The physical manifestation of racism and misogyny has hit hard here in Redondo Beach. To hear about it is one thing but to experience it in real-time is a cruel betrayal of humanity. Bill Brand, the Mayor of Redondo Beach chooses to placate people of color for political and social gain but continues to treat us like an “other”. People of color and women that do not assimilate to what “they” (him and his supporters) want are totally disrespected and disregarded in this city. This man has been operating in his privilege undisturbed for so long that he does not even recognize right from wrong. It’s all about what he wants and what he doesn’t. The desire to keep more Black and Brown people out of this city is really what lies behind the obstruction of new projects, pier renovations, and anything innovative. Using words like traffic and over-development to shield the real issue has been working. Now, residents are waking up to a dilapidated pier, businesses leaving, and division hindering progress. People like this should not be in power.
Proof that his outreach to others by him or his supporters is not authentic, his own email displays how he will collude and conspire with others to get information about residents and community organizations. They pretend to try to get-to-know-you to get information instead of building community and coalitions to improve the city.
The most recent misogynistic behavior by the majority on the Redondo Beach City Council seems to be a blatant disrespect to the only woman on the council. Article: Redondo Beach City Council opts out of rotation, appoints Nehrenheim as mayor pro-tem. Not only did Nils Nehrenheim suggest that they skip Laura Emdee’s turn as Mayor Pro-tem, Zein Obagi humiliated and disrespected her. The mayor doubled down in plain sight. It’s interesting that so many people are currently up in arms and outraged by the recent supreme court ruling regarding abortion and a woman’s choice, but these same people can sit and watch something like this in silence. The men worked together to void Laura Emdee’s turn to be Mayor Pro-tem while Nils Nilheimer nominated himself for the job. “… I make a motion to place myself as the mayor pro-tem.” Who does that? The audacity of this man is sickening.
Instead of doing the right things, Mayor Bill Brand said that he will not veto the shenanigans because those are his biggest supporters. WOW! So, he’s not the mayor of the whole city, just his supporters. Unbelievable! Doing what’s right is beyond him. If you are not one of his biggest followers or supporters, he cannot do what is right. WOW! So noted.
This seems to be a trend with Brand and his friends. Wayne Craig, one of his biggest supporters tried to do the same thing to me. I was nominated for the Emergency Crisis Council for the City of Redondo by the now-retired city manager. Wayne felt it necessary to go to City Council to ask them to deny me the position because I was unqualified and could cost lives in the city. He proclaimed that he would be a better fit. What Mr. Craig did not know is that I was a Red Cross Trainer. I previously trained those that helped others get CPR certified. Other than being a Black woman, Wayne Craig knows nothing about me but insisted that he deserved what was offered to me. This guy has a history of racism. He has a very hard time accepting that this Black woman has come into this city and surpassed his level of influence and leadership. It pains him. He has such disdain for people of color in his lily-white Redondo that he cannot see straight. You can do a Google search. It’s there.
Once I was installed as a Los Angeles County Commissioner under Supervisor Janice Hahn, I was given a link to check the letters that were submitted to oppose my appointment. It is not lost on me that Wayne Craig, Candice Nafissi, and City Councilman Nils Nehrenheim (whom I have never met or talked to in real life) took the time to write the Board of Supervisors to beg them not to vote for my installation because I have the audacity to call bad behavior and racist behavior for what it is. These same people have stalked me through the city, taking pictures of me and my husband and friends, sending them to other government officials asking them to NOT put me in any more leadership positions. Who does that? It’s creepy. This same City Councilman that could not take time to let his residents know about homeless housing coming into his district, but multiple times has taken the time to write letters about me. He writes letters about me and has never spoken to me in public in his own city. Coward, much?
In November 2020, I applied to the Planning Commission (by request) to ensure that District 4 had representation on the commission. I had served on the GPAC (General Plan Advisory Committee) for 2 years now. The Mayor asked me to coffee to talk about the position. We agreed to meet at Coffee Bean in the Village. Once I got there, Bill asked me to follow him in my car, which I did. We wound up in Palos Verdes. I got nervous because I didn’t understand why he had to take me out of the city to talk to me. I actually dropped a pin for my friend and president of BPRSLA, LaTashia Deveaux, because I was so taken aback by the relocation. Once there, we got out of the cars and took a walk around the cliffs, which also weirded me out. The first question the mayor asks me is, “Are you friends with Arnett Travis?”. He proceeded to tell me that if I am friends with this woman, he cannot appoint me to the Planning Commission even though I am qualified and would do a good job. I told Bill that even if I was not her friend, nobody would know because I do not spend my time disparaging others and she is my elder. I wasn’t raised like that. He proceeded to tell me that his supporters and his wife would be very upset if they ever heard me say anything nice about her and he had appointed me. In that moment, in an uncomfortable place, I was faced with this challenging scenario. It started making sense to me why he needed to take me out of Redondo Beach and that hurt even more. He “othered” me. He could not be seen with the Black woman that his supporters were attacking regularly in the city that we both live and serve in. In that moment, I felt a level of shame and awkwardness that has resonated with me still to this day.
Once we parted ways, he text me again. The following week, he made it known that he could not trust that my relationship with Arnette would not upset his supporters and appointed a less qualified man to the position. It was a safe appointment for him moving forward. He would be happy to put me on the Library Commission. I declined.
Bill Brand and his supporters have gone after Arnett Travis as if she is public enemy #1 because she exercised her right and joined a lawsuit against him and others. He has stood on the dais as the mayor and publicly tried to shame this woman because of this lawsuit. Don’t let it be lost on anybody that Jim Light, the mayor’s biggest ally sued the city and won over $500,000. This has not stopped the mayor from appointing this man to any and every committee that he can. Why is it ok for Jim to file a lawsuit against the city and win money, but Ms. Travis is shunned and shamed, drug all through the city by him and his people at every turn. Is it because this Black woman had the audacity to challenge him and do what she thought was right? Make it make sense. This woman volunteers and gives her time all through this city, at the school district, with Blue Zones, the Police Department and so many other things. Is she not owed the same dignity and respect as her White male counterpart?
I really could go on and on about this but the truth is that we have a leader that is more concerned with division and keeping Redondo “the way it was” instead of building community and leading the way for a better, whole Redondo. The people in this city that stalk residents, try to intimidate voices of opposition, and hinder growth, do it at the leisure of the Mayor. The truth is, he could put a stop to this if he wanted to. Allowing this to continue without accountability and course-correction will lead this city into further decay and North/South discord. If the residents want better, they need to stand up and demand it.
I would love your thoughts on this type of leadership.