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    Mayor O'Neill's 2006 State of City Message Posted

    (January 11, 2006) -- Mayor Beverly O'Neill's 2006 State of the City message, which as in previous years she delivered at a pay-to-attend fundraiser for the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce instead of the City Council meeting [where as an agendized item it might receive critical public and City Council comments] is posted on City Hall's website at:

    Mayor O'Neill's 2006 State of the City: "Long Beach: A Historic Past, A Dynamic Future".

    The Chamber venue effectively produces video imagery of cheering supporters, which is then telecast repeatedly on City Hall's LBTV (cable channel 8) and streamed on City Hall's website. Print copies of the Mayor's message are made available on City Hall's website and at the City Clerk's office. The official State of the City message was agendized simply as a "receive and file" item for the January 10 Council meeting.

    This year's Mayor-facilitated Chamber fundraiser reportedly drew a sell out crowd of roughly 1,500 people. Efforts over several days by to learn for exactly what purposes the Chamber plans to use money generated by the Mayor-facilitated fundraiser were referred to Chamber President/CEO Randy Gordon. [As of dawn January 11, Mr. Gordon hadn't yet responded to our inquiry; his response will be posted when received].

    One Chamber official told that money fron the State of the City event is not used to support Chamber-endorsed candidates for LB City Council or Mayor and said Chamber political advocacy is separate from other Chamber activities. The LB Area Chamber maintains a robust political/advocacy webpage at (among other things) includes links to the Airport-boosting "Long Beach Alliance."

    In October 2005, the Chamber's Political Action Committees endorsed Bob Foster for Mayor, Council incumbents Jackie Kell (write-in) and Val Lerch, 3d district Council candidate Gary DeLong (open seat) and 7th district Council candidate Alex Cherin (challenging Council incumbent Tonia Reyes Uranga). In 2004, two of the Chamber's four Council endorsees (Carroll and Webb, also endorsed by Mayor O'Neill) were defeated.

    The LB Chamber's political wing also takes positions on state legislation and candidates. In 2004, it supported former state lawmaker/former Congressman Steve Kuykendall, a Republican, against Democrat incumbent Betty Karnette for Assembly. Like all other 2004 Republican challengers in the Democrat-drawn legislative districts, Democrat Karnette won.

    In 2004, the Chamber opposed a bill (AB 2042) by then-Assemblyman, now State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV) to establish baseline levels of air pollutants and let the Ports of LB and L.A. implement methods of their choice to prevent exceeding those levels with Port growth ("no net increase"). The legislation strongly opposed by the Port of LB and Port-related interests, and after passing the Assembly and state Senate, the bill was vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger. Records filed with CA's Secretary of State also indicate the LB Area Chamber gave at least $1,000 to the CA Chamber of Commerce...which likewise opposed Lowenthal's 2004 "no net increase" legislation. Lowenthal reintroduced the bill in 2005 but has not advanced it to final passage apparently out of concern for another Schwarzenegger veto; the bill remains alive in 2006.

    In 2005, the LB's Mayor appointed, Council-approved Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously adopted a "Green Port" resolution pledging support for multiple environmentally-friendly Port policies. In October 2005, the PoLB held an unprecedented "Green Port Open House" to showcase its policies to the public and drew a sizable crowd...with many of those attending visibly impressed.

    The Port of LB has endorsed efforts by the CA Air Resources Board and the South Coast Air Quality Management District to more tightly regulate emissions generated by Port-related activities. The PoLB also recently announced that it will install (at its cost and under its control) air quality monitoring devices in the Port area and, along with similar devices in the Port of L.A., will monitor pollution levels relative to federal and state standards and make the data publicly available on the Port's website.

    However, the Port of LB has not committed to a "no net increase in pollution" outcome with growth...and the Port is pursuing continued growth with taxpayer dollars. Key on its wish list is rebuilding the Gerald Desmond bridge to allow entry of larger mega-container ships into the Port's inner harbor. That capacity expansion, which is part of City Hall's Council-approved federal legislative agenda, has for years been strongly backed by Mayor O'Neill.

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