At a lengthy council meeting on Monday,October 26, 2020, the city council voted unanimously on two issues that had been the subject of many meetings and countless hours of discussion; Removing Lieutenant Luis Martinez from the Equity and Human Relations Advisory Committee, and beginning the five year plan to shut down oil drilling in the city.
First, the challenge of having Martinez as the labor representative on the recently created board had caused serious concern from many members of the community, and his inclusion on the panel had been controversial from the beginning. Martinez was found guilty of killing an unarmed robbery suspect in 2010, and had cost the city $8.8 million in damages paid to the victim’s family. He was appointed to the board by the police union as a labor representative.
The EHRAC, created this year as an “advisory body to the City Council and/or the City Manager … to recommend programs, policies, and activities that promote positive human relations and equitable outcomes and opportunities in all aspects of community life.”
The nine member body includes seven Members-at-Large, one Youth Representative, and one Labor Representative.
At the beginning of the discussion of the item, Council member Daniel Lee offered, “In order to have a clear, sober, fair conversation, we should have a different representative. I think we do want to have a conversation that includes all community members, and having this representative gives us a handicap…I believe that this was an inappropriate appointment, and that the process was inappropriate. If my colleagues agree, I would support putting someone else in the slot.”
While Mayor Goran Eriksson made an argument that having the labor representative treated that same way as the other members of the board would have the effect of nullifying the position, and making it “just another person sitting on the board as a private individual,” he was unsuccessful in persuading any other council members.
Vice May Alex Fisch countered by saying “It’s not labor’s representative, it’s our representative from labor.”
The chair of the committee, Rebecca Rona-Tuttle, held that it was unfair for the bargaining units to simply appoint representatives when everyone else on the commission had to apply.
Lee stated, “The point is about transparency in the process. [It’s] fine to have nuanced processes for different appointments.” His stance that having the officer on the board hindered the stated work of the committee won agreement.
Council member Meghan Sahli-Wells noted “This really is in context with the other work the committee has been doing.”
The vote was called to adopt amended bylaws for the EHRAC, and to relieve Lt. Martinez of his appointment. It passed with five ayes.
The Oil Drilling Subcommittee, Vice Mayor Fisch and Council Member Sahli-Wells, successfully presented their case to begin the process of amortizing the closure of oil drilling in the Culver City owned areas of the Inglewood Oil Field. After almost a decade of study and consultation, the city voted to begin on a proposed five year plan to “eliminate long-standing nonconforming oil and gas uses; Improve land use consistency and compatibility issues between those activities conducted in the City IOF area and other surrounding community uses; Eliminate growing concern and lack of continuity resulting from a continuous change of oil field operators, as experienced in recent history, that may have limited interest to invest in maximizing compliance and compatibility with Culver City standards and objectives; and to replace obsolete industrialized oil-production uses with modern urban uses that are determined by the City to be compatible and more directly beneficial.”
With the current economic crisis seeing a huge drop in oil prices and oil futures, this might be even less expensive than has been proposed.
The vote was unanimous.