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    Questions Appropriate, Answers Needed, About Airport "Economic Impact" Report

    (October 11, 2005) -- A release from the office of 7th district Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga begins, "The Economic Development Commission (EDC) and Airport Advisory Commission (AAC) recently completed an economic impact analysis of the Long Beach Airport. This study measures the economic impact, based on 2003 data, of three study areas: the LB Airport Area Complex, LB Airport Dependent Activities and LB Air Transportation and Related Activities."

    But that isn't true. The report, which in our opinion an LB MBA successfully undermined months ago, began when a firm with an ongoing, long-term City Hall consulting/planning contract subcontracted with CSULB Prof. Joe Magaddino to produce the report with CSULB Prof. Lisa Grobar. The pair were apparently paid roughly $30,000. The report consists of 29 pages of narrative and 13 pages of appendices listing airport tenants, businsesses, etc. The report carries the name "Office of Economic Research, California State University" but from what we gather it is basically the work of Profs. Magaddino and Grobar.

    We've read the report...and we believe the Council's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee (chair: Reyes Uranga; vice chair: Kell; member: Gabelich) should not allow what has taken place to receive an uncritical, credulous free ride.

    LB MBA Laura Selmer first got wind of the report after parts of it were leaked by somebody -- while the report was still in draft form -- and turned up at a Chamber of Commerce event which people had to pay to attend. Some data also migrated onto the website of the "Long Beach Alliance," a pro-Airport outfit.

    Eventually, the draft report wound up at City Hall's "Economic Development Commission" for a vote, perhaps to make it a public record so others might regurgitate it. Ms. Selmer arrived armed with a detailed, annotated analysis of the report which she was allowed to present, after which the committee chair said it would be forwarded to Prof. Magaddino for his response and the committee proceeded with its vote.

    In our view, that action spoke volumes...because Prof. Magaddino and the report's co-author weren't even present at the Economic Development Commission meeting. That might be considered superfluous by some in LB, but in other cities, those who proferred such a report would be asked questions at a Commission meeting where a vote is taken.

    During the meeting, a member of the Economic Development Commission let slip that some kind of "steering committee" was involved in some way in the report process. That struck us as odd. Exactly how was the report and/or its process "steered"? Who was on that "steering committee"? Who decided they should be given a steering wheel for something stemming from a subcontract from a city management-retained consultant involved in future city planning?

    Getting those answers should be the first order of business for the Council's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee.

    Ms. Selmer has also made multiple points about the report itself. Among other things, she faults it for using an economic model that indicates regional benefits. She notes that this is peculiar for a report offered by some to show the Airport's supposed local LB economic benefits. And that's just one of her points.

    Ms. Selmer says Prof. Magaddino submitted a written response to her analysis. We haven't seen it but we believe his response very much deserves to be seen. We believe Ms. Selmer's written analysis, and Prof. Magaddino's written response, should both be made part of the formal agenda package materials so they will be part of the public record.

    And we believe Ms. Selmer deserves equal time at today's Transportation & Infrastructure Committee meeting to present her points.

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