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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Friday, May 20, 2011

[HallerWatch] Taking On HatfieldWatch Over Coal, Watch!

(Lifted from Paul Hatfield's CityWatch article 5/19/11. Responses in bold are mine).
"The members of Neighborhood Council Valley Village were asked to weigh in on what could be the most challenging intergenerational issue facing us, even greater than pension reform.
[I'm gonna have to look up intergenerational, but at first glance, it appears to be within the next couple decades. God, what could possibly be more important to four million people over the next 20 years than pension reform? Preventing race riots? Education? Earthquakes, emergency preparedness?]
A representative of the Sierra Club asked the board to pass a motion in support of the DWP eliminating coal as a power source by 2020. [Wha?? ] Due to the constraints of time, her presentation had to be brief and could best be described as an executive summary. [Sounds about right. An executive board should get an executive summary. What were you hoping for? A longer meeting?]

It was good information and food for thought. However, to ask for a motion in support of the 2020 goal (or any goal, for that matter) with an accompanying letter of support to the City Council on an issue so complex, with cost ramifications that could strain an already financially challenged municipality, was disrespectful of the deliberative process NCs should follow. [Not really. It's a normal course of action for a deliberative body per Roberts Rules. A request or motion goes before the executive board and the board has the option to make a decision via vote, table it or kick it to committee for further study. How is that disrespectful?]

It was as if an insurance salesman said “trust me and sign on the dotted line” while placing a contract with a prospectus in front of you. [Ouch! A remarkably unfair characterization particularly when your NC is charged with advising your councilmember, not contracting out insurance services on behalf of the city. If your group wants to set a public health goal (PHG) such as "No Coal By 2020" and advise your councilmember's office, they can. If your NC wants to set PHG regulations and enforce them, they can't.]

I was surprised to learn that about eighteen other neighborhood councils had already passed similar motions at the request of the Sierra Club and sent letters of support. [Familiarize yourself with Roberts Rules and you can take your eyebrows out of your hairline.]

I am fortunate to be a member of a neighborhood council that believes in the vetting process [sorry to interrupt, but I gotta agree with you there, most NCs have no idea what they're doing] and does not rush to judgment on matters of this scale [ookay, but frankly, I'm a little suspicious of how your scale measures things. Seems fishy. A fish scale, if you will...]. There was a spirited discussion with members taking opposing positions. No motion was passed; no letter of support authorized. [Okay, so, an NC board wasted the public's time, no surprise there.]

When it was suggested that members of the NC DWP Oversight Committee make a presentation on the subject at another date, the Sierra Club representative said, as if issuing an adverse warning, "they will simply oppose this position.” I guess transparency is not part of the club’s agenda these days. [Burning coal for energy is an environmental issue and a PHG issue as well as a Utilities issue. Why would it first be sent to a DWP Oversight Committee, of all things? I guess integrity is missing from your own agenda.]

Los Angeles and most of the developed nations will migrate to alternative energy in time. [You mean, the developed nations that survive all the floods, wildfires, hurricanes, tornadoes, sea level rise, etc. due to climate change?] Coal as a source could also be reduced through conservation and passive solar improvements. [Prove it. We're listening. Just do it before both polar icecaps melt.] However, China, India and other emerging economies will thumb their noses at the rest of us and burn away. [Is that why China is spending $16B+ more than the U.S. on developing alternative energy technologies? From what year are the magazines you've been reading?]

There should be no hard and fast timeline. [On converting to renewable energy? Surely you jest. Ask the U.S. Navy about climate change, sea level rise and national security issues we are already facing. They'll give you an earful.] Technology improves over time – we can expect the same for alternative energy. [With that approach, America should rise to prominence again by AD 2312]. There is no need to lock a major segment of the city’s power generation capacity into applications still in the early stages of development. [... looking forward to your next CityWatch article entitled 'What's With These Newfangled Telephones With Dials?']

It would not surprise me if the state’s objectives will be relaxed once the impact to consumers’ utility bills becomes apparent. There will be pushback from the ratepayers. [You mean, Gov. Brown rescinding the 33% renewable energy target that he set last month? CA ratepayers are going to revolt over that?]

Although fossil fuels will generally rise in price over the long run, the conversion to solar will not be as simple as “build the infrastructure and the rest is free.” Maintenance and replacement of components is still an unknown, not to mention the source of materials and manufacturing. It is naive to assume the United States will be the leader in production in this very competitive world. [Especially if the "Hatfield Plan" becomes law.]

Note: I am a member of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations, but I am also a ratepayer.
[Ah, "a member of the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations..." A weak claim to legitimacy, indeed. Kind of like an insurance agent saying, "Trust me and sign on the dotted line."]
LATE ADD: CityWatch announced its "Be Green, CityWatch Cares" Initiative in September 2010, with plans to continue throughout 2011/2012.