Gabelich hosts local officals for discussion over coffee

gabelich-mtg.jpgBy Neena Strichart, Publisher

Carmelitos housing development was the place to be Saturday morning as 8th District’s Rae Gabelich hosted a community coffee meeting at the area’s senior center.
More than 50 Long Beach residents dropped by to discuss city related issues. Joined by City Attorney Bob Shannon, City Auditor Laura Doud and Connie Sziebl, legislative aide for Los Angeles County Supervisor Don Knabe, Gabelich and others fielded questions regarding matters from potholes to cremation code enforcement.
Shannon began his time at the podium by telling the audience “the function of the city attorney is not to set policy.”
That comment made way for audience members to direct specific questions to Shannon, including an inquiry regarding the legality of alleged “heavy black smoke” emitted from the area’s Hunter-Perez Mortuary. A resident questioned whether or not it was legal for cremation to take place at the establishment. “They are licensed to cremate on site,” Shannon replied. Audience members were encouraged to contact AQMD’s toll free number, (800) CUT-SMOG, when they see the dark smoke.
Questions were also brought forward regarding the airport, with one audience member asking, “Are you saying we could put a proposition on the ballot to close the Long Beach airport?” Shannon replied, “Theoretically, yes.” The comment rang ironic as a loud jet flew over the meeting, creating laughter from several participants.
Doud gave kudos to Gabelich for holding the meeting. “You have a very dedicated councilperson, Doud said. She continued her discussion with the group by announcing, “I’ve learned a ton and have so much more to learn.”
She discussed the auditing of her own office–which includes a staff of 18–and said she is in final stages of auditing the city’s police department–something Doud said hadn’t taken place since the early 1990s. Also slated for auditing is the public works department. “We will eventually audit all the departments,” Doud said.
Sharing information with the audience, Sziebl gave a rundown of the area covered by Knabe and his staff. According to Sziebl, who represents Knabe in Long Beach, Signal Hill and Catalina, the 4th District is comprised of 26 cities.
Although the majority of calls to the District’s office pertain to family issues, Sziebl said they often work as a “go between” for individuals needing help with death certificates or Social Security matters.
Her remarks included a peek into the inner workings of the supervisor’s office. Sziebl told the audience Knabe has instructed his staff to make phone calls for constituents and follow up on concerns–not just hand out phone numbers.
Concerning quality of life issues, Sziebl illustrated Knabe’s position when she said, “The supervisor has a great deal of compassion for the homeless.”
Finishing up the discussion, Gabelich spoke to the audience about their myriad concerns.
Power poles in the middle of the sidewalk at Atlantic Avenue and Del Amo Boulevard, overflowing trashcans, tree roots and wheelchair accessibility were just some of the issues. Also agendized were matters of gas station weights and measures, potholes, streetlights and alley cleanups. Gabelich suggested a community alley cleanup event, because the city currently “has no alley program.”
Also discussed was the negotiation between Washington Mutual Bank and the Bixby Knolls Shopping Center. The bank is looking for a second location in the area.
Thanking participants, Gabelich commented, “The more eyes and ears you have out there the better the community is served.”