Culver City Observer -

Zirgulis Attends Anti-Drilling Event


October 14, 2009

By Robert Zirgulis

Last Friday I decided to visit the “ anti-oil drilling” camp to gain some perspective and hear their point of view on the oil drilling issue. The Citizen’s Coalition for a Safe Community was showing “Split Estate” a boring propaganda/”documentary” film about people living near oil and gas production facilities in Colorado and New Mexico.

Before the film began I had the opportunity to meet a lot of people and I told them about my idea to sell the Culver City High School swimming pool known as the Natatorium to investors. I explained how the Natatorium could be refurbished by the investors into a combination swimming pool and multi-use facility for students and the general public to enjoy. The school would be able to pay off the deficit and lease the Natatorium from the investors from the proceeds of the sale.

The investors would then get a tax write off and everyone would benefit from this win win situation. In fact, a number of people at the movie said they would vote for me.

During the movie, Suzanne DeBenedittis, an anti-oil drilling activist, came and sat next to me. I guess she was surprised to see me there. After the film ended there was a question and answer discussion session.

Suzanne is a dedicated if not somewhat of a “pushy” proselytizing true believer in the “cause” against the oil companies. She got up to speak and was gushing about the movie and practically insisting to the audience that they attend a Town Hall meeting at WLA College where Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas will be holding hearings about PXP.

She was throwing everything she had into her argument associating PXP akin to the “evil” Haliburton and even brought up that everyone should be so proud that Obama got the Nobel Peace prize before the moderator told her she was getting off message.

I introduced myself to the audience as a candidate for School Board and that I was there to have an open mind and get information and their perspective. I am just as concerned as anyone about Public Health and Safety issues concerning oil drilling.

I suggested that wouldn’t it be better to have an open dialogue with PXP and settle the differences instead of “ lawyering up” and wasting money on lawyer fees. Ms. DeBenedittis piped in that PXP would not talk and that’s why there are lawsuits.

She proceeded to open her pocket book and produced an article from the Culver City Observer and told the audience, “See this article, Mr. Zirgulis is for PXP!”

For the record, I am for environmentally safe oil drilling that is properly regulated.

I am beholden to no interest group or oil company. In fact, I would like to see the royalty rate PXP gives to the city raised from 1.8% to 6%.

It really is a shame that this whole oil drilling controversy has been relegated to expensive lawsuits that are causing both PXP and Culver City lots of money that could be spent in better ways. Why can’t we have dialogue instead of lawsuits?


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