The harbor department's Burts described Schwab as "extremely knowledgeable" and "very professional." He said the union leader's experience in the harbor has given him a "running start" as a commissioner.
Burts said the port is well aware of community complaints about problems in Wilmington, and said the harbor department is preparing a report in conjunction with the city's redevelopment agency, the planning department and Councilwoman Flores' office that will address many of the grievances. He said his office has held off presenting the report until Schwab settles into his post on the board.
Burts said the widely held perception that many of Wilmington's problems lie at the port's doorstep has led to a review of the department's involvement in Wilmington.
Aid in Problems
"The fact that this perception exists is certainly something that has caused this port to look more closely at its development program and how it is involved in the various communities," Burts said. "The fact that (Schwab) is a local resident of Wilmington gives us another place to go for help. His appointment will go a long way toward rectifying this problem we have."
But Menveg, the commissioner from Wilmington appointed in 1953, said last week that Schwab's knowledge of the harbor--not his community loyalties--will make or break him as a commissioner.
"When I was on the commission, I looked out for the harbor as a whole," said Menveg, who now lives in Palos Verdes but still owns property in Wilmington. "The first day those commissioners go in there, they are voting on multimillion-dollar contracts. There wasn't all this rivalry then. The key is not who runs the harbor, but how they run it."