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.
We’ve written enough to fill a novella about the 2nd District election in March, but there’ve been some interesting developments happening a few miles northeast in the 6th District, where incumbent Dee Andrews is facing as many challengers as there are geese ‘a layin’ (for all of you who mumble through the “12 Days of Christmas,” that’s six).
Two of the candidates come from the Cambodian community, which has been seeking more clout in city government: Suely Saro and Steve Meng.
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Saro, a social work professor, has picked up some clutch endorsements in recent weeks from the Service Employees International Union Local 2015, Long Beach Unified Board of Education member Megan Kerr—and most recently, former councilwoman and now state Sen. Lena Gonzalez.
Kerr and Gonzalez are interesting because they are both close friends with Mayor Robert Garcia, who has notably endorsed Andrews.
We asked Gonzalez about this departure, and she said it’s not unusual; she wants to support more women in office, and has worked with Saro for some time (Saro is also a field representative for state Sen. Ricardo Lara), describing her as a “solutions oriented” candidate who “cares very deeply about Long Beach.”
Then, like a horrible goose causing havoc in an idyllic English village, we barreled into another notable facet of Gonzalez’ announcement: That little alleged threat more than a year ago that involved Gonzalez being hit by a bus.
Andrews, in an April 2018 phone call, was irritated that the then-councilwoman attended a fundraiser in his district, and allegedly told her to “watch your back or you’re going to get hit and killed by a bus.” (Andrews said at the time it was a misunderstanding.)
Saro is a solid candidate with an impressive resume; we don’t want to take away from that. But it’s understandable why Gonzalez would lean toward someone other than the incumbent.
Asked whether the incident played a role in her choice, Gonzalez said, “I take everything into consideration.”
A 7th swan?
Prediction: In a matter of days, perhaps hours, Cindy Allen will enter the race for District 2, lodging yet another weighty challenge against a vulnerable incumbent, Jeannine Pearce, who would then be facing as many challengers as there are swans ‘a swimmin.’ (Stop Googling; it’s seven.)
Our prediction is based on an otherwise innocuous press release sent Monday about a certain business sale: Blume Media is acquiring Agency ETA, the advertising and marketing firm based in Downtown that Allen founded in 2005.
Agency ETA has done business with several city departments over the years, including the Port of Long Beach, Long Beach Transit and the Water Department. Her business entanglements—posing possible conflict of interest questions of the variety Pearce has faced in recent months—would surely dog her campaign for elected office.
Now that that’s been handled, Allen is free “to pursue other opportunities and no longer has any ownership in Agency ETA,” the press release states.
One final note on Allen’s possible candidacy—and this is for all you rabid conspiracy theorists out there—we know, OK? Allen was the owner and publisher of the Long Beach Post from 2013 to June 2018, when she sold the publication. She is also buddies with Mayor Robert Garcia (she was in his wedding party for godsakes), who co-founded the Post back in 2007.
Let’s get this straight, for the last time: Neither Allen, nor Garcia, has any say or influence in the editorial or business decisions of this publication. We are no one’s puppet.
Now, could we interest you, our loyal readers, in some beautiful, sumptuous renderings of the under-construction Breakers Hotel—or perhaps a VIP stay at the soon-to-open Community Hospital?
With sweeping vistas of the emerald-blue Pacific, from the penthouse at the Ocean Center building, you could soon toast champagne at sunset and nibble on foie gras with no apologies to the geese.
ACT NOW—at these prices, rooms won’t last!
Will Maddon come home?
And now, turning to sports … Fall has arrived, and with it, the close of regular season baseball and a rash of head coach firings.
One in particular interests us: The Los Angeles Angels fired Brad Ausmus after one, lackluster season that saw the team waste another year of Greatest Player In Waiting, Mike Trout, by missing the playoffs. Still, it’s questionable if Ausmus would have gotten the boot had not Joe Maddon been let go earlier by the Chicago Cubs.
Maddon is considered one of the most innovative managers in the game and his resume is rather daunting: he managed the long dreadful Tampa Bay Rays to the World Series in 2008 and then, after signing on with the Cubs, delivered that team to the 2016 World Series where it won its first championship in 108 years.
But, before all that, Maddon spent 30 years in the Angels organization. From 1975 to 2005, Maddon was a player, minor league coach and manager and major league coach and interim manager with the team. The fact that Maddon has a long history with the team, the fact that he is considered to have one of the brightest minds in the game, the fact that he has a personality that has been described as laid back, makes it a natural fit.
If Maddon does indeed get the gig, there is a Long Beach angle to all of this that may, or may not, be significant as it relates to infrastructure, traffic flow and overpriced beer.
Maddon has maintained a home in Long Beach ever since his Angels days. What’s more, he met his wife Jaye while she worked at an athletic club just down the road in Seal Beach.
If Maddon ends up coming home to the Angels, it may not be long before he finds himself with a very short commute.
In the news
The Backroom is really showing its versatility this week: We have more sports news! Long Beach State Athletic Director Andy Fee has been all over the news this week, being quoted in publications from CBS to NPR to the New York Times about his views on the newly-signed California law that will allow college athletes to make money off their own likeness.
Fee is against the law, which is controversial for sure (this is perhaps the first time USC and UCLA have been in alliance). But we wonder why Fee is in such demand: Long Beach State has no football program, and its basketball program has fallen on some very bad times as of late. The only sport the school excels in, volleyball, does not traditionally produce a lot of revenue-generating athletes.
We have some theories about this—both USC and UCLA, the two powerhouse athletic schools in SoCal, are facing athletic director upheaval, with one recently resigning and another heading into retirement; perhaps Fee is auditioning for a job?
We asked Fee what gives.
“My guess is because I am one of very few athletic directors to speak on the subject,” he said. “In my position, I bring 20-plus years of experience and a unique viewpoint. Hopefully that’s worth something.”
And what are your weaknesses, Mr. Fee? He probably cares too much.
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