Click on the LB businesses you see here:

The Enterlines
Bill & Karen Enterline are ELB realty experts. Click here for info on area property values.

Lovelace pic
Choose LB DJ
Bill Lovelace for your event and ask for discount, click here to learn more

Nino's Ristorante:
Click here if you're hungry or for catering!
3853 Atlantic Ave.

Return To Front Page

We Get E-Mail
Neighborhood Groups/Meetings
Crime Data
City Council Agendas
Port of LB Agendas
E-Mail Your Councilmember
LB Parks, Rec & Marine
LB Schools
References & Archives
Lost, Found & Adoptable Pets


Los Altos Neighborhood Ass'n South Holds Mayoral Candidate Forum; Candidates Field Questions

We provide transcript excerpts

(February 3, 2002) -- LB's seven Mayoral candidates came to Los Altos on January 30, telling an audience of roughly 80 people why they deserved the public's support.

The Mayoral candidate forum was sponsored by the Los Altos Neighborhood Association South (LANAS) and held at the Stanford Middle School Auditorium. We provide transcript excerpts, below.

LANAS founder and area realtor Joe Sopo likened the Mayoral forum to a hiring interview. LANAS officials used a format in which each candidate appeared individually (without interaction with other candidates) in a non-debate format. The candidates were allowed to present short opening and closing statements and fielded roughly 15 minutes of questions out of earshot of the other candidates who were isolated backstage.

Some questions were the same for all candidates (dealing with LB Airport, preserving park land for park uses and the number of police officers provided by City Hall). Other questions were solicited from audience members and submitted in writing on 3 x 5 cards for presentation through a LANAS host.

Our transcripts feature extended excerpts; not all statements are transcribed and the speakers' sequence has been changed.

Vice Mayor Dan Baker

Baker LANAS pic Q: Do you agree with the present limit on the number of landings and takeoffs of commercial flights at the LB Airport or would you rather see the number of landings and takeoffs dictated by the local economy?

Baker: I think the current 41 flight limit is a good limit. It was reached as a consensus that was reached in partnership between the airline industry, residents and the city of Long Beach, so I don't think we need to mess with it. What we need to do is make sure that the flights that are coming in are just like JetBlue, they're very quiet, they're new aircraft and they're less intrusive on all of us that live here, particularly the folks who live underneath the flight path.

Q: We know you believe in a strong police department, but what does that mean to you, and more specifically, are you happy with the number of police officers currently in the department?

Baker: Well, a strong police department to me means that we have enough police officers out in the neighborhood so that everybody in this room feels safe when they're at work, when they're at home, when they're at school. Right now we are authorized about 850 law enforcement officers, and unfortunately we're down about 50 or 60 right now. That means there are 50 or 60 officers that are in our budget that we do not have out on the streets patrolling your neighborhoods. So as your Mayor, I want to make sure that we do a couple of things. I want to make sure that we keep the budget and at the same level or greater, I would like to see us increase to 2 officers per thousand residents, which is a nationwide standard we should try to reach. And more importantly, since we do have the vacancies right now, we need to make sure that we have recruit process going more than once a year until we get up to that authorized amount so that we have all of the officers that we budgeted actually out on the streets patrolling our neighborhoods.

Q: What qualifications are required to make a successful Mayor, and as a follow up, what qualifications do you possess?

Baker: I think most importantly, you've got to be willing to speak with people and hear what their concerns are and be willing to listen to all sides of every issue before you make a decision. That's something that I have tried to do as a Councilmember. I pride myself in getting out and talking to the folks that I represent, going to my neighborhood association meetings, walking door to door. Since I've been on the Council, I've knocked on the door of probably every single person in my district two or three times, just to make sure that I have a sense of what they want me to be working on...

Q: As Mayor, what will you do to ensure that our parks will no longer be used for non-park related building projects, and how will you bring more parkland to our city?

Baker: ...I'm very proud of a couple of small pocket parks that we put into the Second district since I've been on the City Council...[Re the Scherer Park police station expansion] I voted for the police station because the folks in that neighborhood were almost unanimously, the folks who live around that park, wanted the police officers in that park. That being said, one very important thing that helped me make a decision to put that police station in was that in return for about an acre and half, I believe, of park space that went for that new station, we're creating a new five acre park very close to that. I've actually lobbied, I'm chair of our state legislative committee on the City Council, and had the opportunity to lobby our folks up in Sacramento to help acquire $5 million for funding of a new 50 acre park preserve over on the westside of the city near the interchange of the 710 and the 405...

Norm Ryan

Ryan LANAS pic [opening statement] ...Some of you may remember the chairman of the utility tax cut initiative that passed by 70%...[applause]...I will tell you though it's interesting in retrospect how many of these people that are running for Mayor were in a position to help us along, to cut your taxes as they promised they would, and they didn't. I'd like you to keep that in mind when you hear other promises that sound very good, may sound like the things I'm telling you, but the track record speaks for itself. They have had their time and they have not fulfilled their end of the bargain. So to think that especially two of the Councilpeople [Baker & Grabinski] that they will give up positions where they have a vote for a position that doesn't have a vote but that they will be able to do more just doesn't make any sense. That's why I'd like you to give me an opportunity to show you what I can do...

Q: Do you agree with the present limit on the number of landings and takeoffs of commercial flights at the LB Airport or would you rather see the number of landings and takeoffs dictated by the local economy.

Ryan: I actually live under the flight path and I bought in knowing that the airport was there, but that doesn't mean I like having the planes go overhead...However, any monkeying around with the FAA agreement that we negotiated leaves us vulnerable to the possibility that, we'd be opening the door for the FAA to come back in and say, you know, we just looked at this SCAG plan that one of our Councilmen by the way [Grabinski] voted for and it says that you can take much more airplane loads than you're currently taking...[41 flights] is a bad bargain, but it is the bargain we're stuck with, and if we can keep it at 41 that's where I'd like to keep it. I think other people in this town that aren't in the flight path, who argue that they would like the convenience to go to Sacramento or New York or wherever, have to remember that what they're doing is condemning the rest of us that are in the flight path to the quality of life of Inglewood while they're living in Manhattan Beach or Redondo Beach. I think when it comes to the airport, we have to sort of be our brother's keeper. We have to understand that our convenience is somebody else's sacrifice, so I'm for basically when it comes to the slots leaving it the status quo.

Q: (follow up) So when you say you like the 41 flight cap you're saying...

Ryan: I don't want to touch the 41 flight cap...

Q: (further) You would fight to keep it?

Ryan: ...I am for not touching it...

Q: We know you believe in a strong police department, but what does that mean to you? And as a follow up, are you content with the number of police officers current in the department?

Ryan: I am a Public Safety Advisory Commissioner so once a month I get to sit down and be numbed by the crime statistics, our reaction times and our force levels. And I have consistently argued, and this is for years and years and years, that what we see around the country is a good indicator that 2.5 officers per thousand [residents] is sort of a good critical mass point...So yes, I'm in favor of a stronger police force...

Q: What qualifications are required to make a successful Mayor? What qualifications do you possess?

Ryan: I have argued...that there's only two people in this race: there's me, and there's Henry Taboada, the City Manager. And the reason I say that is that the other people that are running are very nice people...But there's nothing in their backgrounds, nothing in their voting records, nothing in their education that suggest to me that they know any more about running the city than our City Manager does. Now I on the other hand have reviewed about 130 city, county and state agency budgets a year. I do comparative studies. I look around and I don't have to be the smartest person on the shelf, I just have to Redding they do this, in Oakland they do this; this is a problem we have and we can take what somebody else has already utilized the brain power to do and make it fit here. But we don't do that. And so we have a void. And as much as I don't like the City Manager and the way he's running the city, he knows more about running it than even our elected officials and our Mayor. And as my grandmother used to say, in the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king. [laughter] One of the qualities of being a Mayor is to be able to bring people together. Now I've been able to do that. Now it wasn't necessarily Councilpeople, because they were going to somebody else as a source of knowledge...and I was nobody...Well, after the utility tax, after Prop Z, after the trash fee increase fight,...there are a lot of people that believe that I know what I'm talking about...

Q: As Mayor, what would you do to ensure that our parks are no longer used for non park related building projects and how will you bring more parkland to the city?

Ryan: Well, I think that one of the things the Mayor has to do is remind people of what their priorities are. It's funny that only every four years, or maybe every two years, we're reminded of how important open space for parkland is. It only becomes a priority before you want to get elected. I don't see our spending priorities reflected in Parks and Recreation like I believe it should be...

Q: Do you support the gas rate lawsuit by LB Citizens for Utility Reform?...

Ryan: Oh heck yes! That was such a debacle...

Q: (continuing) It's a two parter...If they win a $38 million judgment, how will you address the crisis in the General Fund?

Ryan: First of all, there is no "they." That's us. If you look at the lawsuit, that is we the ratepayers. Everybody here use gas? How many people use gas? [hands go up] OK, you're "they." [laughter] that when that $38 million comes back, it comes back to the ratepayers. What happened was that...the city [City Hall] wanted a freebie, they didn't want to follow the [City] Charter, and I hate to be the guy to keep pointing that out, because people think that I'm being too nit picky, but when you violate the law, you're setting a bad precedent and I don't care who you are. I don't care if you're a City Councilperson, I don't really if you're the city government. The law applies to all us equally. And when the law says that you will charge the prevailing rate, not when it's inconvenient, not when it might go against you, but when you have to charge the prevailing rate that's what you do. We charged the prevailing rate for nine years and the city has made a $185 million profit because they were allowed to do that. If they had charged the prevailing rate [last winter] they would have taken a $25 to $30 million loss; in my book, that means over a ten year period we made $155 million off our gas department. Now, I don't know about you, but if we've decided as a government that we're going to be in the business of providing gas, if we're going to be in business, you cannot then demand that there be riskless transactions and that's what the gas [department] was doing. When it became inconvenient to follow that law, they decided not to. If we have to pay that, I will tell you that there are available reserves, nobody believes that they're going to be paying that back in one fell swoop, and I would advocate that the best thing to do is over several years have it paid back. And what that will will basically set the precedent that the city won't do that stunt again. [applause]

Councilman Ray Grabinski

Grabinski LANAS picQ: Do you agree with the present limit on the number of landings and takeoffs on commercial flights at the LB Airport, or would you rather see the number of landings and takeoffs dictated by the local economy?

Grabinski: I like what we have right now...

Q: [follow up]: You like the 41 [flights], will you fight to keep it?

Grabinski: Yes, in fact I did. I was a lot taller and thinner then but [laughter]...If you go to the community first, you can find out what they want and deliver to them what they want.

Q: We know you believe in a strong police department but what does that mean to you, and specifically, are you happy with the number of police officers currently in the department?

Grabinski: Let me answer that last part first. No, I'm not. We budgeted 913 police officers, and when I asked about it about three weeks ago to get a report back, I think what we're going to get back is that we don't have near 913. And when we budget that money, we're taking your money, and we're saying this is what we're going to do, we're going to have this many police officers, sworn police officers, out on the street patrolling your streets. And if we have 40 or 50 less, that means we're two years behind filling those back up, so no I'm not at all happy with that...

Q: How would you assess the management of the city, and as a follow up, would you make any changes?

Grabinski: ...Yes, I would. I think everything works in cycles, and I think the City of Long Beach is really good at telling you what we can't do. [laughter] That's not the way it's supposed to work. This is not supposed to be a complaint driven city...You deserve better service than you're getting right now...

Q: Why is the Pike project, formerly the Queensway Bay project, not been developed? What would you do differently?

Grabinski: It's easy for me to take a shot at the Pike project because I was off the Council when the Aquarium and...Queensway Bay went forward...There's a million reasons why it didn't work. But if it's not going to work the way you expected it to, and the money we spent on it, your money that we invested in it, then we have to be brave enough to say, hey, we made a mistake here, let's do something else, let's sit down, God forbid and go back and talk to you, and find out what you want on the most expensive piece of property in the city of Long Beach, the last vestige of what was Long Beach...You have to have the community in these projects with you all the way through it, not just when you start them out...I would say no and move on. It should be an international marketplace.

Q: Why did the city just approve roughly $48 million in bonds for the Carnival cruise ship terminal?

Grabinski: ...In order for us to have the accommodations that both Carnival needs, the Queen Mary needs and the city needs over the next 20 years, we didn't put that money in; we did bridge financing for them, that's what that money is. Some of that money is for fixing up things on the ship that need to be done, some of it's for what's going to be built alongside the dock, which is going to be ours,...and this will allow the Queen Mary and the tourism business down there to flourish, but it's not debt on us. We were financing for that but we're not, you're not, on the hook for the $45 million, nor should you.

Related coverage: In March 2001, Councilman Grabinski voted as a LB representative to the Southern CA Association of Governments (SCAG) for a regional airport planning scenario that assumes nearly five times the current passenger level at LB Airport by 2025. Although the SCAG action isn't binding on LB's City Council, it arguably invites future Councils and other government bodies to pressure LB to accept more flights. coverage at: Grabinski Votes (as member of SCAG Committee) To Recommend Regional Airport Scenario That Includes 3 Million Air Pasengers Annually at LB Airport by 2025. One month later, when SCAG's airport plan (which became part of a regional transportation plan) came to the full SCAG representative body for a vote, Councilman Grabinski (and Councilman Rob Webb, LB's other SCAG rep) failed to attend. coverage at: Grabinski & Webb Fail To Attend SCAG Meeting For Vote That Adopts Plan w/ Airport Scenario Incl. 3 Million Annual Pasengers at LB Airport by 2025. There is no record of Mr. Grabinski bringing the SCAG airport issue to the City Council or to neighborhoods for public input prior to SCAG's action.

The Mayor cannot change city managerial staff but the Council can change the City Manager with five Councilmembers' votes. When the Council recently voted 6-1 (Baker dissenting) to raise the current City Manager's total annual compensation to nearly $200,000 (a salary higher than the Governor), Mr. Grabinski left the Council chamber about 45 minutes before the item came up, then returned roughly sixty seconds after the vote. He later told he left because he'd felt sick. coverage at: Analysis of LB Municipal Code Sections Requiring LB Councilmembers To Cast Vote If Present in Chamber

Mayor Beverly O'Neill

O'Neill LANAS pic Q: Do you agree with the present limit on the number of landings and takeoffs of commercial flights at the Long Beach airport, or would you rather see the number of landings and takeoffs dictated by the local economy?

O'Neill: That's a good question, especially for this area. When I became Mayor, we had had a lawsuit with three different airlines for over ten years and it was over the number of flights that we had, it was over the noise and the curfew for evening landings and morning takeoffs. We settled that lawsuit by 1995 and since that time, and the lawsuit was settled with an evening and morning curfew, with a noise limitation and also with the number of flights, the number of commercial flights that we can have, 41. We have now an airline that probably in the years to come might want to have more flight landings. My philosophy is that we're going to stick to the court ordered 41. This is not just a commercial airport, we have general aviation, we have manufacturing, we have corporate jets and they have cargo. So it seems like you hear more, but the commercial are the ones that are heavier and take longer for their take off. JetBlue has been a good airline to work with. They're with the newest planes, they're with the quietest planes and they take less space in their takeoffs and landings.

Q: (follow up) Mayor, would you fight to keep the 41 flight limit?

O'Neill: Yes.

Q: We know you believe in a strong police department, but what does that mean to you? And as a follow up question, are you happy with the number of police officers currently in the department?

O'Neill: I think we need more police. However, the police and fire are public safety and the city of LB takes over 60% of the budget, about 66%, the remaining 36% go to everything else that we do in the city. But public safety is the number one priority...We're about a 1.9 officers per thousand [residents] and I would be working to have 2.0 officers per thousand, at least increasing that number to reach that point. [ note: In Sept. 2001, the City Council budgeted 913.5 officers for taxpayers, the number proposed by the City Manager and forwarded to the Council by the Mayor without dissent on police; 2.0 officers per thousand residents would be 924 officers.]

Q: As Mayor, what will you do to ensure that our parks will no longer be used for non-park related building projects and how will you bring more parkland to our city?

O'Neill: I think that message is certainly loud and clear to the Councilmembers. I mean they're watching every inch now, and in fact I see Councilman Carroll here, and he came with a proposal to move some of the [police and fire] training centers that are in parks to other land. Our city is totally land locked. We are surrounded on every side by cities or the water. Now people would say you have open space because you have sand and you have a view of something, you're not totally surrounded by buildings. But we need to constantly look and eke out places in our city that we can use as parks, especially in some of the areas where it's so densely populated...pocket parks, places where people can sit and see some greenery...

Q: Why has the Pike project, formerly the Queensway Bay project, not been developed? In hindsight, is there anything you would have done different with that project?

O'Neill: That project has probably been the most frustrating thing that I've encountered, because we've been working on some phase of it ever since I've been Mayor. And...a developer presented plans and this is the development that we all decided that looked as though it would be the most prosperous and the most beneficial to residents and to visitors. The Aquarium was built and I thought...[the Pike] project was going to be built when the Aquarium was built. It was not, and the longer it goes, the more complicated it seems to become. There have been lawsuits, there have been judgments by the State Lands [Commission], there have been so many questions raised, not just by residents, but by lawyers, by the DDR company [the developer]. And the first developer we had sold his company to DDR. Now DDR has put millions of dollars into the project even though it doesn't look like it. They don't own the land. If they walked away, they would lose millions of dollars, so they're hanging in there, but we have given them a deadline and the deadline is probably three months from now. And if there hasn't been ground broken and construction started, we will have an opportunity to start looking around. But if we defaulted and they lost the money, the lawsuits and the time to get their money back by suing us, by saying that you defaulted on this, would be years and years and years of not only lawsuits for money that they have lost but also for figuring what we're going to do and finding another developer to do it. Very, very frustrating. The one thing that it does do, it gives us a look as though we are changing our city. Not many cities can have the type of construction that's going on in the city of Long Beach...

Q: If elected Mayor, name your top three goals or priorities for city of Long Beach.

O'Neill: I think that we have to take care of our infrastructure for our neighborhoods. I think we need to make sure that the youth have opportunities and are successful, that takes economic development. But all Mayors want five things: they want safe schools, safe streets, excellent schools, jobs -- this is more than three -- ownership in business and respect for one another...

[closing statement] I think I need to address the fact that I am a write in candidate. Our campaign reform act provides that an incumbent can run for the same office for a third time but their name will not be on the ballot. Now people think that's really funny, but it really does empower our citizens. I think the makers of that decided that they didn't want to shut people out, if they had someone that they really wanted to have continue, it's an uphill battle but you can still run for office. So it's something that is workable, it's something that is provided for and it empowers our voters to make that choice. I've been Mayor for eight years...and for eight years I think you have seen that I have fulfilled every campaign promise that I made when I was running for office, so when you vote for me you get proven leadership and proven results.

Bob "Livy" Livingstone

Livingstone LANAS pic Q: Do you agree with the present limit on the number of landings and takeoffs on commercial flights at the LB Airport, or would you rather see the number of landings and takeoffs dictated by the local economy?

Livingstone: ...I think the 41 [flight level] is fine. If there was a demand, if the airport grew and it looked like it was in the best interest of the city to get more flights I would support raising that if that was an option. I don't know all of the history of the lawsuit...

John Stolpe

Stolpe LANAS pic

...I'd like to bring back leadership, honesty, integrity and accessibility back to city government. And as your Mayor, I will utilize my veto powers to veto anything that's brought before the City Council that caters to special interest groups. I will make myself available to the public...No more backdoor deals, if there's an issue that's gonna be, it's going to have to be out to the people...

David P. Wong

Wong LANAS pic

...Basically the motto of my campaign is "the people's voice."...I am running for Mayor in order to raise questions about how we do business in this city and what philosophy we will follow...I want to go back to the basics seeking to make sure that we have a functional system of government for the government. I want to increase people's participation in their local democracy...

Return To Front Page

Copyright © 2002, LLC. All rights reserved.
For news advisories or advertising, contact Bill Pearl, publisher (
Third parties may cite portions as fair use if attributed to "" (print media) or "Long Beach Report dot com" (electronic media).