Four Years Ago: LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill Delivers "CAVE People" Address While Attending Democrat Convention
(August 16, 2000) It's been almost exactly four years since LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill made news as a delegate to the 1996 Democrat Convention that renominated Bill Clinton. Speaking to a breakfast meeting of the California delegation, Her Honor delivered what has come to be known as her "CAVE People Address." It wasn't quite the Gettysburg Address.
Ms. O'Neill was one of several big city mayors (in a row) to speak to California delegates. Her remarks are reprinted below:
"Good morning to all of you. I can't tell you how proud I was to be with you last night. Last night was a wonderful experience, my first experience at a convention so, it was a great night.
"I want to tell you that Long Beach is a city of 440,000 people, we are the fifth largest in California and the 32nd largest in the United States. Many of you don't know that because we are in the southwest corner of Los Angeles County. We are a beautiful coastal city and since 1989 we have lost 50,000 jobs with the downsizing of military and Douglas, McDonnell Douglas, with a two billion dollar impact.
"We needed help. We needed change. What do you do when you can no longer rely on your economic generators. We looked at our assets: waterfront, beautiful climate, but we needed help and I must tell you that this administration helped the City of Long Beach. We remembered, they have three words: we had the opportunity, we accepted the responsibility and we are believing in community.
"HUD helped us with a loan. Thank God for HUD. EDA helped us. The COPS grant gave us safer streets. Today we are emphasizing international trade, we are international tourism and technology. We are turning our city around.
"Our President knows the strength of our nation comes from the strength of our cities, and he does something about it. We will no more have the good old days, we will have better new days.
"And don't listen to the CAVE people, those are Citizens Against Virtually Everything. [some applause]
"We will be part of the new generation in our city and remember, Mr. President, we thank you for your foresight, your compassion, your leadership, but also to Mr. President and Mr. Vice President, please remember that the Golden State will elect the Golden Slate." [cheers]
When controversy followed reports of her remarks, the Mayor responded by letter to the Press-Telegram, stating that her "CAVE People" reference was "intended to be a parenthetical reference that was intended to describe a very small segment [emphasis in original] of people in any metropolitan area. I did not address this comment to anyone or any specific group...Certain opponents of some of the city's proposed projects took these remarks personally, and I apologize if these remarks offended anyone."
Four years later, we invite readers to assess for themselves whether Mayor O'Neill's record in dealing with public objections to City Hall-backed projects has, or has not, been consistent with her publicly stated advice concerning "CAVE People."