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    So. Cal. Conference On Redevelopment Abuse Meets In LB, Hears OC Supervisor Chris Norby, State Sen. Joe Dunn, Legal Experts and LB Activist Colette McLaughlin, PhD.

    Redev. Conf. LB April 26/03(April 27, 2003) -- Nearly 100 people attended the 7th Annual Southern CA Conference on Redevelopment Abuse, held at LB's Airport Marriott hotel on April 26.

    The conference was addressed by Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby, State Senator Joe Dunn (D., Garden Grove), an array of legal experts...and veteran LB activist Colette Marie McLaughlin, recently awarded her PhD by UC Irvine.

    Dr. Colette McLaughlinn, LB conf. April 26/03Dr. McLaughlin (photo left, taking in other presentations) delivered remarks that referenced her PhD thesis on Redevelopment. She titled her thesis "Blighted Partnerships: Unsustainable Redevelopment Practices"...and cited Long Beach as an example.

    OC Supervisor Chris Norby, LB conf. April 26/03OC Supervisor Chris Norby, an expert on Redevelopment highly critical of the process, is a former OC grassroots activist and Fullerton City Councilman (1984-2002). He won a seat on the Orange County Board of Supervisors last year (term began 2003) by ousting an incumbent in part over her support for an El Toro Airport.

    In the late 1990s, then-Councilman Norby authored a short treatise, "Redevelopment: The Unknown Government," that explains the arcane Redevelopment process in plain English with pointed criticism. Some chapter headings: "Blight Makes Right," "Corporate Welfare," "The Myth of Economic Development," "Housing Scam," and "Eminent Domain for Private Gain."

    A Sept. 2002 update of the treatise was available at the conference; a 1990's version is posted online at: [Caveat: Some portions of the 1990's online version have been updated in the 2002 version.] Mr. Norby also played a leadership role in Municipal Officials for Redevelopment Reform (M.O.R.R.)

    Among those spotted at the LB conference were Ray Pok, Chief of Staff to 7th district LB Councilmember Tonia Reyes-Uranga, and Don Darnauer, Dan Berns and Kermit Sadler, members of Project Area Committees in LB's Central and West Industrial Redevelopment Areas.

    Darwin Thorpe, LB conf. April 26/03Taking copious notes was LB veteran activist and former member of LB Community College Board of Trustees, Darwin Thorpe.

    Supervisor Norby presented a plan he called "F.R.E.S.H.: Fiscal Reform: Equity, Stability & Harmony" that would send all sales tax to the state in exchange for cities and counties receiving a greater share of property tax, which he favors to eliminate the motivation for redevelopment abuses.

    Senator Joe Dunn, LB conf. April 26/03State Senator Joe Dunn addressed the conference on the topic of legislative challenges and opportunities. Asked during audience Q & A about current Sacramento efforts to invite voters to reduce the vote level required to raise taxes, Sen. Dunn said:

    The question is, what's the chance of the legislature passing a bill that lowers the vote threshhold on transportation bonds, right now which is a 2/3 support by voters to a 55% support which we did for education bonds a couple of years ago...I voted against lowering the threshhold on the education bonds. The reason I did that was my belief is that if the bonds are truly necessary, such as education, the voters in that area for local school bonds will give it the 2/3 majority, if the need is there and it's packaged correctly. If the need isn't there, the fanciest campaign ain't going to get it success. If the campaign is bad but the need is there, it could fail as well. But when both come together, no one's been able to point to me an area that lost a school bond vote on a 2/3 if the need really was there and it was packaged correctly, campaignwise.

    I know that's a balance of policy and politics but that's the nature of the beast, so I voted against the lowering of the vote threshhold.

    I will do the same on the transportation bonds. [applause begins] I will probably be the only Democrat to do that. [applause continues]. My reasoning in the same. [applause subsides] I know that the 2/3 majority is a high obstacle. I love the profession of politics. I'm not ashamed to call myself a politician, but I also am quite well aware that we kind of as collective politicians, together, both parties, get into a little bit of gang mentality, meaning that where we see protections in the law as an obstacle to what we accomplish, instead of raising our performance to meet the obstacle, we lower the obstacle. That is not good long term. Might have some short term advantages, but for the operation of this democracy at both the state and federal level, those protections are there for a reason.

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