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Posts Tagged ‘Don Hansen’

Part 3 of a series

By John Earl
OC Voice

Poseidon Resources Inc.’s website claims that the desalination plant it wants to build in southeast Huntington Beach, at Newland and Beach avenues, will be a “cost-effective solution to provide residents with a safe and reliable water supply by using existing structures—at no cost to taxpayers.”

NOT THE VIRGIN MARY: The OC Voice took this photo of the city's new seal and later noticed the mysterious man in the background.

NOT THE VIRGIN MARY: The OC Voice took this photo of the city's new seal and later noticed the mysterious man in the background.

Elected officials who voted to approve the desalination plant three years ago have consistently echoed Poseidon’s claim: Poseidon would privately own and operate the plant for its own profit and for its investors—a strictly free market affair with no taxpayer investment or risk, they said.

City council representative Don Hansen praised the project’s supposed free market values to a crowded city council chamber before he gave Poseidon his vote along with three other council members, Keith Bohr, Gil Coerper and Cathy Green.

“My belief is that the market is going to drive the majority of these decisions. I truly believe that,” Hansen said.

If the Poseidon desalination plant is not profitable, he added, it “will never see the light of day. And it’s purely born on private investment dollars, the risk that they [Poseidon] are going to take.”

In a candidates’ debate last year, Hansen warned that “We’re going to need the water” and reassured again that “It’s not us building the plant. It’s all private investment.”

If all goes well for Poseidon, its Huntington Beach plant will produce 50 million gallons of drinking water per day by sometime in 2011. It still needs to obtain additional government permits and must work out a franchise agreement with the city first.

Poseidon plans to build an almost identical desalination plant in the city of Carlsbad. That project is further along in the permit process and if financing comes through it could start construction this summer. Poseidon’s CEOs dream of building large desalination plants at other California coastal locations as well.

Hansen’s appeal to the free market instincts of the voters is persuasive in a city where the call for smaller government is almost a religious doctrine. But attributing either Poseidon project to to free-market karma is misleading because the company could benefit from as much as $1 billion in taxpayer supplied subsidies that would make it easier for Poseidon to attract the private sector financing that it also needs but still lacks in order to build and operate the two plants. (more…)

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By Joe Shaw
OC Voice Columnist

(This column was written in February, 2009)

sign_spinner_2 California lost 600,000 jobs in January. The jobless rate in California is now 9.3 percent. Huntington Beach’s Quiksilver recently announced 150 layoffs in their workforce. Boeing laid off 64 local workers. Home Depot’s Expo Design Center and Circuit City is closing, leaving more workers without a job.

And Huntington Beach home sales remain down and foreclosures continue to edge up.

Perfect time for the HB City Council to create some jobs and help our small businesses, right? Wrong. A move by planning commissioners to remove a ban on human signs was rejected by the city council 5-2.

Why wouldn’t the council vote to lift one of the many rules and regulations that frustrate small business and cost them money? Why wouldn’t our city council support free trade, small business and creating jobs?

Councilman Don Hansen told the Los Angeles Times the signs were a “form of visual blight.”

Sounds like hypocrisy from the councilman who just named a realtor as his new planning commissioner. Ever driven around Huntington Beach on the weekends and seen all the real estate signs on every corner? (more…)

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Part 2 of a series.

By John Earl
OC Voice

Huntington Beach City Councilmember Don Hansen reassured the public. “I’m actually pretty comfortable having a private company potentially evaluate the dedication of a source for our future water supply,” he said.

The Tampa Bay, Florida desalination plant: A series of failures and costly delays. Photo: www.treehuggers.org

The Tampa Bay, Florida desalination plant: A series of failures and costly delays. Photo: http://www.treehuggers.org

That was three years ago at a city council meeting when Hansen and three other council members, Cathy Green, Gil Coerper and Keith Bohr (now Mayor Bohr) voted to allow Poseidon Resources Inc. to build a desalination plant at the corner of Newland and Beach avenues in southeast Huntington Beach.

If all goes according to plan, the facility would convert 127 million gallons of seawater into 50 million gallons of fresh drinking water every day of the year.  The city would have the option of buying up to 3.5 million gallons of that water at a discount compared to the cost of imported water (two-thirds of the city’s water comes from ground wells, its cheapest source of water). The rest would be distributed throughout the Municipal Water District of Orange County (MWDOC), in theory, to provide a guaranteed water source to help offset drought conditions in the state.

The plant still needs approval from the State Lands Commission and the California Coastal Commission and Poseidon still lacks the private and public financing needed to build and operate, although Poseidon officials say that all are forthcoming (see Part 1).

No matter if the Huntington Beach desalination plant fails, Bohr said, because the burden will be strictly Poseidon’s. “We’re not hiring Poseidon, so there’s no risk,” he told hundreds of people packed tightly into the city council chambers. “If it fails, it doesn’t cost us anything.”

But Poseidon’s facility in Tampa Bay, Florida, it’s first (and failed) attempt to build and operate a desalination plant,  is used by opponents to argue against building the Huntington Beach desalination plant.

The Tampa Bay desalination plant, about half the size of the one planned for Huntington Beach, has operated improperly  if at all since it opened in 2003. (more…)

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Isn’t $250,000 Enough?

By John Earl
OC Voice Editor

Hansen

As a candidate for governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger proclaimed “I don’t need to take any [campaign contribution] money from anybody else; I have plenty of money myself.”

And he warned that, “Any of those kinds of real, big, powerful special interests, if you take money from them, you owe them something.”

Five years later, Governor Schwarzenegger has collected over $124 million in campaign contributions from special interest groups, the largest chunk, over $20 million, coming from real estate, development and construction concerns, according to ArnoldWatch.org. And critics say he has served the needs of corporations over the needs of the people.

While cynics, who lament the loss of “one person one vote” to “one dollar one vote,” created by corporate donors and PACS, and call for public financing of campaigns as a solution, Huntington Beach Councilmember Don Hansen and some of his colleague’s think they have a better idea: allow unlimited individual campaign contributions to city council candidates.

Last August, Hansen proposed increasing the current $300 limit to $500 retroactively, but removed the latter when skeptics objected that past limit violations could be covered up. A subcommittee was then formed to study the overall issue of campaign regulation reform and to make recommendations to the city council at a later date, which it did at a March 17 study session.

Hansen chaired the committee and councilmembers Cathy Green and Jill Hardy joined him along with several H.B. residents. The committee met 5 times and reviewed campaign regulations for 7 other Orange County cities and the State.

Two main issues remain unsettled: spending limits and whether to redact personal address information from electronic (Internet) filings of candidates’ financial contribution updates. (more…)

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