Commentary: Poseidon up for review and city council members mingle with their corporate god

Personal Observations and Commentary
By John Earl

Editor, Surf City Voice

If there ever was a corporate right-wing conspiracy going on behind the Orange Curtain (Gasp! Who would have thunk it?) it happened last Friday inside the Grand Californian Hotel at–perhaps appropriately enough–the Disneyland Resort. It called itself the OC Water Summit, presented ostensibly by the Municipal Water District of Orange County and the Orange County Water District but, in fact, sponsored by a bunch of multi-national and other water related business sharks that smell green blood in the lucrative business of disaster capitalism via control of heretofore public water resources.

Disciples of Poseidon
Poseidon disciples: HB City Council members Gil Coerper, Joe Carchio and Cathy Green sitting at the Poseidon table with CEO Scott Maloni. Member Devin Dwyer's empty seat is seen too. Photo: Arturo Tolenttino for SCV

The summit’s stated purpose was to look at solutions to California’s water problems. In reality it was a mostly one-sided presentation (Central Valley farmers good, environmentalists and little fishes bad) and seemed like a thinly veiled plug for water privatization, what some critics would call unsustainable agriculture practices, and urban sprawl  via speculative desalination.

The summit’s stand-in facilitator of the day, after comedian Paul Rodriquez couldn’t make it, was Laer Pearce of Shea Properties/Parkside/build on the Bolsa Chica Mesa fame/infamy whose politics are about as far-right as you can get in Orange County without totally going insane. Normally highly opinionated and hot tempered, Pearce was on his best behavior; but, with a few exceptions, it might have been a more entertaining half-day if he had just acted like he does when he’s being interviewed by the Voice.

Of note, the presentation by Karl W. Seckel of MWDOC on the now underway Dana Point desalination project, a public owned and operated concern with a totally different, much more environmentally friendly, perspective than Poseidon’s proposed Huntington Beach desalination plant, was well worth viewing and we will have more on the details of that soon. Also of great interest, the presentation by Gary Crisp, a desalination advocate from Australia, on how his country is implementing desalination. More on that later, too.

The most curious but totally unsurprising spectacle of the event, however, at least for Surf City residents, might have been the sight of four of our city council members (Joe Carchio, Cathy Green, Devin Dwyer and Gil Coerper) sucking it up with Poseidon Resources CEOs at its specially reserved round table. Poseidon, by the way, has a new EIR currently before the city for approval, due to the fact that the once-through-cooling process, which it was depending on (along with hundreds of millions in government handouts) to provide mythologically (as in Poseidon, God of the Sea) inexpensive water to Orange County residents, has been banned by the State. How Poseidon and its city council cohorts expect to be able to use a banned water intake process is unclear at this point, but nothing stands in the way of a god, apparently.

Joining Poseidon’s city council disciples at the supper table was Huntington Beach Planning Commissioner John Scandura. Carchio is a candidate for reelection in November.

Disciples 2
HB Planning Commissioner John Scandura, next to Poseidon CEO Scott Maloni at OC Water Summit. Photo: Arturo Tolenttino for SCV

Did the four city council members violate the Brown Act by meeting with each other and discussing or listening to issues before the city? No, they did not, even though the summit cost participants between $125 and $140 each. According to the law, it’s fine in this case because the event was open to the public, despite its prohibitive cost. But if you ever wondered why our elected officials vote the way they do, you might consider who they get their information and social support from.

Surf City residents might want to ask their elected and appointed officials what they talked about at that meeting, however. They should have kept records of all that was discussed.

Update: At last night’s city council meeting (May 17, 2010) during disclosure time, member Gil Coerper disclosed that he had gone to a League of Cities meeting, but none of the council members mentioned that they had been to the OC Water Summit and that they sat with Poseidon’s CEOs the whole time.

However, mandatory disclosure time, as required by AB 1234, comes right after public comments on the city council meeting agenda, nearer the start of the meeting. That’s when, presumably, spectators still exist in the chambers and before the television audience goes to sleep–and there’s nothing in the rules to prevent a council member from commenting on a non mandatory item, such as a summit about the future of California’s and Surf City’s water supply. But, at the end of the meeting, non mandatory disclosures, often mentions of charity events and the like, are normally made. At that time, Mayor Cathy Green, who took her turn last, was the only council member who bothered to mention her attendance along with Dwyer, Carchio and and Coerper at the OC Water Summit–without any information about the event other than that they attended it. Green told the Voice, “…I was reading off a list after a long evening. Remember we start at 4 p.m. [including the study session and closed session]”

So much for the water crisis.

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8 thoughts on “Commentary: Poseidon up for review and city council members mingle with their corporate god”

  1. Lunch all they want. The IBank still thinks they are hogwash. Some will do anything for a free place at the trough. In the end, the cooler heads will prevail and Poseidon will be seen for the boondoggle it is. Bad timing guys……the Depression and all.

    Merle Moshiri, President
    Residents for Responsible Desalination

  2. The HB Political Machine marches on showing their arrogance of office. Since Poseidon Resources will now have pending contracts appearing before the HB City Council these 4 alleged highly honest and distinguished City Council members should abstain from voting on any issues concerning Poseidon Resources.

    At present the Poseidon 4 are allegedly “in the pockets” of Poseidon Resources instead of representing the taxpayers.

    Will the Poseidon 4 insist on a Performance Bond and a Completion Bond if and when they start digging up our streets. I don’t think so as the Poseidon 4 must maintain that conflicts of issue are an everyday occurrence by the HB Political machine.

    So much for honest debate and disclosure by the Poseidon 4.

    Milt Dardis
    Huntington Beach CA

  3. My My

    Birds of a Feather

    Flock Together

    Such Charming Creatures

    The Poseidons and HB Appointeds

    So Wonderful

    Larry Porter
    Newport Beach , CA

  4. There are always two sides to a story and perhaps the city officials thought attending this shindig was like attending any other event.

    That said, I would hope that our city officials would have the common sense to connect the dots with how their appearance with the CEO of Poseidon might be interpreted by the tax payers. It certainly does not look good – regardless of the intentions.

  5. This city council could care less about any appearance of impropriety
    It’s a fiefdom at city hall. They do what they want.
    Mayorette Green is as much of a stooge as any politico EVER!

  6. I was at that conference. They paid their own way for the conference, lunch, whatever. It was a full conference, and we all sat at whatever table where we could find some room. Those guys sat at that table because they know each other. It isn’t unusual for people who know each other to want to sit together at lunch. It gives them a chance to talk, get questions answered.

    Not everything is a conspiracy, and those who think everything is a conspiracy tend to have a warped view of everything else.

  7. Great pix. Should be titled “Pigs At The Trough”
    Why does HB keep plodding down this same potholed path?
    In a time of frugality and scarce financial resources, somehow, HB keeps throwing away millions of dollars on pie in the sky schemes from failed and inept developers. Other than Connie and Joe, is there ANYONE with a lick of sense in our City Council?

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