Pine Ave. Pioneer John Morris Is Selling Mum's Restaurant, Will Exit LB Biz For Now & Pursue Opportunities in Northern OC; Buyer Is Jerry Westlund
(July 10, 2003) -- Pioneering Pine Ave. businessman, downtown booster and (in recent years)City Hall critic and litigant John Morris has agreed to sell Mum's Restaurant, will exit LB for now...with plans to pursue business opportunities in northern Orange County.
Mr. Morris told LBReport.com he has entered escrow to sell the Mum's property at 144 Pine Ave. to Mr. Jerry Westlund. Attempts by LBReport.com to reach Mr. Westlund for comment are pending as we post.
Mr. Morris told LBReport.com, "I will be moving out of Long Beach in terms of my business ties, but I love Long Beach. I will always love Long Beach. The public has been good to me over the years and I'm thankful for that. What I'm not thankful for is the treatment by City Hall, but I need to get on with my life."
For years, Mr. Morris was among downtown LB's most visible and vocal boosters, opening Mum's on Pine Ave. based on City Hall plans to revitalize Pine Ave. His enthusiasm for City Hall soured in recent years over its plan for Queensway Bay, now the Pike on Rainbow Harbor, whose latest incarnation he criticized as a change from previous promises.
In a telephone conversation today with LBReport.com, Mr. Morris remained critical of City Hall actions but voiced optimism about LB's long term prospects:
In ten years, downtown is going to be awesome. It's unfortunate there'll be a vacuum until everything shakes out on Queensway Bay and housing. If they'd stayed focused ten years ago, things would be different. They would have finished up the Promenade and housing up above [northward] and would have had a solid base on the Pine Ave. corridor and the East Village. Instead, they have lots of fragmentation, so I think there'll be a big dip, but once it comes up, it will be awesome.
In May, a LB civil court jury awarded Mr. Morris $425,000 in damages against LB City Hall and former City Manager Henry Taboada (adding $7,500 in punitive damages against Mr. Taboada), finding in effect that LB city officialdom had punished Morris for expressing views critical of City Hall policies.
On July 3, the Superior Court judge who presided at trial tossed out the jury verdict against Mr. Taboada in its entirety while letting the verdict against City Hall stand. However the judge slashed Morris' damage award against City Hall from $425,000 to $1...effectively requiring Morris to prove he incurred additional actual damages for violation of his 1st amendment rights to recover anything more.
Mr. Morris told LBReport.com he intends to pursue his civil damages to conclusion. "I've said all along I'm along for the ride. City Hall has forgotten they lost and I'll see them in court."
Previous related coverage:
Mum's Morris: "It's the City (Hall) That Lost...I'll Go Another Round"
John Morris Verdict Reversal Of Fortune: Trial Court Vacates (Tosses Out) Judgment Against Former City Mgr. Taboada, Reduces Damages Against City Hall to $1, Giving Morris Option Of New Trial On Damages
Punitive Damages Per Jury in Morris v. City of LB: $7,500 Against Former City Mgr. Taboada
"Mum's" Owner John Morris Wins $425,000 In Civil Suit Against City Hall, Jury Decides City Hall Punished Him For His Critical Views