Like an unwelcome but necessary medical diagnosis, the people of Long Beach got a clear view of the unhealthy political machine that’s taken root in their City Hall.

Former Sacramento lobbyist Mayor Bob Foster and his primary allies—former Sacramento aide James Johnson, former Republican-now-reinvented-Democrat Robert Garcia, developer-friendly-Democrat Suja Lowenthal and no-wasted-words Gary DeLong—showed it to the whole city last night (July 5).

After 8th district Councilwoman Rae Gabelich beat Councilman Johnson’s redistricting plan on the merits—sustaining her argument among the people she represents that Atlantic Ave. shouldn’t be split to enable Johnson to take more high propensity voters than he needs—those who scorn her and the public she represents resolved to get their way by any means necessary.

Johnson knew—but concealed from the public he represents—a maneuver to moot the arguments against splitting Atlantic Ave., instantly rendering public testimony on the issue irrelevant, while still getting nearly 1,000 additional residents that he’s wanted all along (we surmise to dilute the influence of Wrigley and West Long Beach residents).

Like a lawyer plotting to defeat an opponent instead of an elected official representing the public, Johnson kept from public view his plan to take all of Los Cerritos south of Bixby Road. In addition to (again) taking nearly 1,000 more residents than needed, Johnson’s plan also draws the 7th district line about half a block north of 8th district Council candidate, Mike Kowal, neatly shifting him into the 7th district. (Kowal, along with then-LBHUSH2 neighborhood advocate Gabelich, prevented a costly and potentially damaging expansion of LB Airport’s permanent terminal facilities (that had been urged by LB Area Chamber of Commerce, among other Wrong Way Corrrigans in this town).

Instead disclosing the substance of this proposal so the public could speak to it pro or con, Johnson kept silent about it. With no motion on the floor, the public was left in the dark to testify against what Johnson had already planned to take off the table.

Mayor Foster enabled the fix, inviting public comment before Johnson made his motion, a maneuver that effectively denied the public the opportunity to speak to what would ultimately be proposed.

Once the public (including a number of speakers who said they never come to City Hall to speak on anything) had expended their energy testifying against a proposal that he and a Council majority put forth on June 7, Johnson sprang his trap, unveiling his new map…and the machine swung into action.