(April 14, 2004) -- Two races in the April 13, 2004 election were a watershed moment in the way LB will likely be governed in the future...in contrast to the way it has been ruled for too long.
City Hall's reproduction and cloning apparatus -- its transparent use of public resources and City Council agendas to try to shape public opinion before elections -- no longer works.
The public's anger at the 4th district's arrogant incumbent Dennis Carroll means Mayor O'Neill and Vice Mayor Frank Colonna will not have a reliable political butler in the Council chamber for the next two years.
And Vice Mayor Colonna -- who isn't politically deaf where Carroll was -- and other incumbents aspiring to higher office cannot ignore the obvious: no one seeking citywide office can win without carrying high propensity voter areas of the 4th and 8th districts (plus the 5th). They cannot afford do what Carroll and Webb did and expect to win citywide office in two years.
The 8th district embraced the gutsy, grassroots candidacy of LBHUSH2 founder Rae Gabelich because she spoke truth to City Hall's machinery and showed by her actions that her words mean something. We predict Ms. Gabelich's endorsers will be growing...since it is increasingly obvious that she will be the next 8th district Council representative.
Her vote total and Jensen's swamped Webb. It is virtually impossible for supporters of Mr. Jensen, who said voters should vote for him or Ms. Gabelich but not incumbent Webb, and the PT which said the incumbents should not be reelected, to credibly back Webb in June. Councilman Webb is likable and well liked but we believe he will also likely be cleaning out his desk in mid-July.
In both districts, LBReport.com was the first LB media outlet to call for removal of these two incumbents. Yes, the 4th and 8th district candidates are different. Yes, they ran different races.
But we believe those differences pale in comparison to actions taken by the incumbents that exposed LB and its residents to danger on the Airport's future, on profligate pensions, on public safety and on reckless spending. In our opinion, those actions go the essence of the way LB residents have been ruled instead of governed.
One down. One to go.
The 6th district race, in which incumbent Laura Richardson was reelected despite three challengers, may have had a lot to do with lower voter turnout and registration, but it also speaks to substantive issues.
First, as we have previously acknowledged, Councilwoman Richardson dissented from the Mayor in 2002 and (with three other Council dissenters) sought deeper spending reductions. We believe history has shown her (and the dissidents) right. She was the catalyst for retaining independent fiscal analyst Len Wood to report on the real fiscal state of the city. And she made the motion for a citywide assessment of LB's air quality, and did it extemporaneously, after hearing passionate testimony from Ms. Gabelich and others on the subject.
For reasons that baffle science, the issue championed by candidate Lew Lester -- stopping the merger and expansion of redevelopment areas -- resonated more strongly in other Council districts than in his own. It came up in the 4th and 8th district races...with Carroll scrambling to quash it after Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp blew the whistle on its possibilities and Webb tapdancing furiously to defend looting North Redevelopment project area money to pay for expanding the Scherer Park police station that City Hall previously claimed it could fund elsewhere. And we didn't hear any public support for expanding Redevelopment there or elsewhere.
In that respect, while Mr. Lester lost the election battle, he may be winning the Redevelopment war (which he has vowed to continue). That issue is likewise linked to the way parts of the city have been ruled instead of governed.
Over 225 years ago, Americans signed their names to a document declaring it self-evident that government should derive its legitimacy from the consent of the governed. Good idea.
That principle will come up again in the June runoff between Ms. Gabelich and incumbent Webb. On the Airport. On pensions. On public safety. On spending. On LB's quality of life.
As we said, one down, one to go.