A proposal recommending a ban on single-use polystyrene in Culver City was presented to City Council for discussion on August 8th by Ballona Creek Renaissance (BCR) as part one of Agenda Item A-1. Part two of this agenda item suggested “direction to City Manager as Deemed Appropriate.” Staff report included a 26-frame Power Point from the City of Santa Monica Presentation to the Sustainability Subcommittee, consisting of Council members Meghan Sahli-Wells and Göran Eriksson. Sahli-Wells reported that an excellent cross-section of our community had participated in discussion at that meeting.
At the August 8th City Council Meeting a long list of passionate, well-informed speakers voiced their support for the ban, reiterating much of the information contained in the BCR’s well-researched five-page proposal.
As one of the speakers at that meeting, I was shocked by the diversionary tactics employed by Mayor Jim Clarke in particular: his efforts to stall and postpone, as well as to confuse the public by focusing on tangential points that did not belong in this discussion.
I was proud of Meghan Sahli-Wells, however, for her brilliance and moral authority in countering the anti-ban arguments put forth by Mayor Clarke, Vice Mayor Jeff Cooper, and her sustainability subcommittee co-member Göran Eriksson.
I was proud also of newly-elected city council member Thomas Small, elected not only with more votes than Goran Eriksson, but with endorsements from the Sierrra Club and the LA League of Conservation Voters. Eriksson did not earn those endorsements, and now it becomes clearer why not.
Small expressed how impressed he was at the intelligence and knowledge displayed by Council members and community members. Small said he hoped that this would help us move towards an ordinance at a speed ‘faster than the speed of government’. Rather than “floundering about in indecision,” he said Council should give direction to the City Manager and Staff, who could help us find “a sweet spot” for moving forward on a ban ordinance that would incorporate some of the other concerns such as recycling.
Clarke, Cooper, and Erikkson proceeded with their anti-ban arguments as if Small had not even spoken, or that his brilliant and honorable suggestion was not worthy of consideration. Vice Mayor Cooper ended up making a motion that the item be sent back to the Sustainability Committee, which Sahli-Wells said had reached an impasse. That motion passed with Small providing the only dissenting vote.
Later in the week, I was even more shocked to discover a Letter from Mayor Jim Clarke and Vice Mayor Jeff Cooper floating around the Internet denying their stalling tactics and also containing erroneous information: “In the end, the Council voted 4-1 to refer the issue back to the Council Sustainability Committee, consisting of Council members Meghan Sahli-Wells and Göran Eriksson, for further discussion and to work with staff in coming up with a proposed ordinance.” The latter half of this sentence was not part of Cooper’s motion.
What if Vice Mayor Cooper would be willing to retract his motion and allow Thomas Small to replace it with a new motion giving direction to Staff to find the “sweet spot” and move forward on a polystyrene ban “faster than the speed of government”?
Carlene Brown, MA. Ed.