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    News in Depth

    Mayor O'Neill Lobbied In DC For Millender-McDonald Goods Movement Bill HR 3398 During Conf. of Mayors Event After Deflecting Public Questions About City's Lobbying Role At Council Meeting

  • Cong. Millender-McDonald Seeks To Make HR 3398 Part of Six-Year Omnibus Nat'l Transportation Bill


    (Nov. 7, 2003) -- After deflecting questions from a LB activist who sought to learn the extent of direct and indirect LB City Hall lobbying for HR 3398 (which could declare goods movement projects like I-710 freeway, Gerald Desmond Bridge and Alameda Corridor matters of national significance and fund and speed their expansion), Mayor Beverly O'Neill urged support for the bill during a November 6 Washington advocacy trip with the U.S. Conference of Mayors seeking federal dollars for transportation projects.

    During a Conference of Mayors' press event, the bill's author, LB-Carson area Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald announced that she will recommend that the House Committee of Transportation & Infrastructure make HR 3398 part of (i.e. roll HR 3398 into) the omnibus national transportation bill.

    "When we reauthorize TEA-21, I am recommending to the Committee that we include The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance in the reauthorization bill because it follows the hallmark principals set forth in the two previous transportation reauthorization bills ISTEA and TEA-21," Congresswoman Millender-McDonald said in remarks prepared for delivery to the delegation. The Congresswoman's DC office provided LBReport.com with the complete text of her remarks as prepared for delivery and we post them in full below.

    Cong. Millender-McDonald introduced HR 3398 on Oct. 29 and publicly announced it in an Oct. 31 press release. LBReport.com reported the story (first among LB media) the next day, including the full bill text.

    As reported first by LBReport.com, at the November 4 City Council meeting, LB writer and neighborhood activist Bry Myown publicly confronted city management and the Mayor over what lobbying role City Hall either directly -- or through the Port, U.S. Conference of Mayors, Gateway Council of Governments or SCAG -- had played in the proposed legislation.

    "I think the public wants...[to] know what lobbying efforts are being undertaken," Ms. Myown said, noting that City Hall had publicly lobbied for other Port-related transportation funding by calling it a matter of "national security" and the public might be concerned "about our communication to you [on 710 expansion issues] being preempted."

    Ms. Myown said she was concerned and surprised to learn that a release from Cong. Millender-McDonald's office listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors [in which Mayor O'Neill has risen to a leadership role] as a supporter...and confronted O'Neill over her plans to testify before a House Subcommittee on Transportation on Nov. 4 in support of transportation funding.

    "I guess what I'm asking, could we and the public have a little more specificity about what lobbying is being done on our behalf and could you share some of that lobbying with us before it occurs," Ms. Myown said.

    Mayor O'Neill publicly replied, "The lobbying is for not just Long Beach. The lobbying to the U.S. Conference of Mayors is to make sure that there is money in the transportation bill."

    Ms. Myown tried to pursue the point, noting that Millender-McDonald's office had listed the U.S. Conference of Mayors as a supporter of HR3398...but O'Neill did not respond to that point.

    Ms. Myown's testimony prompted 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes-Uranga -- who chairs a Council oversight committee on 710 freeway expansion -- to ask city management to provide a subsequent briefing on HR 3398.

    The agenda item on which Ms. Myown spoke specifically concerned so-called "guiding priciples" developed by Councilwoman Uranga's committee regarding 710 freeway expansion. They concerned loss of property and neighborhood impacts, health, environmental and noise, truck congestion, safety and impacts and port issues.

    Asked today by LBReport.com whether the Mayor had lobbied on behalf of HR 3398, Mike Sanders, Sr. Assistant to the Mayor, first contended the term "lobbying" was unclear, then said the Mayor was in DC for the Conference of Mayors event to support federal transportation funding...and yes, she supports Cong. Millender-McDonald's HR 3398 designating projects of national significance...and yes, the Mayor considers the 710 freeway project and the Gerald Desmond bridge among such projects.

    HR 3398's text currently doesn't indicate specific projects of national significance, but establishes a system where such projects could be so designated, funded and effectively hastened.

    The revelation that Mayor O'Neill supports HR3398 and advocated in its favor while in DC, came without any prior public Council discussion.

    As reported first by LBReport.com, the LB Area Chamber of Commerce issued a Nov. 5 "call to action" strongly supporting HR 3398 -- even posting a suggested form letter addressed to Cong. Millender-McDonald, cc'd to Mr. Carl Kemp, City Hall's Manager of Public/Government Affairs.

    "Click to download a letter of support on HR 3398," said the Chamber's web site, "fax it to us...and we will do all the work!"

    HR 3398 proposes to spend $18 billion over six years to facilitate and fund transportation projects of national significance involving the movement of goods. Half of the sum would be dispensed via a grant program to be created to facilitate such projects...and the other half would be given to projects that Congress explicitly designates as "projects of national significance"...which in the initial version of the legislation remain "to be supplied."

    As previously reported by LBReport.com, the "Goods Movement Act of 2003" (text in previously hyperlinked article) was introduced on Oct. 29, 2003 and referred to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee...on which Congresswoman Millender-McDonald (a Democrat whose district includes roughly 80% of LB and stretches through Carson and beyond) serves as senior member.

    The bill would direct the Secretary of Transportation to establish a "goods movement program," the purposes of which would be:

    (A) to facilitate and support multimodal freight transportation initiatives at the State, regional, and local levels in order to improve freight transportation gateways and mitigate congestion in the area of such gateways;

    (B) to provide capital funding to address infrastructure and freight operational needs at freight transportation corridors and gateways;

    (C) to encourage adoption of new financing strategies to leverage State, local, and private investment in freight transportation gateways; and

    (D) to support military mobilization and readiness.

    Among its discretionary provisions, the bill would empower the Secretary of Transportation to make grants to "assist State and local governmental authorities in financing...the development of corridors...including protecting rights of way through acquisition, construction of dedicated truck and high occupancy vehicle lanes and other non-vehicular capital improvements that the Secretary may decide would result in mitigating congestion in such corridors."

    The City Council, which sets policy for the city of Long Beach, adopted a 2003 federal legislative agenda (specifying policies on which city officials could spend tax money to support or oppose). Under "Business Growth and Workforce," calls for City Hall to advocate for TEA-03 [omnibus federal transportation legislation] "to enhance, beautify and maintain the 1-710 Freeway/Gerald Desmond Bridge, which serves as a vital thoroughfare for residents, businesses and commerce." Regarding the Alameda Corridor, it said City Hall would "support efforts to maintain and enhance funding for the Alameda Conidor, including improvement of federal job training and business development." Under international trade, it called for support of "federal efforts to enhance international trade, which benefits local businesses, port development, and the overall local economy."

    The City Charter specifies that the Mayor "shall have no vote, but may participate fully in the deliberations and proceedings of the City Council. The Mayor shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes and by the governor for purposes of military law, but shall have no administrative duties other than those provided for in Section 207. The Mayor shall represent the City at large and utilize the office of Mayor to provide community leadership and as a focal point for the articulation of city-wide perspectives on municipal issues."

    Remarks of Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald

    Below are the full remarks prepared for delivery to a U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation on Nov. 6 by LB-Carson area Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald. They were presented at a press event, roughly forty-five minutes before a publicly webcast event by the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure featuring the U.S. Conference of Mayors delegation and including Mayor O'Neill...which did not mention HR3398.

    The DC office of Cong. Millender-McDonald provided LBReport.com with the text of her remarks as prepared for the delivery. We are pleased to post it in full below.

    [begin text]

    I am happy to be here with all of you to discuss issues that are very important to my region, Southern California and also, I firmly believe, very important to the long-term economic health of our country.

    The U.S. has three hundred and sixty one ports---ninety five thousand miles of coastline and a robust import/not so much export market. More than ninety five percent of the trade that comes into the United States arrives by ship.

    These issues represent the safe, secure and efficient movement of goods and the immediate and long-term needs of our transportation infrastructure.

    To address these immediate needs I introduced The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance (HR 3398).

    The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance seeks to do the following:

  • Provides $18 billion over six years to fund critical transportation infrastructure projects - nine billion of which would be a discretionary program for state and local governments to plan and build "Goods Movement" projects, while the remaining $9 billion would be dedicated to funding projects determined to be of "National Economic Significance."

  • Separates the Borders and Corridors Program and creates one strong Corridor and Gateway Program. According to the Federal Highway Administration, corridor projects represented 95 percent of the project requests through the Borders and Corridors program.

    Focuses our resources on projects and initiatives that promote the safe, secure and efficient mobility of goods and on the immediate and long-term needs of our transportation infrastructure. For example, this legislation combines and enhances elements of two highly successful transportation programs. My legislation uses the criteria from the Corridors program and combines it with the fiscal responsibility of the full funding grant agreement of the transit New Starts Program.

    When we reauthorize TEA-21, I am recommending to the Committee that we include The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance in the reauthorization bill because it follows the hallmark principals set forth in the two previous transportation reauthorization bills ISTEA and TEA-21.

    It calls for the partnering of state, local and the federal government to work collectively to plan and build transportation projects that address the local congestion problems that face our communities while enhancing the over-arching economic viability of our national transportation infrastructure.

    In short, our national transportation infrastructure must be able to support the mobility of our citizens and the safe, secure and efficient movement of goods. To accomplish this, our local officials must play a critical role. Our local elected officials and our communities must be involved and partner with state and federal officials.

    I speak from experience on this matter. As a former Mayor, Councilwoman, state assembly member and now a Member of Congress, I have worked on transportation issues on all levels of government.

    The Alameda Corridor, my bill that pushed this program to the forefront AB 871, is an example of a vital project. The Alameda Corridor is a model transportation project because it involved state funding, local funding, and a four hundred million dollar loan from the federal government as well as funding from the private sector.

    All these contributors, created a great project.

    The results have been the Alameda Corridor is a project that has helped control local congestion and it has contributed to the safe, secure and efficient movement of goods that benefits the entire country.

    It is the type of project that the The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance seeks to replicate, by seeking partnerships with state, local and federal stakeholders.

    I worked on the Alameda Corridor project when I was mayor pro-term of Carson, I continued to work on it when I was in the California Assembly---- this project followed me to Washington. During my first term in Washington I worked with my colleagues to secure a four hundred million dollar loan from the federal government that tied this project together.

    I donít know if I followed the Alameda Corridor Project or the project followed me -- But the lesson that I took from that experience is that to plan and build good, solid transportation projects that have multiple benefits -- We have to work together at all levels of government

    There is an Alameda Corridor type project in every congressional district. The mayors that are here today, I am sure, can speak about projects that need to be built that would enhance the livability of your cities while contributing to the over-all national economy.

    What is unique about the Alameda Corridor project is that everything came together. The project was built. What my legislation does is to provide an opportunity for these complex transportation projects the ability to succeed. Every community has unique transportation needs that reflect their area, their economy, their population. All politics are local and so are their transportation decisions. My legislation seeks to provide the funding and resources for these projects to succeed in a timely and efficient manner.

    The Committee leadership needs to hear from local elected officials supporting this approach in order to fund projects and produce a robust transportation reauthorization bill that meets our local needs as well as meeting our national economic needs.

    HR 3398, like the entire transportation reauthorization bill is an economic stimulus package. For every billion dollars invested in public transportation infrastructure 47,000 jobs are created. It creates jobs and just as importantly-transportation creates opportunity for small businesses.

    Finally I would like to thank the Conference of Mayors for supporting The Goods Movement Projects of National Economic Significance (HR 3398).

    I look forward to continuing to work with all of you throughout the reauthorization process.

  • Developing.


    Related issue:

  • Mayor O'Neill Attends DC Press Event As Part of U.S. Conf. of Mayors' Support for Proposed $375 Billion Transportation Bill

  • (Reaction Pro & Con To Cong. Millender-McDonald's Proposed HR 3398 To Create System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance

  • Cong. Millender-McDonald Introduces Legislation Proposing System Of Fed'l Funds Fueling Goods Movement Projects of Nat'l Significance

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