Councilman Dan Baker Begins Council Meeting By Publicly Resigning From Office
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(February 7, 2006) -- LB Councilman Dan Baker announced at tonight's (Feb. 7) City Council meeting that he is resigning from office effective tomorrow (Feb. 8).
Near the start of the Council meeting, the Mayor gave Councilman Baker the floor. He spoke extemporaneously:
|Councilman Baker: It should be no surprise to anybody in our city that [in] the last week or so there's been a lot of discussion and distraction in our city over my private business dealings, and I want to take just a moment to explain to my colleagues and to the members of the public that remind folks that this is a part time job that I do take very seriously.
It's a tremendous commitment and I'm very honored to have this position.
Source: City of LB webcast
Also though, I do need to make money and like most of my colleagues have outside employment. Mine happens to be doing real estate investments. There are a number of people in the city who are my friends that have been very close friends and colleagues and allies for a long time who I have done business with. There is absolutely nothing improper with that as just about every legal mind who has spoken on the matter has said, and clearly said to me before we went into business together.
Unfortunately, the press has likened this to a witch hunt and I've got a bunch of dear friends who are suffering because of this. I personally am very certain that if something goes to the FPPC or is otherwise looked into there is absolutely nothing there to be of concern, yet I do have personal friends who are still under the microscope or having their personal and professional lives harmed unnecessarily and that concerns me greatly.
Along those lines, I know that a Public Record request was made of my office for all of the phone calls and I know there'll be a story coming so I'll go ahead and let you all know right now that for the last thirteen months, these are all the phone records by the way, thirteen months, all of my City Hall records there are what appear to be about 320 minutes of personal calls, that works out to about a minute a day on average of personal calls, and total charge to this City of $28.99. I have a check here to reimburse the City for $28.99. That is my phone, the phone of all of my employees in the City Hall office and the field office, so I hope that puts that issue to rest. I'm sure the $28.99 worth of calls shouldn't have been made from the City Hall phone, but if that is indeed the case there's a check that should cover more than that.
I am very, very distressed though at the vitriol and the continuing saga and I greatly fear that it's going to impact the good doings of this Council in the city, and there are a lot of wonderful things that we should be focusing on, like the Mayor's race. I'm sure there are a few folks in the room who would like to see that be a focus for the next few months. The Council has a number of very important things before it and it's my explicit hope that we can move on to that business.
Some people in Long Beach believe that they have a right to know who my business partners are. I explicitly do not, and will not divulge that information. It would be a violation of the trust in the people who have invested with me to do so. I can assure you anybody that I, if there would be a reason to put them on the Form 700, they would have been there.
All that being said, I am very fearful that it's not going to stop. My experience with the press in this town, and with the general attitude that these people on this Council are nothing but bad, and I'm really personally very tired of that.
And I think in the best interests of my personal close friends, those who are being in my opinion irreparably harmed by this, I'm going to step aside.
And I'm pretty much done. The Council, I hope, will be able to move on with its business and move on with the very important things of this city.
So effective tomorrow, I will be resigning my position on the City Council.
Mayor O'Neill: Is that what you meant by step aside?
Source: City of LB webcast
|Councilman Baker: That's what I meant. I thank you very much for the opportunity. I'm sorry it came to this, but the personal integrity I have for the friends that have been harmed, I think it's important to let them move on with their lives.
Mayor O'Neill: You can stay for Council meeting.
Councilman Baker: No, thank you. [exits the Council chamber].
Mayor O'Neill: That is a very sudden and abrupt response and I think it takes us all back in reflection and wondering what could have been done, that maybe we could have done, that would have made a difference. So I think this is probably not a discussable item at this time. It will be difficult but we will go on with the Council meeting...
And the meeting went on.
During pre-adjournment notices, some Councilmembers commented on the development:
Councilwoman Bonnie Lowenthal: I feel compelled to say something about the abrupt departure of Dan Baker tonight, because I think all of us are experiencing a real sense of loss that was unexpected. And speaking for myself, I know Dan and I were often on very different sides of an issue, but we did have a mutually supportive relationship and worked on many projects together and I know that's true of my colleagues as well. Dan, in fact, even before I got on the Council, was very involved in this shopping cart ordinance that we put over for two weeks, so I just want to say publicly that I will miss his wisdom on this Council and want to wish him well in whatever his future endeavors are...
Councilwoman Rae Gabelich: ...Since you opened the door for this, Bonnie, I want to say something as well about Dan. I want to say that I'm very sad that he chose to go in this direction. I knew that he was going to make an announcement but I don't think he even knew what he was going to do until he did it. But Dan has given me guidance in the last year and a half that I've been here. He stepped up to the plate to educate me on many issues in this city, and I can guarantee you that there's not one person that is listening or that lives in this city or on this earth that hasn't made a mistake or would have done something maybe a little bit differently if they'd had it to do over again. I don't think he did anything wrong. I think he may have done it maybe in a different way...and I too wish him well and I will miss his presence here on the Council.
Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga: We've always worked as a unit here, and as a family, sometimes a happy family, sometimes not so happy, but whenever one is leaving I think, well, anyway Dan will be sorely missed.
Councilman Baker's resignation means a vacant seat will be declared. The next step will be announced by the City Attorney and is unclear (either a special election or, under some interpretations of the City Charter, a Council appointment). The district includes the Port of LB, much of downtown LB, the East Village and neighborhoods encompassing Alamitos Beach and Rose Park.
First elected in early 1999 to fill the unexpired term of Councilman (elected Assemblyman) Alan Lowenthal, Councilman Baker was reelected handily in 2000 and 2004. He ran for Mayor in 2002, finishing second to Mayor O'Neill's write-in campaign.
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