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Community Digest

Long Beach : Harwood Wants Council Members on Port Board

March 26, 1992

More shots were fired this week between the Long Beach Harbor Commission and the City Council.

Councilman Warren Harwood, a harsh critic of the mayor-appointed commission, is proposing a City Charter amendment that would put the commission under council control. He is suggesting that the panel be expanded to seven members, three of whom would be appointed by the mayor and four of whom would be City Council members.

"It is becoming clearer with every passing day that there is a problem with public accountability with the Harbor Commission," asserted Harwood, one of several council members critical of the commission's recent dealings with the Walt Disney Co. The entertainment company, which has been leasing the Queen Mary and Spruce Goose tourist attractions, recently announced that it was pulling out of the city and giving up development rights to about 250 acres of port property.

Mayor Ernie Kell, who spars frequently with Harwood, dismissed the councilman's idea. "What he is trying to do is politicize the Harbor Commission and I do not support that," Kell said.

Countered Harwood, "You've got to have politics if you want people represented."

Harwood also was fuming over talk that the Harbor Commission might be interested in turning over the money-losing Queen Mary ocean liner and adjoining property to the city.

"It had been a thought of the port that if indeed the city thought (the Queen Mary site) would be better handled by them . . . we would be pleased to turn over the land to the city and even give them money to pay for the master (development) plan," Harbor Commissioner David L. Hauser said.

But no one seems to be jumping at the offer. "I don't think that's very serious," Kell said. "No. 1, the city doesn't have the money."

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