All the things we’re grateful for: Suzie Price, fire-breathing narwhals, dirty water …

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. 

One of The Backroom’s favorite authors once observed that “there is nothing so autumnal as a bad writer discussing apples.” Although that line caused us to abstain from any further musings regarding apples, we still maintain that nothing is more evocative of the fall season than The Backroom discussing things for which we’re thankful.

We are thankful for apples; red ones, green ones — we don’t care for the gold or yellow ones — the ones that, if you eat one a day, the doctor won’t come near you.


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We’re thankful for many of the top people who run this city for continually finding new and innovative ways to blunder into The Backroom. Without their antics, which always surprise and delight us, we would be selling roses on freeway off ramps for a living.

We’re thankful for the anonymous buyer of the Scorpion submarine, the former tourist attraction that’s been closed since 2016. We thought we’d never get rid of it. And if you can come up with another $250, we’ll throw in the Queen Mary and a set of steak knives.

We’re thankful for John Keisler, the city’s economic development director, for his daily gratitude posts on Facebook, which he’s maintained all year so far and which inspired today’s column. While he’s obviously getting close to the bottom of the barrel (“fire-breathing narwhals,” JK?), we’re wondering how bleak things need to get before he finally breaks down and mentions us.

We’re thankful for the Angels not coming to Long Beach as they threatened early this year. Their decision to (probably) stay in Anaheim, where they belong, saved Long Beach from a civil war between those who desperately wanted a baseball team in town, and those who say, rightfully, that Long Beach is a Dodger town. Plus, we have bigger plans for the elephant lot than stuffing a ballyard into it. Hint: It involves elephants.

We’re thankful for Councilwoman Suzie Price. Do we need a reason? And “acting” city manager Tom Modica. The Backroom has serious crushes on both of them.

We’re thankful for the new City Hall that opened this year. Not because we like it, especially (it has the worst elevator system we’ve ever experienced, and we’re well-versed in elevator system experiences), but simply because it allowed us to get rid of the old one, which, admittedly, gave us a much better elevator experience.

We’re thankful for this month’s California Democratic Convention, which gave us plenty of things to write about, though our gratitude was tempered somewhat by the Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren snubbing, as well as Bernie Sanders snubbing his own ice-cream social.

We are thankful for your Long Beach Post. At a recent let’s-go-around-the-table icebreaker, the entire staff of The Backroom was forced to say what each member was thankful for, and each answer was a various-worded form of gratitude for this news organization, especially during increasingly troubled times for community reporting.

We’re especially thankful for Dennis Dean, who does our fantastic and hilarious artwork, which is so good that one reader asked permission to make a print of the Queen Mary edition. Without Dennis, The Backroom’s life would be an empty shell.

If you are a subscriber who throws money into the hat to help keep us going for a few more days, we are thankful for you, too. More than you’ll ever know.

Thanks for nothin’

We were going to end this Thanksgiving edition of The Backroom with a turkey-sized dose of gratitude, but we can’t help ourselves. Huge news broke Monday that will likely end a nearly 20-year quest among surfers and fans of a cleaner ocean to tear down the breakwater wall that halted waves in the 1940s.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which has control over the 2.2-mile breakwater wall, released a 422-page environmental impact study that examined six alternatives for restoring marine life surrounding the wall.

We read the whole thing. This much is clear: Surfers never had a chance.

The report states bluntly that the two options for reducing the breakwater wall “resulted in providing no habitat value” for the marine area. However, “because breakwater plans remain a high priority for the city,” they still humored us. Or at least strung us along.

Consider the Corps’ list of priorities, identified from the beginning as needing protection: the port, the expensive homes along the coast that are threatened by climate change, utilities, Naval operations near Seal Beach and the oil islands off the coast.

Moneyed interests will always beat out clean water and recreation. Always. 

Not only was this a huge waste of time, but money as well: the city alone spent $3 million toward the study. It didn’t come from the general fund, we understand, but rather the Tidelands Fund, which in large part is funded through oil extraction revenue. That money would’ve been better spent on just about anything else (we could’ve fixed up a few rooms at the Breakers Hotel, or bought this slick pad above the Insurance Exchange Building).

And that is just for the study. The tally for completing the chosen option, which involves restoring reefs? $141 million, of which the city would be responsible for $50 million (again, from Tidelands).

It’s unlikely that anything is ever going to come from this more than decade-long endeavor by the city and the feds. It’s time to accept the fact that Long Beach will always have stagnant, dirty water.

And for that, we’re grateful. We have no choice.

Substitute “Long Beach” for “Boston” and “San Gabriel” for “Charles” in your head.

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