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    Mayor O'Neill Tells Sacto Legislative Hearing: Change Proposed New U.S. Cong. 37th dist. & CA Senate 27 dist. to Include Port of LB

    We provide transcript excerpts

    (Sept. 5, 2001) -- Demonstrating the influence of Port and business interests, and speaking on behalf of the City without prior Council authorization on the redistricting issue, LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill travelled to Sacramento today with LB Harbor Commissioner Roy Hearrean and testified at a key Sacramento legislative hearing that the City of LB wants the Port of LB (and LA) included in a redrawn 37th Cong. district (now represented by Democrat Juanita McDonald) and the 27th CA Senate district (now represented by Democrat Betty Karnette).

    We provide transcript excerpts below.

    Although the proposed redrawn LB maps -- especially the Congressional district maps -- could affect the rights of LB voters for years to come, Mayor O'Neill did not oppose the proposed erasure of LB's 38th Congressional district. That proposal would put most of LB in a new 37th district including Carson, Compton and Willowbrook and split ELB by making Los Altos, Belmont Shore and El Dorado Park areas a small part of a new 45th Congressional district stretching from Costa Mesa to Palos Verdes.

    While acknowledging "[t]here are many issues regarding redistricting and reapportionment I'd like to address...[and]...Long Beach has been greatly affected by the current plan," the Mayor's testimony focused exclusively on the Port.

    Mayor O'Neill said she had come "to express the City of Long Beach's extreme concern about the proposed boundaries for the 25th and 27th state Senatorial districts and the 37th and 45th Congressional districts."

    The Mayor said the city wants the Port of LB in the proposed new 37th district (now rep'd by Millender-McDonald), not in the redrawn 45th Congressional district (now rep'd by Rohrabacher). She likewise testified that the city wants the Port in LB's 27th CA Senate district (now rep'd by Betty Karnette), not (as proposed) in the 25th CA Senate district.

    LB Harbor Commissioner Hearrean testified alongside the Mayor. LB's 27th dist CA Senator Betty Karnette introduced the pair before their testimony.

    Commissioner Hearrean portrayed the redistricting issue as a "fairness and home rule" issue, testifying that although he was a Republican, he had phoned OC Republican Cong. Rohrabacher and Rohrabacher did not object to putting the Ports of LB and LA in the new 37th Congressional district (now rep'd by Democrat Millender-McDonald).

    Hearrean suggested the new 45th district (as now proposed, stretching from Costa Mesa to Palos Verdes, connected via a LB coastal strip including the Ports) might still be connected without the Ports by using "a water route...such as in Avalon."

    Mayor O'Neill's testimony to a Joint Assembly-Senate Legislative Hearing on Elections, Reapportionment and Constitutional Amendments, convened to hear public testimony on the proposed redistricting maps, came without public LB City Council discussion or public input.

    The LB City Council could still agendize and pass a resolution urging the Port of LB be kept within LB-based legislative districts...and oppose the proposed erasure of LB's 38th Congressional district from LB.

    Although incumbent Cong. Steve Horn has announced he will retire in 2003, the proposed LB area Congressional district maps as currently redrawn will continue to affect LB voters' rights potentially long after he leaves office, potentially for up to ten years.

    LB city policy on pending legislation is decided by voted action of the City Council. The proposed Congressional and state legislative districts are pending state legislation and will be acted upon like any other state bill. That means if a LB City Councilmember (or the Mayor) agendized the issue, the City Council could also take a public position on the proposed maps.

    Release of the maps last week may have come too late to put on the regular Sept. 4 LB City Council agenda (which requires 72 hours public notice). The Brown Act (open meeting) law allows the Mayor to call special meetings on 24 hours notice in emergency circumstances, but Mayor O'Neill did not do so or (at least publicly) obtain explicit Council authority for the position she advocated as the City's on the redistricting issue.

    Advocating a legislative position as that of the City of Long Beach arguably requires some basis in the voter-approved City Charter or in Council-approved legislative positions adopted after public input and a Council vote. (Otherwise, it's effectively a personal opinion in official garb.)

    Apart from presiding at Council meetings, the City Charter describes the Mayor's duties as follows:

    "The Mayor shall be recognized as head of the City government for all ceremonial purposes and by the governor for purposes of military law, but shall have no administrative duties other than those provided for in Section 207 [dealing mainly with staffing issues]. The Mayor shall represent the City at large and utilize the office of Mayor to provide community leadership and as a focal point for the articulation of city-wide perspectives on municipal issues."

    The City's state legislative agenda lists various City Council approved proposals and policies that will be supported by the City of LB. These include:

    "Preemption of Local Authority:

    Oppose any legislation that preempts the current authority possessed by the City and delegates that authority to the State or other government jurisdiction.
    Support legislation that protects and/or expands the City’s authority and rights over its affairs."

    But this verbiage arguably doesn't apply to the Mayor's testimony, since newly proposed legislative districts don't preempt or delegate city authority and don't reduce City Hall authority over city affairs (City Hall doesn't lose its authority over city affairs and doesn't have any legal authority over state legislators or members of Congress).

    On the other hand, the newly proposed Congressional and CA Senate districts would arguably reduce LB's legislative influence over affairs in its own Port.

    Today's testimony will be considered by a joint Assembly-Senate conference committee which can make changes to the maps as proposed. New district maps must be adopted no later than September 14, the last day of the legislative session.

    In the wake of the proposed redrawn district maps, and effective majority Democrat control of the process in the full Assembly and CA Senate, LB's 38th district Congressman Steve Horn (a Republican) announced yesterday he would resign at the end of his current term.

    Transcript excerpts follow below. They are unofficial, prepared by us:

    LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill

    Mr. Chair and members of the Committee, I'm Beverly O'Neill. I'm Mayor of the City of Long Beach, California.

    There are many issues regarding redistricting and reapportionment I'd like to address that Long Beach has been greatly affected by the current plan. However, I'm going to be very brief because I have one issue that I would like to bring to you in the [CA] Senate district and one in the Congressional district and how to fix it.

    I'm here this morning to express the City of Long Beach's extreme concern about the proposed boundaries for the 25th and 27th state Senatorial districts and the 37th and 45th Congressional districts.

    As you know, the City of Long Beach is the 5th largest city in the state with one of the most diverse, ethnic and economic populations in the state. We face a wide range of issues and have enjoyed great leadership within the state and in our nation's capital in dealing with the challenges that we have faced as a city.

    As it currently stands, the state reapportionment proposal, the Port has been moved to the 25th Senatorial district. Though we have the utmost confidence in the leadership provided by the current member in the 25th, we believe it is important to have the Port of Long Beach in the 27th Senatorial district, which currently encompasses 67% of our city.

    In the Congressional reapportionment proposal, the Port has been placed in the 45th Congressional district, which only represents 18% of Long Beach.

    It is our strong belief that our Port should be under the jurisdiction of the 37th Congressional district, which under the current proposal represents 80% of our city.

    We feel that the Port should be represented by the same representatives that represent the majority of the City of Long Beach. This community of interest is vital to our city's economy and regional, statewide, national and international identity.

    Our Harbor Commissioners are recommended by the Mayor, confirmed by the City Council. We approve their minutes, our budgets are inextricably linked, and we are one.

    Additionally, the Port is inseparably linked to the 710 freeway and its stretch within the city. The impacts of trade are felt directly by those who must travel on the 710 and it's our hope that we can maintain the unity that we have had between the Congressional, state and local officials in addressing the 710 and the Port issues.

    We believe that this unity is essential in continuing to work together on solutions to the complex challenges faced by our city.

    This request is a slight change to the proposed plan and one that does not affect population numbers but maintains the Port of LB representation with the elected official that represents the majority of the population of the city.

    We feel that there are many issues that we could bring forth in the redistricting and reapportionment plan. However this one would be just a slight change but it would be the most meaningful to maintain the Port within the majority representation of the City of Long Beach. Thank you.

    LB Harbor Commissioner Roy Hearrean

    ...We believe common interest is extremely important. It is not a Republican or a Democratic issue. It is a fairness and a home rule issue.

    I am a Republican, but I called Congressman Rohrabacher about dividing the city. He was very gracious and sympathetic and he said that he would support the City of Long Beach taking back its Port and giving it to Juanita McDonald's district, which is the 37th district. And this would keep our city and our Port together.

    In order to keep the city and Port together, we believe that a water route could be established that would keep a link, a continuous link, on the 45th district, such as in Avalon.

    The proposed 25th district stretches from Inglewood to Long Beach to Palos Verdes, yet Long Beach represents a very small portion of the voters.

    The proposed 27th district represents 70% of Long Beach. The westerly line south of the 405 freeway is on the east side of the 710. If they move the line over to the west side of the 710, and continued down, we would have the Port of Long Beach in that district, which is the 27th.

    That would allow the Port of Long Beach to be together with the Port of Los Angeles...

    The Port of Long Beach is physically tied to the 710 freeway. And it is important for our representative district to be affected by the same issues. In order for the Committee to understand how important this is, let me explain the dilemma.

    The 710 freeway, which is congested by truck traffic by both Ports, our reports indicate that vehicles will be going at 17 miles an hour within two years. This is a major impact in our area.

    The cost to improve the freeway is $4 billion. The Port is working with the Congressional representatives at this time to obtain funds from the federal government to help solve this problem.

    The entire state benefits from Port trade. So as you can see how important it is to work closely with the representatives to achieve the goal. If our representatives represent only the Port, not the City and not the 710 freeway, are we all on the same page?

    The success of the Port is in your hands. Please consider our proposal for the continued success of trade in California. Thank you very much.

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