LANCASTER – It’s no secret that Lancaster Mayor R. Rex Parris and Palmdale Mayor Jim Ledford have disagreed over the years on a variety of issues. The most recent sources of contention have been the Palmdale Power Plant and Palmdale’s approval of safe and sane fireworks this Independence Day holiday.
The public battle between the two neighboring cities is reaching a “crescendo that is simply intolerable,” and the City of Lancaster is now extending an olive branch to resolve differences with Palmdale, Parris announced at a press conference Thursday.
“What I would like to say is, ‘Mr. Ledford, let’s tear down the curtain,’” Parris said. “That cactus curtain is causing real people real pain, and we have to stop doing that.”
Flanked by Lancaster City Council members in front of the Antelope Valley courthouse, Parris suggested the two cities hire a mediator to settle their disagreements on issues that affect the entire Antelope Valley.
Parris said world class mediators had expressed interest in the project, and the process would cost little if anything at all.
“We both have city managers that get along quite well, fortunately, and they’ll put it together,” Parris said. “All it takes is a willingness to do it.”
Parris outlined a list of issues he believed could be tackled through a mediator. They included:
- The Palmdale Power Plant,
- The “reckless disregard of the economic realities” regarding sales taxes,
- The future of the Antelope Valley Transit Authority and Metrolink,
- Recycled water,
- The sanitation district administration,
- Air quality management strategies,
- The role of local government and citizens commissions,
- Local AV control of water service,
- Local control of the Antelope Valley Fair,
- Fireworks sales, and
“We wouldn’t have an employment problem if the two cities worked together… unemployment could be about 5 percent instead of 14 percent,” Parris said. “It’s time we behave like adults and try to figure out how to work out these real issues where there are real disagreements.”
“Just hurting each other is only hurting the hard working families that live here,” Parris added.
Contacted by telephone Thursday afternoon, Ledford said a mediator was unnecessary, especially with regard to the Palmdale Power Plant.
“The process is already complex enough, we don’t need to add another layer of government on top of the many layers that already exist,” Ledford said. “[The Palmdale Power Plant] is the most analyzed project in the history of the Antelope Valley, and we want another round of hearings? It’s already been approved!”
The Palmdale Power Plant has already been approved by the California Energy Commission and the Environmental Protection Agency, so the issue does not require mediation, Ledford said. There are already processes, boards and commissions in place to take care of the other issues Parris mentioned, so a mediator was not needed in those areas either, Ledford said.
“Those boards are put together for that reason, I think they’re doing fine,” Ledford said. “I don’t agree with everything, but I’m not supposed to.”
Ledford said Palmdale was working hard to address unemployment, as well.
“We’re trying to address the unemployment, I’m bringing 800 jobs to build a power plant that he wants to deny,” Ledford said.
Ledford said mediation between the two cities was simply not needed, and he preferred to focus on the positives instead.
“I don’t understand it. We’re spending energy in areas that don’t bring any benefit,” Ledford said. “Let’s focus on positive things and the development of our communities, respectively, and the Antelope Valley will thrive.”