Ballona Wetlands

Ballona wetlands: Response to Shelly Luce

Response to Shelly Luce

By John Davis

Dr. Shelly Luce replied to an article written in the February Beachhead. It questioned her role as the Executive Director of a State Agency and her association with a private business that employs her.

Rather than responding to specific issues presented in the February Beachhead, Luce speaks to the subjective merits of her employer, then goes on to demonize Ballona Wetlands.

A point-by-point response is in order. First, she begins with an invalid argument form called an,“ Argumentum ad Hominem”, whereby she attacks the character or circumstances of an individual who is advancing a statement or argument instead of trying to disprove the truth of the statement or the soundness of the argument.
From (http://philosophy.lander.edu/logic/person.html).

Second, the Beachhead has no editors.

And, Luce failed to respond in regard to her financial disclosures to the State she claims to represent, as Executive Director of the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission, SMRBC.

Ms. Luce filed a From 700 statement for 2013 with the State Fair Political Practices Commission.

The filings help identify and prevent conflicts of interest. Financial disclosures by those who represent the public are required. Disclosures of income from investments, real property, income, loans and business positions must be made to the public.

In 2013 Luce signed a Form 700 claiming she has no reportable interests on any IRS schedule.

In 2012 she also signed an IRS Tax Form 990 for the business she works for. On page 7, this document reveals Luce was the business’s top earner at $122,000.

Luce failed to report her business position as Executive Director of a private business to the State, and income from her employer shown on the IRS Form 900.

This begs the question of a conflict of interest for Dr. Luce. If she was paid by a private business as the IRS form indicates, why wasn’t it reported to the State as well? The people have a right to know.

Then the question remains, can Dr. Luce lawfully act as Executive Director of a State Agency, the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission?

State law allows the Agency to appoint an Executive Director. The records of the Agency demonstrate Ms. Luce was never appointed.

On the State Form 700 discussed above, the date she assumed office as Executive Director is left blank.

California Public Resources Code (PRC) 30988.2(a) requires the State to provide administrative services, such as that of an Executive Director. Luce works for a private business, not the State, yet claims to be the Executive Director of the SMRBC, a State Agency.

In an obvious attempt to dodge the law, in 2012 members of the SMRBC, the State Agency, with now Assemblyman Richard Bloom as its Chair, entered into an agreement with the business Luce works for. It was signed by Bloom, who was also a Board Member of the same private business at the time. That agreement does not appear to be consistent with California law.

It says the business Luce works for can also provide administrative services, to the State Commission, like an Executive Director, without citing to any legal authority to do so. That is because none exists.

There is only one legal way for the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Commission to authorize an Executive Director: by appointment.  Shelly Luce was never appointed to be Executive Director and the minutes of SMRBC validate that fact.

Luce believes she has unlimited powers to represent the State and to obligate it to financial agreements with the United States Army without ever disclosing her actions to the State Agency she claims to represent.

One signed agreement obligated the State to provide about two million dollars in money or in kind work to the Army for an environmental process started at Ballona in 2005. Then, in 2012, Luce signed a letter on behalf of the State Agency asking the Army to withdraw from the same environmental process. The State Agency did not know it was involved because Luce never disclosed her actions, as the minutes of the meetings show.

The people and the State itself were left in the dark on this very important matter of money and the environment at Ballona.

Then, there is the website representing the business that Luce works for. Ms. Luce employs a private email address from santamonicabay.org, where she purports to do the business of the State without a public trace. Some of those emails have been obtained from the Army in a Freedom of Information Act request and demonstrate how the dealing of public matters is occurring on a private email network without public access.

The business Luce works for was incorporated as the Santa Monica Bay Restoration FOUNDATION. That same business is using a new name on its site, The Bay Foundation (TBF). It is still the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Foundation. If you click on the donate button the true business name can be found.

To justify bulldozing the wetlands Luce demonizes the values of Ballona, as it exists today. She says Ballona is in an “unnatural state” and that Ballona, “really needs repair”, due to “construction” and “trash”. The further claim is that we humans have inflicted the damage. Her stated dream is “to make it a place of beauty where people and wildlife can flourish”. Luce goes on, Ballona “desperately needs our help”.

Her dream is our nightmare. The proposed preferred alternative is to bulldoze all of the wetlands and change the course of Ballona Creek to deposit all of the trash and pollutants coming from upstream Los Angles into a one big man-made toilet bowl that would be dug out of our valued wetlands. And if that is not insane enough, the proposal to construct a multi-story private  dog and cat kennel with a parking lot for 250 cars on top of the ecological preserve just adds insult to injury. Another multi-story parking garage is proposed over existing habitat next to Marina del Rey. This flood control project is masquerading as a “wetlands restoration”. It proposes to raise large berms and to build view-blocking levees along Fiji Way, Lincoln and Jefferson Blvds, letting the ocean come closer to threaten homes and business. It is projected to take about ten years, which will include more construction traffic, noise, air, and water pollution and cost $100++ million dollars.

How Dr. Shelly Luce can see the destruction of a major wetland and estuary as making it, “a place of beauty where people and wildlife can flourish”?  That is simply a fallacy to obfuscate the truth.

Dr. Luce, I am asking you to respond to these issues if you can. I am sure the Beachhead would publish any response in the April edition.

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Categories: Ballona Wetlands

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