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Grabinski Denies "Walking" on City Mgr. Pay Raise Vote; Says He Was "Sick"; Mayoral Candidates Ryan and Baker React

Video tape shows Grabinski returned roughly one minute after City Mgr. pay raise item ended

(November 27, 2001) -- 7th district Council incumbent Ray Grabinski denies "walking" on a vote on whether to raise the City Manager's pay to nearly $200,000, saying he left the Council chamber because he was "sick."

"I didn't walk on the City Manager's pay raise vote," Councilman Grabinski told when we intercepted him leaving a Mayoral candidate forum at CSULB [separate coverage forthcoming]. "I was gone for an hour because I was sick," he said.

The telecast of the November 20 Council meeting shows Councilman Grabinski walking back to his Council seat roughly one minute after the City Manager pay raise item ended.

When we asked Councilman Grabinski why he told the PT reporter "no comment" instead of saying he'd been sick, Councilman Grabinski said it was "because I didn't have any comment."

On learning of Councilman Grabinski's assertions, two prominent Mayoral candidates, Prop J utility tax cut leader Norm Ryan and Vice Mayor Dan Baker offered the following views for

Mr. Ryan: "If in fact he was ill, a "no comment" didn't do much to reassure his constituency base that 50,000 people didn't have their voices heard. Ray has a responsibility to vote and when he can't vote, he needs to let people understand why, so that they don't sit there and second guess their leadership..."

Vice Mayor Baker: "I believe when one is elected to represent the people of Long Beach, that means being there to vote on sometimes difficult issues. While we obviously will not agree with every vote on every single issue, I believe it is still our responsibility to cast our vote and make our positions known at Council meetings."

The proposal to raise the City Manager's deferred compensation (and thus his total pay package) was a formally agendized City Council item. It was proposed by Mayor Beverly O'Neill who is waging a write-in campaign to win a third term.

The item was number 27 near the end of the Council agenda and might have drawn scant attention had LB activist Bry Myown not come to the podium to raise issues about it.

Vice Mayor Dan Baker followed-up on Ms. Myown's testimony, pressing for and eliciting an explanation from the City Manager indicating that under Mayor O'Neill's proposal, the City Manager's new compensation would indeed total (salary plus deferred compensation) $199,500.

When the vote was called, Vice Mayor Baker voted "no."

Prior to the vote, Norm Ryan also stated on the record to that he considered Mayor O'Neill's proposal to raise the City Manager's pay "unimaginable."

The telecast of the Council meeting shows Councilman Grabinski left the Council chamber roughly 42 minutes before the City Manager pay raise item began. He returned roughly a minute after the item ended.

Neither Councilmembers nor the public can be sure exactly when a non-hearing item will come up, due to unpredictable intervening items and the Mayor's ability to take an item out of order, calling it sooner.

For related coverage, see Analysis of LB Municipal Code Requiring LB Councilmembers To Cast Vote If Present in Chamber.

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