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Coast Club Razing Blamed on Mayor

October 12, 1989

John Chenoweth (executive director of a Minneapolis organization that drew up a plan to save the Pacific Coast Club) is absolutely correct when he lays the blame for the destruction of the Pacific Coast Club at the feet of Long Beach Mayor Ernie Kell (Times, Oct. 1). Kell was the one who coldly ignored the outcry of citizens trying to save the landmark building. If the mayor had shown any fortitude or guts, that beautiful building would still be standing.

You don't need to fly in from Minnesota to experience Long Beach city officials who behave like "a bunch of Neanderthals" or a mayor who consistently exhibits "the lowest standards of democratic procedures." Under Kell's poor imitation of leadership, the heritage of Long Beach has been gang raped by greedy developers whose only friends sit in the overstuffed chairs of the City Council. From their luxury view offices, the once-classic skyline must look like model toys that can be removed on an uneducated whim.

It is not surprising that Kell could not be reached for comment on the Chenoweth revelations. The mayor's conscience and value system have been unavailable to public scrutiny since he took office. While 5,000 homeless men, women and small children wander helpless and dazed through our city, Kell has facilitated only the rapid development of more luxury hotels and office buildings.

Perhaps if what replaced our demolished treasures had been for the betterment of the city, one could chalk it up to progress and a move in the right direction. But Kell has presided over a downtown redevelopment that most citizens consider a sad joke. From the ugliest, least desirable mall on the West Coast, to the fear and loathing that keeps downtown a vacant wasteland, the mark of Kell has left a nasty stain on the image of Long Beach, one his standard "No comment" will not erase.

Mayor Kell now talks big about being responsible for establishing the Neighborhood and Historic Preservation Commission. That may fool the small percentage of Long Beach voters who actually cast ballots for him, but to the rest of us he is as credible as the Chinese government's version of what happened in Tiananmen Square.

JOE GALLIANI

Long Beach

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