(August 25, 2003, w/ update 7 p.m.) -- In a closely watched, potentially pivotal choice with a high stakes, city management-sought merger of all Redevelopment project areas now pending, Mayor Beverly O'Neill has nominated Mr. Alan Burks, chair of the Central Redevelopment Project Area Committee (C-PAC) for appointment to the Redevelopment Agency Board.
The City Council will ultinately have the last word on the Mayor's nominee for the RDA board appointment...as well as with her nominees to two Charter Commissions:
The Mayor has nominated Mr. Matthew Jenkins to the Planning Commission, and Mr. C.J. Mike Walter to the Water Commission.
Mr. Walter is a CSULB faculty member and is listed among the 2001-2002 Boardmembers of the International Business Association, a division of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Mayor has transmitted the nominees' names to the Council's Personnel and Civil Service Committee chair, Councilmember Laura Richardson...and asked that the Committee review the recommended appointments at its August 26 meeting set for 4 p.m. in the Council chamber.
On July 22, Mayor O'Neill lost a bruising Council vote (8-1, Richardson dissenting) in which the Mayor sought to gain retroactive power to fill the pivotal RDA position.
In an August 1 letter, the Mayor asked C-PAC (which had nominated Mr. Burks and Mr. Don Darnauer) "to possibly provide more than two (2) names for consideration as the C-PAC representative on the RDA."
On August 7, C-PAC voted not to reconsider its two previously submitted nominees (Burks and Darnauer)...and voted not to support a merger of redevelopment project areas at the present time and to support conducting an independent and impartial study of the merger and "best practices" for redevelopment.
A redevelopment project area merger is opposed by C-PAC's recently elected C-PAC Vice Chair Lewis Lester...who has separately launched a personal campaign against the merger in his individual (not C-PAC) capacity. Meanwhile, 6th district resident Regina Chaney has announced she will seek to unseat incumbent Councilwoman Laura Richardson in 2004. Ms. Chaney opposes the merger. Councilwoman Richardson supports it.
[update] Mr. Lester told LBReport.com, "I congratulate Mr. Burks on his nomination. I hope the Council will unanimously approve his appointment. I believe he will do an earnest job as the Central Area's representative on the RDA Board. I hope that he will make sure that the Board rescinds its previous action on the merger study in order to allow for more community input."
Mr. Lester added, "I have no interest or intention of accepting a nomination to be chair of the Central Project Area Committee." [end update]
The Mayor's nominees for appointment are not a done deal: none can take office without a majority vote to confirm their appointment by the City Council.
At the July 22 Council meeting, at which the Mayor was effectively denied additional names from whom to choose, Vice Mayor Frank Colonna and Councilman Dennis Carroll signaled a future fight if a PAC nominated RDA appointee didn't pass muster with them.
Noting accurately that the Council has the last word on who is and isn't confirmed to sit on the RDA Board, Councilman Carroll said, "It's my view the PACs have too much authority over this process. It unduly restricts the discretion of both the Mayor and the Council" and asked Assistant City Attorney Heather Mahood what would happen if the Council rejected the two nominees forwarded to the Mayor.
Ms. Mahood said, "In that event, we would go back to the PACs and ask for brand new names...presently as the ordinance stands, two more names, at least two more names..."
Vice Mayor Colonna indicated that with nearly $100 million at stake, he intends to use his Council vote on the RDA Board appointment to do what he thinks is in the best interest of the entire city.