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    Queen Mary Iceberg, Titanic Course

    (January 22, 2004) -- As first reported on January 7, 2004 -- and to our knowledge no other LB media outlet has to date reported -- LB City Hall has not provided information and documents requested by the CA State Lands Commission (SLC) in mid-2003 relating to the LB Convention and Entertainment Center and the Queen Mary lease.

    As we also reported over two weeks ago, the State Lands Commission sought in Sept. 2001, and reiterated its request in mid-2003 for, documentation on how LB City Hall proposed to address what SLC staff called diversion of tidelands trust revenue from the Convention and Entertainment Center parking lot funds to other City Hall funds and purposes.

    The LB City Attorney's office told it is in the process of preparing a response now.

    The issue came to light through the work of LB taxpayer watchdog Traci Wilson-Kleekamp, who made requests for materials under state freedom of information law (the CA Public Records Act).

    For some reason, despite pages of newsprint and an editorial, the Long Beach Press-Telegram has not reported any of this.

    [Update: On Jan. 28, the PT reported that the SLC requested City Hall documents re the Queen Mary...but didn't mention the Convention and Entertainment Center.]

    If it had, we think its readers would quickly realize what readers can see quite plainly: the real story is not a confused "dispute" between City Hall and Joe Prevratil, a businessman who heads the firm operating the QM under lease with City Hall.

    The real story is, we believe, the bigger issue of how LB City Hall treats public assets and public money. That is City Hall's job, not Mr. Prevratil's.

    When Ms. Kleekamp made a state freedom of information act request on this matter, and the State Lands Commission sought documents, LB City Hall should have been able to give both of them exactly the same response about the documents: "Here they are."

    The fact that City Hall did not, and for the State Lands Commission apparently still has not, is City Hall's responsibility, not Mr. Prevratil's.

    What City Hall did was to first offer Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp delays and excuses, then vomit on her a congestion of confused materials and insist that's all it has. From this, our opinion is that either LB City Hall has some additional materials...or it looks like City Hall has treated public money and public records like something out of Animal House.

    That is City Hall's responsibility, not Mr. Prevratil's.

    In our opinion, the last thing LB taxpayers need is another revision of the Queen Mary lease without first removing those at LB City Hall responsible for what looks to us like an unwillingness or inability to promptly produce a professional, responsible public record of handling public resources in connection with the public's Convention and Entertainment Center and the public's Queen Mary.

    That's not Mr. Prevratil's job...or some outside consultant's job. It's City Hall's job.

    We will support the removal, by regularly scheduled election or by recall if necessary, of any elected LB officeholder who facilitates revising the Queen Mary lease without having the information above made fully public beforehand -- including all documents sought by Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp and the State Lands Commission.

    That is not Mr. Prevratil's responsibility. It's City Hall's responsibility and the public's right.

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