(Nov. 4, 2006) -- So whom would you rather have in elective office? Someone who saved taxpayers millions of dollars as a civic activist, challenged fatuous claims by then-Mayor O'Neill and her apologists that City Hall was on the "right track," opposed City Hall boondoggles from Queensway Bay to bonds, opposed endless taxpayer-subsidized "successes," gave taxpayers the chance to halve City Hall's oppressive utility tax over five years and won a near 70% voter victory despite City Hall propaganda, then won elective office himself and saved taxpayers still more?
Or a City Hall appointee who didn't dissent from a City Hall scheme to use the Water Dept. to milk consumers with a nearly $4 million "sewer fee," which will now be shoveled back to City Hall for what city management and the City Council desire (yikes).
In our view, that's the choice at end of the ballot for Water Replenishment District...and we're not surprised that some of the usual suspects -- whom history has proved wrong -- are trying to politically erase someone whom history has proved right.
So yes, we urge a vote for the fellow history has proved right: Norm Ryan.
Elected to the Water Replenishment District governing board four years ago, Mr. Ryan did what he promised. He helped reform the agency, changed things and saved taxpayers money.
He now faces a well-oiled campaign against him by Lillian Kawasaki, whose recent vote as a City Hall appointed "Water Commissioner" will cost LB consumers money.
Others in LB media haven't pursued a story that we mentioned in September...when 5th district Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske (who has endorsed Ms. Kawasaki but is an intellectually honest wonk when pursuing an issue) raised questions about City Hall's imposition of a new $3.75 million "sewer pipeline fee," on consumers. That gouge was passed on -- unanimously and without dissent -- by LB's "Board of Water Commissioners"...including Ms. Kawasaki.
They got away with that by lumping the City Hall sewer gouge together with other cost increases to deliver a nearly 5% rate increase for consumers. That's what Ms. Kawasaki did for you already.
Yes, LB's Water Dept. says it has the lowest combined average water and sewer rates of any of CA's largest cities, which sounds nice until you realize that the Water Dept. "found" over $3 million in savings in the coming budget...which it used to camouflage the election-cycle impact of the City Hall desired "sewer fee."
Mr. Ryan has previously pointed out that LB City Hall is propped up by a municipal Energy Dept. (funnels its "savings" to City Hall) and Port (funnels its surplus to LB's Tidelands)...and now the Water Dept. (with the Kawasaki-supported sewer fee)...yet still fails to provide taxpayers with police promised years ago or to fill potholes promptly now.
In saying such things, Mr. Ryan makes some people nervous...because he creates pressure to fix what's wrong. That's what Mr. Ryan did since he was elected to the Water Replenishment District Board four years ago. He fixed things and saved taxpayers money. That's why Mr. Ryan deserves reelection now.
If Mr. Ryan weren't seeking a second term, we'd probably choose Doug Frankenfeld...a Dem who also makes some LB politicos nervous because he doesn't always drink partisan Kool-Aid. A few months ago, we asked him if he support the proposed "bonds" (taxpayer debt measures) on the November ballot (backed by Dems)...and in his trademark rapid fire delivery he said, "No, no, a thousand times no, we can't keep charging money to our credit card." On that at least he sounded like Mr. Ryan or Sen. Tom McClintock.
Small wonder the Dem establishment backs the more predictable Kawasaki...who boasts of endorsements from former Mayor O'Neill (whose name we believe helped sink Rob Webb, Dennis Carroll and Frank Colonna) and Assemblywoman Judy Chu (who put Dem politics over principle in obstructing Sen. Lowenthal's "no net increase" in port pollution and container fee bills in her committee, we believe to punish Lowenthal for advancing his anti-Gerrymander redistricting reform measure.)
Sen. Lowenthal (who persists in supporting the costly, Dem backed port-expansionist Prop 1B) and Councilwoman Rae Gabelich and RDA Boardmember Terry Jensen (thoughtful 8th district neighbors of Ms. Kawasaki) have endorsed her. Asked why, Councilwoman Gabelich called her "brilliant."
We respect the views of Councilwoman Gabelich and RDA Boardmember Jensen on many things, but we say Mr. Ryan has applied his brilliance to help taxpayers. (And we believe it's unfair to prejudge a City Hall civil claim against him on which City Hall has the burden of proof.)
Mr. Ryan saved taxpayers money before he was elected. He has done so since winning election to the Water Replenishment District board. We support Mr. Ryan's reelection.