(March 31, 2004) -- Municipal Officials For Redevelopment Reform (MORR) and Californians United for Redevelopment Reform (CURE), both statewide groups, have bestowed their "Citizen Warrior Awards" on LB activists Lewis Lester (founder, LB Citizens Against Redevelopment Merger and Expansion), Traci Wilson-Kleekamp (founder of LB's "thisland" listserv) and LB writer Bry Myown (who accepted on behalf of all three)
The awards were presented at the 8th Annual Southern California Conference on Redevelopment Abuse held March 27 at the LB Airport Marriott. Orange County Supervisor Chris Norby moderated the meeting, which included a morning session featuring LB Councilmembers Tonia Reyes-Uranga and Val Lerch.
The Citizen Warrior Awards given to Mr. Lester and Mesdames Wilson-Kleekamp and Myown read:
"For making a difference in Long Beach by uniting citizens to protect parks, create more open government, alert taxpayers, citizens & Long Beach media about REDEVELOPMENT ABUSE and creating a group "No Redevelopment Merger."
The awards, signed by Jean Heinl of CURE and Chris Norby of MORR, read, "Remember, "It's Always the Council's Fault," a favorite mantra of Ms. Wilson-Kleekamp, who recently left LB for a new home in Missouri. Last year's conference featured a welcome by Colette Marie McLaughlin, PhD...who has since left LB for northern California.
Other LB VIPs participating in this year's conference included Dan Berns and Michael James (from LB's West and Central Redevelopment Project Area Committees respectively) and LB Redevelopment Agency Boardmember Tom Fields.
Also attending were Steve Greenhut, editorial writer, OC Register (author of "Abuse of Power: How Governments Misuses Eminent Domain"); former Assemblymember Scott Baugh; Assemblymember Lou Correa; and grassroots activists from Ontario, Thousand Oaks, Oxnard, Manteca, La Habra, Garden Grove, Cypress, Santa Monica, Gardena, Hollywood, East L.A., Garden Grove, Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach. The meeting's luncheon speaker was Joel Kotkin, an urban issues scholar whose work has appeared in the NY Times and L.A. Times and is a frequent guest on radio and television programs.
Ms. Myown told the conference that half of LB is in Redevelopment, the city has replaced 58,000 lost jobs with low-end hotel and retail slots and is now number one in CA and number ten nationally for population living below poverty level.
"When you experience what we have, you can never take back the political process responsible for these decisions. Your high propensity voters leave, you have neighborhoods like our 1st Council District with 48,000 residents, 9,000 registered voters and 1,300 actual voters in our last city wide election," Ms. Myown said. "Redevelopment will build new high-end condos and fill them with transient, high-end voters who have no history or stake in the political process," she added.
Ms. Myown criticized the LB City Council and RDA board for not opposing the recent action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (separately reported by LBReport.com) asserting federal preemption of CA Public Utilities Commission regulatory authority over a Liquefied Natural Gas facility proposed in the Port of LB. Ms. Myown argued that Redevelopment debt could be at risk in the event of accident.
The conference included a "Call to Action" segment in which participants wrote letters to state legislators asking them to support a proposal by the state Legislative Analyst's Office to bolster state revenue by tapping Redevelopment agencies instead of cities and counties.