Redondo Beach Patch, , March 29, 2013
By Nicole Mooradian
Redondo Beach Mayor Mike Gin gave his final State of the City addressâ€”themed 'The Ship the Community Built'â€”at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Crowne Plaza hotel.
The speech, which was punctuated with multiple rounds of applause and finished with a standing ovation, outlined some of the trials and accomplishments of the last several years.
Though the event is normally a breakfast, Gin wanted to do something special to mark his final address, so it became a dinner and a fundraiser for the Cancer Support Community - Redondo Beach and the Redondo Beach Veterans Memorial.
The mayor's speech was followed by a live auction and a 'roast.'
Read below for a live blog of the mayor's speech. Entries are in reverse-chronological order. Please forgive any typos or misspellings!
7:34 p.m.: Mayor Mike Gin can't believe tonight's turnout, especially because March Madness is on, he says to laughter.
7:35 p.m.: It's time to give out the Mayor's Lifetime Achievement Award. The honor goes to JoAnn Turk.
7:44 p.m.: 'Tonight I get to give you my final state of the city address,' says Mayor Mike Gin. He notes that because it was his last address, he wanted to do something more special than breakfast. He thanks everybody.
7:51 p.m.: The first thing Gin talks about are the Redondo Union High School Sea Hawks, to applause and whoops from the audience. 'They did an amazing job,' Gin says.
'A lot of what I'm going to talk about this evening v. frankly would not be possible without these gentlemen up here,' he says, referring to photos of the Redondo Beach city councilmen. He introduces them one-by-one.
He also introduces other city officials, including retired Treasurer Ernie O'Dell and current Treasurer Thomas Gaian. He tells the story behind Gaian's appointment, joking that, as Gaian said, the new treasurer has 'no motivation and lots of free time.'
He also thanks West Basin Municipal Water District, the Beach Cities Health District and the Redondo Beach Unified School District.
7:52 p.m.: As Gin continues to thank everyone, people are finishing up their dessertâ€”chocolate cake. It looks amazing. There's also a large model of a ship called the 'More to Sea' near the podium.'
7:54 p.m.: 'It's really all about our community as a whole,' Gin explains, noting the theme of his speech. 'Really, tonight is a celebration of what all of us have been able to accomplish.'
He notes the city's mission statement and values, and emphasizes the strategic plan. He talks about the goals: 'It helps the council and I prioritize ... it's so easy to overpromise, and then the reckoning comes and we under-deliver.' The strategic plan goals help prevent this.
7:59 p.m.: He notes that the midyear budget showed a small surplus, and he thanks city employees for taking a 6 percent pay cut.
The city has also seen a small growth in property taxes, while the sales and use tax decreased dramatically. It's once again rising.
He notes how many people have retired this year. Among the retirees, the city is losing more than 500 years of service.
8:06 p.m.: Next topic: Economic sustainability. 'On the positive side, we're noticing that travel, transient occupancy taxes ... are increasing,' he notes. He adds that the Shade Hotel is coming in, which the city is 'very, very excited about.'
The negatives? Sequestration. Change of retail market. Loss of aerospace jobs. The list goes on.
The waterfront revitalization is listed as a positive. 'Over 300 residents came to these meetings over the past 6 months,' Gin says. Seaside Lagoon's restrooms were upgraded; the Shade Hotel plans have gone through. 'These private-sector investments occurred in the midst of the recession.'
He shows the old miniature golf course, then concepts for a new Hilton Garden Inn and Courtyard Marriott in North Redondo Beach.
8:07 p.m.: 'You think about the concept of brandingâ€”how important that is,' he says.
He talks about the harbor, and hosting a Wii tournament.
'We also have filming that occurs in our community,' he says.
8:15 p.m.: He praises the Redondo Beach Police Department. The department answered 911 calls in six seconds; they managed to get a suspect in a homicide extradited from Mexico.
He also notes Police Chief Joe Leonardi's involvement in a foot-and-bicycle chase in July.
Local police cars have automated license plate readers now, too.
8:21 p.m.: My apologies for how long it's taken to update this. The wireless connection died, and I had to find a new one! It's still dicey, though.
8:26 p.m.: Gin talks about cultural exchanges between the sister cities, especially those in the Pacific Rim. 'Two days ago, I just signed a new agreement with a new sister city,' he mentions.
He ties the Blue Zones Project/Vitality City initiative into the sister city agreement with Itoman City, Okinawa, Japan. Okinawa is considered a 'Blue Zone,' where people live longer.
He mentions the anniversary of the whaling wall.
8:30 p.m.: New topic: Community partnerships. He mentions Chevron's coke drums, the new kitchen for Fire Station No. 1. The audience applauds when Gin mentions that Chevron gave the city $2.4 million to transport the coke drums onto Mole B.
He applauds Leadership Redondo, and describes the various projects.
8:31 p.m.: He has the Veteran's Memorial Task Force stand, and the audience applauds.
'These gentlemen raised over $200,000 during the depths of the recession' for the memorial, he says.
8:33 p.m.: A photo of the sardine-choked King Harbor elicits groans from the audience. 'I came down to the harbor, and little did I know what was hereâ€”175 tons of dead sardines,' he says. 'It was three feet deep. Twenty feet below, at the bottom of the basin, it was six feet deep.'
'We had volunteers from all over Southern California' to clean up the mess, he notes. 'The cleanup occurred in seven days, by the way. Pretty remarkable.'
A mention of Athens Services' help with the cleanup sparks applause. 'They volunteered to help take away the dead fish at no cost to us as a goodwill gesture to the community,' he says. The fish eventually became King Harbor blend compost.
8:34 p.m.: The North Branch Library is a LEED-certified Gold building.
Back to the Blue Zones Project. 'The Beach Cities Health District competed for, and won, for all three beach cities. The idea is to increase longevity, increase health in our communities,' he says. The slideshow shows a walking school bus.
Gin's favorite tenet of the Blue Zones Project is 'wine after 5 p.m.' The audience laughs.
8:39 p.m.: 'We are so lucky to have the ocean,' he says to introduce the next topicâ€”environmental sustainability and quality of life.
Don't forget the Esplanade improvement project! 'We have a beautiful Esplanade,' Gin says.
He notes that many of the improvements at local parks were funded by private donations.
8:42 p.m.: 'It's been a tremendous honor for me to have been your mayor for the past 8 years,' he says, emphasizing the community's contribution. He recaps his speech, and introduces his husband, Christopher.
The audience cheers.
Gin introduces family members.
8:45 p.m.: He thanks his co-workers at Los Angeles County, and the city staff, including those who have retired.
8:50 p.m.: 'It has been my great honor to serve as the mayor of this great city, so thank you all,' he finishes.
The audience gives him a standing ovation.