[opinion] (September 1, 2008) -- LB's top officials joined in celebrating the dedication of neighborhood signs, proclaiming LB's designation as a Federal Right of Way.
"I think we should all be proud to live in a Federal Right of Way," Mayor Emeritus Beverly O'Neill told the crowd, adding "It's something we've been working on for years."
The monuments, adapted from Berlin's cold war "CheckPoint Charlie," will soon appear citywide. "They remind us what LB is all about," Mayor O'Neill said.
LB's thrice elected former Mayor recalled her work from 2003-05 in helping create federal transportation projects of "national and regional significance." Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald (D., Carson-LB) introduced such legislation in 2003 and the concept and verbiage were both incorporated in the 2005 federal Transportation Equity Act.
The goods movement projects drew "boos" at a January 2004 LB Town Hall-style meeting sponsored by the Congresswoman...with multiple speakers decrying the legislation as fueling Port growth and more air pollution. However Mayor O'Neill, Port officials and LB City Hall continued pressing for the projects...and the City Council voted to pay City Hall's D.C. legislative advocacy firm (the same firm separately retained by the Port of LB to represent its DC interests) additional sums to do so.
In July 2005, the D.C. advocacy firm distributed a document to key members of Congress using the term "Federal right of way project" in connection with the Gerald Desmond Bridge and related I-710 infrastructure improvements:
The document was quoted at the time by LBReport.com.
When Congress provided less than a third of the Desmond bridge money (and virtually none explicitly designated for related I-710 expansion funds), the PoLB and LB City Hall devised a complex financing plan, approved by City Auditor Gary Burroughs, using revenue anticipation notes backed by expected future tithing by LB residents (Council vote, 8-1, Gabelich dissenting).
"We had naysayers then, but look at all we've accomplished," said LB's retired Mayor, gesturing across LB's picturesque seaside bluffs to an unbroken string of fully laden container ships, capped by a distinctive Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) tanker crowning the horizon.
"Without the new Gerald Desmond bridge, you wouldn't have even larger 10,000 TEU ships coming to your Port in the next few years," said LB area Congresswoman Juanita Millender-McDonald.
The Gerald Desmond bridge was one of 18 initial projects of "national and regional significance"; the list has since grown to include railyards and intermodal transfer facilities nationwide. "We're very proud that Long Beach is included on that important list," former Mayor O'Neill said.
As previously reported by LBReport.com, in 2007 the Port of LB entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with a firm interested in building and operating a nuclear power plant in the Port. "This could bring our area clean energy of the type now used from France to Japan," the Port said in a written release.
Like the 2003 Port MOU that laid the groundwork for bringing an 80+ million gallon LNG facility to the Port of LB, the Port's 2007 nuclear MOU was entered into without Council approval or discussion. LB's 1980's era City Charter gives LB's Mayor-selected, Council-approved Harbor Commissioners exclusive authority over Port property. The Port has indicated that its governing Board of Harbor Commissioners will take a close look at the nuclear project's Environmental Impact Statement before making any final decision.
The 2005, Congress passed the Energy Policy Act which encouraged the building of new LNG facilities and new nuclear power plants. The Port of LB already has a close working relationship with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on LNG...and FERC has exclusive authority over licensing and regulating nuclear plants.
Among those taking a wait and see attitude on putting nuclear power in the Port were Assemblywoman Laura Richardson (D., LB) and Assembly candidate Tonia Reyes Uranga (Carson-LB). "I want to find out what risks this might pose to my constituents," Assemblywoman Richardson said. "It's important that we follow the process," Councilwoman Reyes Uranga said as members of organized labor -- wearing Orange-colored labels saying "Nukes, Yes" -- cheered.
Councilwoman Reyes Uranga told LBReport.com she plans to take part in a Port-paid nuclear plant fact-finding mission to France shortly.
LB writer Bry Myown, who opposed the LNG plant and the new Gerald Desmond bridge, is currently battling an order by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), directing her to desist from statements that the agency said threaten national commerce and energy supplies.
Ms. Myown had opined that Congress "showed brains in 2005 by refusing to give Long Beach three quarters of a billion dollars to build a new bridge and freeway infrastructure alongside an LNG plant that could blow them up."
The Federal Right of Way neighborhood signs were installed using a grant, funded by taxpayers and obtained by LB City Hall.