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Newsletter No. 8, Sept. 1, 2022

  • Bridgett Lewis appointed first District 2 Council member

  • City newsletter deals with rumors

It’s over: Bridgett Lewis is Torrance’s newest District 2 Council member.


Repeated votes over the two Council meetings had resulted in what appeared to be a stalemate with a 3-3 split. Consequently, the City apparently would be on the hook for a special election that would cost more than a half-million dollars.


Last week Mayor George Chen had chosen to go first, which is his prerogative. At Wednesday’s special Council meeting, he decided to go last. That made him the last person to vote in what he characterized as the final chance to avert the expenditure.


He then switched his support to Lewis. For those of you who couldn’t attend, record it, or watch online, it was quite the drama . . . in three acts.



Act 1. Aurelio Mattucci, who supported Alan Masnek for the open position, said in his comments that he cared about the nominee’s ideology and that he saw no reason to apologize. Sharon Kalani reiterated Lewis’ background and – citing specifics – said that made her the ideal candidate.


The stalemate continued, but not without Jon Kaji’s attempt to get approval for a coin toss to settle the outcome. He couldn’t get four votes.


Act 2. This had nothing to do – seemingly – with the open seat issue. Instead, it pertained to Torrance elections in general. However, it gave the public an opportunity to comment. And they did, exclusively about how the Council needed to appoint someone who was qualified . . . namely Lewis.


Act 3. The Council agreed to reopen the discussion to see if the coin toss might be a possibility after all. Fortunately, the fourth vote was still not there. But there was more drama.

Asam Sheikh made a plea to Masnek to resolve the deadlock by withdrawing. Referencing Lewis’ qualifications, he mirrored Kalani’s comments, but he went on to delineate Masnek’s weaknesses.


In a way I felt bad for Masnek. If there was a single member of the public who wrote on his behalf, I missed seeing the correspondence. No one in audience spoke for him, while Lewis’ turnout was impressive.


Initially, I thought we would hear from the nominees. Mike Griffiths had expected that, but Chen said no. Then at what seemed to be the end of the evening before the last vote, Chen changed his mind.


Lewis spoke first and was eloquent. Liz Pino spoke third and said she supported Lewis.

If Masnek, when it was his turn, had said something such as, “I want to serve the City, but I can see that this isn’t my time,” he could have been the hero of the evening. He didn’t. Instead he used his three minutes to ramble, starting with how California had been the home of everything great, citing jeans, Madonna and Merle Haggard.


However, thanks to Kaji, we learned that someone else had already encouraged him to end the stalemate. When it was his turn, Kaji said he thought it was awful for someone to privately ask Masnek to withdraw. Sheikh, placed in an awkward position, replied that he had not had that discussion with Masnek.


Then, Griffiths once again showed that he is not only acting statesmanlike in public but also behind the scenes. He pointed out that there was nothing wrong with suggesting such a course of action. I applaud his attempt to avoid the drama that took place Wednesday.


And Kalani deserves a standing ovation. She not only withstood the pressure that was put on her to vote for Masnek, but she also had her own statesmanlike moments, including saying that if came to an election, so be it: “I don’t want to put a price on democracy.”

Bravo!


Before I go:


Last Thursday’s edition had an interesting item on checking out rumors: https://www.torranceca.gov/government/city-manager/news-press-releases/rumors

· My next newsletter will focus on the airport in advance of an important in-person Airport Commission meeting worth putting on your calendar for Sept. 8 at 7 p.m. in the Commission Meeting Room. If you haven’t signed the petition, here is the link: https://www.ipetitions.com/petition/petition-to-reduce-torrance-airport-impacts-now. As I posted this newsletter, it had xxx signatures.

Jean Adelsman

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