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    2002: In Words, Pictures...and Some Sounds

    (December 29, 2002) -- News is sometimes called history in real time. Pictures speak a thousand words. Sounds convey what words cannot.

    Below are some of the salient LB events of 2002 in words, pictures -- and in one case, sounds (a musical serenade to departing City Mgr. Taboada sung by the Public Corp. for the Arts' board chair) -- reported by

    LB City Hall

    January, 2002: Mayor O'Neill's State of the City Address:

    State of City 2002
    Photo courtesy HTTV (City of LB cable channel 21)
    "I am happy to say that in spite of the economic downturn that we have experienced, and in spite of the horrific acts of September 11th and the subsequent effect it had on our nation, our city is continuing to move ahead with optimism...And some of the reasons why we should feel good about the direction our community indicate why our city is on the right course...

    [F]or the third year, we have balanced our budget without resorting to reserves or one-time payments, and we continue to sustain a prudent reserve level...That's why the revitalization of the downtown and the retail centers have been so important to the future growth of our community. It brings in revenue. And as we finish other retail projects such as City Place, which is on its way, and Queensway Bay, which is not (light laughter), our general fund will continue to grow giving us even more resources to address neighborhood issues.

    And the philosopher Mae West said however, "An ounce of performance is worth pounds of promises." [light laughter]... was the only LB media outlet to post a transcript of the Mayor's address as actually delivered: 2002 State of City Address as delivered.

    Councilman Shultz & Val LerchJanuary, 2002: 9th district Councilman Jerry Shultz announces he won't seek a third term as a write in candidate, endorsing neighborhood activist Val Lerch for NLB's Council seat. Lerch cruises to victory.

    March, 2002: Councilman Ray Grabinski's Mayoral campaign sends a mailing to LB voters claiming he "supported Measure J, which cut the utility user tax in half." The claim is contained in a fictitious "newspaper" headline portrayed in the mailing adjacent to a legitimate PT news clipping on another subject. It recites, "Grabinski supports Measure J to cut the utility user tax in half."

    Grabinski later apologizes to PT...but doesn't retract his claims about Prop J, which was championed by LB Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan. Grabinski finishes fourth in the April primary and then endorses O'Neill.

    April, 2002: Mayor O'Neill runs an unprecedented third-term write-in campaign, finishing first in the city election primary, with Baker second and Ryan third. The LB's City Attorney office then takes the position (upheld by an L.A. court after a challenge by Ryan and O'Neill) that O'Neill's name should not be printed on the ballot because of term limits, and Ryan's name should not be printed on the ballot because he finished third. That produced a bizarre result, in which Baker's name was the only one printed on the June runoff ballot and O'Neill and Ryan both waged write-in campaigns.

    May, 2002: The Committee to Write-In Beverly O'Neill for Mayor sends separate mailings to LB Republicans and LB Democrats. posts pertinent parts of both:

    To Democrats

    O'Neill Democrat mailer, May '02"Long Beach Democrats Agree!" On the front, photos and quotes from Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal and State Senator Betty Karnette.

    On the reverse, a banner heading: "Democratic Mayor Beverly O'Neill" Text states in part that as Mayor, Beverly O'Neill has "brought thousands of good jobs to Long Beach, revitalized our shopping districts, increased trade and tourism, and worked with neighborhoods to crack down on slumlords and blight. Beverly O'Neill has made Long Beach safer by working to increase police patrols, cut response time and open community police substations."

    Text lists endorsements "by our Democratic leaders" including Senators Feinstein and Boxer, Gov. Gray Davis, Councilmembers Carroll, Grabinski, Lowenthal and Richardson-Batts, LBUSD Board Pres. Mary Stanton, United Auto & Aerospace Workers of American and the LB Firefighters Ass'n.

    To Republicans

    O'Neill Republican mailer, May '02"Attention Long Beach Republicans" On the front, pictures of former Gov. George Deukmejian with Mayor O'Neill and a quote from Deukmejian: "Beverly O'Neill brings people together to make Long Beach a city that works! I encourage all Long Beach voters to write her in for Mayor."

    Although the Democrat mailing prominently identifies her as "Democratic Mayor Beverly O'Neill," the Republican mailer never mentions she's a Democrat. Instead, the reverse side text states in part:

    "Former Governor George Deukmejian, Republican Councilmembers Frank Colonna, Jerry Shultz and Rob Webb and Supervisor Don Knabe are among the many local Republican leaders supporting Mayor Beverly O'Neill. Here's why:

  • Beverly O'Neill is tough on crime. Beverly O'Neill worked to add more police and cut response time. That's why former Long Beach Police Chiefs Robert Luman, Charles Ussery, Carl Calkins and William Ellis support Beverly O'Neill.

  • Beverly O'Neill fights for our neighborhoods. Mayor O'Neill took the lead in creating Code Enforcement Teams to crack down on blight and nuisance properties. She promoted first time homeownership and dramatically increased repairs of streets, alleys and sidewalks.

  • Beverly O'Neill is good for the Long Beach economy...From revitalizing our commercial districts, modernizing our port and completing the Alameda Corridor to promoting tourism and bringing JetBlue to town. Beverly O'Neill is endorsed by the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce and the Long Beach Business Journal.

  • Beverly O'Neill is a strong voice for sound fiscal management. Mayor O'Neill has supported fiscally conservative city budgets with prudent reserves. With the city facing declining revenues, she insists that Long beach reduce spending and live within its means -- without raising taxes."
  • O'Neill June 4/02June, 2002: In an election marked by an extremely low voter turnout, Mayor O'Neill tops Vice Mayor Dan Baker, who finishes second and LB fiscal reformer Norm Ryan, who finishes third with a write-in campaign. writes on election night: "Mayor O'Neill, enthusiastic under ordinary circumstances, was literally beaming as she went from one supporter to another. An enormous smile on her face didn't change for the nearly quarter hour we observed."

    For the June runoff, O'Neill was endorsed by the PT, the LB Business Journal and the Gazette papers. O'Neill's election night festivities were held at the El Dorado Park Golf Course Restaurant.

    Ryan June 4/02A few miles away geographically but worlds away politically, Norm Ryan watches the returns (with wife Cheri) over pizza at Cirivello's on Viking Way. In November, Mr. Ryan sought and won election to something called the Water Replenishment District.

    Tonia Reyes-Uranga became the new 7th district Councilmember, defeating former incumbent Mike Donelon by 63 votes in a June runoff. In April, 3d district incumbent Councilman Frank Colonna beat ECO-link chair Diana Mann (in July, the Council named him Vice Mayor) and 5th district incumbent Councilwoman Jackie Kell outpolled LBCUR leader John Donaldson. In May, reported (and editorially sandpapered) Councilwoman Kell for not scheduling an annual Council meeting in the 5th district required by the Municipal Code; the Mayor and Council have allowed this breach to go uncorrected.

    Election finale: Mercifully, we have no photo for the following. In April, at the conclusion of a live Charter Communications election night telecast, an equipment goof cuts off 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll, replacing him with an infomercial for a penis enlargement product. As midnight approached on Channel 3's "Decision 2002," host Mike Murchison turned to Councilman Carroll for his "final thoughts on what you've seen tonight, the overall election results as we see them here..." Councilman Carroll was building up to what seemed like a big finish, saying the evening had been "history making in a sense for the City of Long Beach without question. We've had the first opportunity to see whether..." when viewers were switched to the concluding moments of an informercial for "a truly amazing product for men. No matter what size you are, just take two...capsules a day and in a few weeks you'll be 25% larger and experience greater pleasure..."

    As noted at the time, "Unlike the election results, the advertised product offered customers a complete refund 'if you don't see real growth and increased pleasure...'"

    Mayor O'Neill, City Mgr. Taboada Budget presentation 8/15/02August 15, 2002: Within weeks of an election in which she (and many of her endorsers) assured LB voters their city was "on the right track," a grim-faced Mayor O'Neill and (soon to be former) City Manager Henry Taboada concedes (as previously admitted by city management and reported by that City Hall spending is expected to exceed revenues by roughly $46 million in city management's proposed FY 03 budget. Management's proposed budget is "balanced" by using one time revenue sources to offset the red ink, a situation visibly alarming to O'Neill.

    In Sept. 2001, Councilmembers voted to enact a budget using revenue assumptions understandably prepared before Sept 11...but unlike some other cities, Councilmembers in LB did not revisit their pre-Sept. 11 assumptions thereafter. In response to a question by asking whether the Council should have re-examined the budget three months ago when city management publicly advised of the growing deficit. Mayor O'Neill said sadly: "It's probably a year late if not three months. I feel some responsibility in that myself."

    Late August/early September, 2002: Long Beach Business Journal publisher George Economides runs his annual "$100,000 club" report showing ballooning numbers of city management six figure salaries. This time, the piece hits like cold water on a hot pan. PT columnist Tom Hennessy cites the story and calls for removing City Manager Taboada. In a high stakes action, Councilman Baker moves to hold a special closed session to discuss the City Manager's job performance...a meeting at which Mr. Taboada could be fired. Brushing back arguments that Mr. Taboada has a regularly scheduled performance review coming in October, the Council votes 6-3 (Colonna, Carroll, Reyes-Uranga dissenting) to hold the special closed session the next night...citing no reasons publicly. .

    The next night (September 4), after meeting for three and a half hours behind closed doors, Councilmembers, the Mayor and City Attorney filed back into the Council chamber at 10:10 p.m., grim faced.

    Taking their seats, some Councilmembers appeared not even to look at one another.

    The Mayor, appearing emotionally spent, read from a written statement:

    Mayor speaks re Mgr. Sept. 4"For the past three and a half hours, the City Council has evaluated and deliberated on the performance of Henry Taboada as City Manager. During the course of the deliberations, Mr. Taboada was offered an opportunity to voluntarily retire on or before December 31st. He declined that offer and the Council resumed deliberation. After deliberating, the Council voted unanimously to dismiss Henry Taboada as City Manager effective October 4th. This has been communicated to Mr. Taboada. [end written statement, Mayor speaks extemporaneously] "This was a very difficult thing for any Council, and especially this Council, to be involved with. We took it very seriously. There was a great deal of discussion by the Council, many deliberations, many comments, and it was not an easy thing to do."

    The Mayor's statement did not cite a reason for the Council's action. After the meeting, City Attorney Bob Shannon told no reason would be given. He noted Mr. Taboada is an "at will" employee. The dismissal became effective 30 days later; in the interim, Mr. Taboada remained City Manager.

    Taboada exit Oct. 1
    Courtesy: HTTV, Channel 21
    At his final Council meeting on October 1, in a Council meeting filled his supporters, Mr. Taboada delivered a farewell speech...which included a polite but plain spoken piece of his mind. He said in part:

    "...When you hire your next City Manager, please keep in mind that you're not hiring an employee. You're running a chief executive to run the corporation. Your choice also needs to be truly unanimous.

    I was hired on a 6-3 vote, although it was made officially a unanimous choice. I both suffered and endured the burden of a divided Council before I began my first day in office.

    My successor deserves your unqualified support until, and if, he or she fails to meet your collective expectations...

    Taboada exit Oct. 1
    Courtesy: HTTV, Channel 21
    Earlier in the proceedings, Public Corporation for the Arts Board Chair Lucy Daggett presented Mr. Taboada with a PCA proclamation and sang a song to him to the tune of "Swanee River." Click here to hear: Finale of PCA Bd. Chair Daggett's Song To Mr. Taboada (479 kB) [Courtesy HTTV, channel 21]

    LB Schools

    Choura file photoJune, 2002: LB restaurant operator and caterer Jim Choura (file photo from candidate debates), who operates the El Dorado Golf Course Restaurant and (LB Airport) Prop Room under leases with City Hall, edges out veteran educator and activist Jeannine McManigal-Ball.. In April, McManigal-Ball. finished first, Choura second. Choura is strongly backed by much of LB officialdom and the LB teacher's union and defeats McManigal-Ball. in June.

    Ball June 4/02At Cirivello's (alongside Norm Ryan), Ms. McManigal-Ball watches an early lead slip away after midnight. She has since gone on to speahead a grassroots effort to televise LBUSD school board meetings, personally videotaping the LBUSD School Board meetings and, thanks to the Lakewood City Council, televising them on the Lakewood City Hall channel where they can be viewed by Lakewood residents.

    LBUSD 6/18/02June/July, 2002: As exiting LBUSD Superintendent Carl Cohn and successor Chris Steinhauser watched in stoney silence, a LB taxpayer publicly sought answers from LB School Boardmembers moments before they voted to hire Steinhauser for a four year term with an annual salary of $198,000.

    The Boardmembers' June 18 vote means Steinhauser (right in photo), a subordinate of departing Superintendent Cohn (second from right), will consume more LBUSD funds than CA Governor Gray Davis receives from the entire state ($175,000/yr.)

    LB's School Board previously voted to pay incumbent Cohn $230,000 a year, a sum that will be used to calculate his future pension. Cohn has left to teach at U.S.C.

    LBUSD 6/18/02Prior to the Board vote, Ms. Reyna Akers, a member of the public, came to the podium to speak. In polite, measured tones, Ms. Akers requested the records and data on which Steinhauser's $198,000 salary was based. She asked, "[W]ouldn't it be prudent to ensure that the district had some leverage such as an annual renewal/review clause for such an important leadership position as superintendent?"

    Not one School Boardmember offered a substantive response to her points..and without comment, the Board unanimously approved (5-0) Steinhauser's hiring and salary. (Yes: Mary Stanton, Bobbie Smith, Suja Lowenthal, Ed Eveland, Karin Polacheck)

    In July, Board members Ed Eveland and (Board President) Bobbie Smith publicly brushed off a taxpayer's request by Ms. Akers that the LB School Board televise its meetings on its existing cable channel. Boardmember Eveland claimed televised meetings of the LB City Council and L.A. School board "become nothing but zoos, with people like you that get up and are constantly negative, never have anything to say."

    LB Airport

    LB Airport May 1/02 event (2)May 1, 2002: LB officials and media gathered at LB Airport for a promotional event applauding JetBlue's addition of two daily arrivals and two daily departures serving Washington Dulles airport (JetBlue is also starting twice daily from Oakland to DC) JetBlue's CEO David Neeleman spoke, as did the Mayor and 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell (all three pictured in photo, right)

    Mayor O'Neill: "...Since JetBlue started their service in the city of Long Beach...we have attracted tourists and visitors and familymembers from really all over the world to the city of Long Beach. And so this is really good for our city, it's good for showing off a place that people have not been and become excited about..."

    Councilwoman Kell: "I'm extremely proud to be here today to celebrate JetBlue's non-stop service to Washington, D.C. We believe this route will be highly successful because of the many local officials who have been waiting for a through flight to Washington, and of course all the business leaders that need to go back to the nation's capital..."

    Roughly an hour later, LB officialdom and representatives of American Airlines and America West gather to celebrate the opening of a modular north terminal building.

    Mayor O'Neill: "...Our airport continues to be the most conveniently located, the most accessible and offering more destinations now with enhancements. So we are looking forward to a great future for our airport. I never say the word "enlarge" because "enlarge" frightens all the people who live around the airport. I always use the word 'enhance,' so what we have we're making better for the flying public and for the residents in the city..."

    Minnie Gant Airport meeting, May 2/02May 2, 2002: With a Mayoral runoff looming a month later, and inbound jets roaring overhead, an ELB crowd nearly fills the Minnie Gant School auditorium to hear Airport Manager Chris Kunze present details of the Airport's legal and factual background.

    Longfellow School Airport meeting, May 8/02

    May 8, 2002: City Hall holds a second community meeting on LB Airport events, this time at Longfellow Elementary School which draws nearly 200 people. Like the Los Altos area event last week, this one also ran for more than two hours. During the meeting, Councilmembers Webb and Kell indicated that a resolution was being prepared for Council consideration on May 14, reaffirming support for LB's flight limits and would be delivered to Washington.

    May 14, 2002: Three separate agenda items are agendized for City Council action, jointly offered by Councilmembers Webb, Carroll, Kell and Colonna. They are unanimously adopted by the Council:

    • Resolution Regarding LB Airport: Resolution of the City Council to affirm the existing Noise Compatibility Ordinance and support current flight slot limitations at Long Beach Airport.

    • Resolution Regarding Washington, D.C. Lobbying Effort: Resolution of the City Council in support of City of Long Beach lobbying effort in Washington, D.C. to preserve the Long Beach Noise Compatibility Ordinance. The Resolution would support the efforts of City officials in presenting Long Beach Airport issues to key decision makers in Washington, D.C.

    • Report Regarding LB Airport E.I.R. Request report from City Manager and City Attorney relating to environmental issues (E.I.R.) pertaining to the Long Beach Airport. This report should include an analysis of the environmental effects of 41 flights and possible economic impact upon adjoining property values.

    As of the end of 2002, the third item -- the report unanimously requested by Councilmembers -- has not been delivered to the public as promised. Not one Councilmember has publicly objected to this.

    Kristy Ardizzone, 2002 airport facility openingJune, 2002: Kristy Ardizzone is named Government and Community Affairs Manager, Western Region, for JetBlue Airways...and gives up a seat on LB City Hall's Airport Advisory Commission. Ms. Ardizzone chaired that body, without public objection by any Councilmember, while serving as JetBlue's "West Coast Opportunities Manager" (as a consultant) since June, 2001. Her new position is a more formal, in house position.

    In May, 2001, JetBlue took all of LB Airport's then-vacant flight slots (27 out of 41) shortly after the City Council (without mentioning JetBlue) amended LB's flight slot allocation ordinance to let carriers hold slots for up to two years before flying them. JetBlue then announced plans to make LB Airport its de facto west coast hub. At a May 24 LB Airport news conference, JetBlue CEO David Neeleman credited Ms. Ardizzone with helping convince JetBlue that LB "was the place to be."

    Not one Councilmember publicly objected to Ms. Ardizzone serving (and chairing) the Council's "Airport Advisory Commission" while serving as a consultant to JetBlue Airways. Appointees to City Hall's Airport Advisory Commission (which has no substantive legal powers and can only offer advice) are nominated by the Mayor and confirmed by the City Council.

    Councilman Carroll, fileAugust 14, 2002: 4th district Council incumbent Dennis Carroll (file photo, left), who had co-agendized and verbally presented the May 14 Council request for the report (indicating at the time he hoped to receive it in 30 to 45 days) reveals that he requested the Council-requested report be put in a "holding pattern" citing "negotiations" taking place with the FAA. Councilman Carroll did not explain on what basis an individual Councilman could presume to interfere with delivery of a factually accurate report requested by voted action of a majority of his City Council colleagues.

    Not one Councilmember objected to this either. posted a transcript of Councilman Carroll's remarkable statement at the time in extended form. We do so again below for easy reference:

    "We have coming an explication of the current construction program at the Airport. The City Manager is putting that together for us...We have the impact study that I had requested from the legal department and I think it's also well to remember that these impact studies can cut both ways, and before we launch into it, which it looks like we are going to soon, I would like to have, and I would like the public to know, what both the pros and cons of such a report mean for us. What we want to do is resolve the problem as best we can, rather than create problems for ourselves. And I want to particularly acknowledge the efforts of our City Attorney and the outside counsel that has been retained. I think after Councilmember Colonna went to Washington [in May], it created an environment and a context for negotiations which in fact have begun. The FAA has come out here. Mr. Bennett called a conference and [City Attorney] Shannon have been, I think helpful in formulating various different possibilities for us and we are in the midst of those negotiations. And I have requested that those items that I was anticipating would be brought forward earlier actually be held sort of in a holding pattern. I do not want to disrupt those negotiations. I have the sense they are moving forward in a way that is constructive and positive and, if we can bring them in in a manner that we hope, everybody will be pleased with...I hope we all appreciate we're moving toward the same objective, and I would hope that those possibilities are more imminent than they may have been and in the next two or three or four weeks we hope to know whether they are successful or not..."

    August, 2002: JetBlue holds a press event to celebrate its 1st anniversary of flying from LB Airport.

    JetBlue 1st anniversary @ LGB, Aug. 29/02JetBlue CEO David Neeleman: "...This Mayor made history as you all know with a tremendous campaign and we're so grateful that she did because she provided some tremendous leadership...Just want to thank you so much, Mayor, for your support, and the City Manager's office, and the City Council, and all the Long Beach business associations here...We do take our community responsibilities very seriously. From the minute we walked through the doors here, we promised the city that we would not only provide convenient, high quality, low cost transportation for our customers but we would also fly the quietest airplanes in the sky, and that we would also fly the most emission friendly airplanes in the sky.

    [A]irplanes are not the quietest things on the planet, but you can have quieter airplanes...You can have quiet airplanes. You can have emission friendly airplanes. And so it's important for us to be part of the community where we can run quiet operations.

    It's obvious that people need to fly. We can't go back to covered wagons. They didn't make nearly as much noise as maybe an airplane like this [points to taxiing aircraft] but there is a way to do it, and we're committed to doing it right and being part of this community and being environmentally friendly, which is very, very important to us.

    And we'll make that commitment in the future that we'll continue to do that as well. No old, dirty, smelly airplanes, noisy ones coming into this airport.

    JetBlue 1st anniversary @ LGB, Aug. 29/02Jet Blue CEO David Neeleman, Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Press-Telegram publisher Ian Lamont.

    JetBlue 1st anniversary @ LGB, Aug. 29/02Press-Telegram Editor, Editorial Pages Larry Allison, Press-Telegram Executive Editor Rich Archbold (facing away from us), LB Area Chamber of Commerce CEO Randy Gordon, JetBlue CEO Neeleman, Mayor O'Neill

    Council LBHUSH2 item, Aug. 27/02
    Courtesy HTTV, channel 21. The Council chamber holds 265 people.
    August 27, 2002: Filling the City Council chamber to standing room only capacity, the newly organized grassroots group LBHUSH2 and veteran LB environmentalists urged Councilmembers to enact a moratorium on Airport facilities expansion, blasted attempts to bypass environmental review of permanent Airport expanded facilities (a project first reported by and said City Hall policies that encouraged more flights created risks to human health and property values.

    The Council voted 8-0 (Reyes-Uranga absent) to approve a motion by Vice Mayor Colonna requiring environmental review for a proposed permanent expanded passenger holdroom to be completed within 120 days and returned to the Council for a vote before any permanent expanded facilities are approved for construction at the Airport. Councilmembers voted 5-3 to proceed with a temporary, modular trailer expansion to be built by JetBlue and leased back to the Airport. (Yes: Lowenthal, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Lerch; No: Baker, Carroll, Webb).

    No Councilmembers publicly supported a moratorium...and following the Council votes, shouts of "Recall! Recall!" went up from about a dozen LBHUSH2 members who had stayed late into the evening for the vote.

    During a Q & A period for written questions, LB Public Works Director Ed Shikada said, "The primary impetus for the recommendation to move forward with the projects proposed is not based on a federal mandate. There is not a direct federal requirement to build additional facilities, but instead the recommendations are based on operational concerns and a desire to maintain the operational safety and convenience of the Airport for users," Mr. Shikada said.

    Proceedings on the item began with Councilmembers Carroll and Kell indicating the reasons for staff's proposed temporary expansion...and then gave the floor to City Attorney Robert Shannon who delivered a surprise announcement: the city had reached a settlement in principle with air carriers that would avoid litigation over LB Airport (separately reported by None of this quelled public anger at LB elected officialdom for recent LB Airport developments.

    Not all speakers opposed the proposed expanded airport facilities...but most did. When the public was allowed to testify, LBHUSH2 supporters formed a long line to the podium. In well organized testimony, each speaker hit specific issues. Council LBHUSH2 item, Aug. 27/02
    Courtesy HTTV, channel 21

    Multiple speakers blasted a May, 2001 Council vote (8-1, Carroll dissenting after failing to win a delay) which changed LB city law to encourage filling 27 then vacant Airport flight slots. Within days of that vote, JetBlue took all then vacant flight slots for aircraft over 75,000 pounds.

    Several speakers said Councilmembers had created the problem they were now claiming to solve, have brought LB more noise and pollution and risking diminished property values. (Property tax revenue is one of City Hall's largest revenue sources.)

    LBHUSH2 Dec 5 (1)December 5, 2002: LBHUSH2 founder Rae Gabelich tells a Bixby Knolls/Cal Hts. public meeting that City Council recalls should be the next step if incumbent Councilmembers don't represent their community's views on the airport.

    An audience member noted that in the end, it's the City Council that makes decisions in airport expansion, and asked if some of the group's efforts could be put toward removing Councilmembers responsible. His remarks drew applause...while two LB Council incumbents -- Webb and Carroll -- were present in the room.

    "Boy are you putting me in a bad place," responded Ms. Gabelich, uncharacteristically uncomfortable in a public forum. The applause continued, and choosing her words carefully, Ms. Gabelich replied:

    LBHUSH1 Dec 5 (2)"You are right, and that is a possibility. And I like to look at a lot of these guys that sit on the other side of that railing as people that I [two second pause], I am friends with. But I know there has to be a line...You put me in a really bad place [laughs]. Recall? Let me put it this way: If we are not being represented, because that's why we elected them to go into that position to represent what we want as a community, then I think absolutely that should be the next step."

    Public Safety

    James June 4/02February, 2002: The president of the powerful LB Police Officers Association (LBPOA), Steve James (file photo, right), speaks his mind and breaks a LB taboo. He publicly tells the LB City Council to provide at least 2.0 sworn officers per thousand residents, in addition to recruits (not yet sworn) in the Police Academy...and to start working toward 2.5 officers per thousand residents.

    Mr. James' testimony politely but firmly challenges city management and the Council, which have historically resisted providing this per capita level, or any specific minimum police level. He spoke in response to an agendized report submitted by LBPD Chief Jerome Lance that essentially confirmed warnings (reported by from retired Public Safety Advisory Commissioner John Deats, who (as first reported by had charged months earlier that LBPD had fewer sworn officers than were publicly budgeted.

    LBPOA President James told the Council:

    ..."I think that we should establish a minimum staffing level. I think that it's time to quit playing around with the numbers. We've heard about reports from five years ago, ten years ago, I think 2.0 [officers] per thousand should be, and I think in this city, and I do respect what Councilmember Shultz said that everywhere is different -- in this city, 2.0 per thousand is certainly not a stretch. And I think that if we establish that as a bare minimum, maybe start to work towards the numbers Chief Lance quoted in his report of 2.5 per thousand, that would get us to 1,152 police officers. We're currently at 850...

    We definitely need more police. There's no doubt about it. There's no doubt we've proven it. Y2K was the best example. The more police you have on the streets, the lower the crime rate is. It's simple. So if you want the crime rate to go down, put more police on the streets."

    5th/Pacific shooting May 30 #1May 30, 2002: At late afternoon, within walking distance of LB City Hall and fashionable Pine Ave., a man armed with two guns walks into the Top Valu market at 5th St. and Pacific Ave. in the 1st Council district [note City Hall visible in background] and opens fire on innocent people in the store.

    A 38 year old woman and a 8 year old girl are killed...and the parents of the little girl are both wounded.

    5th/Pacific shooting May 30 #2 In events that were simultaneously horrifying and heroic, LBPD officers arrived and at risk to their own lives rushed inside, found the shooter and shot him, preventing further risk to human life. The gunman was taken to a local hospital where he died.

    5th/Pacific shooting May 30 #2Later, in a revelation reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock movie, LBPD later discovered two badly decomposed bodies (believed to be family members) in the bedroom of the gunman.

    Rosary, June 1A few days later, over 150 neighborhood residents and schoolmates, LBPD officers, veteran neighborhood activists and local officials gathered in grief at the Gazebo in Drake Park on June 1 to honor the memories of 8 year old Barbara Ibasco and 38 year old Marcella Perez, killed in the shooting rampage.

    The event was organized by the grassroots "Mothers Brigade" (part of the Willmore Police Center) and the Willmore City Heritage Ass'n.

    Rosary, June 1Children and adults left touching messages on large poster boards. For Marcella Perez, from a child: "You were the best one out in Drake Park. Okay, remember. You were the best one." For little Barbara Ibasco: "Con nosotros un ratito y con Dios toda la vida" ("With us for a short while and with God for life [forever].")

    Rosary, June 1 #1And from an LBPD officer [possibly this man, we're not sure]: "Go with God, dear one."

    The TopValu shooting rampage drew further attention to problems related to the urban mentally ill. Four months earlier, LBPD officers shot and killed a knife wielding woman who'd stolen goods from the same TopValu market at 5th St. and Pacific Ave...and then proceeded over to Pine Ave., knife in hand, walking south toward its heavily patronized area.

    KnifeLBPD said 57 year old Marcella Byrd, an African-American, refused commands to drop the knife. Officers tried using non-lethal "bean bag" projectiles without success. Police say she raised the knife to a throwing position and , fearing for their safety, officers fired.

    NAACP Aug 18/02 meetingIn August, at an emotion packed but orderly community meeting conducted by LB's NAACP branch, LBPD Chief Jerome Lance described the chain of events that culminated in the officer involved shooting death of Ms. Marcella Byrd.

    "It is tragic anytime a person dies at the hands of another. My sympathy goes out to [the Byrd family], to her friends. But my heart also goes out to the officers who are affected by this very challenging and dynamic situation and did their best to assure the safety of this community..."

    "...As a result of the investigation, we've learned that Ms. Byrd suffered from mental illness...If [Ms. Byrd] she had taken her medication, if she had not been armed, if she had dropped the weapon, if she had talked to us, if she had simply stopped, or if she had not raised the knife to a throwing position, Ms. Byrd would likely be alive today.

    "Despite what you might see and believe on television, police officers go through an entire career, many of them, without ever firing their weapon. When an officer is forced to take a life to protect the community or themselves, that action makes an indelible impression on them. [becoming emotional] You never forget. [pauses roughly 30 seconds to fully regain composure, then continues]

    "...The simple fact is that neither weapons, nor...bullet proof vests, can stop an attack with a knife. Our officers had the duty and responsibility to protect the people on Pine Ave. from a knife wielding suspect. They attempted to do that impeding her progress south on Pine Ave., by keeping innocent bystanders away from the scene, and by repeatedly trying to get Ms. Byrd to talk to them, and to get her to stop and drop the knife...

    "Once again, I am truly sorry Ms. Byrd lost her life. I have sympathy for her family, for her friends, for the community. I also have sympathy for those officers who have to live with this for the rest of their lives.

    Some community members have urged changing LBPD procedures under such circumstances. Members of the Byrd family have filed a civil lawsuit against the City of LB, now pending.

    Chief Batts, Dec 5/02October, 2002: Deputy Police Chief Anthony W. Batts is appointed LB's new police chief. In early December, he outlines a challenging plan -- "Take Back Our Streets" -- an effort to restore safety in crime impacted parts of the city. He indicated LBPD is focusing on restoring safety to crime impacted areas and urged a coordinated follow-through by City Hall agencies and neighborhood volunteers to keep neighborhoods safe.

    Belmont Shore rape suspect

    November 11, 2002: Many LB residents breathe a collective sigh of relief when LBPD announces the arrest of a suspect in a series of rapes that had terrorized residents of ELB, Belmont Shore and beyond...the so-called "Belmont Shore" rapist. LB Police Chief Anthony Batts announced the arrest of 32 year-old Mark Wayne Rathbun of LB in connection with a string of sexual assaults primarily in LB (focused in ELB and Belmont Shore) that also affected Huntington Beach, Los Alamitos and Seattle since 1996.

    LBPD said Rathbun was detained by responding patrol officers after he was located within the established perimeter of an attempted sexual assault that occurred in the area of Lakewood Blvd. and Stearns St. on November 7, 2002. ( was the first LB media outlet to report the attempted assault.) Chief Batts said East Division police officers set up a perimeter within five minutes of the November 7 call and an LBPD patrol officer and detective stopped suspect Rathbun three blocks away as he rode away on his bicycle.

    LBPD indicated Rathbun was initially arrested on an unrelated drug charge...but posted bail...and officers then kept him under surveillance until LBPD received "conclusive information that evidence collected from him matched physical evidence gathered from 13 previous sexual assaults."

    Chief Batts indicated LBPD learned on November 10 (with fast work from the L.A. Sheriffs' crime lab) that DNA evidence included a unique marker indicating Rathbun was the suspect they were looking for. An arrest warrant was then secured and LBPD detectives, who had trailed Rathbun to the city of Oxnard, arrested him on November 10.

    "To the citizens of LB, sleep well tonight. Sleep well tonight. Sleep well. We have the suspect," Chief Batts said.

    LB Parks

    Nature Ctr 1February, 2002: Nearly 100 area residents attended a City Hall sponsored, daylong public meeting to discuss conditions at the El Dorado Park Nature Center in the process of preparing a "master plan" for the wildlife sanctuary's future.

    Nature Ctr 1The event included a guided walk through the Nature Center conducted by a consultant's staff. Participants stopped at various locations to hear the consultant's staffers explain problematic areas and discuss issues on which public input was invited.

    February, 2002: In a story reported first by, park advocates Ann Cantrell and Don May (of CA Earth Corps) confronted City Hall -- and won -- over project they viewed as another attempt to use of LB park land for non-park purposes.

    El Dorado Water Dept. areaCantrell and May filed a City Council appeal over Planning Commission approval of a LB Water Dept. plan to take a chunk of El Dorado park land (1,600 sq. ft.) for construction of a one story, 25 x 50 foot building plus two parking spaces, plus a service road occupying 8,000 sq. ft. for a water filtration facility near the Police Academy, north of Wardlow Rd, in the park's northwest area. [photo shows approximate area] The Water Dept. sought to replace costly, potable drinking water, now being used to replenish El Dorado Park's lakes, with filtered, reclaimed water, purified through the filtration facility, which it said would conserve water now taken from the well's aquifer to be used for other needs. May and Cantrell applauded using reclaimed water but bristled at allowing construction of another building on park land. Mr. May says there are better, more environmentally friendly ways to produce filtration results, including using wetlands techniques, that could avoid constructing a building on park land.

    On February 7, after hearing testimony from Ms. Cantrell and Mr. May, the Planning Commission passed a motion directing city staff to limit City Hall's Mitigated Negative Declaration (of non-significant environmental impacts) to applying for the grant...but without precommitting to approving the Water Dept.'s specific plan (transcript excerpt below). This allowed some room for common ground, but a Feb. 12 meeting involving Mr. May, Ms. Cantrell and LB Water Dept. staff (attended by Tim Patton, staff aide to 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell) hit an impasse. Cantrell and May's appeal prevented City Hall from meeting time deadlines and effectively stopped the project.

    New park 12Sept. 2002: Cooperative efforts by park supporters, city staff, elected officials and a helpful corporation culminated in the creation of a new pocket park at Orange Ave. and San Antonio Dr. in the 8th Council district.

    New park 1The park sprang from a lot once occupied by a gas station as volunteers ignored an early morning drizzle to bring the project to fruition.

    Supporters called it progress; critics bristled at calling the corner greenery a "park."

    Scherer ParkNovember 2002: In an opinion ordered "unpublished" where it cannot effectively be cited by others as a legal precedent, a CA Court of Appeal has ruled LB City Hall met legal standards when it took roughly 2.5 acres of Scherer Park land to expand LBPD's north division police facility.

    Scherer trees 1Even so, the battle over the park continued as "Friends of Scherer Park" activists Gigi & Reggie Bannister shifted their battle to federal grounds. In response to issues raised by the Bannisters, the feds required City Hall to provide an appraisal done to federal standards showing the value of the replacement property (on 55th Way) City Hall proposes. Years ago, City Hall took federal money years for some improvements at Scherer Park, giving the feds a say; the saga continues.

    Port of LB

    Pier T #1
    Photo courtesy Port of LB
    August, 2002: Here's what became of the former LB Naval Station and historic Roosevelt base, whose acquisition and demolition by the Port (with Council approval) for a container terminal was one of the biggest controversies in recent memory. It is now Pier T, LB's first "mega-terminal" whose first phase construction was officially completed by the Port of LB.

    The Roosevelt Base had a campus like facility which qualified for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, included well manicured greenery surrounding elegant buildings (some designed by renowned African-American architect Paul R. Williams), amenities and recreational facilities including a gymnasium and swimming pool and high rise housing, all built with U.S. taxpayer dollars.LB Naval Stn Roosevelt Base
    Photo from Port of LB web site

    The brouhaha over COSCO "taking over" part of the former LB Naval Station became a topic on talk radio (and a new medium called the internet). It got the attention of Congress, which passed a law effectively blocking use of the former Naval Station property by COSCO by, in effect, preventing use of property by entities with ties to the Peoples Republic of China.

    Pier T is now used by Hanjin, a South Korean firm. COSCO continues using other Port of LB facilities.

    Mayor Beverly O'Neill, booed at the Terrace Theater, won reelection handily in 1998 and an unprecedented third term write-in campaign in 2002.

    August, 2002: The Port of LB was called a willful polluter, accused of enabling policies creating illness and death, in public testimony pleading with LB's Board of Harbor Commissioners to support, instead of oppose as urged by Port staff, a bill by LB area Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal that sought to reduce diesel emissions from ports by limiting the allowable time trucks can idle in port terminals to 30 minutes.

    Port hearing 8/5/02After more than an hour of testimony that included doctors, environmentalists, trucking industry and union reps favoring the bill, and terminal and port interests opposed, Harbor Commissioners sided with Port staff in voting 3-0 (Hancock, Hearrean and Calhoun) to send a letter to a CA Senate Committee (text on link below) opposing AB 2650 as currently written (text below) with a cover letter seeking to meet with Assemblyman Lowenthal in hopes of amending the bill. (Commissioners Perez and Kashiwabara were absent, announced as out of the country on port related business.)

    Before their vote, Harbor Commissioners got an earful from the public. Several supporters of the Lowenthal bill referred to a map in AQMD's Multiple Air Toxics Exposure Study (MATES-2) which models increased estimated cancer risks in the L.A. basin for toxics including diesel.

    Port truck bill 8LB ECO-link chair Diana Mann brought her ubiquitous poster board version of the MATES-2 cancer risk map...and made sure Harbor Commissioners could see it.

    Pointing to the elevated lifetime cancer risk indicated on a map in the MATES-2 study, Ms. Mann referred to what she called a "diesel death zone" in the LB area that she attributed to port operations.

    Meanwhile, LB's two elected Port area Councilmembers, Bonnie Lowenthal and Dan Baker, agendized a resolution for action by the LB's elected City Council on August 6 that supports AB 2650. In a memo accompanying their agenda item, Councilmembers Lowenthal and Baker write, "While the Port of Long Beach is an essential economic engine for our City and region, we have a responsibility to reduce the environmental impacts on Long Beach residents that stem from Port operations." They ask the Council "to join us in supporting this landmark piece of environmental legislation."

    And the Council did...unanimously. Assemblyman Lowenthal's bill was subsequently amended to remove objections from the Port of LB (and its tenants)...and the bill passed.

    Port FuneralRatcheting up the rhetoric, in November, local environmentalists held a mock funeral at the Port of LB to put a dramatic human face on the number of deaths they believe attributable to area diesel emissions.

    In December, in an action some considered unimaginable a few years ago, the LB City Council gave unanimous support to a resolution requesting that the City Manager work with the Harbor Department to halt the idling of ships while at berth in the Port of Long Beach. The Council action was agendized by Councilmembers Baker and Lowenthal.

    Ships backed up Oct. 6/02.

    October 6, 2002: Ships backed up off LB resulting from maritime lockout, viewed from atop Signal Hill. Work resumed after President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley Act and obtained a back to work order.

    Queensway Bay/Pike at Rainbow Harbor

    QWB Mayor & Mgr w/ confettiMay, 2002: Confetti flew, the Mayor beamed and the City Manager and developer DDR's officials were all smiles at a gala kick-off ceremony for construction of the Pike at Rainbow Harbor today.

    "I feel like pinching myself to know this is really happening today! I can't tell you how excited I am by this," an exuberant Mayor Beverly O'Neill told a crowd of invited city officials, business leaders and local media.

    Invoking images and icons of LB's former Pike amusement area, developer DDR said in a written release:

    DDR QWB pix 3"Like the Pike of old, the Pike at Rainbow Harbor will feature many cafes and public gathering places and become a vital element in the day-to-day life of Long Beach, drawing visitors from throughout the region."

    Like a tale of two cities, it was either the best of times or the worst of times. About a week after the ceremonial groundbreaking, outside City Hall, LB activists including Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan gathered for what was termed a "heartbreaking" ceremony, alternately mourning and ridiculing officialdom's support for the Pike at Rainbow Harbor project.

    Meanwhile, inside City Hall, fax machines sent press releases cheering word that Gov. Gray Davis had signed a final document effectively ratifying the State Lands Commission "land swap" last fall. (The "land swap" removed state tidelands designation from certain commercial footprints in the project area in exchange for the state receiving land from the City of LB along the L.A. river that will now carry tidelands designation.)

    A City Hall press release quoting Mayor O'Neill as follows:

    "This is a momentous occasion. It will be a pleasure to watch the Pike at Rainbow Harbor unfold during the development stage. I anticipate seeing both residents and visitors enjoying the Pike at Rainbow Harbor when it opens in 2003. Carnival Cruises, which will be taking its place next to the Queen Mary shortly, the Queen Mary, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Shoreline Village, the Long Beach Convention Center, Pine Ave. and CityPlace -- all will be connected by the Pike at Rainbow Harbor. No other community in Southern California can offer the combination of venues that will be located on our waterfront once the Pike is complete."

    Two weeks earlier, a Sacramento Superior Court judge upheld the legality of actions by the State Lands Commission and City of LB actions in connection with the "land swap." The environmental group CA Earth Corps then appealed the lower court ruling and a ruling is expected next year...after which there is a possibility the matter might ultimately be appealed to the CA Supreme Court.

    Pike Rainbow Harbor grading #1 6/13/02June, 2002: Grading underway on the site of the "Pike at Rainbow Harbor" development.

    Pike Rainbow Harbor grading #2 6/13/02

    Pike Rainbow Harbor #3 6/13/02


    ELB 89 cent gasJanuary 1, 2002 -- Unleaded regular gas was 89.9 cents a gallon (self-serve cash price) a year ago at Woodruff Ave. and Los Coyotes Diagonal in ELB. A year later, it's roughly 50% higher.

    Ski half half staffJanuary, 2002: Taps sounded for LB's record setting flag lover Thomas "Ski" Demski.

    Mr. Demski was proud of warm messages he received after area media (including the LA L.A. Times, Beachcomber, PT and reported he was seriously ill.

    Ski 5We visited him on January 5 and Mr. Demski allowed us to include his email address in our coverage. He was gladdened by the email he received. [Thank you, readers.]

    Ski 3His encounters with LB City Hall would make good fiction, except they were fact. In 1981, a City Hall staffer claimed Demski needed a permit because his giant flag pole included shiny lettering saying "The Pole," making it a sign (which requires a permit). Demski refused and stared City Hall down. Would they really prosecute him for a misdemeanor, potentially carrying a $500 fine and six months in jail? The brouhaha ended when the City Council changed the law to exempt flag poles from the city's sign ordinance.

    In 1988, LB City Hall actually prosecuted Mr. Demski, charging him criminally for refusing to stop flying his giant flag after 10 p.m. City Hall acted after roughly two dozen neighbors complained over the flag's flapping noise; City Hall claimed the resulting decibels violated LB's noise ordinance and ordered Demski to lower the flag at night or face prosecution. (The Press-Telegram editorialized against Demski: "The order is reasonable. It simply requires Demski to follow normal protocol in handling the American flag -- and to demonstrate some courtesy toward his neighbors.")

    Mr. Demski refused to accept City Hall's decree and was charged with seven misdemeanor counts that could have brought a maximum of three and a half years in jail and $7,875 in fines. (The case made national news.) A judge eventually threw out City Hall's complaint against Demski.

    Demski responded by running for Mayor. Three times. In one Mayoral candidate debate, Demski appeared with a squawking pet parrot on his shoulder.

    Ski 9

    Despite poor health, Mr. Demski travelled to New York after Sept. 11 to visit "Ground Zero" at the former World Trade Center. He was proud that one of his flags flew from a crane helping in the recovery effort.

    Word spread quickly that LB's lovable flagwaver and irreplaceable icon had passed away. Friends and strangers formed a steady stream of visitors to "The Pole" at 4th and Lime.

    Ski memorial 1One visitor decorated Mr. Demski's statute with an American flag. Others left candles, notes and wishes.

    Ski viewing 2A viewing took place in the garage of his home. Inside a glass coffin, the widely recognized 72 year old LB figure lay at rest, shirt removed to display flags tattooed on his chest (and visible via a coffin shaped mirror on the ground) on his back.

    Retired Coast Guard Commander Jim Alexander, who is handling Mr. Demski's affairs, told that Mr. Demski's wishes were that he be cremated and his ashes placed in the eagle atop his giant flagpole...and those wishes would be carried out.

    The L.A. County Coroner's office determined that Mr. Demski, in failing health for some time, took his own life with an overdose of medication.

    Tree planting 2Jan. & Feb. 2002: Neighborhood residents, including parents with their children in tow, joined an impressive array of LB officials, candidates and city staff for a tree planting this morning in the ELB area of Palo Verde Ave. and Willow St. The events (previewed by exceeded expectations, drawing close 70 people the first time, 90 people the next. Among those attending: LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, Vice Mayor Dan Baker, Mayoral candidate Norm Ryan, 5th district Councilwoman Jackie Kell, LB Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, City Prosecutor Tom Reeves and LBUSD member Suja Lowenthal.

    June, 2002: Sunlight dimmed and an early and temporary dusk descended on much of southern California as the moon moved across the sun's path, creating an eclipse clearly visible in LB.

    Eclipse #1Some LB residents took advantage of the opportunity to view nature's uncommon solar-lunar positioning. ELB homeowner Marty Lee, cast in the eerie eclipsed reduced sunlight shortly after 6:00 p.m., did exactly what "Mr. Wizard" recommended years ago: he cut a hole in a piece of cardboard and used it to reveal an image of the moon taking a bite out of the sun. He cleverly projected the image on a suitable white surface...his backdoor.

    Eclipse #2Yes, it worked. Look closely within the shadowed area on Marty's back door and you'll see a slice of the sun, the rest eclipsed by the moon. Nice work, Marty (and thank you, Mr. Wizard).

    Eclipse #3And Bill Timmons of LB took this masterful photo of the eclipse using a filter. Truly awesome. is grateful to Mr. Timmons, and wife Cheryl Timmons, for emailing it to us for inclusion here.

    Eclipse #4And here's another from Mr. Timmons with creative effects...a good time to recall that "photography" means, literally, "writing with light."

    Vietnam Wall 5 June 30/02June 30-July 7, 2002: The travelling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, a half scale replica of the Washington, D.C. memorial, came to Houghton Park in NLB. Dan Pressburg was among those attending at the site. [Photo by Linda Ivers]

    August 7, 2002: A sizable portion of Los Altos and southeast LB went dark in the afternoon when a power outage temporarily knocked out electricity for about 2,200 SCE customers. By late afternoon, service had been restored to all but about 150 customers.

    SCE spokesman Marlon Walker told an area bounded roughly by Bellflower Blvd., Stearns St., Seal Beach Blvd. and the Garden Grove freeway was initially affected starting at roughly 1:18 p.m. today although power was partially restored about six minutes later.

    Power outage Aug 7/02At roughly 2:30 p.m., Los Altos area traffic lights were on but several large businesses on the east side of the Los Altos shopping complex -- including Target, Circuit City, Comp USA, Sears and Bristol Farms -- were in the dark and closed with customers sadly turned away.

    Power outage Aug 7/02A sign posted on the Sears store...

    Power outage Aug 7/02...told customers the store was temporarily closed due to the blackout.

    Stearns park planting Oct 12/02October, 2002: Members of the Stearns Park Neighborhood Association conducted a well organized planting of native foliage in Stearns Park on October 12.

    Yes, they got City Hall's OK first (don't try this without permission!) and were assisted by LB's Dept. of Parks, Recreation & Marine...and also received some LB taxpayer assistance via 4th district Councilman Dennis Carroll and LB Organic. In March, Councilman Carroll requested, and the Council allocated, $2,500 in (now extinct) Council District discretionary funds for Long Beach Organic, Inc. "to support Fourth District beautification of parks, schools and medians with gardens and flowers." A portion of that sum assisted the Stearns Park Neighborhood Association project. Long Beach Organic (LBO) is a non-profit group dedicated to promoting sustainable organic gardening practices and local food consumption in an urban environment.

    710 art #1
    Photo courtesy Caltrans
    July, 2002: LB's 710 freeway gets artwork -- 200 images of waves and various sealife -- on a new concrete median between PCH and the 405 freeway, a result of CalTrans collaboration with LB City Hall and LB's "Public Corporation for the Arts" (PCA). Design was created by LB artist Kerry Zarders.

    710crash1On November 3, three multicar chain reaction accidents, involving over 190 vehicles, took place on the 710 freeway in heavy fog mainly south of Del Amo. Blvd. on Sunday morning, Nov. 3. Roughly forty people were hospitalized, including veteran LB neighborhood activist T. J. Norcutt.

    LB's furry friends posts free announcements of lost and found pets. A few weeks ago, we had a success:

    Black & White kitty, lost 12-18-0212-18-02: Kitty disappears, area Willow /Palo Verde

    12-20-02, 3:30 p.m.: posts picture and sends email alert

    12-20-02, 8:30 p.m.: receives email below from cat's owner:

    "A miracle has just happened!!! Charlie - the kittie in question - arrived in our front yard a few minutes ago...I'm sure it was because of your newsletter - Some kind person returned our kittie!!! Could you please put in your newsletter a thank you to whoever it was!!! They will truly be blessed for their kindness!!! I'm so happy I'm crying!!! The best Christmas present ever!!! Thank you sooooooo much and GOD BLESS YOU!!!"

    VA cat demo Dec. 14/02December, 2002: Supported by honking car horns from passing drivers, roughly two dozen demonstrators lined several parts of the sidewalk along 7th St. at Bellflower Blvd. to encourage the LB V.A. Hospital to change its policy of trapping and handing over feral cats on its property to LB Animal Control...where they are either adopted/rescued or (likely) killed.

    VA cat demo Dec. 14/02The animal advocates want the cats trapped, neutered...and returned to the LB V.A. Hospital grounds and managed. LB V.A.'s Public Affairs Officer indicated LB V.A. doesn't mind trapping the cats and taking them elsewhere...but doesn't want feral cats on the premises anymore.

    Harley #1July, 2002: A small, temporary homemade shrine appeared on the east side of Bellflower Blvd. just north of Spring St.

    Harley was Ty and Joyce Wilson's best friend, a dog enjoying a dog's life with her masters in the well kept ELB neighborhood. But on July 4th, someone set off illegal fireworks near the Wilsons' home and the noise so frightened Harley that she somehow managed to escape from her backyard. Harley ran, trying to avoid the noise (alarming to a dog's sensitive ears), got to Bellflower Blvd and kept going...straight into the busy street. Shortly after 9 p.m., she was struck and killed, apparently instantly, by a passing car.

    When Mr. and Mrs. Wilson returned home, they were devastated, but found some solace on learning that neighbors and some workers at the nearby 24 Hours Fitness Center did everything they could to save Harley's life.

    Harley #2As a show of gratitude, and to warn others of what can happen when animals experience nearby fireworks, the Wilson created a small, temporary but heartfelt shrine on the service road parkway on the east side of Bellflower Blvd. near Pageantry St.

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