Beachcombing

By: 
Jay Beeler
There’s an idiom that says “you’re damned if you do and damned if you don’t.” As a purveyor of news, we’re often in the position of deciding whether to publish stories that are negative toward local individuals and/or organizations. But that’s the job of the Fourth Estate and that’s why they pay us the big bucks.

Okay, that last part about “big bucks” isn’t necessarily true, but it does apply to some of the individuals who work at City Hall. Imagine being the city attorney where you have a responsibility to advise your clients (mayor and council members) to vote in a matter of litigation that may negatively impact the city treasury, even if it isn’t the proper thing to do. This is why it seems reasonable for Charlie Parkin to earn a whopping $303,537 per year.

Our city manager, Pat West, earns $276,816 annually while riding herd on controversies like the Broadway corridor, transferring Water Department funds to the general budget and regularly writing “unfounded” on police complaints, thereby making the Citizen Police Complaint Commission a toothless, worthless tiger.

But West has announced that he’ll be moving on to the private sector on Sept. 20 after 12 years in the position and his assistant, Tom Modica, who earns $262,333 annually, will be in charge while a “nationwide search” for a new city manager is conducted. Of course, we all know that Modica will get the job (if he wants it and doesn’t have other offers), but it’s always good PR to say that “We searched everywhere and found the best candidate under our noses.”

On the other hand, there’s some speculation that Public Works Director Craig Beck may be under consideration for the job.

Probably the toughest part about being city manager is deciding to go along with a police chief recommendation to terminate an officer for improper conduct or excessive use of force. After all, it takes big bucks to recruit and train police officers. We need to keep the good ones.

The governor recently signed into law AB392, which states that deadly use of force may only be used when necessary to defend against the imminent threat of death or serious injury to officers or bystanders. It’s about time. On the positive side, we’ve seen a decline in both officer involved shootings and use of force during the past two years in Long Beach. Credit body cameras and the proliferation of cell phones for that.

During my 19 years as the Beachcomber publisher I truly believe that the December 2010 murder of Douglas Zerby in Belmont Shore was the most shocking and inappropriate use of deadly force exerted by local police officers. The Zerby family deserved the jury’s $6.5 million award.

But as Stephen Downing often points out in his columns, we still have a few rotten apples within the LBPD and, hopefully, our next city manager will have the cojones to terminate them, thereby avoiding huge jury awards in the future.

 
 reader shared the following “Spread the Stupidity” with us by wondering: Only in America:
  • Do drugstores make the sick walk to the back of the store to get their prescriptions while healthy people can buy cigarettes at the front.
  • Do people order double cheeseburgers, large fries and a diet Coke.
  • Do we leave cars worth thousands of dollars in the driveway and put our useless junk in the garage.
  • Do we buy hot dogs in packages of ten and buns in packages of eight.

 

publisher@beachcomber.news

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