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    Flashback: Three Years Ago

  • Candidate Dennis Carroll At Los Altos Election Forum, Early 2000

    (March 9, 2003) -- posts below statements by then-candidate Dennis Carroll made during a Los Altos candidate forum in early 2000.

    The event was open to the public and held at the Bixby Elementary School auditorium. Candidates Dennis Carroll and Derek K. Brown attended the event and spoke from the stage. Then-incumbent Councilman Del Roosevelt did not attend.

    We post portions of the audience Q & A below:

    Q: ...You both want to cut the users' utility tax. Where are you going to get the money and how are we going to do things so our needs are still met, with that being cut?

    Mr. Carroll: Alright, let me see if I can speak loudly enough rather than pass the microphone back and forth. Here's the first place we start [holds up one of his campaign fliers]. We cut off the water at City Hall. [applause]

    They're going to be under a new regime [applause continues, overrides speaker] ...taking their staff out to lunch and send us the bill. You also don't know, you will see in your materials [city documents obtained by Mr. Carroll under Public Records Act, compiled into volumes], they take each other out to lunch. City employees, Councilmen taking each out and sending the bill to us. That's going to stop.

    They're not going to be driving the new cars, taking these silly trips to Washington to feather their own political nests. It's going to come to an end. That's number one.

    Number two, I think City Hall has to be re-evaluated in terms of sufficiency. The high salaries. Do you know how many people are making more than $100,000 a year at City Hall? Do you know how many managers are being paid a salary far beyond they could earn in the private sector with all the benefits of city government? There can be a leveling of the management structure at City Hall.

    I think the whole thing has to be looked at, and this initiative, the Utility Tax Initiative, is going to put their feet to the fire to make things happen that should have happened a long, long time ago. [applause]

    Q: The continued issuing of general obligation bonds to pay for developments and projects that will put us, our children, and our grandchildren liable for many, many years. Your opinion on it?

    Mr. Carroll: The issue of money keeps cropping up, doesn't it? Taxpayer money, just about every answer seems to involve it.

    There is some talk, and some communities have shut down their Redevelopment programs. I think it should be seriously looked at in this city. Redevelopment has done whatever it could do. It is being sued by many groups on the west side, you may or may not know.

    And I think it's time to turn the development of our city back over to the private forces, let them be the risk-bearers. If things tank, they'll write it off and start another one, but when they tank in Long Beach, we have it forever and ever and ever. We're going to have the Queen Mary until you and I are floating out to sea ourselves [audience laughter] and I think the taxpayers are not only tired of it but they're ready to say "enough."

    The only way you can do that folks, to actually make it happen, is to elect people who are willing to manage your money as they're willing to manage their own. The man you have in office right now cannot and will not do that for you. Thank you. [applause]

    Q: I know our Mayor has gone to Washington, D.C. to lobby for different things, but if you are City Councilmembers, would you go?

    Mr. Carroll: Well let me tell you another piece of information. We not only have a Congressman who represents our district, the Mayor if we need to, we have a full time paid lobbyist in Washington, D.C. making over $100,000 a year. Your Councilman from this district created a committee, the "federal legislation committee," nice sound, as a pretext for him to fly back and forth. He is a self-appointed ambassador to Washington from the fourth district. I say recall our ambassador. [applause]

    Q: Well Mr. Carroll, you've provided us with pretty good reading material, I'm sure we're all going to be reading it, and I'm also sure that Mr. Roosevelt is not the only one that spends his money like he has. As a Councilman, how would you, what would you do as far as maintaining some kind of control of expenditures such as listed in your document?

    Mr. Carroll: Well, right now there is none. City Councilmen can fly off to wherever they want for whatever reason. Mr. Roosevelt as you'll see in the front page of this flier opposed the renomination of the president of the Harbor Commission whose job it is to travel around, and said at the bottom he believes that his expenses were excessive and they should formulate a travel policy for the Port. Well I think that's an excellent idea for the City Council.

    Let's formulate a travel policy. Justify wherever you're going to fly to, and there may be a good reason for it, but justify it, get it approved of by a particular mechanism and come back and report to us what you did, who you saw and what you accomplished. [applause]

    The way it is now, it is simply a pretext for whatever reason the City Councilman might want to go. It could be a good reason or it could not, we don't know. I have shown you, and I'm pleased that Mr. [Derek] Brown is now getting down to dollars and sense, suddenly this little chart's beginning to make sense. $12,000 to Washington, D.C. for Mr. Roosevelt. Put that in your travel voucher, if you will.

    Q: ...What is your position on sinking the breakwater? [applause]

    Mr. Carroll: Thank you for being here. It's nice to see a young person here. When I was your age, I used to ride down to Long Beach on the Red Car and surfed at Linden Beach. We had the best surf in southern California, so you'll know. Hawaiians used to come over here and surf when it was good, right up against Rainbow Pier. It was marvelous.

    And there's no reason that that can't happen again. The million dollar homes can fend for themselves as far as I'm concerned. They spend [applause], they've spent I don't know how much pumping sand onto the Peninsula every year, and they can just pump a little more.

    I've not seen studies on the breakwater, removing it. The Port I'm sure would be against the whole project. It's something that I think would be worthy of investigating, but there would be collateral consequences that would have to be explored. The people who would experience them need to be considered as well.

    But there may be some way to get surf back in. We are named "Long Beach" and we have sold our birthright as far as I'm concerned. All that modernization downtown [applause starts] was a complete catastrophe for this city.

    The original plan was for City Hall to be built up here by the Traffic Circle and it got switched and we are paying for it, and will continue to pay for it it looks to me. [applause]

    Q: I guess it's not in this district but it certainly encompasses what I feel is part of my neighborhood and I'm speaking of the Wetlands on Studebaker. Where do you stand on development of the Wetlands?

    Mr. Carroll: Is that the 3d district?...Alright, I think Ann Cantrell, are there some environmental, park folks here that are familiar with that issue? That's the Bixby Co. land. They're very powerful and the Councilman who you have representing you right now is like this with the Bixbys. I don't take their money. I'm not beholden to any of those people. It's my view that we have precious little of that kind of open space available to us. I would not support developing it in any way, shape or form. [applause]

    Q:...My question is, how can we keep more and more of our tax dollars that, you know, we could spend in Long Beach here, rather than let it go to Signal Hill, or we see money go up to Cerritos, to all the car dealerships that went up there?...So my question is, how can the Council and the city, all together, pull to keep our money here and also balance that by not spending so much and keeping more money here?...

    Mr. Carroll: How you get more money in the district is to demand it. And we're back to money again, we're back to taxes, and you say these are our priorities and we're not going to continue to subsidize harebrained schemes downtown city of Long Beach, that's how you do it.

    And you tell them the reasons for it, that it is our community, and we're entitled to have money spent in our district, not wasted at City Hall.

    Q: ...I don't think Mr. Roosevelt is going to be elected [inaudible]. Do you plan to enlist his help in getting us through, this dropping of lower utility taxes because he is a well known authority on how to find money where our city fathers don't know how to find it. [audience laughter]

    Mr. Carroll: Well depending on how the [2000] Mayoral race shapes up, we may have a new election in the 3d district, and that's where Mr. Ryan lives and if we do I would expect he would be a candidate for that office who I would be prepared to support.

    I think we need some technical assistance in this city, some education and experience in the way of financing cities. He has some very creative ideas. We are ready for them. We have the kind of people who work with Norm and have worked with him, and I think it's time that we invite that kind expertise into City Hall. [applause]

    Q: I live in the part of the 4th district that is the neglected and forgotten part of the 4th district...Right now the Anaheim Corridor is absolutely blighted, and it's shameful that it continues to look the way it does. What is your vision for re-improving the Anaheim Corridor so we can be proud of the rest of the 4th district all the way down to Cherry?

    Mr. Carroll: I grew up in the city of Compton, about ten miles north of here, a beautiful community, and the surrounding communities were the same, Lynwood. I watched that city become blighted. My family finally moved out. They couldn't tolerate it anymore.

    I see that same process happening here in Long Beach, particularly in the 4th district, the west side of the 4th district. There was an article two weeks ago in the Business Journal by George Economides, one of the most conservative of our bright minds I think. He has suggested that the city use its power of eminent domain over there, reinstitute single family dwellings where the fours and the eights are now and create open space.

    I had a meeting with George Economides and I said to him, you know, they've been calling us crazy for years, the park people, the environmental people, beating that drum and not attending to the needs of the so-called lower income people. I said how can you possibly propose this? He said, Dennis, I've gotten more letters on that piece than ever before, I've got calls that I'm a racist, I'm a bigot, I'm this, I'm that, but something needs to be done.

    This problem needs to be attacked there before it is here, and there are two mind sets. One is simply to hold the line at the Traffic Circle and things are moving this way. The other, my mind set, is to go in there and deal with the problem to the extent we can.

    There are other programs in the works to turn those fours, for example, into two condominiums with an upstairs and downstairs and reduce the density by half. The city has one program they're doing in the 2d district. I have invited the best real estate minds to see if there's a way that can be done through the private sector without involving government bureaucracies.

    I would support that. I would attack the problem there. There's no reason for this area to be blighted. It does not serve anyone, and there's every reason in the world to give those people in that part of our district a better quality of life. [applause]

    Q: [from candidate Brown] ...[W]e need a representative that can represent us and is going to be able to bring home our fair share of city services. That is after all what this issue is all about. How are you going to be able to do that and what have you done in the last four years?

    Mr. Carroll: The question is what have I done in the last four years, if you couldn't hear. Let's expand that to the last ten years.

    Ten years ago, I got fed up with business as usual at City Hall. Nobody could make their voice heard, and I'm a lawyer, I decided I would do something about it. I went back to my office and I wrote a term limits initiative. I decided I would create a project that I could make happen myself.

    City Hall went bananas. They tried to stop the project. I got 40,000 signatures and got it on the ballot at a cost to me of between $50,000 and $60,000. It passed overwhelmingly during the presidential election of 1992.

    It's my belief I did my attempt to transform Long Beach politics. It is my hope that young men like Derek will see that it is possible to participate in the city government, instead of having 20 year Councilpersons like we had in this district, Dr. Clark, I mean no disrespect to Dr. Clark, he stayed too long and was not going to get out. [applause]

    Now when Mr. Brown has gotten 40,000 signatures on a petition and has spent $50,000, I'll listen to his comment. Until he has those kind of credentials, I'm really not interested in his accusations about me.

    What I have done in the last four years, I have taken a position as a judicial officer. I work in children's court principally. I have learned my craft. I participate in the supervision of about 55,000 children throughout the County of Los Angeles who are without their parents or whose parents abuse them. That's how I've been spending my time.

    I will take my energies, and my experience, and my attorney skills that can produce the kinds of documents you have now, and turn them loose on City Hall. And believe me, I will produce results. [applause]

    And I hope there's no suggestion that I bear any animus to Derek. He's a bright young man. He works very hard.

    I don't think that City Hall should have policies where people like him have to attend meetings all the time, to leave their family, leave their young children, leave their work. We shouldn't have to have government by someone in the neighborhood giving up their life like Traci [Wilson-Kleekamp] did...

    Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp [interjecting] I would like to say Dennis that it was the neighbors that stopped the 911 [ECOC] [applause]

    Mr. Carroll [continuing]: ...alright, alright, that's right, but we should have had Mr. Roosevelt stopping that...

    [Closing statement] Mr. Carroll: Let me invite your attention to two remarks. Number one, in the back of the brown booklet, I have taken Mr. Roosevelt's ballot statement, his claims he has increased the police force, he has gotten $50 million in FEMA funds, and that he has cleared up the sidewalk backlog. I sent document requests to him instead and look at his ballot statements, they're right on there, I know they are, they're at the back of my book. I sent document requests and said show me all the documents that support these claims.

    And you'll see in the book, with respect to the first issue of police, no documents, verbal communications only. With respect to the sidewalks, no documents, no verbal communications whatsoever. With respect to FEMA, there is a letter from him to one of his constituents crediting [Senator] Boxer for $40 million, our Congressional representative for $60 million, and he's going to initiate a letter to the County asking for $30 million. On this basis, he is prepared to claim he lobbied and produced $50 million. There are three issues of his ballot statement which have been controverted by evidence.

    Ladies and gentlemen, you are going to be posed with a decision in this election, a decision on character and a decision on managing our taxpayer money. If you reelect Mr. Roosevelt, you are going to be giving a green light to the practices I have shown go on at City Hall, principally by Mr. Roosevelt. You are going to encourage the other Councilmen to continue behaving as they always have and probably always will be.

    I was advised by one of the reporters today, already [Councilwoman] Jackie Kell's office called and said, you know those meals expenses, I want you to take out $700, that was a Water and Power expense, it wasn't my meal expense.

    This document is running people scared already at City Hall. Imagine if we can do it on a regular, enforceable basis.

    Again, I think Mr. Roosevelt has done an unethical thing [not attending the debate], not allowing you to pose him questions as you have posed questions to us. I think we are at the choice point. I suggest his time is over, my time should just be beginning. [applause]

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