Councilman Perello’s Thoughts and Observations Regarding Last Thursday’s Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Public Hearing on the Channel Islands Harbor Water Quality

By Oxnard Councilman Bert Perello

Editor’s note: Channel Islands Harbor is within Councilman Perello’s new Oxnard district-based voting area (District1)


From the Working Desk of Bert E. Perello

City Councilman

300 West Third Street, 4th Floor

Oxnard, CA 93030
(805) 240-6194

E-mail: [email protected]

Councilman Perello’s Thoughts and Observations Regarding Last Thursday’s Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board Public Hearing on the Channel Islands Harbor Waterways Issues & Action Plan for City Executive Management Performance Improvements

(September 18, 2018)

Last Thursday, September 13th, I delivered remarks to the members of the Thursday’s Los Angeles Regional Water Quality Control Board (LARWQCB) during their public hearing concerning a Tentative Termination Order for NRG’s Waste Discharge Requirement (WDR) permit governing discharge of Once Through Cooling (OTC) waters into the Pacific Ocean.

Unfortunately, for various reasons (most significantly the legal advice given by their agency counsel) that Board elected to terminate the WDR permit prematurely; which had the practical effect of allowing NRG to escape any responsibility to help fund and resolve the emergent water quality degradation problems in the harbor waterways.

Notwithstanding this, I believe that by working together, Channel Islands Harbor Waterways’ residents and property owners, the City, and the County have begun to achieve some significant forward movement and progress. Here’s why:

First, there was very good turn-out of many concerned Channel Islands Harbor Waterways’ residents who attended and participated effectively during the several hours long public hearing held in Ventura on Thursday. And nearly all stayed to the bitter end.

Second, by working closely with Supervisor John Zaragoza in the trenches on this issue over the last month or so, I believe that he and I have developed a mutual level of trust required for the City, the County, and ultimately in partnership with the State, to move forward together in joint productive efforts to tackle this critical public health, safety, and welfare problem at the Channel Islands Harbor Waterways.

Both John Zaragoza and I are fully committed to working together effectively to jointly oversee and facilitate ongoing efforts by Oxnard City Manager Alex Ngyuen, and County CEO Mike Powers, to marshal City and County staff resources necessary to work these issues towards effective resolution.

Finally, in an encouraging development today, Samantha Omana, Field Representative for Assemblymember Monique Limon in an e-mail to the Oxnard City Council, pledged efforts to share information, work to identify State resources and technical assistance, and discuss possible solutions.  We still have a long way to go, but because of last Thursday’s public hearing, I believe that Oxnard has now gotten the attention and interest of the State and Regional Water Boards, and our State Legislative delegation.

Now we ALL must work hard to turn that attention and interest into State resources and assistance required to help the City, the County, and harbor residents develop a workable and sustainable long-term solution to the emergent water quality degradation issues at the Channel Islands Harbor Waterways.

At this juncture, one of the most important observations I can make is that whether we are talking about the emergent water quality degradation problem in the Channel Islands Harbor Waterways, or the parking problems currently being experienced by residents at the Villa Victoria affordable housing complex built adjacent to the River Ridge Golf course, or the slow death spiral of Downtown businesses at the same time that hundreds of thousands of dollars have been spent on plans for renewal over decades while at the same time the City approved bigger and better regional shopping centers, or allowing utility infrastructure to crumble without adequate capitalization, the City fundamentally has to change the way it does business.

Making patch-work decisions without taking a proactive, holistic, long-range, view of how best to manage the City’s existing assets, both capital and human assets, has been tremendously harmful to our City in the past.

And over the years, many reactively-urgent short-term fixes have amounted to putting patches upon patches; and postponing the day of reckoning until some future “next” crisis provides the impetus to move from apathy to frantic engagement and arguably ineffective reactive action.

As one of five members on the Oxnard City Council, I am focusing my efforts on ensuring that City Manager and City Attorney, the only two City Employees who report directly the City Council, carry-out the Council’s policy directives faithfully, effectively, and manage the public’s money frugally and responsibly.

And here’s my 3-part Action Plan to help the City Council better exercise oversight of the performance of both the City Manager and the City Attorney.

First, I have proposed for the Council’s adoption, the first ever City Manager job description and performance standards and evaluation metrics in the City’s history. Once adopted, this will go a long way towards ensuring accuracy, accountability, credibility, solvency, and transparency in the City’s Finances.

And once the Council adopts a job description and performance measures for the CM, I intend to recommend the adoption of a job description and performance evaluation measures for the City Attorney, who is the second of two employees who directly reports and is accountable to the Oxnard City Council.

Second, I have and will continue to strongly push for the preparation and adoption of an enterprise-wide Strategic City Asset Management Plan; one that embraces the identification, development, and optimization of both the City’s physical and human capital assets.

The impacts of not having such an Asset Management Plan in place for a municipal corporation with a $400+ Million annual budget, and nearly $3 Billion in physical assets, is painfully obvious to anyone who has observed and lived through the political sausage-making on the Oxnard City Council in the past.

Finally, I will continue to urge our new City Manager to develop an effective organizational employee development and performance management system for ALL city employees. One that establishes and enforces a clear performance nexus between desired Council-driven program outcomes and holding staff members accountable for their role and responsibilities in ensuring effective job performance, as well as providing the training that they require.

One thing is crystal clear. The City cannot keep shooting itself in the foot no matter how good the intentions of individual decision-makers may be. Working smarter, not harder, with the broader community we need to marshal a working “majority” on the City Council that has the political courage to honestly grapple with the question “Where is this City going to be in five years? Ten years? And even longer?”

If we all choose to forget the hard and painful lessons of the past, we will be condemned to repeat them, again and again in the future, potentially with even greater harmful effect.

If you have any questions, or wish to discuss this with me further, please call me at (805) 240-6194, or send me an e-mail at: [email protected].

Channel Islands Harbor Water Quality FAQs 7-3-18

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