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    Special Coverage/Perspective

    Who Celebrated Mayor O'Neill's Tenure has obtained a copy of the printed program for a June 15, 2006 event, titled Celebration, organized by supporters of LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill. In the public interest, we post its listed speakers, sponsors and table purchasers below.

    We include the printed program's description of the O'Neill administration's record...posted alongside counter-point text by us.

    Our points are illustrative, not all-inclusive; there are others. We don't claim they provide the entire picture of Long Beach. However, we do say they provide overdue balance to what we consider near cult-of-personality style coverage elsewhere.

    Since her election in 1994, Mayor Beverly O'Neill has led Long Beach through a nationally recognized urban renaissance.LB's poverty rate went from 37th to 6th nationally. It is the only CA community in the national "bottom ten." [Source: U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey; 2000 was first year this statistic was available; 2004 is the most recent]

    Long Beach became less safe per capita in violent crime than NYC. [Source: FBI crime statistics cited annually by Morgan-Quitno press]

    In her 2002 "State of the City" message [approaching her reelection campaign], Mayor O'Neill declared that the city was "on the right track." She won a third term with less than a majority vote (54% of voters voted against her). A few weeks after the election, O'Neill admitted the city actually faced a fiscal crisis due to a mounting structural deficit (spending exceeding revenue) expected to reach $102 million over three years. [Source: Multiple city mgmt presentations 2002-2006, most recently July 9, 2006 "Community Budget Summit"]

    City Hall reduced its structural deficit by nearly $100 million over four years through measures that included reducing library service levels, reducing school crossing guards and implementing "cost recovery" with higher fees (the latter two billed as efficiency measures).

    As Mayor O'Neill leaves office, city management says it can't provide needed levels of basic services including police, fire and libraries without a tax increase of $25-30 million annually. Funds that could otherwise provide these core services are instead being depleted in part by a 2002 pension spike for non-public safety city employees, including O'Neill, approved by the Council (9-0) and agendized after 2002 elections that brought O'Neill a third term.

    The Long Beach Aquarium of the Pacific, that was supposed to pay for itself, now drains over $5 million a year in public (Tidelands) funds that could otherwise improve and clean LB's beaches. [Source: Council approved Aquarium lease extension, 2005.]

    While claiming she restored pride in Long Beach, Mayor O'Neill said nothing publicly when the Aquarium's board of directors quietly removed the name "Long Beach" from the Aquarium's official name. [ March 2006, revealing Aquarium board action from Feb. 2001.]

    In each year of her incumbency, Mayor O'Neill failed to deliver budgeted police officers for taxpayers recommended in a police hiring strategy included in a City Hall-created "LBPD Strategic Plan" released the year she took office. During this period, City Hall received multiple federal and state grants to help pay for police. City of LB 1994 Police Strategic Plan, Preliminary Staffing Strategy; Federal COPS grants and CA public safety funding].

    As originally presented, "Queensway Bay" was supposed to bring the ocean closer to downtown. Today, the ocean is invisible from much of street level downtown Ocean Blvd.

    In light of the city's devastating economic losses of the early 1990s, caused by aerospace downsizing and the loss of the U.S. Navy, Mayor O'Neill led a city delegation to Washington, D.C. to outline the city's recovery plan and ask for assistance."Recent trends show signs that the State is finally beginning the long-awaited recovery. While current trends point to only a modest improvement, they do provide evidence that California is turning the corner...Further, City revenues are expected to benefit from local efforts to expand the City's economic base. The convention Center expansion will be complete in August, 1994 ...Revenue estimates for the City's transient occupancy tax reflect the direct benefits of the Convention Center expansion...In general, the outlook for the local economy is positive. The impact on City revenues from an economic upturn is expected to be modest; however, this is significant in view of the previous three years of poor economic performance experienced by the Southern California region." Source: James C. Hankla, City Manager, May 1, 1994 Budget Message...ten weeks prior to O'Neill taking office.
    In 1998, with the renaissance under way and with Mayor O'Neill's ability to bring varied constituencies together to build a consensus, she was reelected to a second term by almost 80% of the electorate.The O'Neill administration pursued a number of divisive policies and freqiemt;u brushed aside thoughtful critics. Her administration created a national controversy over its plan to demolish the historic LB Naval Station, filled with taxpayer-built amenities including housing and recreational facilities. Among the opponents was KCET video documentarian/essayist Huell Howser. A public hearing on the matter at the Terrace Theater drew well over a thousand people and Mayor O'Neill was publicly booed. Congress ultimately stopped the COSCO portion of the plan.

    City Hall also pursued a polarizing policy over its attempt to turn part of El Dorado Park into a commercial "sports complex." A Superior Court blocked the project and the City Council ultimately stopped it (an alternative site was selected).

    In August 1996, while the El Dorado Park controversy roiled and the Naval Station controversy was mainly below the public radar, Mayor O'Neill travelled to Chicago as a delegate to the Democrats' Nat'l Convention that renominated Bill Clinton. During that event, she told the CA delegation:

    "...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. We will be part of the new generation in our city..." O'Neill later claimed her CAVE People reference didn't mean anyone in particular...but went on to name a prominent supporter of the divisive sports complex to City Hall's Parks and Recreation Commission.

    The O'Neill administration brushed aside critics on Queensway Bay's commercial and entertainment area, subsequently renamed the "Pike @ Rainbow Harbor." Some called it a shopping center by the sea but their thoughtful critics were dismissed as naysayers. Half a decade later in 2006, a front page Business Journal story asked rhetorically "what went wrong at the Pike?"

    Her passion for the necessity of education and economic development earned her the Chairpersonship of the United States Conference of Mayors' -- Jobs, Education and the Workforce Committee for four years. In June 2001, she was elected as a Trustee of the organization, after having been elected to the Advisory Board in 1999. In June 2002, Mayor O'Neill won an unprecedented third term as a write-in candidate for Mayor. She is the only large city Mayor in the nation to accomplish such a feat.Mayor O'Neill was reelected in 2002 with less than a majority vote, roughly 46% in a three-way race; most LB voters (54%) wanted her out.

    She prevailed in her write-in campaign after LB's now-retired City Clerk, without a legal requirement to do so until after the 2002 city elections, changed LB's voting system from punch ballots to ballots requiring a pencil/pen fill-in system.

    Mayor O'Neill's 2002 "State of the City" message claimed the city was "on the right track" (as she approached her reelection). Within weeks after being safely reelected, O'Neill acknowledged that Long Beach actually faced a fiscal crisis because of a mounting structural deficit expected to reach $102 million over three years. [Source: Multiple city mgmt presentations, most recently July 9, 2006 "Community Budget Summit"]

    In June 2005, she was elected President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors...Since the events of September 11, she has been an outspoken advocate for stricter Port security measures and additional federal funding for first responders. She has traveled to Washington, D.C. and other cities nationwide to host USCM Summits on a variety of national issues such as Homeland Security, Gangs and Youth Violence, Transportation, Education and Energy...Mayor O'Neill failed to use her U.S. Conference of Mayors position effectively to protect Long Beach's interests, and the interests of coastal cities across the country, in moving to stop advancing federal legislation that stripped away local control of Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) facilities. [This stance let the Port of LB retain its landlord power but removed safety and local regulatory control from City Hall and CA authorities.] A proposal to build an 80+ million gallon LNG facility in the Port of LB is currently pending. LB city management, including first responders, have raised cost and safety issues about the proposed project, which is publicly opposed by LB Mayor-elect Bob Foster.

    In her Conference of Mayors capacity, O'Neill backed federal legislation [backed by the PoLB and ports nationally) for projects of "national significance" that will effectively promote greater container movement capacity and she did urge greater federal funding (backed by the American Ass'n of Port Authorities) for security purposes.

    However, Mayor O'Neill remained publicly silent when the LB Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, who represents the Port of LB area, authored legislation allowing ports to levy a container fee (opposed by Ports) to help defray homeland security costs. [In 2005, the PoLB's DC lobbyist publicly took credit for helping block the legislation.]

    Mayor O'Neill also remained silent concerning an amendment (backed by 202 Congressmembers including those representing NYC and Boston areas but opposed by the American Ass'n of Port Authorities) to the 2006 "SAFE Ports" Act to require inspection of all incoming cargo containers. When Congressmembers writing the bill came to Long Beach to meet with LB and L.A. Port representatives, Mayor O'Neill's office didn't urge that Long Beach Councilmembers be included in the meetings...and to our knowledge, none were invited. The meetings also excluded Assemblywoman Betty Karnette (D. LB), whose district includes the Port...and who had introduced state legislation supporting a container fee.

    Master of Ceremonies: Jerry Miller

    [Presentations included]

    • "Early Challenges and Solutions"
      Presenters: Jim Hankla, Doris Topsy-Elvord, Jim Gray

    • Transformation of the Waterfront and Downtown
      Presenters: Steve Goodling, Kraig Kojian, Jane Netherton

    • Citywide Impact
      Presenters: Joan Van Hooten, Randy Gordon

    • State and National Stage
      Presenters: Tom Cochran, Chris McKenzie

    • Visibility and Pride
      Presenters: Judy Ross, Rev. Garon Harden and Chris Steinhauser

    • What's Next

    Introduction by Steve Goodling, Kraig Kojian, Randy Gordon and Jane Netherton

    Introduction of Mayor O'Neill by Jerry Miller

    Mayor Beverly O'Neill

    Special Presentations by Jerry Miller

    A Special Thanks To Our Sponsors

    Charter Communications

    City Light & Power

    Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

    Long Beach Area Convention and Visitors Bureau

    Long Beach Memorial Medical Center

    Long Beach Water Department

    Occidental Petroleum Corporation

    Signal Hill Petroleum

    SMG Food Services

    Sound Energy Solutions

    The Boeing Company

    THUMS Long Beach Company

    Universal Care

    [same page]

    Event Committee: Diane Jacobus, Roxana Valencia, Donna Griggs, Jyl Marden, Sandy Fox, Shana Ortiz, Ruth McGree, Meagan Monahan

    Platinum Tables

    The Boeing Company

    Boeing Realty Corporation

    Charter Communications

    Downtown Long Beach Associates

    Keesal, Youth & Logan

    L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, 4th District

    Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce

    Long Beach Convention and Visitors Bureau

    Long Beach, Inc.

    Michael J. Arnold & Associates, Inc.

    The Port of Long Beach

    Signal Hill Petroluem

    Sound Energy Solutions

    Windes & McClaugry

    Gold Tables

    Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority

    Arts Council for Long Beach

    Beach Business Bank/Ensemble Investments

    City of Long Beach

    Community Hospital of Long Beach

    COSCO Agencies (Los Angeles) Inc.

    Grand Prix Association of Long Beach

    International City Theatre

    International Transportation Service, Inc.

    L.B. Early Day Care & Education Committee

    Long Beach City College

    Long Beach Firefighters Local 372

    Long Beach Museum of Art

    Long Beach Unified School District

    Long Beach Water Department

    Long Beach Memorial -- Miller Children's Hospital

    Long Beach Police Command Officers Assn.

    Montenay Pacific Power Corp.

    Pacific Hospital of Long Beach


    Randal Hernandez

    The Queen Mary

    St. Anthony High School

    THUMS Long Beach Company

    Universal Care

    Waste Management

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