The Whole City Is Watching


(May 31, 2012) -- We learned recently that residents of ELB's Stearns Park neighborhood had several cars and homes broken into over a short period of time.

A couple of days ago on May 29, a car was broken into on Zandia Ave. across from Buffum elementary school. LBPD Public Information Officer Lisa Massacani tells us the vehicle was burglarized while in a resident's driveway and the victim lost both papers and cash.

Earlier this month, we learned and reported that a parent attending his child's music concert at Minnie Gant elementary school had his car broken into in the school parking lot.

And those are just the crimes we've heard about from readers. Of course we know there are more. City Hall doesn't send press releases, mass emailings and Twitter tweets about them; they'd rather divert attention to bicycle lanes, plastic bag bans and the like.

The truth is that Long Beach taxpayers now experience a budgeted per capita police level available for routine citywide deployment roughly equivalent to cutting over 25% of L.A.'s police officers.

This is because Councilmembers Robert Garcia, Suja Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, Patrick O'Donnell and Dee Andrews (and James Johnson since 2010) voted for the largest police cuts in the history of the City of Long Beach. They thought it was smart to "balance" City Hall's budget by cutting over 150 LB officers and failing to fund replenishment police academy classes to replace officers who retire. [The budget was bogus-balanced, siphoning Redevelopment blight-fighting money to cover routine capital and infrastructure items; with that money now gone, City Hall has to budget General Fund money to provide General Fund services; what a concept.]

The same Council majority cast another irresponsible budget vote last year by approving a management plan to cut firefighter staffing from four to three persons (hobbling arriving firefighters from entering a burning building until a second unit arrives), an outcome only avoided because LB's firefighter union accepted City Hall's pension demands (good). However, that newly amended contract contains a stinker: it effectively lets city management's-chosen next fire chief cut firefighter staffing. (What do you suppose city management's next chosen Chief will do?)

For all these reasons, the entire City of Long Beach will be watching what happens in LB's 4th Council district this coming Tuesday June 5.

A couple of months ago, someone we respect in the Wrigley area spoke with us about a wave of shootings they'd experienced and asked what we could do to help. We nearly chopped their head off. Good grief, why didn't you and your neighbors field a candidate to challenge the incumbent (Dee Andrews) instead of letting him skate to reelection unopposed?!?

That ballot opportunity has been lost...and the only chance at this point for any parts of Long Beach to see any meaningful change now rests with voters in the 4th district. What message will they send?

In the first three months of 2012, in LBPD's East Division (basically the entire city east of Cherry Ave.) property crimes increased by a whopping 23.4%. Violent crime also increased, mainly in other divisions, but including the western part of the 4th Council district along the Anaheim St. and PCH corridors to Cherry Ave. Good and decent residents and businesses in those neighborhoods have experienced police sirens, helicopters and crime scene tape too often...and they are 4th Council district residents.

We have been critical of every Councilmember who joined in those police and fire cuts, and in our opinion it's entirely fair for 4th district voters to ask where their Council incumbent has been in all of this. We very much regret that on this issue, Councilman O'Donnell has chosen to be with Councilmembers Garcia, Lowenthal, DeLong, Andrews and Johnson.

He explicitly chose not to be with Councilmembers Schipske, Gabelich and Neal when last year they offered a constructive budget alternative -- that infuriated Mayor Foster -- that could have averted some of the cuts using accrued oil revenue.

When that 2011 Council budget votes took place, Councilman O'Donnell wanted to become Assemblyman O'Donnell in the 2012 elections. He'd filed paperwork, launched an O'Donnell-for-Assembly website and collected tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions. He dropped that Sac'to effort only when incumbent Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal changed her mind and decided she'd seek a final two year term (expires in 2014).

We don't know if Councilman O'Donnell assumed Mayor Foster could help his 2012 Assembly run, or if he thinks Foster's endorsement can help him now in his 2012 Council reelection or in a possible 2014 Assembly run, but we're quite sure that his Council votes on police and fire levels for taxpayers won't help him in the 4th district or citywide.

All of this is lost on the special interests (mainly organized labor) that backed O'Donnell in April are again pouring money into independent campaigns to reelect him. In this, they are ultimately powerless. The only people with real power now is are 4th district voters.

Voters saw the deplorable mailers. They can see what's happening all around them. They know the record of their incumbent.

Fourth district voters sent a powerful message to some in town who believed campaign contributions and multi-colored mailers decide elections. In the April election cycle, a PressTelegram election editorial barely acknowledged Mr. Supernaw's existence, counting him out in advance in supporting the LB Chamber PAC's (Jobs PAC) backed candidate (who finished third, while Mr. Supernaw finished first).

Some media outlets who got that wrong also got it wrong when they called the April election outcome "close." The ballot outcome certainly was numerically close, but the election wasn't close. Supporters of O'Donnell and Watkins spent grostesquely disproportionate sums compared to Mr. Supernaw. Following his first place finish in April, Mr. Supernaw noted that he'd received more votes than either of his opponents despite spending a fraction of the sums spent for them and said: "I believe this is the type of operational efficiency that voters would like to see at city hall."

In April, 2/3 of 4th district voters voted to replace O'Donnell but other facts have changed. In the June 5 runoff, Councilman O'Donnell (who was a write-in candidate in April) and Mr. Supernaw both have their names printed on the ballot. has reported factually on decisions affecting the candidates' ballot name rotation and listing order that frankly leave us puzzled.

It's always possible that O'Donnell may run for the Assembly (again) in 2014...and he's invited that speculation by declining to rule it out in writing. If O'Donnell were to bail out of his Council term two years early, it would free up his Council seat two years earlier than the normal election cycle and open the seat to waiting political opportunists.

For his part, Mr. Supernaw says simply that if elected, he's committed to remaining in office for the full four years that voters elect him to serve. will (again) cover in detail what 4th Council district voters do on June 5th...and the whole city will be watching.

Disclosure: Mr. Supernaw was an uncompensated Community Correspondent for several years, writing on items ranging from viewing opportunities for the Space Shuttle/Int'l Space Station to community impacts of the 7th St. bridge teardown.

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