(Image courtesy City of Long Beach)
At the beginning of every month, I’m like a little kid on Christmas anticipating the arrival of the LB City Beat. While anxiously waiting since the last edition I wondered if anyone at City Hall read SBC’s series of reactions to the October issue.
Update: Anthony pointed out that LB City Beat prints on an irregular schedule and doesn’t traditionally come out monthly.
In October, I took umbrage with the fact that something was written, printed, and mailed at tax payer expense, amounted to little more than a taxpayer-funded campaign newsletter. I talked about some of the articles while Anthony crunched the numbers.
I hoped, this issue would at least make an attempt and pretend to include all members of the City Council, or just ignore the urge to identify particular council members and take the high road, using the pronoun “the City did ….”. Again, this newsletter is supposed to list accomplishments of the City as a whole, not particular members of it.
And then I was greeted with November’s issue. Realistically, all I could do was shake my head and laugh. They seemingly took my every criticism, and somehow ratcheted up the volume even more.
Instead of highlighting how the articles read like advertisements for how much Mr. Sofield Junior and Ms. Goodman have singularly done for the residents of Long Beach, I’m going to instead focus on another tactic on display here: construction.
The tried and true technique incumbent politicians have used through eons to drum up support before an election is get the the trucks and the work crews out, and have them build or fix something. Whether the official has been in power a year, two years, four years, or a decade, right before the election, they get the workmen to come out and start making all sorts of superficial (and sometimes substantial) improvements across the tow: Filling potholes, curb repair, light posts, planting trees, etc. These are the sorts of projects that every resident of any municipality will see and acknowledge, so when a voter goes to the booth they say, “wow, they’re really doing so much for us!”
In our case, they’ve done an exemplary job picking the perfect projects to maximize visibility: the boardwalk and parking lots. The boardwalk is self explanatory. Often called the “jewel” of Long Beach, besides those little violent crimes that we’ve all forgotten about, the crews have been out full force over the last two weeks ripping it up and putting it back together. They appear to be doing a bang-up job too. Curious that they’ve decided to begin the overhaul of the boardwalk nearly dead center – at Riverside Ave, as opposed to, say, one end and working towards the other. But then, that wouldn’t get quite the same visibility.
And then there are the parking lots. Park Ave is literally the main drag of Long Beach. Conservatively guessing, I’d say two thirds of all vehicle traffic leaving Long Beach exit via Long Beach Road or the Loop. Every person driving in and out through that route see the construction. The parking lots east of Long Beach road have been decrepit for a decade. I’m thrilled they are finally getting the overhaul they need. Shockingly, (with cameras ready) the crews showed up and started working weeks before the election, and there’s a big sign. Don’t worry, the symbolic beginning of the project was captured for future generations by a City photographer, and immortalized in the November issue of LB City Beat.
Great: Two new infrastructure improvement projects in the middle of town just started. These are all welcome additions to the City and have sorely been needed.
Picking mid-October to start though? Were these planned to begin earlier but bumped because of Irene or perhaps the Quiksilver Pro? Interesting timing with the winter bearing down on us – especially in light of this year’s early snow. Have major boardwalk rebuild projects traditionally started this close to the winter – or more often during early spring, before the peak summer months?
If all this wasn’t so glaringly a campaign gimmick – without a doubt one that will still benefit the city – I would really have to laugh. The implicit story presented in this “campaign” flier is that the current majority is solely responsible for these projects (and a laundry list more that’s included in the City Beat), and that without the current majority, this frantic construction would somehow not happen. It’s blatant in the choice of “quotes” and photos used to convey these stories.
This month’s LB City Beat has done a great job of highlighting how much this City has been able to do in just a few weeks. Now why doesn’t the City operate at this pace of improvement for the other 22 or so months when the City is not afflicted with election fever?