselves.

 

The one surprise was Sheikh who didn’t offer a reason for his vote. Clearly Mattucci is hoping Kaji will, as he normally does, vote with him and Chen. However, Kaji is eyeing a state Senate seat in 2026, and voting to give himself a hefty raise would be something his opponents could highlight.

 

Sheikh had asked how it would work if anyone on the Council ran for re-election and simultaneously tried for a state office. City Attorney Patrick Sullivan said they would have to run two campaigns, separately reporting all expenses for each.

 

Chen wanted to reopen everything for Kaji to vote, but Gerson gently explained why that wasn’t necessary: The other matter had passed unanimously, but Kaji could have made a difference on the pay issue.

 

So, what will voters definitely be considering this November? Here are the highlights:

 

  • The Charter had a lot of outdated references, which had been ignored. For example, it assumed that all Council members would be male. These language changes are utilitarian, however, and don’t involve substantive changes.

  • The city manager and city attorney would no longer have civil service protection. As at-will employees, they will most likely have contracts.

  • At Gerson’s request, they agreed that PACs dealing with local candidates will have to file with the City Clerk, just as the candidates do. In the March election, both Tony Yeh and Andrew Lee had heavy support from PACs. Even though the two lost, many residents wanted those PACs held more accountable to local officials.



How late was it?:

The July 2 meeting adjourned at 12:45 a.m. And that is the reason potential City Council members have shied away from running. In fact, residents are reluctant to attend a meeting on an issue they care about because of the likelihood it won’t be called until after 10 p.m.

 

If the Council is serious about wanting to encourage more residents to be involved, it needs to return ending times to well before midnight. It used to be that an 11 p.m.adjournment was considered a late night. 

 

In the shredder:

I am no longer saving the Recall Mattucci petitions. I had intended to use the information to help connect signers with the 2026 Council candidate who shares their opinions on good government. When a reader pointed out a potential legal problem, I realized the petitions were redundant because they duplicated my lists of 2022 Council campaign supporters and newsletter readers who had emailed me that they wanted to sign.

 

E-bike issues:

The Riviera Homeowners Assn. is putting a spotlight on e-bike problems, which probably are occurring in every district.

 

After listing several of the problems, the RHA’s latest newsletter pointed out that the City Council has failed to implement restrictions on riders under 16, as Orange County and Manhattan Beach are doing. And the RHA criticized the City for not impounding e-bikes for violations, which Hermosa Beach is doing.

 

It concluded by asking residents to contact Mattucci: “Perhaps enough complaints might motivate him to bring e-bike regulation before the City Council before a Torrance teen is killed or injured.” 

 

Mark your calendar:

Affordable housing – and all its issues and concerns – will be the topic at the League of Women Voters of Torrance Area. They plan to look for “common ground” and will share a summary of the discussion with city and state officials. It’s free, but they are asking people to RSVP to league@LWVTorranceArea.org.

 

Wednesday, July 24 from 6:30 to 9 p.m. Torrance Airport Community Room, 3301 Airport Dr.

 

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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3 Comments


colr
Jul 10

Dedicated Bike Lanes


Madrona Marsh through Wilson Park

down Del Amo Plaza up Border

onto Bow St across Iring Gill Bridge

Beside Honda Van Ness

Turn on Del Amo Blvd

La Raña to Chrenshaw

Brand NEW Metro stop

then Torrance blvd

City hall etc

Back to Mall

Like

colr
Jul 10

Yes one would even think whoa maybe

Downtown Torrance with its unique diamond square traffic pattern

Might benefit from alternative transportation methods such as

E-bike and micro mobility vehicles

to easily access this vital shopping area.

Like

colr
Jul 09

Wow so futuristic planning to go after little children on Ebikes instead of Fast & Furious adults in internal combusted loud engines spinning dounuts with fart mufflers ! Or how about those big

SUVs hugging 2 lanes ? In a Bankrupt city like Torrance why bother with trivialities ?

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