Mayor Steve Aspel is hoping to have a building at the Los Angeles Air Force Base in El Segundo named after his friend, the late former councilman John Parsons. At Tuesday’s City Council meeting he asked the council to grant permission to the city manager to send a written request to the federal government. The motion was unanimously approved.
Parsons, who died last month after suffering a stroke after a city council meeting, was extremely active in civic affairs in Redondo Beach and was integral in saving the Air Force Base from multiple rounds of threatened closure.
The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) measure from the Pentagon has loomed over the L.A. Air Force Base since 1991. The base’s closure would have devastating effects on the South Bay economy, and Parsons created a coalition to protect the base during two rounds of closings.
Former Congresswoman Jane Harmon worked with Parsons on the coalition. She believes the base would be closed today if it weren’t for his commitment and contributions to the effort.
“More than any other local resident, he should be credited with saving the L.A. Air Force Base from two rounds of base closings – and assuring that the economic engine of the Beach Cities stayed right here,” Harman said.
Parson’s wife Mary Ann recently recalled an event he organized at the Los Angeles Air Force Base last year in his capacity as development manager for the South Bay Workforce investment board. He’d reached out to kids from Narbonne High School and arranged for a group of students to spend a Saturday at the base to learn more about jobs in aerospace and the military. As Mary Ann later learned, few employees had originally signed up for the event, as it was on a weekend. But when Parsons and the students showed up, the base was packed with men and women waiting to help the kids.
“Wow,” Parsons said. “This is a really good turnout for a Saturday.”
“It turned out that a general had heard who was running this thing, and made an announcement that everyone should be there,” Mary Ann recalled. “He said, ‘That guy kept the air force base open. You wouldn’t have a job if it weren’t for him. You can show up for a couple hours on a Saturday.’”
“After his death, we had conversations with Congressman Waxman and Former Congresswoman Jane Harmon about getting their help in doing this,” Aspel told the council. “They said they’d be honored to help.”
At the recommendation of other mayors, Aspel also suggested writing letters to the mayors of neighboring cities asking them to join Redondo in a resolution for the naming. The council approved this measure, as well.
“My thought was we may not get the whole base but at least we can get something,” he said.
“Maybe we can get the cafeteria,” Aspel joked. “He was a big guy.” ER