(January 22, 2004) -- Pioneering Pine Ave. LB restauranteur John Morris, the owner of "Mum's" whose two decades of downtown advocacy soured over recent City Hall development decisions, has settled a lawsuit that alleged City Hall officialdom had in effect punished him for expressing his critical views.
Settling the litigation gives Mr. Morris his attorneys fees plus a restructured debt to City Hall...and an enthusiastic Morris told LBReport.com that he and Mum's will stay in downtown LB...and he plans to open a second location in Belmont Shore.
"Mum's on Pine is open and we're workin' it...and we're looking forward to a second location in Belmont Shore," Mr. Morris said.
Last year, a Superior Court civil jury awarded Mr. Morris $425,000 against LB City Hall...and while the trial judge let the jury's findings against City Hall stand, they were reduced to $1...effectively requiring Morris to prove additional actual damages for violation for his 1st amendment rights to recover anything further in a retrial. The judge also tossed out in its entirety a jury finding against now-former City Manager Henry Taboada.
Settlment of his lawsuit against City Hall, approved by the City Council on an 8-1 vote (Uranga dissenting) on January 20, gives him his $1 judgement, pays $75,000 in his attorneys fees and restructures loans to City Hall on the building containing Mum's, a downtown fixture since 1988. (Morris will no longer pay interest on about $234,000; he'll pay about $30,000 past-due, prepay another $30,000 in 2004 payments; roughly $175,000 will be due starting in 2005 without interest and without penalties for past nonpayment.)
A previous plan to sell Mum's downtown didn't pan out, and Morris said he's not planning to leave LB.
"We're have been and will continue to be here," he said, noting his past quarrel was with some at City Hall, not Long Beach, and he was glad to put that chapter behind him.
Even during the litigation, Mr. Morris spoke in glowing terms of LB's current City Manager, Jerry Miller.
One of the big ticket items that set Mr. Morris on a previous collision course with City Hall was what became of "Queensway Bay," now called the "Pike at Rainbow Harbor."
In recent years, Mr. Morris began sponsoring a cable television talk show, "Mum's The Word" (Charter Cable channel 3), now hosted by former LB City Councilman Les Robbins. The show provides a prime time slot for discussing city issues.