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    Mayor Foster In Sac'to Urges Large Percentage Of Bond Funds For LB/LA Port Infrastructure With Each Project Linked To Specific Mitigation Funded By Container Fee Or Tariff

    (March 8, 2007) -- LB Mayor Bob Foster, who once handled legislative advocacy/lobbying for Southern CA Edison after working inside the state legislature as a policy staffer, returned to the State Capitol on March 7 as LB's Chief Executive to deliver a three-part message he's stated in various venues for months:

    The Ports of LB/L.A. handle much of the state and nation's cargo and deserve most of the money from the Nov. 2006 statewide voter-approved infrastructure bond. Each port infrastructure project funded by the bond should be linked to a specific clean air/mitigation measure. The mitigation measures should be funded by Port users through a container fee or tariff.

    Mayor Foster has repeated this formula so often that it could arguably be termed the "Foster Doctrine," a label he hasn't used although he's been very consistent in advocating these principles. What Mayor Foster is calling for was unimaginable under former LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill and probably any previous LB Mayor.

    Mayor Foster has frequently advocated his Port formula in forums provided by State Senator Alan Lowenthal (D., LB-SP-PV), an early endorser of Mayoral-candidate Foster. posts extended audio of the most recent example of this on March 7, 2007...when Mayor Foster addressed a joint hearing (almost certainly arranged by Sen. Lowenthal) of the Senate's Transportation & Housing Committee (chaired by Sen. Lowenthal) and Environmental Quality Committee (chaired by Sen. Joe Simitian, D., Palo Alto).

    For background, we cite below several previous instances in which Mayor Foster has advocated what we call the "Foster Doctrine." Our readers will recognize some or all of the examples...since reported them as newsworthy at the time:

    • Sept. 2006: Mayor Foster appears alongside State Senator Lowenthal at a Wilmington rally urging Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger to sign a container fee bill by Sen. Lowenthal that would split money from a container fee at the Ports of LB/LA three ways (1/3 for clean air projects run through the state Air Resource Board, 1/3 for port rail, 1/3 for port security). The bill is opposed by Port-related industry interests including the "CA Ass'n of Port Authorities" in which the Ports of LB and L.A. are the two biggest dues paying members. L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa is conspicuously absent at the rally and stalls taking a position on the bill. The CA & LB Chambers of Commerce oppose Lowenthal's container fee measure...but the industry-tilted L.A. Economic Development Corp. supports the bill. Sen. Lowenthal tells he can't imagine Governor Schwarzenegger vetoing the container fee. Gov. Schwarzenegger vetoes the container fee.

    • Oct. 2006: Despite the Governor's veto -- and after Assembly Democrat leaders block Sen, Lowenthal's "no net increase" in port pollution bill that would have provided statutory protection against port growth worsening port pollution -- Mayor Foster and Senator Lowenthal continue urging voters to pass Prop 1-B. Just weeks before the election, Sen. Lowenthal stages an "informational hearing" in L.A. of the Senate Transportation Committee he chairs (at which he's the only state lawmaker present) and schedules LB Mayor Foster as his first witness.

      At the hearing, Mayor Foster reiterates his support for linking infrastructure projects to specific mitigation measures, funded by a container fee. Mayor Foster and Sen. Lowenthal acknowledge that the ballot measure they're supporting [written basically by state lawmakers and industry interests] doesn't include enough money to mitigate damages from its expanded infrastructure...but they pledge to pursue such legislation in 2007.

    • Nov. 2006: Prop 1-B passes. At a joint meeting of the LB and L.A. Harbor Commissions, LB Mayor Foster reiterates his insistence on tying new infrastructure to specific mitigation measures. In contrast, L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa stresses port-related jobs and economic benefits of goods movement.

      Senator Lowenthal also stages a high visibility CSULB public conference that amounts to an advocacy event for a container fee in the 2007 legislative session. One of the first speakers at the event is Mayor Bob Foster...who reiterates his support for a container fee. During the conference Q & A, LB grassroots activist Bry Myown presses Sen. Lowenthal on whether he'll reintroduce his "no net increase" bill that Assembly Democrats blocked...and Sen. Lowenthal indicates he will.

      Sen. Lowenthal subsequently fails to make good on this public pledge and doesn't reintroduce the "no net increase" bill by the Senate's February, 2007 deadline.

    • January 2007: In his "State of the City" message, Mayor Foster reiterates his support for linking port infrastructure projects to specific mitigation measures. "I will use every resource at my disposal to make sure that we see environmental enhancements moving forward in lock step with any infrastructure improvements that increase cargo capacity and cargo velocity. Because as Iíve said many times before, no longer will our kids contract asthma at record rates so that people in Kansas can buy cheaper TVís," he tells a pay-to-attend crowd at a LB Chamber of Commerce luncheon.

    • February 2007: When Sen. Lowenthal does reintroduce his container fee (SB 974), it's substantively different than the measure vetoed by the Governor in 2006. Sen. Lowenthal tells an industry attended "Faster Freight, Cleaner Air" conference in LB that his office re-wrote the measure after conferring with Gov. Schwarzenegger's office.

      No longer is part of the container fee revenue allocated for security; CA Port-related interests opposed this claiming security is a federal matter...despite the fact that security consequences would be a very local matter. At the same time at the federal level, the American Ass'n of Port Authorities [in which the Ports of LB/L.A. are prominent members] opposes any additional user/shipper fees for security.

      Money raised from the 2007 Lowenthal container fee would be directed to help build Port-related infrastructure projects that create more efficient goods movement with some bureaucratic links to government-agency adopted clean air "plans" [which government bodies could subsequently revise or waive...unlike firm "no net increase" principles]. Sen. Lowenthal's office issues a press release calling the legislation a "Port Investment Bill."

    And in March 2007, Mayor Foster hits the State Capitol. Among those on the Sacramento trip with Mayor Foster was 4th district Councilman Patrick O'Donnell..who chairs the Council's State Legislation Committee, as well as city staffer Tom Modica who handles legislative affairs in the City Manager's office.

    On March 9, Councilwoman Tonia Reyes Uranga, who also serves on the Governing Board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District, is scheduled to be part of an AQMD Committee reviewing clean-air related developments in Sacramento.

    Councilmembers Reyes Uranga and O'Donnell are both expected to run for the 54th district Assembly seat in 2008. posts below Mayor Foster's March 7 testimony at a joint meeting of the State Senate's Transportation & Housing Committee (chaired by Sen. Lowenthal who likely arranged the hearing) and the Senate's Environmental Quality Committee, chaired by Joe Simitian (D., Palo Alto).

    We've posted the audio in the "real audio" format which should "stream" into your computer to minimize download time. To launch the audio, click Mayor Foster at March 7 State Senate hearing re Prop 1B (11:12) [We indicate an audio edit at about 7:45 with a "whoosh" sound].

    The outcome of all this for LB residents is far from certain. Sen. Lowenthal, whose "no net increase" bill was opposed by industry interests (including the CA and LB Area Chambers of Commerce) and was then blocked in 2006 by Assembly Democrat leaders, has failed to reintroduce it 2007. (The "no net increase" measure was supported by the City of LB, voted by the LB City Council.)

    Area residents currently have no statutory protection against increased pollution from the new goods movement infrastructure that could result from the bond measure that Sen. Lowenthal and Mayor Foster both supported. However, Mayor Foster and Sen. Lowenthal have followed-through on their strategy of trying to persuade state lawmakers to link port infrastructure projects under the bond to specific mitigation measures and approve a container fee to fund continuing mitigation.

    Whether a majority of state lawmakers in the Assembly and State Senate will approve this, what the verbiage will say if they do, and whether the Governor will sign such measures, remains to be seen.

    [The "real audio" format is played via software many people already have on their computer. If you don't have the player software, you can download it free [caveat: check your system requirements and make sure the link on the page indicates it's free] at: RealOne player download]

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