Tag Archives: Poseidon

Interview with Mesa Water’s Paul Shoenberger on CalDesal

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

In January, I sat down for 30 minutes with Paul Shoenberger, the general manager for the Mesa Consolidated Water District in Costa Mesa, California, to talk about CalDesal a non-profit organization whose 70 or so members, according to April, 2011 stats (neither Mesa nor CalDesal will release up to date figures), are about evenly divided between public water agencies and private water-related companies.

CalDesal lobbies for the construction of ocean and groundwater water desalination (although the emphasis is mostly on ocean desalination) and for the “streamlining” of environmental regulations to help achieve that goal.

Mesa Water Directors James Atkinson and James Fisler mix up business with pleasure at CalDesal mixer. Photo: Public records

Shortly into the 21st Century, plans to build ocean desalination plants where proposed for the cities of Carlsbad and Huntington Beach. Most of the permitting process has been completed for both plants but huge financial obstacles remain after construction costs and estimated water rates have skyrocketed.

Poseidon Resources Inc. would build the two nearly identical ocean desalination plants, each of which will suck in over 100 million gallons of sea water each per day to produce 50 million gallons of potable drinking water. They would be the largest ocean desalination plants in the United States at an estimated cost of over $700 million each.

In 2006, twenty-nine ocean desalination plants of various sizes were envisioned for the California coastline all the way to Santa Cruz, including a 15 million gallon per day facility that just finished its testing phase in Dana Point.

But after more than a decade of planning and marketing, and pushing projects through the planning and permitting process, a tight coalition of water industry leaders, real estate developers, and public-sector technocrats is far from realizing its desalination dream.

Only nine ocean desalination proposals remain in contention and not a single one has broken ground or seems likely to anytime soon.

That’s good news for opposition groups who have long claimed that ocean desalination is too costly and damaging to the ocean environment, and that conservation, sewage water reclamation, and increased water capture and storage are the right methods for ensuring an adequate water supply for California in the future.

Shoenberger and other proponents, however, officially insist that ocean desalination is not a “silver bullet” but will be a vital part of California’s water portfolio. They depict the process as environmentally sound and sustainable and say that costs for desalinated ocean water will one day be less than the costs of imported water from the San Joaquin Delta and the Colorado River.

In any case, they say, developing ocean desalination infrastructure is worth the extra cost due to potentially disastrous water supply outcomes for California from earthquakes and drought, and that it will help create badly needed jobs.

But public opposition to building ocean desalination plants along the coast has grown stronger over the past decade along with other potential obstacles to plans to construct ocean desalination plants in California.

CalDesal mixer and board meeting
Paul Shoenberger (r) with CalDesal member at 2011 spring board meeting/mixer. Photo: Public records

Once-through-cooling, the intake method preferred by desalination proponents because it sucks in huge quantities of sea water through already existing intake systems attached to electrical power generating plants – like exist in Carlsbad and Huntington Beach – is deemed destructive to the coast’s fragile balance of marine life by ocean scientists, and state regulators have ordered it to be phased out within a decade.

How that ban will apply to ocean desalination, if at all, is under consideration by state regulators. Opponents and proponents are vying for influence in that debate.

In the midst of a weak economy, and as the research and development needed to provide the promised cost-saving technological improvements has reached a dead end, even some long-time ocean desalination proponents are now questioning the efficacy of large desalination projects. Continue reading Interview with Mesa Water’s Paul Shoenberger on CalDesal

Comment: Former Surf City Mayor says Closed Water Agency Meeting Violates the Brown Act

By Debbie Cook

Environmental attorney Debbie Cook is a former Huntington Beach City Council member and two-term mayor of that city. She served on California’s State Desalination Task Force and as a city official voted against the ocean desalination plant proposed by Poseidon Resources Inc. Cook has been monitoring government transparency at local water districts. She made these public comments at a special meeting held by the Board of Directors of the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), May 15, 2012, in the penthouse floor that lodges the offices of MWDOC’s legal counsel, Best Best & Krieger. She addressed the board’s postponement of a closed session item concerning water rate negotiations between MWDOC and Posedion Inc. after receiving protests. Cook explains why that meeting would violate the Brown Act, which requires government agencies to hold meetings open to the public.

There has been an unsettling trend among water agencies to conduct more and more of the people’s business in closed session under the guise of the “real estate negotiations” exception. While you can always pay an attorney to argue any absurd position, I urge you to reconsider such a course.

The Brown Act allows very narrow exceptions to conducting the public’s business in public and the real estate exception is perhaps the most narrowly drawn of all of them.

Poseidon is not selling, nor are you buying, real estate or real property within the meaning of the legislature’s intent. It is a contorted analysis that says otherwise.

Real Property is land and whatever is erected or growing on or affixed to it. But once severed from the land, things that are growing or attached to it are considered “goods.”

There is no “goods” exception to the Brown Act. The legislature never intended for water or mineral rights or crops to be bootstrapped onto the real estate exception. Any contrary interpretation of their intent would swallow the exception. Continue reading Comment: Former Surf City Mayor says Closed Water Agency Meeting Violates the Brown Act

Commentary: Public Officials Have an Obligation to Leave No Doubt

By Merle Moshiri
Special to the Surf City Voice

Last week I sent a complaint to the California Fair Political Practices Commission asking it to investigate what I believe are serious violations of the California Fair Political Practices Act, including failure to report income and conflict of interest voting, by John V. Foley, Chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

Foley is not an elected representative of the people. He was appointed to the MWD by our own Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC). He was then elected by MWD members to be chairperson of that body.

The details of Foley’s apparent misconduct have been provided in reports by the Surf City Voice and the Voice of OC. According to those reports, Foley failed to disclose over $600,000 in past income, most of it to his wife, from government and private sources. Also, according to those reports, he arguably cast illegal votes (as an MWD director) on matters related to that income.

Those details have been ignored by the OC Register and the Los Angeles Times even though they have been contacted repeatedly by myself and other concerned citizens. That is why I feel compelled to take action as a public citizen: our public officials and our largest self-proclaimed watchdog institutions have failed us, so concerned citizens must act to take back control of their government.

I filed my complaint last week, but doing so was partly the result of a frustrating process that started 10 years ago.

At that time, many of us in living in southeast Huntington Beach became concerned with plans to build a private ocean desalination plant in our area.  Initially, it appeared to be yet another piece of ugly industry being added to our community that already played host to the AES power generator, with its huge smoke stacks, the OC Sanitation District’s sewage treatment plant, the City Trucking depot, and the ASCON toxic waste dump—38 acres of hazardous waste material dumped close to our homes and schools—that still needs remediation.

Did yet another industry need to be built on our share of the coast?

Upon closer scrutiny, we discovered that the company planning and pitching the desalination plant, Poseidon Resources, Inc., had never built a fully functioning ocean desalination plant before.

But Poseidon pitched its project as a purely private one. The public would pay nothing; it would reap the benefits, but without taking the risks.  Four miles of our streets would be trenched for pipelines, but apparently we were supposed to accept that as one of the hazards of living that came with having a home in our area.

As our research progressed, we learned that there wasn’t any real need in Huntington Beach for desalinated water. We also learned that the “no cost to the public” promise was a pipe dream because ocean desalination was the most expensive alternative source of water. By contrast, water recycling (the Ground Water Replenishment System in Fountain Valley), conservation and retention were all much less expensive water sources.

The more we learned about the Poseidon project, the more skeptical we became.

Why would our public officials be so quick to jump on such a super expensive, energy exhausting, environmentally damaging and out-dated form of technology when there were other readily available and more viable means of meeting our water needs?

When we delved into Poseidon’s dealings with our local city and water officials we were struck by the lack of accountability and transparency that we found while those officials were proposing to spend hundreds of millions of rate payer dollars with apparently little regard for how they would be spent.

Positions on water boards may be seen by some as plumb pickings with nice stipends, health insurance, expense accounts and other benefits along the way. But with election or appointment to these offices comes the responsibility to be ethical and follow the law.

I regularly attend many MWDOC meetings.  About a year ago it was announced that John Foley was going to share some office space at the agency’s headquarters in Fountain Valley.  I knew that he was the chairman of the Metropolitan Water District.  I noticed in a MWDOC expense report that Foley’s wife had been paid by MWDOC for consulting services. I asked about the legality of her contract and what the protocol was for selecting her out of all the other possible consultants.  The answers were not readily available.

Now it appears that Mr. Foley violated the law by not reporting his wife’s income (and some of his own) on his 700 forms and that he created an illegal conflicts of interest by voting on desalination issues that his wife was paid to work on and for contracts for companies that she worked for.

When asked by a local reporter about not reporting his wife’s consulting income, Foley said he didn’t know he was supposed to do that.  But Foley, who has been on the MWD since 1989 and undergoes ethics training by MWD every two years, should have known what his reporting obligations were.

So I ask, is his failure to comply with the law from ignorance or arrogance?  Either one does not go far in protecting the public.

Public trust goes hand in hand with transparency and truth.  Those endowed with the public trust have an obligation to give their constituents no cause for doubt.

 

Please Give Generously Now
Other Amount:
Your Web Address:

Water Boarding: MET Chairman John V. Foley’s $15,000 ‘Oversight’ Disclosed

John Earl
Surf City Voice

Lately, southern California’s top water official, John V. Foley, has been explaining his apparent violations of a state law that requires public officials to disclose their economic interests.

Foley is chairman of the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MWD).

The Surf City Voice recently reported that Foley, who was appointed to the MWD by the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), failed to report an estimated $248,000 of income that his wife, Mary Jane Foley, earned as a consultant for various water agencies in Los Angeles, Orange and San Diego counties, going back to 2004. That disclosure came from public records obtained by the Voice.

Now, more public records obtained since then reveal that Foley also failed to report over $15,000 of his own income as a private consultant for the Moulton Niguel Water District (Moulton) in south Orange County going back to late 2008.

His failure to report that income was “an oversight,” Foley told the Voice.

The newly obtained documents include the invoices that Foley filed at Moulton when he worked as a private consultant for that agency under a contract (also obtained by the Voice) that is still open.  But he did not report that income on the original financial disclosure (700) forms he filed with the MWD nor in amended versions that followed, records show. Continue reading Water Boarding: MET Chairman John V. Foley’s $15,000 ‘Oversight’ Disclosed

Water Boarding: Has Ocean Desalination’s Swan Song Been Sung in Orange County?

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

An Irvine water official recently let members of the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC) board know that their public relations efforts on behalf of ocean desalination aren’t necessarily welcomed in his agency’s jurisdiction, which stretches across the county’s mid-section as its largest water district.

MWDOC is the retailer for 28 water agencies throughout the county.

Open dissent by local water officials toward ocean desalination projects is rarely if ever heard at MWDOC meetings, where the belief that such projects, however costly, are a vital part of a larger water portfolio is all but officially treated as sacrosanct.

The official, Peer Swan, one of five directors for the Irvine Ranch Water District, spoke out at a monthly meeting of MWDOC’s Public Affairs and Legislation Committee held on Monday, Dec. 19. He told the board that the agencies that don’t agree with the premise of the PR campaign should be able to opt out.

“I would expect that you would respect your customer’s request not to go in and do a PR campaign on something they don’t support,” Swan said.

MWDOC’s directors were discussing plans to increase their efforts to educate county residents about the supposed needs for ocean desalination in Orange County.

MWDOC wants to convince county residents that desalinated ocean water will guarantee them an endless and reliable supply of drinking water during future water shortages to be caused – inevitably – by droughts or by earthquakes that will break water supply lines; or worse, cause the collapse of the California Delta, which supplies about half of Orange County’s water.

MWDOC is pushing two major ocean desalination projects in Orange County. One of them would be in Huntington Beach where Poseidon Resources, Inc. won approval by the city to build (with the help of huge public subsidies) one of the largest and costliest desalination plants in the western hemisphere (the other, similar plant, would be built by Poseidon in Carlsbad in San Diego County)—after offering tax increments and other financial benefits.

Poseidon is stumbling its way through the final stages of the permit process but still lacks private financing. MWDOC is seeking $350 million in public assistance to make the project cost effective for the company and to attract the private investors that it (Poseidon) needs to move forward.

The other, smaller project, which is backed by five south county water agencies, would be publicly owned and located adjacent to San Juan Creek on property that is owned by South Coast Water District.

Unlike the Poseidon plant, which would suck in over 100 million gallons of sea water a day through the intake pipes used by a huge power plant, its ocean intake system would be buried under the beach at Dana Point, where a pilot plant already is operating.

Far from shovel ready, the Dana Point desalination project seems headed for a decision by the local agencies sometime in 2012. From that point it would move into the final design stage and permitting by the relevant government bodies. Construction would start in the 2017 or 2018, according to project manager Karl Seckel.

MWDOC’s staff provided details of the agency’s strategy for gaining public support for the Dana Point project at the meeting.

“We have been working with the project participants to begin getting either letters of support or formal endorsements from community groups, business organizations, and environmental groups within their area, but also county wide,” explained David Cordero, MWDOC’s Director of Governmental Affairs.

Responding to Swan, General Manager Kevin Hunt elaborated on the broader scope of MWDOC’s outreach efforts, including the Poseidon project, which 21 county water agencies, including IRWD, have indicated an interest in, however tenuous. Very few of those agencies disagree with continuing to discuss ocean desalination “as a viable option county wide,” he said.

MWDOC Director Wayne Clark, whose district makes up about half of the IRWD service area, took umbrage with Swan’s suggestion that MWDOC was out of touch. “I represent Irvine as well as other areas and I think that I’m quite capable of communicating with my own constituents,” he said.

But Swan persisted. “We’re in negotiations with Poseidon,” he said. “Until we get a negotiated contract, I think that using the MO that they used in San Diego, creating a tsunami before the agencies approve things, is an inappropriate thing in Orange County.”

Swan told the Voice after the meeting that he doesn’t want the county’s water agencies to be boxed into supporting programs that don’t make much sense. And he thinks there should be a defined program with agreed upon principles and financing before MWDOC or its agencies seek public support for it.

Swan is personally opposed to both ocean desalination plants but not for any of the environmental reasons often listed by other opponents, who are concerned that, especially in the case of Poseidon, marine life will be killed by the associated intake and outflow systems. He is opposed because he believes that neither project will fulfill its intended purpose—to provide a needed or cost-effective water supply.

An ocean desalination plant by its nature has to run 24/7, an expensive operation, Swan says; but the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California (MET), MWDOC’s umbrella agency, “already provides a reliable supply for water for South County 98 percent of the time at a fraction of the cost of the [Dana Point] desal plant.”

Results of a recent poll conducted by Lewis Consulting

And South County residents would be subject to any water shortages (including rationing) that the MET would apply uniformly as a matter of policy, he adds.

“So the plan itself doesn’t supply water in the event of shortages,” Swan said.  “A couple of hundred million dollars for a very small amount of water is a very expensive project for shortages. And there are much cheaper alternatives to provide reliability to South County which have not been as actively pursued.”

There is no need for the Poseidon project either, according to Swan, because it would serve an area that already gets 70 – 80 percent of its water from an existing underground water supply that could provide 100 percent of the water needed in an emergency.

“What these projects will do is provide an expensive new source of water for MET that the local agencies will pay for,” Swan says. “It will add reliability to the MET system because if you produce water in Huntington Beach or Dana Point, MET will no longer need to supply them because there is cheaper water elsewhere. Thank you very much!”

In this election season, as Orange County voters are constantly warned about government overspending, including bullet train boondoggles, ocean desalination critics like Swan may have found a crack in the veneer of unanimity that MWDOC uses as a cloak to protect and promote its desal dreams.

A new poll, conducted for MWDOC by Lewis Consulting, with a sample of 500 registered Orange County voters, shows a statistically significant decline in support for ocean desalination—from 73 percent in 2008 to 63 percent last October.

In each case the respondents were asked, “When thinking about increasing Orange County’s water supply, do you think ocean desalination is a good idea or a bad idea?”

Sixty-three percent is still a landslide of public support for ocean desalination, but that support might not all be transferable to MWDOC’s two ocean desalination projects, which the 500 voters weren’t asked about.

In fact, there may be a lot of leverage for critics of the Poseidon and Dana Point desalination proposals provided by the questions that, so far, pollsters haven’t asked the public.

MWDOC Director Larry Dick, a stalwart supporter of both projects and ocean desalination in general, may have unintentionally revealed that opening at a Nov. 21 board meeting after the poll’s presenter, John Lewis, explained that seniors, at 75 percent, were more likely than any other group to believe that ocean desalination was a good idea.

Dick asked Lewis if, “The seniors who are so in favor of desalination—are they aware of how much it is going to cost versus other things [water supply sources]?”

“No,” Lewis answered, adding that obtaining an in-depth look at voter sentiments would require asking questions that add the necessary information.

Like, “Would you feel the same way if you knew it was going to cost 40 percent more?”

“Exactly,” Lewis said.

Photo, top right: Mobile testing facility for Dana Point ocean desalination project. Courtesy MWDOC

Please Give Generously Now
Other Amount:
Your Web Address:

Not So ‘Wise Guy’ Jersey Joe Takes City $, Threatens 9-11 War When Caught

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Sunday, Sept. 26, was a hot day in Surf City.

For me, however, most of the heat came from a chance encounter on a street corner with a local politician, not from the late blooming summer sun.

That politician, Joseph John Carchio, a.k.a. Jersey Joe, possible former owner of Jersey Joe’s Italian Eatery at 424 Olive Street, would insult my integrity as a person and a journalist multiple times; no problem there, that goes with the territory.

But I was shocked—and nerve racked for the rest of the day—when Carchio, an otherwise congenial member of the Huntington Beach City Council since 2006, and with whom I had enjoyed a professional but cordial acquaintance the past four years, lashed out. In a fit of intense anger, expressed with squinted eyes, a tightly stretched face and deliberately pronounced words, Jersey Joe, everybody’s friend, threatened me with dire warnings of “war” and “9-11.”

Was the threat just a bluff of hot air from a reelection candidate, who is desperately trying to hold on to his seat on the council, amid embarrassing revelations by the Surf City Voice that he could have to pay back thousands of dollars to the taxpayers for health benefits that he had kept his ex-wife signed up for even after their divorce, a divorce which he had not revealed to the city or the public while maintaining on his two Facebook web sites that he is married and has eight children?

No doubt, with the emergence of Measure O—the city ballot infrastructure proposition that is partly aimed at the alleged excesses of the city’s public employees—in a time of great economic hardship and budget cutbacks for the city, the otherwise unemployed city councilperson has landed in the worst crisis of his political life. Continue reading Not So ‘Wise Guy’ Jersey Joe Takes City $, Threatens 9-11 War When Caught

Not So ‘Wise Guy’ Jersey Joe Carchio Takes City $, Threatens ‘9-11’ War When Caught

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

Sunday, Sept. 26, was a hot day in Surf City.

For me, however, most of the heat came from a chance encounter on a street corner with a local politician, not from the late blooming summer sun.

That politician, Joseph John Carchio, a.k.a. Jersey Joe, possible former owner of Jersey Joe’s Italian Eatery at 424 Olive Street, would insult my integrity as a person and a journalist multiple times; no problem there, that goes with the territory.

But I was shocked—and nerve racked for the rest of the day—when Carchio, an otherwise congenial member of the Huntington Beach City Council since 2006, and with whom I had enjoyed a professional but cordial acquaintance the past four years, lashed out. In a fit of intense anger, expressed with squinted eyes, a tightly stretched face and deliberately pronounced words, Jersey Joe, everybody’s friend, threatened me with dire warnings of “war” and “9-11.”

Was the threat just a bluff of hot air from a reelection candidate, who is desperately trying to hold on to his seat on the council, amid embarrassing revelations by the Surf City Voice that he could have to pay back thousands of dollars to the taxpayers for health benefits that he had kept his ex-wife signed up for even after their divorce,  a divorce which he had not revealed to the city or the public while maintaining on his two Facebook web sites that he is married and has eight children?

No doubt, with the emergence of Measure O—the city ballot infrastructure proposition that is partly aimed at the alleged excesses of the city’s public employees—in a time of great economic hardship and budget cutbacks for the city, the otherwise unemployed city councilperson has landed in the worst crisis of his political life. Continue reading Not So ‘Wise Guy’ Jersey Joe Carchio Takes City $, Threatens ‘9-11’ War When Caught

Defactualization: Bogus polls emerge from sea bottom before Poseidon hearing

By John Earl
Surf City Voice

In July the Surf City Voice exposed a bogus public opinion poll conducted by Poseidon Resources Inc. last spring that was obediently promoted by the Orange County Register’s Huntington Beach reporter, Jaimee Lyn Fletcher (Probolsky + Poseidon + Register = Bogus Desal Poll) in a subsequent news feature.

The poll purported to show an increase in support and decrease in opposition to Poseidon’s proposed seawater desalination plant, to be located at the corner of Newland Avenue and PCH in the southeast portion of Huntington Beach.

examining the cards
SCV editor John Earl examines "support" cards that Poseidon Resources collected over the past 5 years. Photo: Marie Braddock

We wrote: “But Fletcher’s article, like the poll it purports to inform its readers about, is laced with deception and wrapped in secrecy, no doubt providing a service to Poseidon but leading the Register’s unknowing readers astray in this election year.”

The Voice article revealed that the methodology used to conduct the poll, the wording of its questions, the name of the polling firm (Probolsky) and the political bias of its owner–and that he is a contributing columnist for the Register–were all kept secret by Fletcher and her editors, largely at the request of Poseidon.

Poseidon officials refused to reveal the vital details of the bogus poll, but just days before Tuesday’s (Sept. 7) City Council hearing  on the Poseidon project, Poseidon VP Scott Maloni revealed some of the previously secret questions of that poll, confirming the inherent bias of Poseidon’s polling methods that are intended to manipulate respondents to chose the “correct” answers. But Poseidon’s latest poll and its last minute PR stunt were clearly meant to be a thinly veiled threat to all current city council candidates, including sitting Councilmember Joe Carchio, who is running a troubled reelection campaign and needs all the support he can get.

A concrete example of that threat is on Poseidon’s website (emphasis is Poseidon’s):

“By about a three to one margin, Huntington Beach voters are more likely to support than oppose a City Council candidate that supports the desalination project (56.2% more likely to support vs. 17.7% more likely to oppose a candidate supportive of the desalination project).”

As part of a publicity stunt to promote the poll and to strong arm the City Council into passing the Poseidon’s updated Environmental Impact report, plus a long awaited and secretive pipeline franchise agreement and updated Owner Participation Agreement and development permits on tonight’s council agenda, Maloni dropped off over 4,700 postcards “signed by residents of Huntington Beach and Orange County,” according to his accompanying letter to Mayor Cathy Green, that he claimed are “a reflection of the broad support for the project throughout Huntington Beach, as documented by recent public opinion surveys and the project’s growing number of individual and organizational Continue reading Defactualization: Bogus polls emerge from sea bottom before Poseidon hearing

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.

Please Give Generously Now
Other Amount:
Your Web Address:

SE Meeting: Poseidon, Ascon, AES top the list

May 18, 2010
4:30 PM

Huntington Beach
Civic Center
Lower Level, Meeting Room B-8

Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy, Chair; Council Member Joe Carchio, Council Member Devin Dwyer & City Staff

Contact: Economic Development Department @ 536-5542

  1. 1. Public Comments

The Southeast Area Committee welcomes public comments on all items on this agenda or of community interest.  We respectfully request that this public forum be utilized in a positive and/or constructive manner.  Please focus your comments on the issue or concern that you would like to bring to the attention of Committee Members.

  1. 2. Poseidon Project……………………………Ricky Ramos – Planning

  1. 3. Ascon Landfill Project…………………….Rosemary Medel – Planning

Update on the status of Interim Removal Measure by Mary Adams Urashima

  1. 4. AES ……….……………………………………Staff

Introduction of new AES Plant Manager Weikko Wirta

  1. 5. Park Projects……….………………….……Dave Dominguez – Community Services

Presentation on Community Gardens by David Baronfeld

  1. 6. Major Development Projects……………Staff

  1. 7. Capital Improvement Projects…….…..Tony Olmos – Public Works

Newland Street Widening

Newland/Hamilton Traffic Signal

  1. 8. Adjournment to July 20, 2010