Claremont Insider: Our Tin-Eared Mayor

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Our Tin-Eared Mayor

The Claremont Courier's City Council news briefs last Saturday had a mention of Claremont Mayor Peter Yao's intent to seek the governing board seat for the South Coast Air Quality Management District's Los Angeles County Eastern Region.

The SCAQMD's LA Eastern Region is comprised of 61 cities from Calabasas (which seems more west than east) to Claremont and on down to Long Beach. Los Angeles County Supervisor Mike Antonovich is also on the SCAQMD board. The board seats are assigned by the League of California Cities' City Selection Committee, which will meet next on Thursday, January 3rd, at 7:30pm in Los Angeles. The open SCAQMD seat is on the agenda.

Interested parties can attend the meeting on January 3rd, and the public can address the City Selection Committee. The meeting is located at the Metropolitan Water District building at 700 N. Alameda St., Los Angeles, CA 90012.

Mayor Yao seems to be tilting at windmills again. There's more than a little irony in the mayor's SQAQMD aspirations. After all, the SCAQMD has sent the city a letter in response to draft environmental impact report for Claremont's Base Line Rd. affordable housing project. The SCAQMD urged the city not to build the project at the Base Line site because of the adverse effects of pollution from the 210 Freeway on lung development for children living there.

Supervisor Antonovich's office also wrote in a response to the Base Line Project's draft EIR saying that the project should not be built on the site at Base Line and Towne Ave. because of the EIR's findings regarding air pollution concerns.

Mayor Yao (and City Councilmember Ellen Taylor) are insisting on ignoring the EIR's findings, the letters from the SCAQMD and Antonovich's office and the opposition of individual citizens. They are doing so because the project is being pushed by the Claremont 400, through its unofficial organs like the Claremont League of Women Voters and the Claremont Democratic Club.

Mayor Yao, who will fail to get the SCAQMD seat, is about to find out the reason why Claremont politicians never succeed in winning any county, state, or federal offices. They can't get very far outside the city boundaries because politics beyond the city limits involves building coalitions and not trying to stick it to every group of voters that disagrees with you. Politics is all addition, not subtraction; compromise, not punishment - something the 400 will never figure out.

Claremont 400 candidates have been able to run the city like their own private fiefdom, but their sort of strong arm, power politics doesn't translate well to higher offices, where the candidates can't count on the Claremont Village voters alone to elect them.

If you think Mayor Yao's run for the SCAQMD board seat is hypocritical, you can call, write, fax or email any or all of the SCAQMD LA County Eastern Region cities and ask that their representatives not support Yao at the January 3rd League of California Cities City Selection Committee meeting. You can also speak at public comment at the meeting at the Metropolitan Water District building in January.

After all, how can the interests of the SCAQMD and its member cities be served by a person who's demonstrated a willingness to ignore a 10-year long study by the USC Keck School of Medicine on freeway pollution effects on children's lung development, the findings of his city's own EIR on the Base Line Rd. Project and letters from the SCAQMD and SCAQMD board member Antonovich arguing against the project?

How in the world can Yao be trusted to respect the SCAQMD's air quality mission when he shows such little respect for its recommendations?

You can click on the links to the following Eastern Region cities if you want to contact them to tell their representatives to the League of California Cities Selection Committee to not support Claremont Mayor Peter Yao for the SCAQMD's L.A. County Eastern Region seat - there are more worthy candidates from other member cites:

Residents of unincorporated areas around Claremont should contact LA County Supervisor Antonovich's office since he is their elected representative. Antonovich's local district office is located at 615 E. Foothill Blvd., San Dimas, CA 91773, and the phone number is (909) 394-2264.