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Measures on Carson mayor, Redondo Beach power plant losing

March 6, 2013 | 10:47 am

Carson Mayor Jim Dear

Unofficial election results showed a measure intended to oust Carson's longtime mayor losing by a wide margin, while an initiative in Redondo Beach that would have shut down a power plant there appeared headed for a narrow defeat.

In Carson, Measure M would have switched the mayor's seat from a directly elected post to one appointed by the council on a rotating basis.

The initiative appeared to be a bid to oust Mayor Jim Dear, who has been on the council for 12 years and mayor since 2004. He also fought off a challenge in the election from Councilwoman Lula Davis-Holmes.

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With all precincts and vote-by-mail ballots counted, the measure was losing 83.2% to 16.8%.

Dear has drawn fire from residents and a rebuke from the Los Angeles County district attorney in recent years over his use of a mute button to silence unruly public speakers -- or, some said, to cut off his critics. He survived a recall election in 2008 launched by residents who said he was too cozy with developers.

Reached by telephone, Dear called Measure M a "power grab" by three members of the council. He pointed to the measure's defeat and his reelection as "a mandate for growth and progress and job creation and improvement in the city."

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 "Measure M was a distraction and an attempt to confuse the voters," he said.

The election also saw the balance of power shift back to Dear on the council with the election of attorney Albert Robles, a colorful figure who has defended politicians in high-profile corruption cases -- including a former South Gate city treasurer also named Albert Robles, and former Lynwood Councilman Fernando Pedroza. Robles mounted an unsuccessful challenge to former Dist. Atty. Steve Cooley in 2008.

In Redondo Beach, Measure A would have rezoned the 50-acre site of the gas-fired AES Redondo Beach plant and required the plant to shut down by the end of 2020. It also would have thrown a likely roadblock in the way of AES' plans to build a new plant to comply with changed state regulations on the use of ocean water for cooling.

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If Measure A passes, the California Energy Commission could still choose to permit a new plant, but proponents of the measure say the commission is unlikely to overrule local zoning decisions.

With provisional and vote-by-mail ballots not yet counted, the measure was losing 51.7% to 48.3%, by a margin of 383 votes.

The measure would require that 60% to 70% of the land be converted to parks or open space and would allow commercial development on the rest of it.

Proponents of the measure say the new plant would cause more pollution because despite being more efficient, it would run more often, and that other uses of the land -- such as an upscale hotel -- would bring in more revenue to the city.

Opponents, including four of five council members, and AES, which has spent more than $300,000 since the beginning of the year to defeat the measure, said the measure would trample on private property rights and probably lead to litigation.

AES Southland President Eric Pendergraft said the 500 megawatts of power the new plant would provide -- enough to light half a million households -- would be important to support the development of renewable energy sources and potentially to help replace the power from the shuttered San Onofre nuclear plant if those units remain out of service in the long term.


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-- Abby Sewell

Photo: Carson Mayor Jim Dear in 2009. Credit: Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times