This Long Beach Ethics Board appointment came with questions


The Long Beach Board of Ethics has five members, who are appointed by the City Council. They serve as volunteers, meeting once a month and offering ethics opinions, reviewing financial disclosure forms and investigating ethics complaints.

City Manager Dan Creighton announced a change to the board at the April 16 council meeting, replacing Felicia Smith Solomon, a community member, with the assistant to the county assessor, John McQuade, also of Long Beach. The decision met with some disapproval from Councilman Roy Lester as well as residents who were in attendance.

Nonetheless, McQuade was sworn in, and assumed his responsibilities immediately.

“Now we’re faced with a kind of situation that, in my personal opinion, I don’t think is proper,” Lester said, “and that is the individual who is nominated, who I know quite well. I’ve known him since he was a little kid, and (he) is a very fine individual, but (he) was the city manager’s running mate in the election prior to this one, when the city manager ran, and I don’t think, in my personal opinion, that political people should be on the ethics board.”

Creighton and McQuade ran together for City Council in 2021. Six candidates vied for three open seats, with John Bendo, Lester and Tina Posterli, all Democrats, winning them. Creighton, McQuade and former Councilman Mike DeLury ran on the Republican side. Bendo and Lester are still members of the council.

“I get pushback on ‘what’s a political person?’ but if somebody ran and they were the running mate of the city manager, I think that’s more than political,” Lester added. “And considering there’s so many other boards to go on, I think it’s not really a great choice, and in order to do this, somebody else who volunteered for the board is being removed.”

Lester also said that he and his fellow council members had previously looked for candidates for the Board of Ethics, but it was recommended by the board last year to reduce the number of members due to that they didn’t have enough people applying for the positions. The board used to have eight seats, but it was reduced to five at the Feb. 6 council meeting. As well, the city charter once stipulated that at least one city official sit on the board, but that requirement was terminated at the same meeting. On April 24 last year, the city’s corporation counsel, Dennis Cohen, also joined the board, but does not vote.

“I assume that you’re saying, Roy, (that) if you run for a position in the city, then that precludes you from the ethics board, and I don’t see that,” Council President Brendan Finn said. “I think when we put people on the ethics board, we’re looking for ethical, moral people to make decisions. If they get put in a position where they have to, let’s say, make a decision about someone they ran with or someone that they’re associated with, they recuse themselves. Isn’t that how it works?”

Some attendees asked residents also thought of it the other way, questioning why Smith Solomon was the board member who was chosen to be replaced. The questions arose after Creighton said that she did not choose to leave and, as far as he knew, she wanted to remain on the board.

“Why was Felicia removed?” community member Eileen Hession asked. “That’s what I’m questioning. You wanted an empty space? If she wanted to stay on, why was she removed? Was she unethical?”

Creighton said he felt it was time to add someone new, and that he felt McQuade was a “good fit for the ethics board” — and to make room for him, he had to remove someone. “I know I can’t take six — there’s five positions,” Creighton said. “I picked the five I thought were best.”

“When I was given an opportunity to interview for these boards, I took some time to mull over all of the different ones,” McQuade said. “When it came to the ethics board, it was actually a recommendation from my father, who obviously has encouraged me throughout my whole political career, and saw it as something that I can really be authentic with and really be passionate about. I’m not here to necessarily defend myself against you guys, but I just wanted to assure you, as well as all the constituents here and everyone who’s listening, that what I’m here to do is just do the right thing. I want to do it the best way I can, and I really hope I can make people proud on both sides.”