(November 16, 2005) -- The LB Police Officers Association (POA), acting on the basis of its political action committee (details below) has (as first reported Nov. 10 by LBReport.com) endorsed retired So. Cal Edison president Bob Foster for Mayor of LB.
Appearing alongside POA President Steve James at LB's Police/Fire memorial at a Nov. 15 press event, Mr. Foster indicated he would add 100 new police officers during his "term in office."
LB's Mayor can seek two four-year terms as a ballot-listed candidate (and then, as did incumbent Beverly O'Neill, pursue a write-in candidacy). LB's Mayor can't directly add police officers but forwards management-proposed budgets with Mayoral recommendations to the City Council which ultimately decides police levels with its budget votes.
In remarks prepared for delivery that the Foster campaign said reflects their substance as delivered [provided at our request; we were unable to attend the event], Mr. Foster said,
"Our police are essential to our community's safety and prosperity. They deserve our thanks -- but most of all they deserve our active support. I am truly honored that they have chosen to endorse me. Our city needs more Police. Like Police Chief Batts, I believe we must commit ourselves to adding new officers. But this effort has to be done within a responsible budget -- we have to be realistic about what we can afford to do. As Mayor I will add 100 new officers to the force during my term in office. With the support of these superlative officers and help from this outstanding department, I know we can get the job done."
In an emailed response, Mayoral candidate Councilman Frank Colonna said, "Putting 300 more Police Officers on our streets will be my top priority as Mayor. I look forward to working with our Police Chief, our rank-and-file officers, and the Police Union towards this important goal. In the last election, the Police Union's Political Action Committee did not support Mayor O'Neill, and she won in a landslide."
Retired Councilman Doug Drummond, who served as an LBPD officer for 29 years including a term as POA president, told LBReport.com that "police staffing is only one of the issues in the campaign. The awful pension spike has resulted in cuts to every city service, including parks & recreation, libraries and streets. Our street budget this year is $5 million and we have over 600 miles of streets. We're soon going to be a city of potholes. We have to look at the needs for the whole city and make our neighborhoods better."
POA President James told LBReport.com that the union's choice of Foster is based on a consensus vote of its political action committee open to the group's roughly 900 members...but in the Mayoral decision had roughly 15 POA members actually attending and voting.
"We chose someone willing to make difficult decisions and keep priorities straight" in keeping with the city's big changes over the past eight to ten years (closure of Naval Station, downsizing McDonnell-Douglas, now Boeing), POA President James said. He added, "Bob Foster has proven himself through his work at Southern CA Edison and clearly has the ability to lead the city and the Council in the right direction."
POA President James continued, "We felt that his responses to our staffing issues were the most realistic and well thought out of any of the answers we received. He didn't promise pie in the sky. He's saying he will find a way to do 100 more officers in the first four years and as additional resources become available we can try to add to that number."
POA President James added, "I don't know if we could process 300 more officers over four years," a number at the high end of increased staffing options publicly proposed by LB Police Chief Anthony Batts.