Monday, August 23, 2010

Joe Mosca: Not Exactly Making Friends In Porter Ranch

(Ed. - We covered this topic briefly on August 11, but since it was tagged on at the end of an article dealing with what looked at the time to be the demise of the General Plan Steering Committee - the jury is still out on that one - it got very little attention. Since that time I was able to speak with Wes Rogers, the gentleman who had a memorable run-in with our Mayor, Joe Mosca, as described below. The insights Wes shares here add a lot to this story, plus he confirms some things we already knew about Joe. The picture posted here is of the Sesnon Wildfire near Porter Ranch. An event from 2008 that plays an important role in today's post.)

The following comes from a website run by the Porter Ranch Neighborhood Council (click here). The document I am quoting from is called Information Concerning Sempra Energy Expansion of the Aliso Canyon Gas Storage Facility. It can be found on the PRNC's site by clicking here. The topic is the Southern California Gas Company's (aka Sempra Energy) unfortunate reputation for starting fires in wilderness areas. Needless to say the people in Porter Ranch, living in a fire zone no less hazardous than our own, are very concerned about these guys and the potentially dangerous new project they have in mind.

Here are a few passages from the Porter Ranch article, authored by stakeholder Wes Rogers:

Sempra Energy Southern California Gas Company has filed an application to expand the Aliso Canyon Storage Facility and run a new high voltage transmission line from Newhall, over the mountain to the Aliso Canyon facility, right behind our houses, about a quarter mile up the road from the Tampa Avenue and Sesnon guard shack.

Los Angeles City and County fire investigators have determined the cause of the Sesnon Wildfire, erupting on the morning of October 13, 2008, to be a downed power line owned by the Southern California Gas Company (SCGC) at their Aliso Canyon facility. Transmission lines that come under the jurisdiction of the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are governed by brush clearance requirements and are subject to inspections by that body. However, transmission lines that belong to non-electric utilities located on private land, such as the Gas Company's line at the SCGC Aliso facility north of Sesnon, are not regulated by the CPUC, and so are not subject to the same kind of strict clearance and inspection requirements.

And then there is this:

Southern California Gas Company avoidance of safety and maintenance responsibilities at the Aliso facility demonstrates at best a complete lack of understanding of the dangerous nature of their operation, or much worse, a willingness to make trade-offs in operational expenses (brush clearance/line inspection costs) at the expense of neighboring community safety.

Now to say that some large and powerful corporations cut corners when it comes to the well-being of those unfortunate enough to share living space with them is a widely accepted notion. And certain corporations do have their share of less than scrupulous people working for them, folks who will do anything to quash community concerns and defeat any efforts that might ding company profits, no matter what the considerations. But since we are talking about wildfire danger here, you'd think that would have made a difference.

Wes Rogers, a Porter Ranch stakeholder and author of the article we quoted from above, had become a leader in the resident campaign to get the Southern California Gas Company (aka The Gas Company aka Sempra Energy) to recognize the significant fire dangers involved in this project. Among the considerations he and others were asking for is that The Gas Company budget for things such as brush clearing when constructing and operating power lines in fire danger areas. Wes, sensing SCGC's indifference to safety issues, also recognized the need to file a protest with the California Public Utilities Commission in order to get a proper hearing on this matter. Something that The Gas Company most definitely did not want to see happen. After all, they were still being sued for their role in the Sesnon Wildfires, something caused by their already existing power lines.

So who did they send in to take care of this troublesome resident? Someone very familiar to us living here in Sierra Madre.

Upon his learning of my filed protest, I was contacted by Joseph M. Mosca, Public Affairs Manager of Southern California Gas Company. He employed a disingenuous strategy to downplay and understate the nature of this new project in hopes that I could be easily placated. Upon my request to see maintenance and safety records and meet with the plant manager, my requests were denied and all communications from SCGC was ended. Is this what SGGC calls public outreach?

Yesterday I called Wes Rogers, and he shared some additional insights with me. The first is that The Gas Company (aka Sempra Energy) is fearful of a California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) hearing on the matter of their new power lines. Power lines that they already own have been blamed for igniting the Sesnon Wild Fires of 2008, and the last thing they want to have to discuss in relationship to their new project are past safety failures. There is a pro forma Environmental Impact Review already in process, and it was The Gas Company's fervent desire to limit any discussion to just that venue. However, the Porter Ranch folks, led by Wes Rogers, contested this and prevailed. The CPUC took into account The Gas Company's past tragic incompetence in this area, denied their request for a waiver, and will be conducting the public hearing asked for by the Porter Ranch people soon. The issue not being the environment, but rather safety and basic competence. Score one for the residents.

Joe Mosca's assigned role in all of this was to talk Wes Rogers out of pursuing that California Public Utilities Commission hearing. He tried to do this by "diminishing the magnitude of the project," as Wes put it. As we have seen here in Sierra Madre, Joe's one specialty in life seems to be sweet talking residents into doing things that are not in their own best interest. And here his job was to talk Wes out of filing the CPUC protest. Joe tried to convince him that this was in no way a large or unsafe operation, but rather just "a few pieces of equipment."

Joe Mosca offered Wes a walking tour of the operation to see for himself what is going on. Wes said he would only agree to that offer if the person in charge of safety at the project was there to accompany him. A logical request since safety is the major issue here. Joe said that would not be possible. Wes then asked if the Aliso Canyon plant manager could attend the tour. Joe said he would have to get back to him on that. When Joe did call back, it was to inform Wes that the plant manager would not be available because of impending litigation issues concerning the Sesnon Wildfires.

Wes filed the protest with the California Public Utilities Commission, the Commission approved his request for a hearing, and Joe doesn't call him any more.

I asked Wes what these conversations with Joe Mosca were like. He told me that he found Joe to be "disingenuous" and his assumptions "insulting." Wes said he does a lot of mountain biking in the affected area, and he already knew exactly what was going on up there. Apparently it did not occur to Public Affairs Manager Mosca that the person who was the moving force behind the protest and now impending CPUC hearing might decide to go to the site and have a look for himself. Unaccompanied by any Gas Company public affairs managers.

We all have jobs to do, and sometimes things can happen that are problematic. But that said, wildfires are a serious consideration in California. Fatalities and property damage from such disastors are a yearly occurrence here. I cannot see how the Mayor of a city that has suffered from fire as much as ours could be so insensitive to the concerns of those living in a similarly afflicted community. No matter what the reason.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

41 comments:

  1. Public Affairs Manager--Interesting job for a lawyer.

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  2. That's our Joey!

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  3. Nick Danger, third eyeAugust 23, 2010 at 7:43 AM

    Most insightful, Sir Eric. I, myself, have always maintained that we need to know more about Mosca, Buchanan, and the Bobbleheads than just the persona they present to us. This of course means good old fashioned private eye work on the part of Sierra Madre citizens... find out who their friends are.... where they go when they're not in town.... what hobbies they have... what products they consume... in short, pipe light where the sun doesn't shine. Keeping in mind, fellow citizens, it's okay to snoop but don't violate their constitutional rights. Good hunting.

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  4. Nick Danger, third eye:

    All I need to know about them is they are supported and associated with YOU.

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  5. When the city hired John Davidson a couple of people from Sierra Madre hightailed it over to Walnut and got the scoop on him by picking up a local newspaper and locating a man who had been doggig the Walnut city business. They talked to him and then were contacted by a woman operating a local "newspaper." After meeting with her for a coffee in a nearby (to Walnut) IHOP, the newspaper woman gave up some additional avenues to follow (inadvertantly, as she was a pal of Davidsons and not of the Walnut fellow) and trail was hot and Davidson's tenure in Sierra Madre was shortlived. Later on, when John Gillison came to Sierra Madre as our City Manager, from Walnut, when meeting one of those two Sierra Madre sluths, said, "Oh, nice to meet you, John Davidson, told me that he liked you."

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  6. Why am I not surprised? He does the job he is paid to do and he does it even while he is the mayor. He represents the Gas Company not Sierra Madre.

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  7. Nick Danger,third eyeAugust 23, 2010 at 9:26 AM

    Remember,7:59,"turn-about is fair play.

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  8. Interesting. The Star News and other local papers continually reported that Joe was an attorney with So. Cal. Gas when he was running for office.

    Curious how he didn't demand a correction from them clarifying he was just a PR guy.

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  9. Oh, this is hot, a brawl on the Tattler Board around Mr. Danger

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  10. Joe is an attorney with SoCalGas (aka Sempra); it's likely that SoCalGas employs attorneys in many specialties within their organization. To say Joe is just a PR guy does a dis-service to public relations professionals everywhere. I can tell you that many high profile "PR guys" started out as entertainment attorneys.

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  11. Looks like Joe ran into a man who was not easily charmed and was also resistant to that cheery schmoozing that has worked so well for Joe in Sierra Madre.

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  12. I am quite sure that Mosca blew his PR dance with Rogers because Rogers is obviously a sharp guy. Mosca has a hard time keeping up with forthright intelligent people who offer precise information, and must not have recognized that the man he was speaking to was five steps ahead of him. We witness that same happening in our city council meetings every second and fourth Tuesday night.

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  13. It wouldn't matter what line of work Joe Mosca was in - his lack of personal honesty would reflect badly on the profession.

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  14. Ahh Danger's just a troll.
    Or having the same effect anyway.

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  15. Tattler, thanks for the great report.
    Sure hope the folks out in Porter Ranch carry the day, & get fire safety in place.
    You've got to wonder what that law suit is about & why it's still ongoing.

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  16. This is evidence of an alarming disregard for fire safety from a man who lives in a community that keeps building in Very Severe Fire Hazard areas.

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  17. There is a fire in the mountains north of Monrovia.

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  18. Danger,the 3 rd eyeAugust 23, 2010 at 1:45 PM

    Looks like trolls trolling for trolls.Not so 1:16. Just a P.I. tip.

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  19. Any more information 1:41? I can't find anything about it online.

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  20. So the people in Porter Ranch who suffered from the fire caused by the gas company have sued. Who will the people at Stonehouse/Stonegate/Carter/Heflin estates sue?

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  21. From the official city web the first information on the fire I spotted as I was exiting the 210 FWY about 1:15.

    A small brush fire is burning in Monrovia Canyon Park. No structures are threatened and no evacuations have been ordered. The fire was apparently set off by a downed power line. A major Fire Department response has put dozens of firefighters and equipment on the scene. Watch this notice and the City of Monrovia page on Facebook for further updates.

    From the old timers in the neighborhood they advise that that area has not burned since the mid-1960′s and is a concern to them.

    According to my daughter the best place to view the ‘copter activity is from the Pavillions Shopping Center at Myrtle and Foothill. For gawds sake…don’t attempt to drive up the hill for a better view of the activity, stay out of harms way and don’ t do anything to impede the fire fighters. As for me, I have my suitcase still packed from the weekend so all I’m tossing in the trusty insurance policies in the car and will be set to boogie if the fire gets bigger and they order evacuations. (Good excuse as any not to unload the car and do nothing for a bit).
    Command Center is near Canyon.

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  22. Joe offered Wes a "walking tour"? but not with any of the officials Wes wanted to talk with.
    So how many different kinds of walking tours does Joe offer?
    Water, fire, be a barnacle on the ship of the state....

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  23. Looks like Edison power lines to blame.

    Does Edison have to pay for the damage????

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  24. Sir Eric you picture predicted today.

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  25. Yikes we have two council members who are in companies that cause wildfires.

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  26. From City of Monrovia Fire Alert @ 2:25 pmAugust 23, 2010 at 2:28 PM

    Updated 2:25 p.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2010
    Firefighters have contained a small brush fire burning in Monrovia Canyon Park. Full encirclement is expected later this afternoon. No structures are threatened and no evacuations have been ordered. The fire was apparently set off by a downed power line. A major Fire Department response put dozens of firefighters and 40 pieces of equipment on the scene. Watch this notice and the City of Monrovia page on Facebook for further updates.

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  27. I am sure you noticed the LA Times piece last week that called attention to "a major 7.0 or higher earthquake is long overdue along the San Andreas Fault and connecting faults of which the
    Sierra Madre Fault right under Sierra Madre is considered a top shaker.

    SIERRA MADRE ADMINIISTRATION & COUNCIL, DO NOT ISSUE ANY BUILDING PERMITS IN THE CANYONS CARTERGATE AND HEFLINGATE. THE LLC'S ARE PLAYING YOU AND US FOR SUCKERS. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED.

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  28. 2:23, if memory serves, Buchanan is actually doing legal work for Edison - a personnel attorney or some such. He is not a PR guy for them. That legal expertise is Mosca's.
    Buchanan's personnel specialty seemed like it would be helpful when he had to take a stab at explaining the shenanigan attitude to audits and the corrupt city worker who destroyed records. he knew what he had to keep quiet about.

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  29. From the City of Monrovia siteAugust 23, 2010 at 3:25 PM

    Updated 3:15 p.m., Monday, Aug. 23, 2010
    Firefighters have contained and are now dousing a small brush fire that burned this afternoon just inside the entrance to Monrovia Canyon Park. Full encirclement is expected later this afternoon, and lines are being cut around the burned area to assure its containment. No structures were or are threatened. One Park Ranger was overcome with heat exhaustion while fighting the flames and is being treated. The fire was apparently set off by a downed power line. Southern California Edison is working to secure the lines and restore power to the area. A major Fire Department response put dozens of firefighters and 40 pieces of equipment on the scene, with asssitance from Los Angeles County, Arcadia, Pasadena, Glendale, Monterey Park and the US Forest Service.

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  30. Thank goodness that fire was fought so successfully. Grim thought to have any more of those. And to have them happen under the current mayoral watch....

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  31. Just remember the SMVFD was a strong supporter of Mayor Mosca in his bid for reelection. He's their mascot. We'll just see if he buys burgers for the firefighters out of his pocket when the time comes.

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  32. I like the notion of Joe at work calling residents to see if he can talk them out of their rights to protest something potentially destructive to their community. Not really all that different from what he does here!

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  33. The only difference between Susan Henderson and Joe Mosca is, um, is, well, damn. Let me get back to you.

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  34. 11:06. What are you saying? That Joe was hired by SEMPRA primarily because of his legal expertise?

    Joe practiced bankruptcy/insolvency law before he took a PR position. How does practicing in that area give him a leg up as a PR guy for the Gas Co.?

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  35. Joe was hired by Sempra because he is an elected official. Big energy companies collect people like him.

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  36. so Joe is a PR weasel?

    man, that comes as a surprise.......

    what next, John Buchanan is nothing but a Human Resources lawyer for Edison?

    boy, they went to law school for that?

    it's pretty pathetic that they both long for social and professional significance so much so that they have both flat out lied and spun total misinformation about the water tax hike and hide the facts that both of their employers will benefit from building a water infrastructure that allows SM to build new development in downtown

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  37. to know all you need to know about Joe's real motivaion and who he serves is that he moved into town and within weeks of moving into town, he immediately starting running for City Council

    then he proclaims to "love" Sierra Madre, he "loves" Sierra Madre not for what it is, but what it can do for him

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  38. Joe has become just another bottom feeding political hustler. God knows there are thousands of them in this world.

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  39. Joe Catfish Mosca

    John EgoManical Buchanan

    Both chose politics in Sierra Madre immediately upon moving into town and both work for energy companies that benefit from their actions to help spur on development in Sierra Madre

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  40. You should ask both of them exactly how they are employed at the council meeting..August 24, 2010 at 4:16 PM

    Last time I checked Joe's state bar license was I believe a residential address in Sierra Madre. If he was employed solely by The Gas Company he would have to list their address. I believe Buchanan is in international accounts, but I looked them up about 6 months ago, you can check their law license at "State Bar of Ca" there is a search engine, and you can check better.

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