By Sue Pascoe
What started as a routine adherence to Pacific Palisades Community Council (PPCC) bylaws turned into a letter-writing and e-mail campaign challenging Jim Rea, the proposed alternate candidate for Area 3 (Marquez).
At the Oct. 23 PPCC meeting, President Chris Spitz asked for civility. “Jim is a stand-up, honorable guy and I am upset by the personal attacks.” She then announced Rea had withdrawn as a candidate.
“It is long past time to stop the attacks on me and on the PPCC,” Rea wrote in a letter to the council. “I request that my name be withdrawn from consideration. And until this recent barrage of attacks on me, it was my pleasure to serve my community. I believe I did so with honesty, integrity and frankly, with an enormous amount of time and effort.”
The Community Council held its traditional election for eight area representatives and one at-large representative in September. After the election, in which Rea, an incumbent, lost to Greg Sinaiko (154-42), Rea placed his name in consideration for the alternate position. If the elected representative is absent, the alternate attends the meeting and votes on agenda items.
According to PPCC bylaws, a commit- tee of three past chairs reviews applications and makes recommendations to the PPCC Board. Past presidents Shirley Haggstrom, Richard Cohen and Barbara Cohen chose Rea.
At the Oct. 9 Council meeting, Sinaiko said he didn’t want Rea because he wanted a like-minded individual as his alternate.
Cohen defended the committee’s choice, saying “Rea has helped with our website, the Citizen dinner, raised money for community council and worked on numerous committees, helping wherever he can.”
Palisades News has obtained letters from two Area 3 residents who also opposed Rea. Both felt that since he had lost the election, he did not deserve to sit on the board. But, their main contention was that when he served as a DWP Task Force member in 2013, looking at proposed sites in western Pacific Palisades, he didn’t immediately reject any.
“It’s true, I did explore many options,” Rea said in his letter to PPCC, “but that was the job of the task force. But we voted unanimously to place the Marquez School site in the Tier 3 category, which means ‘Do Not Build Here.’”
Area 3 alternate candidate Marc Zussman wrote in a four-page letter: “Mr. Rea also stated at the PPCC Candidates Forum before the election, ‘I am committed to doing everything I can to prevent the station from being built near any of the many schools in the area.”
Zussman surmised that since there are schools near four or five of the sites, “it doesn’t sound to me like Jim Rea absolutely opposed building the DWP station next to Marquez Elementary School.”
Rea responded, “I did oppose placing it on the DWP’s property adjacent to the schoolyard.”
A second four-page letter to the PPCC from Area 3 resident Danielle Samulon accused Rea of deception regarding the DWP station.
“Mr. Rea claimed in campaign materials that he believes a power distributing station should not be placed near a school. However, this assertion is belied by his own actions while he served on the joint DWP/LAUSD Community Task Force, along with me and 13 others.”
She also wrote that the past presidents committee failed to disclose potential conflicts of interest and said that Cohen and Haggstrom are in the Temescal Canyon Association, which is the primary group that opposes placement of the distributing station next to Fire Station 23 in Los Liones Canyon.
Spitz noted that the three-chair committee was chosen before alternates were nominated.
“The most important consideration was whether the candidates were known to have a record of positive contributions to the community and PPCC,” Spitz said. “Candidates were not queried regarding a specific issue. It should be noted that Jim Rea has gone on the record publicly as being against the substation at the school.”
Steve Boyers, a past Council president and the new Area 7 alternate, pointed out that through the bylaws, Rea rightfully could remain on the board, but that he had resigned in the best interest of the PPCC. “He’s to be commended,” Boyers said.
Reza Akef (Area 8) said he had read the numerous e-mails that had been sent about the issue. “No one should have a reputation tarnished because of a volunteer position: working for the community on this council; it should not be a financial detriment.”
“I am horrified by the way Rea was treated,” added Carol Bruch, second alternate in Area 4.
That same committee is now tasked with selecting a new alternate for Area 3, per PPCC bylaws.