WEST COVINA — It took four months and two strongly worded letters, but the city Transition and Waste Management Commission here finally got what it asked for: Joel Moskowitz.
Moskowitz, deputy director of the toxic substances control division of the state Department of Health Services, made a long-awaited appearance at City Hall recently to discuss the controversial BKK Landfill.
And while his speech broke no new ground, it did give the commission members something they said was their first meeting with a top state officer in charge of toxics.
Commission meetings, held periodically with representatives from the regulatory agencies monitoring the hazardous waste dump, are usually heated, with commission members growing increasingly frustrated with what they say is inaction, or slow action at best, on the part of the agencies dealing with some of the problems associated with BKK.
Moskowitz, however, in the words of one state official, "really charmed them," by lauding their efforts.
He admitted after the commission meeting earlier this month that he had been apprehensive about speaking before the group after hearing members' pointed exchanges with representatives of the regulatory agencies dealing with BKK.
"There was a great deal of frustration and a great deal of hostility in that meeting," he said. "I thought, my word, what's going to happen now? But they were extremely gracious to me."
West Covina community services manager Mike Miller characterized the meeting as the beginning "of a dialogue that can take place between this community and the high levels of the state department. It's taken a long time to get Joel down here. (The commission) could have treated him very rough, and I think they showed a great deal of class."
Moskowitz told the commission that "we're taking some conclusive steps in our administration toward ending the dumping of hazardous waste and liquids. Land disposal as its practiced today," he said, "is a dinosaur."
He also told the commission, "You people are performing a very valuable service and you're doing a very good job."
Earlier in the meeting, while sitting in the back of the auditorium waiting to speak, Moskowitz had made snoring noises and laughed during some of the commission member's questioning.
"I don't think I was laughing at the commission members themselves," Moskowitz said later. "I was at the top of the agenda and I didn't come on until 10:15 (p.m.). Obviously I would have liked to come on sooner. I guess I'd better be more careful about making noises," he said with an embarrassed laugh.
Commission member Louis Gilbert said Moskowitz's behavior did not change his request to have him speak again before the group.
"What Mr. Moskowitz's personal behavior is, whether he conducts himself in a serious or frivolous manner doesn't concern me at all. I'm interested in what the state intends to do."