The Culver City Democratic Club’s July meeting will feature a talk by C. Tom Williams, Ph.D. (Geology) on how to evaluate a draft environmental impact report (EIR). This will be in anticipation of the draft EIR that Culver City hopes to roll out to the public in the September/October period. The EIR will cover oil and gas exploration in the Culver City portion of the Inglewood Oil Field which covers 10% of the entire field.
According to case law, the EIR is at the heart of CEQA (California Environmental Quality Act), a California statute passed in 1970 after the US federal government passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to institute a statewide policy of environmental protection. CEQA requires state and local agencies within California to follow a protocol of analysis and public disclosure of environmental impacts of proposed projects and adopt feasible measures to mitigate those impacts. One alternative that a lead agency must usually consider is the no project alternative, which means cancellation of the project and anticipated proposals of new projects in its place. Among all the alternatives, the EIR identifies the environmentally superior alternative; if the environmentally superior alternative is the no project alternative, the EIR identifies the environmentally superior alternative among the other alternatives.
The EIR process begins with the circulation of a Notice of Preparation (NOP) which informs the public, responsible agencies that an EIR will be prepared for a given project. After preparation of the draft EIR, a Notice of Completion (NOC) must be submitted to the Office of Planning and Research which includes project location, location of review copies and public comment review period. If the draft EIR is circulated through the State Clearinghouse, then the public comment period must be 45 days minimally. The lead agency must prepare a final EIR before approving the project. The lead agency then certifies the final EIR and issues its findings. Should significant and unavoidable impacts remain after mitigation, a Statement of Overriding Considerations must be prepared. Finally, the lead agency may decide whether or how to approve or carry out the project after which a notice of determination (NOD) must be filed within five days of approval. Appeal periods and litigation avenues remain after the NOD.
As our Club prepares for the upcoming showing of Robert Greenwald’s most recent documentary, "Making a Killing," I was reading about our state Senate’s approval of eleven gun bills in response to the San Bernadino shootings. As you will all recall on December 2nd, 2015 two attackers killed 14 people in San Bernadino as they were attending an office Christmas party.
According to Senate President Pro Tem, Kevin de Leon (D – Los Angeles), 30,000 people are killed by guns every year in the United States. Gun violence has reached epidemic proportions! The San Bernadino shootings also resulted in a separate gun control initiative by Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsome that is expected to quality for the November 8th ballot.
Two of the bills approved by the state Senate would ban the manufacture and sale of semiautomatic rifles with detachable magazines, as well as semiautomatic, center-fire rifles with "bullet buttons." A bullet button is best described as a recessed button that allows the removal of the magazine when pressed by a sharp object. Those already in possession of such guns would have to register them with the state as assault rifles.
Another measure would ban the possession of large capacity magazines, i.e. those holding more than 10 bullets. Another bill written by De Leon would require those buying ammunition to present identification, which would be used by the seller to check to make sure that the buyer is not a felon or otherwise prohibited from possessing guns. This bill is supported by the Los Angeles Police Chief, Charlie Beck and LA County Sheriff, Jim McDonnell as a way to make sure criminals do not get ammunition.
Other bills would require owners of homemade guns to get a serial number for the firearms, register them with the state and undergo a background check. Another would mandate that gun owners report lost or stolen firearms to the authorities within five days of discovery that they are missing.
Other provisions include limiting lending of firearms to specified family members and establishing a Firearm Violence Research Center at one of the UC campuses to study potential policies to reduce shooting deaths and injuries. Please be sure to reach out to your assembly member ASAP as there will be a vote on this in the assembly before the end of June. Let’s make California a safer place for all!
In the April 16th issue of the LA Times I was just reading an article by Evan Halper and Matt Pearce, entitled “Angrier Sanders backers oversell message,” describing how superdelegates to the Democratic National Convention were awakened by 2 A.M. phone calls and targeted in social media posts. There was the story of an activist in Chicago who unleashed a movement to “harass” superdelegates backing Clinton, with an online “hit list” complete with delegate phone numbers and some home addresses. Then, in the Wednesday April 27th issue of the LA Times, following the primary elections in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware and Rhode Island, there appears to be a new equilibrium in the air. There is an air of inevitability and a new normal that appears to be settling over both major parties. Everyone knows that Donald Trump won all five primaries, earning the majority of the 172 delegates at stake. But enough of the candidate of the other party! Hillary Clinton’s win in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware on Tuesday, April 26th earned her 90% of the 2,383 delegates needed to clinch the Democratic nomination, according to the Associated Press (AP). Clinton has 2,141 delegates while Sanders has 1,321 according to the AP. Interestingly, this has transformed Bernie Sanders into a candidate influencing the Democratic Party’s agenda rather than winning its presidential nomination. Furthermore, he has reduced his campaign staff by two thirds, according to reports on NPR. To his credit, Bernie Sanders has been effective in bringing the issue of getting unaccountable money out of politics and giving greater emphasis to closing the gap of inequality into the mainstream consciousness of the Democratic Party. To our credit as Democrats, we have been able to debate the issues and formulate platforms rather than resort to sophomoric name calling and demonizing as the methods of persuasion. Clearly, we appear to be dealing with a consciousness devoted to raising the plight of everyone in contradistinction to an egocentric consciousness that purports to elevate itself by oppressing the rest that it sees as different from itself. How could the latter ever succeed in a democracy where we have had a tradition of looking out for one another? Indeed, in state after state, the platform that concerned itself with the economy, healthcare and terrorism has won consistently over those who were concerned primarily with income inequality as their top issue. In addition, those concerned with gun violence won over those who questioned the right of families of victims to sue the manufacturer of the rifle used in the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It behooves us all as Democrats to make sure that the progress that President Obama made with the Affordable Care Act are preserved for posterity, along with environmental conservation measures such as rejection of the XL Pipeline to be built from Canada through the Midwest. It is up to all of us to make sure that no American is discriminated against because of their race, religious preference, gender or who they love. There is only one party that will stand up and fight for all of us, the Democratic Party. Let’s make sure we continue to have a Democrat in the White House, come November.