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    No To Political Butt-Covering, Buck-Passing On LNG

    (August 16, 2005) -- urges the City Council to "receive and file" a self-serving item on a proposed PoLB Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facility agendized by Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga.

    In our view, this is transparent political butt-covering and buck-passing...and could have damaging consequences, similar to the last time the Council tried to divert an issue it should have addressed to an "advisory" body before an election.

    What Councilwoman Reyes Uranga is trying to do is in some ways worse than what she did in June, when she helped orchestrate a 5-4 vote to continue an MOU with the LNG applicant that left her isolated, the sole cheerleader offering words in support of the LNG project.

    Her behavior came even after LB's first responders -- LBPD and LBFD officials -- visited a Boston area LNG facility, heard what Boston-area public safety officials said and returned to alert a LB Council committee (on which Reyes Uranga is a member) to their concerns about the proposed LB facility's costs and safety consequences. reported Reyes Uranga's thumb-nose response at the time, in essence, the Boston location is SO different and she wants "facts," not hysteria.

    The last time we checked, the laws of physics are the same. 9/11 has changed everything since some geniuses installed the Boston-area plant in the 70s. In our view, Councilwoman Reyes Uranga has amply demonstrated her disinterest in these facts or others -- safety, fiscal...or legal. Instead, she has been blind to the facts. She has spurned prudent advice and pursued policies that we predict will prove costly to LB.

    Something terrible has happened. Like a political version of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," someone must have placed a giant seed pod near Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's home and as she slept, her former sane brain was replaced. What looks like Tonia now acts like an union lackey or an apologist for the Port of LB.

    A similar fate befell now-former Councilman Dennis Carroll (neither a union lackey nor a Port apologist but in our view needlessly fumbling the Airport). He was one of the brightest fellows ever to serve on the Council but unwisely charted a collision course on the Airport. His constituents changed things at the first election opportunity.

    Carroll didn't take junkets to Rio as Reyes Uranga has, paid by the Port using public money. We had to take a blood pressure pill after she told taxpayers that the public benefits of her Rio jaunt included hearing about the environmental experiences of other Ports. She could have learned a lot more by driving to San Pedro and attending the No Net Increase task force meetings that the Port of LB snubbed.

    And where was the 7th district incumbent when (as first reported by the Port of LB -- apparently without telling the public -- lobbied to kill a bill by a LB-area Congressman that would have let the Port levy a container fee on well-heeled corporate interests to pay port-related homeland security and infrastructure costs, now being borne in large part by taxpayers? The Port of LB's DC lobbyist publicly boasted of killing the bill. Why hasn't Councilwoman Reyes Uranga agendized an item to direct the City Manager to put the Port of lobbyist's separate contract with City Hall out to public bid?

    And where was the Councilwoman, who chaired the Council's I-710 Committee, when (again, first reported by the Port's DC lobbyist disclosed that his client apparently thinks money for the I-710 corridor project, publicly sold as a way to ease congestion, should be tied to a Port-sought rebuilding of the Gerald Desmond Bridge?

    Rebuilding that bridge will open the floodgates to 10,000 TEU megaships (25% larger than the gargantuan already here), dumping even more containers here, with more trucks and more trains demanded to carry them. All this, while the Port of LB refuses to commit to no net increase in airborne toxics that scientists have said are already hurting human health.

    What will happen when the people who filled the I-710 meetings that the Councilwoman chaired, who relied on her to advance their interests, discover that she has quietly let the Port's interests prevail?

    In our view, former Councilman Dennis Carroll fumbled the Airport hot potato by trying to divert to an "advisory" committee a legitimate public issue that the Council had the duty to address. That delay, which came in the run-up to Council elections, made matters worse in the long term for the City (and only angered constituents further). We are sorry Councilwoman Reyes Uranga has chosen to to repeat this misguided "advisory" gambit on issue on which the Council had an opportunity to act that the Councilwoman effectively stymied.

    We urge the Council to receive and file Reyes Uranga's LNG "advisory" item.

    We simultaneously urge the Council -- hopefully with Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's support but if not without her -- to agendize the following items next week:

    • Direct the City Manager to put City Hall's contract with the Port's lobbying firm out to bid.

    • Agendize an item supporting Congressman Rohrabacher's container fee legislation (which can rise again) and offer the Congressman (presumably nearby on August recess) the courtesy of time at the Council to collapse the bogus arguments raised by the Port in opposition; and

    • Agendize an item withdrawing LB City Hall's support for rebuilding the Desmond bridge. The public and the Council should say NO to giving the Port an entitlement to impose a floodgate of increased pollution, fiscal and human costs on a city that has already borne so much.

    We hope we're wrong about that giant seed pod near Councilwoman Reyes Uranga's home. A mind is a terrible thing to waste.

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