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    Calhoun Exiting Harbor Comm'n At Term's End June '05

    (April 4, 2005) -- Mayor Beverly O'Neill's office has announced that LB Harbor Commission president John Calhoun "will not be requesting appointment for another term" when his term expires on June 30, 2005.

    The Mayor's release cited no reason for Commissioner Calhoun's decision. He was first appointed to the five member board effective July 1, 1999 after serving as City Attorney for many years.

    On March 8, 2005, Commission president Calhoun attended a LB City Council meeting at which Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker agendized an item that sought Council support for a Port-written "Green Port" policy which doesn't include a commitment not to worsen current pollution levels.

    After a number of speakers urged the Council not to lend its approval to the Port's policy and criticized the Port's stance on air pollution, Councilwoman Rae Gabelich displayed a drawing by a Los Cerritos Elementary School student showing a student unable to breathe being taken out on a gurney. That brought a visibly displeased Commission President Calhoun to the podium:

    ...As you know I live [nearby] the Los Cerritos School myself...I'm as concerned about cleaning up the air in that neighborhood and every neighborhood in this community as anybody else.

    But we need your help in convincing people who have the authority to regulate the trucks to do something about it. The state legislature, CARB [CA Air Resources Board], state EPA, federal EPA, these are the people that have the authority to in a very short period of time say you can't register a truck, or you can't bring a truck into a Port area, if it doesn't meet these kinds of standards. We don't have that ability. We don't have that authority.

    John Calhoun, Mar 8/05
    LB City Clerk webcast video

    And so, if we could get the people who the authority to actually take some action instead of conducting studies, and having conferences, and you know, diatribes about how bad things are, and just get down and do something about it within their realm of authority, these problems could be solved a lot quicker than trying to push the job down on the ports who don't have the authority to enact regulations and standards that only they have up at the higher levels...

    [Note: We don't know to what conference(s) Commission president Calhoun was referring in his remarks, but on Feb. 25-26 a major conference ("Growing Pains: Health and Community Impacts of Goods Movement and the Ports") took place roughly one block from LB City Hall, organized by Southern California Environmental Health Sciences Center, a partnership of USC and UCLA scientists based at USC's Keck School of Medicine. It included prominent scientists, state and federal officials and representatives of the goods movement industry. Harbor Commission president Calhoun did not attend, nor did LB Harbor Commissioners Hankla, Hancock or Topsy-Elvord. Harbor Commissioner Cordero attended as an audience member. PoLB Environmental Dir. Bob Kanter, Ph.D. was among the conference coverage, click here]

    Commission president Calhoun went on to complain that others had mischaracterized the Port's opposition to AB 2042 (no net increase past baselines) and AB 2065 (truck idling) bills. "[W]e did not oppose [them] totally. We opposed the way the bills were written and the motion even contained 'and hopefully work with the author or authors of the bills to try and come up with a more reasonable or a workable approach.'...We're always characterized as 'opposing this' and 'opposing this' and they don't put that comma and say 'the way it's currently written with an offer to work with the authors to try to make the bill work. So, we take a lot of heat, I think unnecessarily, because that's a mischaracterization of what we did."

    Councilwoman Gabelich pressed Commissioner Calhoun: "So, would you be willing to accept the concept of a Task Force to work with you through this process?"

    Commission president Calhoun replied, "I don't know that I can make any commitment on behalf of the Board at this time. I think receiving input, in various forms or manners is one thing. Having a Task Force that feels that they're driving the ship or drivin' the truck or drivin' whatever might be a different story. So, you know, I'm sure we're willing to work with and listen to and have discussions with anybody who wants to make suggestions, recommendations or wants to have information about why we're doing certain things..."

    Under the current LB City Charter, Harbor Commissioners are non-elected, appointed to six year terms by the Mayor, subject to approval by a majority of the City Council. Mayor O'Neill's most recent Harbor Commission appointees -- retired City Manager/retired ACTA CEO James Hankla and attorney Mario Cordero -- were not asked any questions by the Council committee or the full Council...both of which voted unanimously to approve them.

    Recommendations for appointments or reappointments are scheduled to be referred to the Council for approval in June 2005. They will first be referred to the City Council's Personnel and Civil Service Committee prior to Council review.

    The deadline to apply for all commission appointments (including the Harbor post) is 4:30 p.m. April 15.

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