Tonight’s Chat-with-Pat was eerily quiet at its start as we waited for Long Beach Mayoral candidates to arrive . I did my best to push my 2-hour old Chocolate Chip cookies which made me a friend in O’Donnell’s newest and sweetest intern, Alison Gallagher.
Commander LeBaron gave a brief report. Auto thefts are up and over 50% are Hondas! Also, be aware while walking, as purse and cell phone robberies are on the rise. He continued to stress the importance of being pro-active.
O’Donnell re-capped the success of last month’s Snow Day. It really was a good time with an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 in attendance. One of the best booths was the owls and raptors, although we would like to think our color book coloring contest offered some fun as well. Rehab on Whaley baseball field progressing at a cost of $350,000 to $450,000 being paid by one-time oil revenue money. Stearns Park upgrades complete with power to the outfield. 4th District business, Slice-n-Dice celebrating their first anniversary on March 8. I swear it seems like they just opened! Los Cerritos wetland tours this weekend starting at 8:00 am. O’Donnell shared the fact that as a young man he would ride the oil rigs out in those same fields. Frightening but I can see the attraction.
Mario Rodriguez, the personable Long Beach airport Director shared the fact that the airport’s revenues have increased 50% in the past 4 years, while reserves have increased to 2 1/2 years. Re-lamping of runway lights to LED almost completed and solar panels soon to be installed. Military plane flights soon to be announced on the city’s e-notify program.
Finally Pat moved to the planned introduction of the mayoral candidates. Schipske sent Flo Pickett as her representative. Candidates were supposed to be present but O’Donnell said he would allow. Damon Dunn got the biggest laugh of the night when he said he would stand in for Robert Garcia. Flo encouraged us to attend a debate and said it was more entertaining than anything on TV. She wasn’t very clear on the next date but if I hear of anything I will be sure to post.
Mayoral candidate Steve Mozena, a business owner who according to Dunn and Lowenthal, has promised to make everyone rich, was not in attendance but he was the topic of conversation because of a banner he has displayed over his businesses on Anaheim showing every council member in the nude, sort of. O’Donnell said he was fine with his portrait and didn’t mind if I shared it with you here. You have to admit, Pat has the ability to laugh at himself.
O'Donnell in the Flesh
Damon Dunn was the first candidate introduced. I have heard Dunn speak on numerous occasions. He is an excellent speaker and he did a good job keeping his intro short and sweet. His strongest point is that he has a business acumen and connections that can help us raise our general funds.
Next Bonnie Lowenthal, who I had the pleasure of meeting prior to the start, is also an excellent speaker and introduced herself in a few succinct sentences.
O’Donnell opened it up to questions but allowed himself to ask the first question. O’Donnell wants to see more money put into soccer fields and believes the pool in Belmont is imperative to keeping Long Beach competitive with Orange County. I wasn’t really clear on what was his question, but Bonnie jumped on board to bring up Seaside Park that is nothing but a mound of dirt, which drove home, what I believe was O’Donnell’s point; we need artificial turf fields. Damon concurred (which always makes me think of DiCaprio in Catch Me If You Can
) that by using increased revenue we need to prioritize for one-time fee park improvements and not activities.
Question - Why are the fireman paid $80,000/year and get $100,000 in overtime? Lowenthal and Dunn agreed that cost studies showed the council that it was more cost effective to use overtime thereby decreasing the cost of hiring another body. O’Donnell interjected that more studies may find it is more cost effective to hire going forward.
Question - Why is the concrete around El Dorado Park in such poor shape? O’Donnell believes it is due to be rehabbed also using oil-revenue money. He asked ever faithful and helpful Mark Bloeser to confirm.
Question - What are we doing to keep the youth busy? Lowenthal talked about restarting the Industrial Education program, while Dunn spoke of reaching out to for corporate involvement.
Question - Who will replace Police Chief Jim McDonald? Dunn said an internal search and then wider net but try to find someone that is compatible with Long Beach.
Question - What about funding for the crime lab? Dunn and Lowenthal agreed that the Police Chief is responsible for proper allocation but both agreed that the department had taken a hit in the depressed economy.
Question - When will Medical Marijuana become available? Lowenthal and Dunn agreed that we need more regulation. They agree they are necessary.
Question - How do you feel about off-shore fracking? Both want more studies. Meeting next Wednesday at City Hall at 9:00 to discuss SB4 which will develop fracking standards.
Here is my opinion of the candidates. I appreciated the fact that both Dunn and Lowenthal were extremely respectful of each other. Both are intelligent, articulate, and passionate about improving Long Beach while working within our system. When I first met Damon Dunn he said that if nothing else he was going to take this election to its highest level, and I have to admit he has. Since our first meeting we have gone from one announced candidate, Dunn, to a near plethora of candidates. I think if you do your due diligence and attend a debate as Flo Pickett suggested, you will have your work cut out trying to decide for whom to vote. Not a bad problem to have Long Beach!
Oh and everyone voted in favor of my cookies :)
You can find me at BetterLivinginLongBeach.com @LifeinLosAltos Facebook.com/LifeinLosAltos