(July 2, 2006) -- On Sunday July 2, the Press-Telegram published an editorial we regard as trying to undermine ELB Councilwoman-elect Gerrie Schipske, who won ELB's 5th district Council election by a 51.1% to 48.9% margin over Councilwoman Jackie Kell.
Two-term incumbent Kell waged a write-in campaign under term limits, hoping to replicate what Mayor Beverly O'Neill did four years earlier. When it was over, a hand-recount of ballots showed Kell didn't have a majority of ballots in her favor even when counting ballots that don't count. Councilwoman-elect Schipske won a majority no matter how the ballots are counted.
To her credit, Councilwoman Kell has acknowledged and accepted this...even as the PT wages a continuing jihad against Schipske.
Beverly O'Neill failed to win a majority of votes cast in 2002 (she got roughly 46%). Over half of LB voters wanted O'Neill out four years ago, preferring either Vice-Mayor/Councilman Dan Baker or taxpayer advocate Norm Ryan. Yet the PT hasn't labelled O'Neill a non-majority Mayor...even as it sneers at Schipske's majority win.
We believe Ms. Schipske prevailed in large part because the LB teachers' union simultaneously ran an aggressive campaign against an ELB school board incumbent. But Councilwoman Kell came armed with the endorsements of the police union AND the firefighters union AND the Press-Telegram AND the Business Journal. (LBReport.com endorsed neither candidate.)
During the campaign, the PT basically described Councilwoman Kell as a shoo-in with contented constituents mainly concerned with some broken sidewalks that Kell was fixing. In contrast, it portrayed challenger Schipske as a loser and a lefty, themes echoed Kell's later campaign mailings. Since the election, the PT has maintained its left-baiting and now paints Schipske as a near-loser by arguing that if only votes were counted that don't legally count, Kell came close.
Good grief. As DC political pundit Mark Shields once put it, "close only counts in horseshoes, hand grenades and dancing."
If Kell had prevailed by one vote, it would have been enough...and we expect the PT would have said this.
We believe Jackie Kell didn't prevail (along with Gary Burroughs and Frank Colonna) because voters remembered things at City Hall that the PT chose to forget:
Prior to the 2002 elections, a Council-adopted budget fueling fake prosperity with spending exceeding revenue (2001, 9-0).
After the 2002 elections, approving a "pension spike" for non-public safety city employees (2002, 9-0).
After the overspending and the pension spike, approving a management plan that raises fees and cuts services while dispensing raises and not reducing City Hall's workforce.
Failing to deliver police levels recommended years earlier by City Hall while simultaneously approving increased density and development. [Colonna tried to distance himself from police understaffing, advocating 300 more in his first four years.]
Trying to foist a parcel property tax or sales tax on LB taxpayers that other cities don't require, mislabeled to conceal its real purpose in paying for the raises, pensions spikes and perks that now consume LB taxpayer dollars instead of providing police, fire and libraries. [Colonna resisted the tax increase; Kell didn't].
Supporting a tidelands trust swap to facilitate what became the "Pike" (2001).
Blindsiding the public by deceptively changing LB Airport's flight slot allocation rules which effectively invited JetBlue to take all then-vacant large aircraft flight slots, risking LB's noise ordinance and creating virtually every Airport-related problem the city now faces (2001, motion by Kell).
Inviting the Aquarium to drain $5+ million annually from the beach-cleaning Tidelands fund so the Aquarium can expand instead of minimizing taxpayer costs (2005).
Letting Mayor-chosen, Council-approved Harbor Commissioners continue to rule the city's Port on terms dictated to elected-Councilmembers on LNG (2003-2006) and air pollution (2004-2006).
Over-spending into debt. Under-spending for priority services. Delivering projects that cost taxpayers money instead of delivering promised revenue. Risking quality of life. No incumbent can withstand an onslaught of this when forcefully cited by an opposing candidate.
These are all things that didn't matter to the PT when it endorsed Councilwoman Kell...so we understand why that paper is bewildered as to why they matter to voters now.
Bob Foster got this. He ran a subtle, anti-incumbent campaign (despite being backed by the PT and some of the usual suspects who applauded twelve years of Beverly O'Neill).
We think Frank Colonna would have made a terrific Mayor. We believe he made a blunder in tying himself too closely to outgoing Mayor O'Neill, a move that eclipsed the message of change that he was simultaneously trying to sound.
On election night, Mayor-elect Foster didn't boast of his own victory. He sounded a unifying theme respecting all LB voters.
A few weeks later, Councilwoman Kell has shown she respects the majority outcome of her race.
In our opinion, the Press-Telegram's continuing crusade against Councilwoman-elect Schipske ill-befits a daily print outlet in CA's fifth largest city.
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