Mayor Furey Sides with Defend Movement; Denounces City Commissioner Omar Navarro and Conservative Activist Arthur Schaper

At the last Council meeting Mayor Furey took sides with the Defend Movement and publicly denounced Omar Navarro and Arthur Schaper apologizing on their behalf and exclaiming that they have no validity in the City of Torrance. The poignant criticism aimed at Navarro is especially noteworthy as Navarro currently serves the City as a Traffic Commissioner after his appointment to that role by the City Council earlier this year. Navarro is also a candidate for congress mounting a campaign to usurp Maxine Waters. Arthur Schaper is well known locally for his conservative activism. Schaper also currently serves as President of the Beach Cities Republican club.

Silvia Merlos (pictured right)

The mayor’s comments followed a speech by Silvia Merlos who identified herself as an organizer of a group dedicated to defending the rights of all targeted communities from discrimination and bigotry called the Defend Movement. In her speech, Merlos accused Navarro of pepper spraying a young child after a skirmish in another City. Navarro, who did not attend the council meeting, says he never pepper sprayed anyone and that the accusation is totally false and amounts to slander.

Mayor Furey aligned himself with Merlos and the Defend Movement, even taking the time to greet members of the group and pose for photographs after the meeting. The Mayor apologized to Merlos on behalf of Schaper and Navarro and publicly denounced the pair stating that:

“I apologize for Mr. Schaper and Mr. Navarro coming to your community and causing any disturbance. They have no validity with this City. They are not our agents. I’ve apologized to countless mayors in the County of Los Angeles and as far North as Oregon because of the behavior of these people using the name of our City. That’s not what our City is about. So I apologize for what they have done. I am on the same side as you.”

Mayor Furey Greets Members of the Defend Movement

At the conclusion of the meeting, Mayor Furey followed up his earlier comments by stating, “Anybody who is listening, although somebody may live in Torrance and may be expressing their 1st Amendment rights … it does not mean they have any authority from the City of Torrance to say the things they say or act the way they act … I’m very embarrassed by the acts of a few people.”

The Defend Movement has clashed with Schaper in other cities due to their opposing viewpoints and activism on issues such as SB 54. That same battle played out again on Tuesday in front of Torrance City Hall resulting in police arriving on scene to diffuse the conflict.

Members of the Defend Movement Posing in front of Torrance City Hall

Despite Mayor Furey’s coziness with Merlos and the Defend Movement, his position on SB 54 surprisingly aligns with Navarro and Schaper as Furey penned a letter on behalf of Torrance opposing the Senate Bill. That letter made Torrance one of only four California cities to take such a stance.

The apparent agreement on SB 54 did not stop Schaper and Mayor Furey from engaging in a combative exchange at the outset of the Council meeting. Schaper, draped in his signature Trump flag, voiced support for the City’s opposition to SB 54, but also lamented that the matter was decided behind closed doors and not brought forward for a vote by the Council.

Arthur Schaper

Upon being interrupted twice by Mayor Furey during his speech, Schaper complained that the mayor was being rude for taking time from the 3 minutes he was allowed to speak. Furey quickly retorted that he was rude. Things escalated from there with Schaper at one point telling the mayor to be quiet and Furey interrupting several times thereafter asking if Schaper was going to ramp it down.

Furey Jr. Replaced by Mom and other Torrance News

With much of the focus on the recent election here are several noteworthy items from the local scene you may have missed.

Mom Replaces Son

Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) Moves Forward

  • Joe Galliani - Local Environmental Activist

    Joe Galliani – Local Environmental Activist

    The formation of a CCA took another step forward with Torrance becoming the first local City to approve participation in the South Bay Clean Power Advisory Committee. The Committee will solidify plans to create a CCA by forming a local JPA with other cities, work on a business implementation plan, and draft an RFP for financing and the necessary services to create the CCA. According to its website, the South Bay Clean Power Advisory Committee is chaired by local environmental activist Joe Galliani. Galliani has been a leading proponent of creating a CCA over the last several years.

Tree/View Ordinance Nearing Completion

  • After what has seemed like a never ending series of community meetings and Council deliberations on the subject that have occurred over the course of the last several years since Mayor Furey took office it would appear that a final ordinance is nearing completion.  At a meeting held in October, the Council considered a draft of the proposed ordinance and directed staff to return with a final version.

Ordinance Regulating Short Term Rentals in Work

  • The Council once again took up the issue of short term vacation rentals offered through various avenues such as Airbnb. The Council had previously considered an outright ban of such enterprises. With litigation surrounding such bans cropping up in other jurisdictions it appears the Council will opt for some form of regulation versus a ban. At a meeting held late October staff was directed to return to Council with a draft ordinance for consideration.

Mayor Furey to Conduct Series of Town Hall Meetings

torrance-town-hallMayor Furey recently unveiled plans to conduct a series of “Torrance Town Halls with the Mayor” over the next few months.  The meetings will be held at various locations throughout Torrance with the intent of providing residents more insight into what is currently “in the works.”

As part of the Council agenda for the meeting to be held tomorrow night, the City Manager is seeking approval from the Council to allow City staff to provide support for these meetings.  How much that additional support will cost taxpayers is not identified.

The first of these meetings is scheduled to be held at North High School on October 27th.

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