(June 6, 2004) -- Parts of LB's rusting political machinery are desperate to save the sinking candidacy of 8th district Council incumbent Rob Webb. Some LBReport.com readers report receiving machine-generated junk telephone calls offering the canned voices of Mayor Beverly O'Neill and former Governor George Deukmejian, reciting some kind of propaganda for Webb.
[If LBReport.com readers find these messages left on their answering machine, don't erase them. Email us at email@example.com so we can hear these masterpieces firsthand.]
Webb's campaign is in the political bunker because of what he did for the past four years. On the airport, he made it easier for those who don't live in LB to hurt those who do. On spending, he ballooned pensions, overspent beyond revenue and then overspent beyond a city management plan that tried to control the deficit he helped amass.
Mr. Webb is a genuinely likable man, but no incumbent who does what he did can expect to be reelected.
Ms. Rae Gabelich, a poised, principled 8th district homeowner, founded the airport watchdog group LBHUSH2 (LB Homeowners Under Stress and Hazard). In the April 2004 initial Council election, she came within less than 300 votes of incumbent Webb. In the upcoming June 8th runoff, she has won the endorsements of former 8th district Councilman and LBCC Board president Jeff Kellogg (Webb's former boss), former Council candidate Terry Jensen, the LB Police Officers Association, the Teachers Association of LB, LB School Board VP Mary Stanton...and even the Press-Telegram.
Most of all, Ms. Gabelich has won the hearts and minds of 8th district residents. They know -- because they can see and hear every day -- that Ms. Gabelich's warnings about the consequences of City Hall's airport policies have been right.
Recommendations for expanding LB airport's terminal area facilities are now spiraling, careening wildly out of control. As LBReport.com has reported, they are now even bigger than City Hall indicated in its Sept.2003 Notice of Preparation for the project's Environmental Impact Report.
Councilman Webb's reckless votes have invited this and more.
In May 2001, Webb voted -- without any court order or FAA decree requiring it -- to make it easier for air carriers to fill LB Airport's noise budgeted flight slots. (Webb initially voted for a failed motion to delay action for two weeks, then flipped and voted for the change; the final vote was 8-1, Carroll dissenting.)
Increasing flights mean more airport fees...which under federal law can only be used for airport-related projects...like building more grandiose airport terminals. Webb may not realize it, but his damaging vote actually fueled the engine that will deliver the money that City Hall will use to expand the Airport terminal facilities.
Even worse in our view, City Hall didn't bother to tell the public the truth on that infamous vote. It didn't disclose that it held discussions with JetBlue before the May 2001 Council vote...and the carrier was poised to fill all of the Airport's then vacant large flight slots after the Council acted.
We don't blame JetBlue for this. We view what happened as the type of City Hall problem that elections are meant to correct.
Over 200 years ago, some Americans thought it self-evident that legitimate government derives its power from the consent of the governed. Those at City Hall who disagree, and think it's smart to hoodwink the governed, must go.
If they are not stopped now, they will do it again.
Incumbent Webb is backed by Mayor O'Neill and the LB Area Chamber of Commerce. In our view, they are both cheerleaders for City Hall airport policies that brought LB threatened litigation, FAA involvement and now ballooning Airport facilities expansion.
The Chamber's endorsement of Webb states in pertinent part: "Councilmember Webb is committed to taking a stronger stance on the future of our airport. He shares The Chamberís position of revitalizing the airport to meet its needs within the current flight capacity. The Chamber will look to Councilmember Webb to take a leadership role in finding compromise to the issues facing the Long Beach Airport and its future."
We commend the Chamber for its candor...but in our view the interests of LB homeowners and taxpayers have been compromised enough. Corporate appeasement is no way to maintain a neighborhood airport.
And even when the Airport is removed from the equation, we believe Webb's record merits his removal. He voted to balloon extravagant City Hall pensions, voted for budgets that built today's deficit (spending beyond revenue)...and less than a year ago voted for a budget that broke city management's deficit reduction plan by spending $15+ million more in one-time resources to sustain current spending. His latter vote came despite a public report by an independent fiscal expert who warned that using one time resources to sustain current spending could in a worst case put LB on the road to bankruptcy.
When Webb took office four years ago, LB Airport's future wasn't guided by outside interests and LB's fiscal condition was more secure. He has left his district and his city in worse shape than he found them.
History has proved Ms. Gabelich right. Her positions stem from principle, not political expediency and put a primacy on LB's health, safety and quality of life. Her presence on the Council will restore balance now lacking or muted.
LBReport.com was the first LB media outlet to call for the removal of incumbents Dennis Carroll and Rob Webb last year.
Voters sent 4th district incumbent Dennis Carroll packing in April. Now it's the 8th district's turn to make needed changes.
We urge a vote for Rae Gabelich on June 8.
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