SCAQMD Board-Packing Bill Fails – Spitzer and Pulido Amendments Go Down With It

Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de Leon’s attempt to pack the South Coast Air Quality Management District Board of Directors with “environmental justice” activists appointed from Sacramento died last night, after falling several votes short in the Assembly shortly before the midnight deadline.

SB 1387 was introduced in retaliation against Orange County cities voted last year to replace Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido with Lake Forest Councilman Dwight Robinson as their representative on the SCAQMD Board, which governs the regulation of stationary emissions sources in Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties. A majority of OC city representatives believe the powerful agency’s regulation of businesses and job creators is unnecessarily punitive and believed Robinson’s appointment would tilt the governing board more toward balancing economic growth with air quality.

Pulido is a Democrat anmd Robinson is a Republican, which endowed the shift a partisan patina (along with comments to that effect by California Republican Party Chairman Jim Brulte). Pulido reportedly reached out to the Democratic legislative leadership soon after her was removed, and SB 1387 was put in motion in part to return Pulido to the SCAQMD Board.

As OC Daily reported last week, the “Pulido Amendment” was inserted into SB 1387 on August 19. Under this new language the three additional state-appointed SCAQMD directors sere no longer restricted to being employees “environmental justice” organizations but could also be individuakls who “shall reside in and work directly with communities in the South Coast Air Basin that are disproportionately burdened by and vulnerable to high levels of pollution and issues of environmental justice, including, but not limited to, communities with diverse racial and ethnic populations and communities with low-income populations. In addition to any other applicant who may be considered, the Governor shall accept an application from a member of a city council or county board of supervisors who meets the criteria in this subparagraph and shall give appropriate consideration to appointing that applicant.”

This language directly fits Mayor Pulido.

At the same time – as OC Daily also reported last week – Orange County Supervisor Todd Supervisor tried to use SB 1387 as a weapon in the ongoing feud between himself and Supervisor Shawn Nelson. On August 18, Spitzer used his campaign committee to hire the lobbying firm of DiMare, Brown, Hicks and Kessler.

The next day, language was amended into SB 1387 that was virtually identical to language Spitzer had proposed adding to the county’s civil code in order to stop Nelson from driving a free “demonstration vehicle” as an SCAMD director while also collecting a county car allowance as a supervisor.

Both amendments intended to punish or reward specific elected officials went down to defeat with SB 1387. For the time being, local control over the South Coast Air Quality Management District will not be diluted in favor of greater control by state officials and the environmentalist special interest groups to whom they are responsive.

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