Board member replaced on eve of Palmdale Power Plant vote

Vern Lawson, Jr.

Vern Lawson, Jr.

LANCASTER – In what Lancaster officials are describing as “a last-ditch effort to control the outcome of [Tuesday]’s vote,” L.A. County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich has removed founding Antelope Valley Air Quality Management District (AVAQMD) Governing Board member Vern Lawson, Jr. and replaced him with Pat Russell, a Palmdale business owner and former staff member for Antonovich.

“This eleventh-hour surprise completely highjacks the public process for approval of this project, which began in 2006,” said Vice Mayor Marvin Crist, Chairman of the AVAQMD Governing Board.

The years-long controversy was set for resolution with the AVAQMD’s vote to either accept or reject the so-called “emission offset credits” required for construction and operation of the Palmdale Power Plant.

“This board and its (seven) representatives have literally spent years learning the in-depth details of this project,” Crist said. Now, just before the board will vote on a project that will profoundly affect our entire region’s air quality for the next 30-50 years, a key member of the board has been replaced by an individual who has no knowledge of the AVAQMD or emission reduction credit (ERC) review process and has not had sufficient time to learn enough about the project to make an informed decision.”

Ranging from detailed environmental impact reports to EPA evaluations and much more, a steady stream of documents and countervailing reports has been created and issued by both sides in the dispute. In theory at least, members of the AVAQMD governing board are charged with the task of familiarizing themselves with the detailed paperwork. Moreover, in voting to accept or reject the emission offsets, the board members have primary responsibility for the best interests of the public.

“This is not only extremely poor public policy; it is an insult to the citizens of the Antelope Valley, who deserve to have informed representatives making decisions that will affect our community’s air quality and public health for decades to come,” Crist commented.

“The purpose of Air Quality Management Districts is to protect the health of the community. For the Supervisor’s Office to play politics with such an important purpose is a betrayal of all the citizens in the Antelope Valley,” said Lancaster Mayor R Rex Parris.

The announcement came as a surprise to Director Lawson, who said he was unaware of any change and would, “have to look into it” when contacted at his office. Lawson said that he had not resigned his AQMD post and his departure from the board was not voluntary.

Lawson, who also serves as the City of Lancaster’s Economic Development Director, was a founding member of the AVAQMD Governing Board and had represented the Los Angeles County 5th District since the AVAQMD’s inception in 1997.

Despite this unexpected change, the vote to accept or reject the highly controversial emission offsets is still set to take place on Tuesday, December 17th when the AVAQMD Governing Board – minus Lawson but including Russell, meets at Antelope Valley College in Lancaster.

About the author

 T. Barkas 2T. E. Barkas is a professional writer, reporter, columnist and longtime resident of the Antelope Valley.

We’re confident our readers will enjoy his unique take on local issues and events.

Previous related stories:

Palmdale blasts Lancaster for power plant smear campaign

AVAQMD staff recommends approval of offset credit transfers for Palmdale Power Plant

VIDEO: Lancaster opposition continues over Palmdale Power Plant

Palmdale Power Plant drawing support from elected officials, community leaders


  22 comments for “Board member replaced on eve of Palmdale Power Plant vote

  1. Christopher
    December 17, 2013 at 9:51 am

    The corruption of Palmdale never ceases to amaze me!

    • beg2differ
      December 20, 2013 at 7:55 pm

      It appears the mayor was trying to stack the deck with one of his paid city employees. The Supervisor exercised his perogative as both Lancaster and Palmdale already had their two council members on the panel. Maybe now the mayor knows how the residents of Quartz Hill felt when the Lancaster Mayor and city council rammed the Walmart store down their throats. Oh and by the way Mr. Mayor please post the FBI agents number your get to investigate the removal of your city employee from the AV AQMD panel, I am sure there are many people that are ready and willing to speak to the FBI about Lancasters elected officials and a few of its employees.

      • Stinger
        December 20, 2013 at 10:45 pm

        Oh yeah! By all means, Parris; PLEASE bring in the FBI! I triple dog dare you! Oh the fun we’ll all have with the FBI when they start investigating corruption in local government. Hahahahahahahaha!!!

    • William
      December 20, 2013 at 8:22 pm

      @ Christopher. I refer you to ‘beg2differ’s’ comment.

      How many times do you have to be told before you get it???


  2. Funny!
    December 17, 2013 at 9:16 am

    This is totally awesome! This is exactly how the Supervisor works. He’ll appear to be totally uninvolved, but then he strikes like a lightning bolt. Also, we all know that Rex would NEVER try to manipulate a Board to get the outcome he wants on an issue.

    I also find it interesting that the author of this piece was able to get massive quoting from both Rex and Marvin, but couldn’t seem to get any quotes from Supervisor Antonovich or Ms. Russell. It kind of calls the journalistic integrity of the AV Times into question.

  3. Karma Chameleon
    December 17, 2013 at 6:44 am

    Let us hope this is only the beginning of what is in store for Parris, Crist and their accomplices who carry put their dirty work. That wave bullied so many for so long.

  4. Hmmm...
    December 17, 2013 at 5:00 am

    Make no mistake about this, folks; this is a message, sent loud and clear. Wrecks has been going too far in his personal vendetta(s) and has gone off the reservation. Thus, it has become time for the rest of the Good Ol’ boys to rein him in a bit.

    Now the question is… Will Wrecks tone himself down a bit, or will we yet see him doing the perp walk, after all…

    • William
      December 20, 2013 at 8:26 pm

      Leopard? Spots? Leopard? Spots?

      I don’t think so.

      He’ll just find another way like any other pest.

  5. I'm_Glad
    December 17, 2013 at 12:43 am

    I am happy that Marvin and Rex got a taste of their own medicine. They act as if they own the Antelope Valley and run around bullying Palmdale with lawsuit after lawsuit. And wasting $20,000 of taxpayer’s hard earned money on a political propaganda mailer. I hope the AVAQMD allows for the carbon credits to transfer and we can finally build this power plant.

    Rex even supported the power plant back when Palmdale proposed years ago. This is all about him hating Jim Ledford. SHAME ON MARVIN CRIST AND REX!

  6. Raymond
    December 16, 2013 at 11:45 pm

    This is rather humorous. I’ve been wondering what was going to stand in Rex’s way? For the last 2 years. Rex has been doing all kinds of calisthenics trying to control the AVAQD board and votes (as he has tried with every board in the AV) even getting himself named as an alternate. Looks like someone finally said “Enough!” And why can’t the author see where a Lancaster city employee might not make a unbiased decision concerning Palmdale’s future economic health, via this plant?

    I also believe Mr. Barkas has been all over social media arguing Lancaster’s case. Is that correct Mr. Barkus? Is it not you posting on many AV Facebook pages your disdain of the EPA? We aren’t to trust their investigation of this power plant? You’ve made it clear you have no faith in the EPA. Is your faith also lacking where the CEC is concerned? Why do you have no belief for the extensive reports from either commission, but buy, hook, line and sinker, Lancaster’s reports of dead children and the biblical destruction of the AV, even though they have had NO backing of their claims from any of those “alphabet” commissions? No confirmation from any environmental scientists? In fact, Lancaster seems to be using only Lancaster’s council members and their vast knowledge of energy plants and their environmental sciences degrees to oppose this project. Who can argue with that? (sarcasm)

    Did you not also complain that Palmdale had made sure that the power plant was designed to fall in line with both commission’s requirements on certain Facebook posts? As if trying to comply with the EPA and CEC requirements is A BAD THING when one needs their approval for a project? Would you of preferred they designed the plant to FAIL any said requirements? Tsk tsk, Palmdale designed the plant to fall within government standards! The Bastards (sarcasm)

    Finally, is it true the author of this piece lives in the San Fernando Valley? And if so, why is he working so hard to get Rex Perris’s opinion out? What is your interest sir? Nothing “down below” catching your eye? What is your relationship with those in the city of Lancaster?

    • john Howard
      December 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      oh! character assassination.. burn!
      I’m glad it has so much to do with the power plant and AQMD..

      If Parris did the same thing as Antonovich people would be asking for his head on a silver platter. hypocrites all of you hypocrites!

      • Raymond
        December 17, 2013 at 10:09 pm

        “If Parris did the same thing as Antonovich people would be asking for his head on a silver platter.”

        You’re joking RIGHT? You have no clue what Rex did with the Ceder Center board? The AVTA board? Every city commission? Not to mention the millions he’s poured into school board and hospital board elections?

        This is rex we are talking about Mr. Howard! Did you miss where Rex, immediately after being elected mayor the 1st time, state he had “found” an obscure law requiring the “mayor” to appoint the president of ALL city boards?

        YOU are either ignorant of Mr. Perris’s “record” or you are the hypocrite! Because Rex has been pulling this kind of manipulation since day one. Maybe you are Rex, and disappointed that someone else has manipulated a board just like you’ve been doing since being elected!

        When is Lancaster going to dump this insane chump?

    • William
      December 20, 2013 at 8:32 pm

      @Raymond. Hats off to you, sir. That was a brilliant assessment of Barkas.

      In fact, I wonder if we’ll see him here any longer.

      Don’t you love the thinking that complying with the EPA and CEC is a, how you say?, a BAD THING?

      I’ve read his Facebook rants and they all have that same mentality. Amazing.

      Yep. That’s the mentality of Parris and Crist and the rest of the opposition as well. No wonder the universe responded with a witch slap.

  7. Jason Zink
    December 16, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    I hope the AV Times can get a statement from the supervisors office and publish it on here in the mouning before the meeting takes place.

    Why not put a person on the board from unincoprate AV not involved with either city like from Littlerock/Sun Village/Pearblossom that have the power lines from the power plant going thru them and down wind. I’LL wait to hear statement from Antonivich office first but doing this the last minute not cool. Kinda disrespectful to Vern Lawson you think.

  8. Jason Zink
    December 16, 2013 at 11:21 pm

    This is a perfect example of why AV should form a community service district CSD and eventually our own county.

    • Lucy
      December 17, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      I agree

    • AVTimesReader
      December 19, 2013 at 8:26 am

      Yes! Why we cannot break out the LA which has a lot of scandal recently? I bet in near future they will put those all hard line to AV residents.

  9. sikntired
    December 16, 2013 at 10:29 pm

    Now what in hell do you suppose that is all about?can’t be good is my feeling.

  10. William
    December 16, 2013 at 9:24 pm

    Y’all know that the minute the Palmdale Power Plant begins operations, Parris will sue Palmdale every time a kid in Lancaster sneezes.

    So? Why is he fighting it?

  11. Heywood
    December 16, 2013 at 8:18 pm

    I’m generally pro business and I want clean air and water for my kids and yours.

    I believe that “carbon credits” are complete BS. If you’re polluting…stop. If you’re not, the Government should mind it’s own business. If you ARE polluting, it’s complete BS to think that money can offset the filth that you’re producing, somehow making it OK.

    That said, what Antonovich has done, stacking the deck at the last minute, is the epitome of arrogance and corruption, and unfortunately his preferred way to do business. This must be illegal.

  12. Stinger
    December 16, 2013 at 8:10 pm

    Hahahahahahahahaahaha!!!! X-D

    • Doc Rivers
      December 16, 2013 at 9:09 pm

      I agree with stinger, marvin”the RAT”crist is getting a taste of his own brand of self service.

Comments are closed.