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Sidney Solomon Dies; Founder of Long Beach Activist Group

June 28, 1990|BETTINA BOXALL | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LONG BEACH — Sidney S. Solomon, a widely respected community activist who founded Long Beach Area Citizens Involved, died Sunday at the age of 71.

Solomon, known as Sid, died of a heart attack at a Bellflower hospital hours after he was admitted complaining of shortness of breath.

A retired manager for Radio Shack, Solomon became actively involved in local politics not long after moving to Long Beach in 1971. Five years later he founded the liberal political watchdog organization known as LBACI, and through it, influenced a number of key city decisions over the years.

"He didn't care how unpopular an issue was. If he thought it was morally right, he got in there and pushed for it," said public safety commissioner Larry Davis, who worked with Solomon this year to gain voter approval of a long-sought Citizen Police Complaint Commission to review police brutality complaints.

"He was trained in another generation," observed Alan Lowenthal, who recently succeeded Solomon as president of LBACI. "He was just so committed and he believed people could make a difference."

Solomon was a fixture at City Council meetings, quietly keeping tabs on the council and only occasionally speaking. "He had a remarkable ability to sit in the back and not have all the adulation," said Councilman Ray Grabinski, who also remembered Solomon's "uncanny sense for what was going on in the city. Sometimes I'd challenge him and he'd laugh and wave his hands and say, 'You'll see, you'll see.' "

Among his successful crusades was a 1976 campaign against the installation of an oil pipeline to Long Beach Harbor, the switch from citywide balloting to district elections for both the City Council and the school board, and the adoption of local ordinances barring discrimination against gays and people with AIDS.

Born in Lowell, Mass., Solomon worked as a labor organizer before World War II, served in the U.S. Army during the war and afterward earned a degree in electrical engineering from George Washington University. He got a job in the electronics industry and moved to Chicago, where he met his wife Phyllis, whom he married in 1954.

He is survived by his wife, their two sons, and two stepchildren from his wife's previous marriage.

A memorial service will be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Church, 5450 Atherton St.

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