Public hearing was a sham
To the Editor:
Imagine you’re in court, making your case to a panel of judges. After multiple witnesses and much testimony, it’s time for the judges to deliberate and come up with a verdict. Now imagine the judges don’t deliberate, because they decided the verdict before the case even began. Where would you expect something like this to happen? North Korea? Someplace with a petty dictatorship?
How about at a Long Beach City Council meeting?
The City Council often holds public hearings to gather input on issues that it will likely vote on. That was the case at last week’s meeting (“City nixes booze on the boardwalk,” Feb. 23-March 1). For over two hours, residents offered their input for and against allowing boardwalk concessions to sell beer and wine.
Rather than deliberate and discuss that input, however, the council members voted immediately to confirm their pre-determined decision. Some even read remarks that they had prepared prior to the meeting explaining their vote. The result of the vote isn’t the issue. The fact that the council kept more than 200 people in the room when members had decided in advance how they were going to vote — and had no intention of considering public input — showed an utter lack of respect for the residents.
Time and again, the council has ignored public input on issues before it, particularly over the massive tax break that the developer iStar was seeking to build on the Superblock.
It’s time for residents to say enough is enough. The public should demand that the council not vote on an issue at the same meeting where the public hearing for it takes place. It is time to bring some integrity back to the council’s public hearing process.
Disappointed by Diamond’s appointment to council
To the Editor:
I am disappointed by the recent appointment of Chumi Diamond to the City Council.
I believe that Ms. Diamond’s appointment was contrary to the city’s charter, which states, “No person shall be eligible to hold an elective office in the City of Long Beach unless he or she is an elector thereof and has been a resident and domiciliary thereof for two previous years.”
An elector is “a person who has the right to vote in an election.” Diamond was not an elector of Long Beach until March 5, 2015, according to Nassau County Board of Elections records. Therefore, it seems her appointment to be on the City Council in February was illegal.
The premature appointment would put the validity of any measure she were to vote on in jeopardy, if legal action were ever to call her possibly illegal action into account.
It seems she should be reappointed officially after March 5, 2017 — if at all. Aside from the apparent charter violation, in a more general way, what does it say that the City Council could not find a qualified candidate with deeper Long Beach roots, a verifiable record of service to the community and a greater familiarity with its people and issues?
Was Diamond’s appointment meant to accommodate the Nassau County Democratic Party leadership, which is at odds with factions of the divided Long Beach Democratic leadership? In accepting such possible county influence brokering, the so-called “new Democrats” surrender the mantle of “reformers.”
Long Beach city government seems to have become a vehicle to promote political advancement for the county party leadership’s benefit — City Manager Jack Schnirman for county comptroller, Council Vice President Anthony Eramo for state assembly last year, former Councilwoman Eileen Goggin for District Court judge, and who knows who’s next.
Rather than a laudable stepping stone for the favored few, the revolving door is a stumbling block for the people and their need for focused and stable government whose first loyalty should be to the Long Beach electorate.
Editor’s note: McQuade is an attorney, and was among those who vied for an appointment to the City Council. Council members maintain that voter registration does not prove residency, and that their appointment of Diamond did not violate the charter.