The Backroom is a column by the staff of the Long Beach Post with notes and analysis, along with bloops and blunders, from the city’s political scene. It runs every Thursday. To contact us, email [email protected]. For questions or concerns, please contact Managing Editor Melissa Evans: [email protected] or 562-437-5814.
If all goes as the Backroom predicts, 2020 will be an exciting year for Long Beach, a year full of the unexpected (except by us) and exhilarating change, including a new (again!) venue change for City Council meetings, an all-AARP/NRA gun-toting slate of elderly future candidates and a refreshing non-grocery application coming to the 5th District.
Let us make clear, up front, this is satire. All questions and concerns can be directed to the First Amendment or to the brilliant young associates at our General Counsel, hungry for billable hours in the new year. Everyone else: govern yourselves accordingly.
Our track record with predictions, we should note, is unmatched (though, admittedly, not in the good way) among prognosticators. But, in our defense, the Backroom doesn’t engage in the sort of hazy, heavily disguised metaphorical scare tactics you’ll find in the back of the Bible or the notebooks of Nostradamus. We just come right out and predict that, say, Urban Commons will chop the Queen Mary into little key-fob commemorative souvenirs. Nothing confusing about that. Either they will, as we predict, or they won’t, in which case we’ll chalk up another in the loss column.
Here’s what we see for the year with our own 2020 vision.
‘Masters’ candidates re-enter Long Beach politics
The passage in 2018 of Measure BBB allowing three terms for council members will put a renewed spring in the steps of several old-timer council representatives. Among those who will announce campaigns for office in the coming years will be Gerrie Schipske in District 5, Rae Gabelich in District 8, Frank Colonna in District 3, Bonnie Lowenthal in District 1, Steve Neal in District 9 and the surprise return of Dan Baker, who will make a bid to reclaim his seat in District 2, which he abandoned in 2006 before disappearing into the jungles of Costa Rica. The old-folks loophole will also set up the chance to have the council packed with gun-toting representatives with possible future wins by former LBPD officer Doug Drummond in District 3, probation officer Doris Topsy Elvord in the 6th and former L.A. County Sheriff’s Sergeant Les Robbins in the 5th all teaming up to dispense their own brand of frontier justice.
Sunday-Funday group changes times, venues for City Council meetings
Already weary of the new City Hall for being too drab and sterile, the City Council will elect to move their traditional Tuesday night meetings to 10 a.m. Sunday Drag Queen Brunch at Hamburger Mary’s at 330 Pine Ave. in Downtown Long Beach.
“There’s no reason politics can’t be fun,” your mayor will chirp in an announcement made at the popular Loop installation on Ocean Boulevard. Time for brief public comment in the council chambers (renamed Hamburger Bob Foster’s Chambers during sessions) will be followed by a drag show and bottomless mimosas will be served throughout the evening for those 21 and older.
Sparkling new housing development for methamphetamine enthusiasts at repurposed Haggen Grocery
Identifying crystal methamphetamine users as a group most in need of housing and things to do, the city will purchase the long-shuttered Haggen Grocery site on Spring and Palo Verde in the 5th District as a full-time residence and educational workshop for speedsters in the Long Beach area. The 45-bed complex will be complemented by a 1,200-square-foot workspace where the hyper-energetic project-oriented residents can tinker with old lawn mower engines, alarm clocks, bicycles and jars of nuts and bolts.
The project will face some intense pushback from area activists, but it will eventually be pushed through by a majority of the council that noted the 5th District has a woeful and inequitable lack of services and fun activities for the homeless.
Long Beach citizens remain unclear what Lena Gonzalez does for a living
It will slowly dawn on Long Beach residents, sometime around February but surely before the March election, that Lena Gonzalez is no longer representing the 1st Council District. “She’s been gone for awhile, I think,” will remark one worker in the City Manager’s office on the condition of anonymity, “because I could be wrong.” A curator for the Historical Society of Long Beach will go through its archives and report that Gonzalez had been elected to the state Senate, where she is currently employed. Gonzalez will not return calls asking for confirmation.
New iconic icon
After Urban Commons becomes the latest in a long line of operators of the Queen Mary to fail to turn the ship into a major and highly profitable tourist destination, the vessel will be sliced up into tiny pieces and sold as souvenir key fobs at $35 apiece and the city will have to search for a replacement icon, which will turn out to be a 50-bedroom, 60-bathroom castle in Cayambe, Ecuador, which Long Beach will buy for just $8 million, a reduced price because of the castle’s proximity to the Cayambe Volcano, which could blow at any minute.
A new home for the new iconic icon
After failing to draw a major, then minor, sports franchise to express any interest in moving to a new stadium or arena in the waterfront Elephant Lot, Acting City Manager Tom Modica will determine that the 13-acre lot would be “a perfect place” to drop the newly acquired and instantly iconic Ecuadorian Castle, which will be turned into an Ecuadorian-themed hotel and entertainment center with a rock gym and assorted night clubs, restaurants and shops. The cost for the castle, Modica will say, will be more than offset by the fact that the city won’t have to build a skyway tram to get visitors to the castle. “It’s a much better idea than trying to fix the Queen Mary,” Modica will explain, though he will note that the castle is in need of about $2 million in repair work, an estimate that will grow to $120 million by year’s end.
Orange County sues 2nd & PCH
Orange County will sue the landlords and developers of Long Beach’s 2nd & PCH retail and restaurant center for theft of intellectual property.
“You can’t possibly go into that center, or go anywhere near it, without thinking you’re in Orange County,” attorney Chester B. Arthur will say in representing Orange County in the $250 million lawsuit. “The center’s name and logo, its parking lot, its tenants. Everything’s either screaming Newport Beach or Irvine, depending on the angle you’re viewing it from,” he’ll say. Arthur will note that Orange County has spent billions of dollars creating the coveted and nationally admired “OC vibe,” and the county is not going to stand by idly while “a little port town in southeast Los Angeles County” just helps itself to the fruits of Orange County’s hard and expensive work that has made it the envy of every soulless and glitzy city in the world.
Long Beach International
The city will relent on one of the biggest regrets and finally allow a customs facility to be built at Long Beach Airport, which will allow JetBlue and other carriers to fly to Mexico and other destinations outside the U.S. But, as predicted by those who have long opposed international flights, it will also bring in an influx of murderous Mexican drug cartel members, rapists and murderers, along with, you know, a few good ones.
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