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    Checks And Balances

    ...As he entered his campaign party at the Coast Long Beach Hotel, Foster was met with a jubilant crowd and City Councilman Val Lerch on his knees, bowing in jest. Press-Telegram, June 7, 2006.

    (June 8, 2006) -- We presume Councilman Lerch was just kidding by bowing down to LB's new Mayor-elect...and we certainly hope so because there's a serious side that we think deserves mention regarding the election just passed.

    Thomas Jefferson and others likeminded bequeathed to us a system of checks and balances. They said power should not be handed to a king or queen. Wanna-be kings and queens, and kingmakers and queenmakers who stand to benefit from friendly royalty, will always be around...but checks and balances provide us a powerful, albeit imperfect, self-correction mechanism.

    Those checks and balances are the best way to protect LB from becoming a "city of industry" [we use the term generically] run in ways that serve primarily corporate and business interests, often outside LB, who have no compunction about making the quality of life of LB residents subordinate to their interests.

    No sane person we know wants to actually live in a "city of industry," so we're glad they basically failed on June 6.

    We believe some saw this election as a way to (1) cement at least five predictable friendly votes on the City Council; (2) reelect the incumbent City Auditor; and (3) elect the Bob Foster as Mayor to replace Beverly O'Neill...whose mythology once served them but was now wearing thin.

    Their effort failed because (1) they didn't end up with five predictable friendly Council votes; they didn't oust Reyes Uranga, didn't elect Blair and apparently failed to reelect Kell (too close to call) and (2) voters removed the incumbent City Auditor.

    Voters did elect Bob Foster...and whether he gives them what they want remains to be seen. Although he was applauded by many "city of industry" types, Mr. Foster spoke about the city's Port and Airport in ways we haven't heard before. Mr. Foster talked openly about health and public costs ("externalized costs" some economists call them) created by Port operations. He said Airport improvements should be done in a way that doesn't inadvertently invite increased capacity that could be used against the city. And although some of his supporters favored an unwise measure to create three new Councilmembers elected citywide, Mr. Foster was cool to the idea, saying it raised a number of troublesome issues. [Failing to get five rubberstamp votes will hopefully keep this awful idea off the ballot in November.]

    Mr. Foster is a formidable intellectual figure. He totally mastered the issues in the campaign. He is Mayor-elect because he realized "Early Money Is Like Yeast" and makes candidates rise. He amassed a six figure sum by July 2005 mainly outside LB from his Edison and Sacramento contacts, before he told most LB residents what he'd do as Mayor. The sheer magnitude of that sum shoved others out of the race before it began and people locally soon jumped on board.

    And Mr. Foster ran a clever anti-incumbent campaign.

    While supported by many of Mayor O'Neill's former supporters, Mr. Foster steered clear of her mythology and velcro'd Colonna to his role in some of the worst actions of the O'Neill era. Colonna walked into the trap by ending his campaign by embracing the soon-to-be-former Mayor.

    Beverly O'Neill is beloved personally but the defeat of the incumbent City Auditor in April showed us that LB voters realize (even if she does not) that she has not had LB "on the right track" for quite some time.

    By 2004, her endorsement was the kiss of death for now former Councilmembers Dennis Carroll and Rob Webb. In 2006, it couldn't save Council candidate Becky Blair or soon to be former Councilman Frank Colonna.

    Now that Foster is safely elected, we expect some of his supporters will try to portray O'Neill's incumbency (and in some cases their roles in it) by trying to rewrite its failures into successes. That will come despite her administration's role in helping facilitate some of the worst problems now facing LB...that Mayor-elect Foster will now have to fix.

    It's's role in the check-and-balance process to point that out. And we will.

    We'll continue to point out, as we did during the campaign, that LB's Mayor can't "add" more police. Only the Council can do that. It can also put a measure on the ballot ensuring LB taxpayers receive a guaranteed ratio of police and firefighters to population, deterring runaway growth.

    The Mayor can't clean up the Port. Only the Council can disapprove parts of Port's annual budget. It can also put a measure on the ballot giving the public control over LB's current out-of-public-control Port, now run by non-elected, non-recallable Harbor Commissioners.

    We'll keep saying that too.

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