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 snapped into consciousness this week sick from too much kombucha and vegan lox, unsure what day it was, groggy and delirious after 10 hours of switching back and forth between British cooking shows, “M-A-S-H” reruns and Tuesday’s City Council Council meeting, which, just before midnight, sunk so far into a bureaucratic black hole that one councilwoman was unsure what she had just voted on.
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Two items of high significance—new regulations on short term rentals and an $85 million pool project—were debated and voted on near or after midnight Tuesday. Only a trickle of people—the die-hards who’ve sought for years to slow the Belmont Pool replacement project—remained in the audience when public comment on that item began at 12:13 a.m. Wednesday.
Not only was it late, but the mayor and one councilman—Rex Richardson—were out of town: The mayor was in DC for a conference, and Richardson was touring New Zealand as part of a study on gas taxes.
This is not how city governance should work.
The council adopted new guidelines last spring specifically to prevent city business from being decided well after most people go to bed on a weeknight. Those new guidelines were implemented Tuesday—including limiting councilmembers’ comments to five minutes. That’s a near-impossibility, but they’re allowed to queue back up as many times as they want, so the guidelines had no effect on the councilmembers’ ability to make motions and sub-motions and substitute motions and friendly amendments.
Big items should be thoroughly debated, and the public should have its say. But let’s wrap it up at least on the same day the meetings start. Either the council should go full-time allowing for earlier meetings, or controversial measures should be spread out and prioritized during reasonable hours.
We reached out to city spokesman Kevin Lee, who agreed that late meetings are not ideal. The city will try to balance popular items, though some have time constraints, he said.
Our two cents: If a councilperson starts their remarks by saying “I’ll be brief,” it would help to follow through on that promise.
A few more pets
Animal people. Can’t live with ‘em, can’t throw a blanket over their cage to make them think it’s time to shut up and go to sleep.
They showed up in numbers at the Tuesday night meeting and squabbled endlessly (no hyperbole; we’re sure they’re still going at it) about spcaLA vis-à-vis the Long Beach Animal Shelter and bickered over signage that might suggest visitors should go to one facility over the other one (they’re adjacent, if you’ve never bravely rescued a pet) and the warring facilities’ Demilitarized Zone, the common area between the two (Shelterites claim that the spcaLArians have changed the locks keeping them out, which totally flies in the face of DMZ ethics) and pretty much anything else that came to mind other than the serious question of which is better, dogs or cats? Wake us up when they get to that one.
After hours of debate Tuesday, one of the few things that was actually decided on was to eventually allow residents to adopt up to six animals instead of four. We’re going to swing by the shelter side—we hear that’s the “good” side—and max out on pot-bellied pigs, the thinking person’s alternative to cats and dogs.
A little advice
We are the last people who would try to tell “Acting” City Manager Tom Modica how best to use his time, though obviously we aren’t, because here we go: You’re a busy man, Tom, and you can’t be squandering your day dealing with what we (being mindful of the fact that readers may be reading this while enjoying a meal) insist on calling “human waste.” Now that we see it typed out, we realize it still probably ruined your meal. Apologies.
It seems a member of Long Beach’s electorate noticed some “human waste” somewhere in Bixby Park and they complained on social media and in a group email that this made the city look like a third-world country. And Mr. Modica promised he’d have someone deal with it. That’s already too much time wasted by someone who’s acting like a city manager.
The complainant should’ve just used their GO Long Beach app and the whole matter would’ve been dealt with swiftly and thoroughly, freeing up Modica to return our phone calls so we can run this city smoothly and efficiently.
The March 3 election is less than six weeks away! We’ve sharpened our pencils and Google-mapped our polling place, and we plan to go totally dry in February to prepare our livers for what will likely be a raucous night.
Either that, or the same thing will happen that has happened in every recent election: All of the incumbents will sail to victory and the mayor will get everything he wants and we’ll pass out early from all the room-temperature champagne.
Some on the council are doing what they can to inject some excitement into the night by endorsing their colleagues’ challengers. Rex Richardson, the representative for North Long Beach, is the latest to announce this week that he is backing Suely Saro in the 6th, a slight to the incumbent Dee Andrews. Saro has now been endorsed by three sitting councilmembers, including Roberto Uranga and Jeannine Pearce.
Meanwhile in District 2, Cindy Allen has snapped up just about every current councilperson’s endorsement, the latest this week being Uranga.
Meet the candidates
If you don’t trust endorsements and would like to hear from the candidates directly, there are plenty of opportunities this month and next.
The first is this Saturday at Dan Pressburg’s “Dairy and Creamery” in North Long Beach. The candidate brunch—yes, he’s making eggs—is from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the dairy, 167 E. South St.
Candidates for myriad local offices will attend, including the 64th Assembly District, and council districts 2, 6 and 8.
On Tuesday, the Ocean Residents Community Association is hosting a forum for District 2 candidates. All have said they plan to attend except Ryan Lum. The event is at 6:30 p.m. at The Reef restaurant, 880 Harbor Scenic Drive.
Next Thursday, a week from today, your very own Long Beach Post and the Downtown Long Beach Alliance are hosting a District 2 forum (districts 6 and 8 will be held on successive Thursdays), from 6 to 8 p.m. at Elinor at MADE by Millworks, 250 N. Tribune Court. All seven candidates have confirmed they will attend.
Next month, the Wrigley Association will host the candidates for District 6 and Long Beach Unified School District District 2. The forum is at 6 p.m. on Feb. 3 at the Veterans Park Community Center, 101 E. 28th St.
And finally, on Feb. 12, the Los Cerritos Neighborhood Association is holding a candidate forum for the District 8 candidates at 6:30 p.m. at the Masonic Lodge, 3610 Locust Ave.
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