(May 25, 2002) -- In a story first reported by LBReport.com, LB residents -- especially in ELB's 5th Council district -- saw the latest example of what incumbent Mayor Beverly O'Neill and incumbent Councilmembers (except Webb, who was out of town) really think of the public and this city's laws.
As LBReport.com reported, LB's Municipal Code requires the City Council to hold a meeting at a location in the 5th Council district on the fourth Tuesday in May (this year it's May 28). The Municipal Code specifies that except as otherwise provided (it isn't), "no rule contained in this chapter shall be rescinded, modified, suspended, altered or changed except by a vote of two-thirds of all the members of the council, and at least one day's notice, in writing, being given of the motion therefor."
But there won't be a Council meeting in ELB's 5th district on May 28. That's because the incumbent Mayor O'Neill and the incumbent Councilmembers -- the latter actually make our city's laws -- didn't bother obeying either of these city laws.
No, City Attorney Robert Shannon isn't to blame although he has fallen on his sword in telling the PT it was late and "we frankly forgot." That flapdoodle is easily collapsed, although it requires a factoid that the PT didn't report.
Even if Mr. Shannon (who is a smart and nimble lawyer known for thinking fast on his feet) had been unconscious and snoring through the entire Council meeting (he wasn't), the Mayor and Councilmembers were publicly and explicitly reminded during the meeting of their legal obligation concerning a 5th district Council meeting on May 28.
Ms. Bry Myown, not a lawyer but an intellectual powerhouse and relentless when provoked, came to the Council meeting after reading on LBReport.com that the outside aviation law firm being retained by City Hall currently represents Orange County's John Wayne airport. Directly addressing the Mayor and eight Councilmembers, Ms. Myown said in part:
"...I'd like to request that you lay the item over one week until Councilmember Webb can return, and when -- although I do not see it in tonight's order of adjournment -- the Municipal Code in Section 2 is quite clear that the meeting shall be held in the 5th district. I think that on behalf of 5th and 8th district residents, I would like to see that adjournment order amended and let them be a party to this discussion before we move forward."
The Mayor and Council smiled politely and spit in her face. They didn't forget -- they ignored -- what she had reminded them of (without contradiction from Mr. Shannon). The Mayor and Council simply thumbed their noses at the law and ELB residents.
Before elections, politicians routinely talk about putting neighborhoods first, but that didn't happen with ELB's May 28 Council meeting, just one week before LB's decisive Mayoral election.
In our view, it's obvious that 5th and 4th district residents would turn out in force as they have for past ELB Council meetings. And no, the Airport issue hadn't fully gelled by the April 9 election that reelected Councilwoman Kell by roughly 70%.
Based on subsequent community meetings dealing with the airport, a growing number of ELB and Bixby Knolls/Cal Hts. residents have figured out that the O'Neill administration reversed previous City Hall policy by changing LB's 41 noise budgeted flight slots (+ 25 regional slots) from a worse case we had to tolerate into a goal she actively sought to fill.
That reversal, pursued with the Council's tacit approval, has helped steer LB into potential litigation that could threaten our noise budgeted flight limits, hurt LB families, endanger LB children and harm LB's property tax revenue.
Yes, the Mayor's words support LB's current flight limits, but her administration's actions -- widening Lakewood Blvd. (while other infrastructure work languished), overbuilding hotel rooms (at the recent Pike groundbreaking, as reported by LBReport.com, she called for more) -- have needlessly made LB an attractive target for those who'd attack those limits.
Imagine handing your family's second most important investment, your car, to someone who shined it, parked it in a dangerous neighborhood, left the engine running and after the car disappeared said: "Oh darn. I didn't want anyone to take your car."
With the airport, we're dealing with families' most important, lifelong investments, neighborhoods' future, public health and safety, and a property tax base that pays for services citywide.
Of course, Mayor O'Neill is on the defensive on this and she should be. Her explanation -- that the aftermath of Sept. 11 somehow made LB Airport inviting, not what her administration did -- is a clumsy attempt to run from her record. It was May, 2001 when the Council changed LB's flight slot allocation procedures to let carriers hold slots longer before flying them, JetBlue entered and the rest is history.
Although Councilwoman Kell hasn't endorsed anyone in the Mayor's race, this wouldn't be the first time the Council as a whole has massaged the system in ways that helped O'Neill. Changing LB's ballots to require using pens -- an obvious boost for a write-in candidate -- was done in time for O'Neill's write in bid although the law only required a change much later.
We think what took place on May 21 was a sickening abuse of the public's rights, as bad as anything we've ever witnessed in this city. When the Council convenes in its downtown bunker on May 28 instead of in ELB's 5th district, the Mayor and Council will show they are willing to scoff this city's legal processes. That's an invitation to corruption, which is as bad as it gets.
And that's why on June 4, LB voters -- and especially ELB voters -- must take action.
We urge every LB voter -- especially in ELB -- to use the same pens the O'Neill machine hopes will re-crown her to instead write-in Norm Ryan for Mayor.
If Mr. Ryan had been in the Mayor's chair, he would not have let the Council get away with doing what it did.
Mr. Ryan came within one percentage point of beating O'Neill in the 5th district on April 9. He beat O'Neill in the 4th district, where he finished first.
If Mr. Ryan beats O'Neill and Vice Mayor Baker in ELB on June 4, he will be in the Mayor's chair.
Vice Mayor Baker (who deserves much credit for his May 14 Council statement, posted on LBReport.com, likening Airport impacts to his district's struggle with Port impacts) could have acted to support ELB on May 21 but sadly, he didn't. We're not surprised O'Neill's latest hanger-on, former wanna-be Mayor Grabinski, did nothing.
If Mr. Ryan were in the Mayor's chair, he would not have let the incumbent Council do to ELB what the incumbent Mayor and her Council did. And that will be better for ELB...and all of LB.