(April 13, 2005) -- LBReport.com has learned that Lou Anne Bynum [all titles on this page for identification only] (LB Area Chamber of Commerce board chair), Kristy Ardizzone (JetBlue Manager of Gov't Affairs, Western Region,), former LB City Councilman Mike Donelon and a northern CA lawyer familiar with ballot measures met within roughly the last two weeks in the office of LB City Attorney Bob Shannon for a discussion Mr. Shannon says involved city procedures, local requirements and the like affecting initiative ballot measures.
City Attorney Shannon told LBReport.com that the meeting was not confidential and he so advised the participants at the outset. Mr. Shannon said his office has held similar meetings in the past with other individuals then-contemplating other ballot measures, a procedure used to avoid future, potentially costly disputes over LB requirements (for example, qualifications for those collecting petition signatures).
As of April 13, the LB City Clerk's office tells LBReport.com that it has not received paperwork from a group announcing such intentions or launching a petition initiated ballot measure campaign.
LBReport.com has separately learned that in the first half of March 2005, a meeting took place at Aeroplex Aviation that included James C. Hankla (LB Harbor Commissioner, retired LB City Mgr. and ACTA CEO), Chris Pook (masterminded rise of LB Grand Prix), Ms. Bynum, Ms. Ardizzone and Mr. Donelon, hosted by Curt Castagna (President, Aeroplex Aviation and chair, Airport Area Business Council, affiliated with LB Chamber).
In separate telephone contacts with LBReport.com, Mr. Castagna, Mr. Hankla, Ms. Ardizzone and Mr. Pook did not deny that the Airport was among the topics discussed; Mr. Pook and Mr. Hankla separately indicated that they attended as observers and haven't attended further meetings on the subject; Mr. Castagna said he wasn't present for the entire meeting but described the general tenor of the discussion as embryonic on non-specific; Mr. Castagna and Ms. Ardizzone said no specific ballot measure was discussed at that time.
LBReport.com did not receive responses to telephone messages left with Ms. Bynum's executive assistant and Mr. Donelon's answering machine.
On March 24, 2005, LBReport.com encountered Ms. Ardizzone at a public event and asked about a possible ballot measure. "What ballot measure?" she replied.
At the same March 2005 event, LBReport.com asked Mayor Beverly O'Neill if she supported the Council's Feb. 2005 vote on the Airport's terminal area facilities. "I support sending it out for [preparation of] the EIR [Environmental Impact Report]," the Mayor replied.
LBReport.com has also confirmed that on April 7, a meeting took place at City Hall attended by Mayor O'Neill, City Manager Jerry Miller, City Attorney Shannon, Vice Mayor Jackie Kell and Councilmembers Frank Colonna and Patrick O'Donnell.
Councilman Colonna indicated generally to LBReport.com that he wanted to ensure that the current Airport EIR process is proceeding at a businesslike pace and not in a dilatory fashion.
Councilman O'Donnell told LBReport.com that he would strongly oppose any effort to try to circumvent the Environmental Review process or try to expand the Airport terminal sizes beyond the Council's 9-0 voted level.
City Attorney Shannon told LBReport.com that he believes an Airport ballot measure would be extremely divisive.
On April 13, the LB Press-Telegram published a letter from former 9th district Councilman (now 5th district resident) Jerry Shultz, who wrote in part that "Improving our terminal should not require an EIR nor equate to airport expansion." His letter said he fully supports "the Long Beach Coalition in their initiative effort" and that "Councilwoman Rae Gabelich's challenge to 'bring it on' has motivated us" to show that LBHUSH2 "a vocal minority, does not speak for this city."
Asked by LBReport.com who the "Long Beach Coalition" is, Councilman Shultz said he'd received a telephone call from former Councilman Donelon. Shultz said he doesn't know who the others in the group are but "I'm on board because I fully support improving our airport facilities." He added that he hasn't seen a ballot measure yet and isn't sure there is one yet.
A petition-initiated measure could circumvent the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) currently set to evaluate permanent expansion of LB Airport's terminal area facilities. In a February 2005 vote (9-0), Councilmembers specified that the EIR should evaluate sizes larger than City Hall described in September 2003. Those sizes are deemed plausible by Airport management although they're not as large as preferred by Airport management and some business interests.
The LB Area Chamber of Commerce and other business interests have made no secret of their displeasure with the Council's Feb. 2005 vote. The Council action came after a delay that spanned over a year...and stemmed from former Council actions.
In December 2003, with Council elections upcoming in airport-impacted districts 4 and 8, the Council delayed a recorded vote on the Airport EIR's scope by sending the issue first to a City Hall-selected "Airport Advisory Commission." The advisory body had no power to decide the issue...but its recommendations weren't likely to return for a Council vote until after 2004 Council elections.
Meanwhile, Airport management used the interim period to ask HNTB (a firm that does planning as well as major public works projects) to recommend Airport facilities sizing. (HNTB helped build the Alameda Corridor and has built Airports elsewhere). In spring 2004, HNTB and Airport management recommended bigger sizes than City Hall had indicated in Sept. 2003. The Airport Advisory panel voted 6-3 to recommend the bigger sizes.
In the April/June 2004 Council elections, voters replaced the incumbents in districts 4 and 8 (who had been endorsed by the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and Mayor Beverly O'Neill) and replaced them with Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell and Rae Gabelich. The new Council did not accept the enlargement recommendations of the Airport Advisory Commission.
Since the 2004 elections, the Council has shown a greater willingness to tackle quality of life issues on various topics including LB Airport, LB's sea Port, residential density and other neighborhood impacting activities.