The Port of Long Beach is viewed by the international trade community as one of the better managed ports in the United States. It is blessed with an extremely talented and hard working management team and a harbor commission that takes its role and responsibilities seriously. In addition, under the City Charter, the Port has historically been at an arms length distance from the City, insulating it from the roller coaster of everyday City Hall politics. As a result, the Port of Long Beach has an enviable record of success.
Unfortunately for the Port and the community of Long Beach, all that may change on November 2nd.
With little debate and no analysis, the City Council rushed an amendment to the City Charter onto the November 2nd ballot. “Measure D” will take hundreds of millions of dollars away from the Port and give it to the City. Measure D was crafted by the Long Beach City Council without analysis or review even by their own harbor commissioners and professional port staff – let alone by the general public and other stakeholders. At the same time, the City Council blasted the Long Beach harbor commission for not agreeing to an earlier version of the measure.
The reason for the Council’s ire? The day before the City Council’s decision to put Measure D on the ballot, the harbor commission noted that the proposed charter amendment concept was vague and subject to interpretation; that there was no fiscal analysis conducted with regard to the measures potential impact to the port or the city; and, that the measure was being rushed along without allowing for public review or debate. Ironically, the harbor commissioners were trying to exercise their fiduciary duties and responsibilities as outlined by the California State Lands Commission in a letter of advice sent to the Long Beach City Council in late 2009. Ignored or forgotten by the City Council in their dash for cash was the fact that the Port of Long Beach was entrusted to the City for the benefit of all of the people of the State of California.
Except for the actions of a few City Councilmembers, there is no public outcry for Measure D. It begs the question of why the rush?
Simple. It’s all about money.
Since 1990 the Port of Long Beach has provided over $700 million to the City of Long Beach either through direct transfers, payment of “city services,” bailout of city projects (including the money losing aquarium), or donations to community events and nonprofits. That isn’t enough for some members of the City Council. They want more – and they want control of the Port and its assets.
Historically, the Port of Long Beach has been a shining example of good government. Measure D would change that as it represents what people find most offensive about government – proposals motivated by political opportunism rather than a full consideration of the merits.
If you live in Long Beach, or know someone who does, vote NO on Measure D.