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From Issue: Volume XX - Number 26

By Jay Beeler

Long Beach received a marvelous Christmas present this year – a new concourse at Long Beach Airport.

Finally, after several years of delays caused by the airport haters, we have a modern facility unlike any other you’ll experience in comparable communities. Amenities like an outdoor courtyard with fire pits after passing through a huge security building, a short walk between your car and gate, spacious lounges, nearby stores and restaurants and even a counter to check your email messages make this facility unlike most you will experience anywhere.

Eateries like McKenna’s, George’s Greek, Taco Beach, 4th St. Vine, Legends, Sweet Jill’s and Polly’s Gourmet Coffee give our airport “a taste of Long Beach” at prices said to be comparable to their companion shops throughout the city.

Congratulations to LGB Airport Director Mario Rodriguez, LGB Senior Project Engineer Jeff Sedlak, LGB Public Affairs Officer Kerry Gerot and others on their team for giving a Christmas present to our community that is most deserved and a long time in development.

And they did it all within budget and ahead of time despite a contractor that failed to meet deadlines and was replaced. It’s times like this that I recall a plaque in Stan Wood’s office a few decades ago that showed a cartoon character sans clothes, wearing a barrel and captioned “The Low Bidder.” Stan once ran a coin laundry business called Coin Meter West, which he eventually sold, moved to Salinas and started the successful Purple Pastures Lavender Farm.

Overall Santa has been very good to Long Beach this past year. I give strong marks to City Manager Pat West and his team of department heads who are performing at or above expectations despite an economic environment that presents numerous challenges. They all earn their $100,000+ Club membership.

On the heels of the very corrupt Tom Reeves we finally have an ethical city prosecutor in Doug Haubert and you’ll soon read in these pages about the numerous successes of Auditor Laura Doud in cleaning up problems with uncollected parking violations, water department over-budgeting and the theft of public funds by an animal control employee.

Police Chief Jim McDonnell has been doing an outstanding job cleaning up after the seven-year reign of the very unethical Tony Batts, who fled to Oakland and Baltimore to share his incompetence. With my wife retiring from her job in the homicide section next week I wonder how Jim will survive without her, but my guess is that he will.

By the way, Mrs. Beeler and I are observing our 44th anniversary today; Fish Tale, here we come!

Deserving coal in their stockings again this year are Long Beach Transit, the Port of Long Beach and Long Beach City College. These grades are based primarily on being the recipient news releases from these organizations – or the lack thereof.

LBCC may be flush with construction funds but they apparently lack the budget for an effective communications team. That may be due to the State of California cutting their budget and I’m hopeful that some recent management changes will bring improvements.

Both Long Beach Transit and the Port of Long Beach have plenty of money, so it is hard to conceive why they do such a poor job in media relations. Add to this LB Transit cutting bus service to Seal Beach and the public feud over a new Port headquarters we have two organizations that need some kind of internal overhaul. Are the board members asleep at the switch? That would be my assessment.

On the positive side we see very good communications from our local hospitals, CSULB, LBUSD and practically every city department. In recent weeks we’ve even seen the Long Beach Fire Department improve its outreach after several months of silence from less-than-competent persons assigned to the task. Perhaps they will soon return to providing news outlets with photographs to go with their stories.

Plans are afoot to close Fire Station #8 in Belmont Shore -- due to budget limitations -- while beefing up service from the nearby Fire Station #14 at Eliot and Colorado. The good news about this will be the elimination of the Fire Station #17 “light force,” the biggest waste of fire department resources ever conceived.

There’s also been talk about building out the police helicopter hanger at Long Beach Airport to house the East Police Substation, which was news to both the airport director and city manager. I like that facility where it is, with close proximity to Los Coyotes Diagonal and Pacific Coast Highway for faster response times in all directions.

What makes absolutely no sense is taking over the old National Guard facility on Willow Street with the insane requirement that a mental health facility be located nearby, miles from those who would use it. Tell the Feds, “Thanks, but no thanks.”