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Congressional Event Abruptly Moved from Legends

Steve Kuykendall fundraiser hosted by sports bar owner has been relocated "out of the 3rd district" represented by councilman and congressional candidate Gary DeLong.

As an upcoming Steve Kuykendall congressional campaign fundraiser endured a brief game of musical chairs but remains on, political opponent Gary DeLong received a number of campaign donations at an unannounced visit to a regular meeting of Belmont Shore bar owners.

The fundraiser for U.S. Congressional candidate Kuykendall was announced for Legends Sports Bar by owner Gene Rotundo to thousands of e-recipients. But it has been relocated "out of the 3rd District," Patch has learned. The question is who decided to move it?

Rotondo won't say. Kuykendall said he doesn't know. The owner of the impending new location said that he wasn't privy to the move. Third District city councilman and congressional candidate Gary DeLong said he wasn't involved.

"I do not play any role regarding where Mr. Kuykendall holds his fundraisers," DeLong told Patch in an email.

 Rotondo, who has battled with 3rd District Councilman DeLong over bar-related issues, such as patio curfews, and has accused him of failing to support local business owners, was uncharacteristically mum on the question, referring the question to Kuykendall's office.

On Thursday, Kuykendall said that he didn't know who wanted the $150-a-head fundraiser moved to it's new downtown location, only that Rotondo called and asked if that would be acceptable, and he said, "of course."

"Auld Dubliner is actually closer to my house, so I can walk to it," Kuykendall said. "It's the same time and date, so it doesn't matter to us, and the invitations are all electronic."

He estimated that several thousand recipients would have received the initial invite announcing the Legends event, and those same thousands have or soon will receive a new invite with the new address.

The owner of Auld Dubliner, Belmont Shore resident Eric Johnson, said the event will be held at his restaurant and bar located downtown at The Pike.  He said that he was not told who wanted it moved, just that it was requested that the fundraiser for DeLong's opponent be held "outside the 3rd District," at his establishment.

"I'm in the process of buying Legends, and we won't take operational control for 30 days, so I can't speak to the particulars of that," said Johnson. "I was asked to make my restaurant downtown available for an event and was happy to do so, and would for any business-friendly candidate."

The fundraiser will be Tuesday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., and Rotondo is still hosting.

Two sources said that the Kuykendall fundraiser came sometime after a meeting of the major Second Street bar owners on the second floor of Legend's. The meetings have been held regularly on Tuesdays to proactively troubleshoot problems caused by loud or drunken bar patrons, in order to better work with residents who are impacted.

At the meeting, major property owner Bill Lorbeer, the landlord of Legends and at least one other bar, and numerous other properties, arrived to the meeting with DeLong. At some point in the meeting, several people wrote checks to DeLong's campaign, although not all owners contributed. Rotondo confirmed that the meeting took place and that he did not contribute, but added, "I will have no comment on this."

Two other sources said DeLong accepted the checks -- it's perfectly legal for any business or owner to contribute to a campaign -- and left with Lorbeer. Email and phone calls to Lorbeer were not returned. DeLong was not immediately available for comment.

Subsequently, a fundraiser was scheduled to be hosted at Legends by Rotondo, who will retain ownership until January, when various partners including Johnson will take over. The liquor license, for instance, is in the process of being transferred, so it is a transitional time.

When Patch called to ask for more details about the fundraiser, Rotondo said that it had been moved, but added little else.

Fundraising may well play a substantial role in the campaigns for the newly created 47th Congressional District, to be decided in 2012. There are 702,000 constituents, 364,000 registered voters, and the latter are spread over two counties. The registered are: 42.7% Democratic, 32.6% Republican and a full 26% decline to state, often meaning that they are independents who are up for grabs.

Kuykendall is one of three Republican candidates declared, and State Sen. Alan Lowenthal is the only declared Democrat.

Kuykendall said that he was not told why his fundraiser was moved but acknowledged that he and Lowenthal are behind DeLong in fundraising. But he asserted that he, a former congressman and state assemblyman, and Lowenthal, who has served both in the State Assembly and Senate, and on the Long Beach City Council, have represented more than 40% of the new congressional district already -- so will need less money spent on gaining name recognition. (DeLong and Los Alamitos City Councilman Troy Edgar serve 50,000 and 12,000 constituents, respectively, he said.)

"Would I like to have a deep balance? Sure," Kuykendall said. "But you raise money as you go, and like a business, you pay your bils and keep rolling. "Lowenthal has done polling that puts me second behind him as the Republican opponent... If we were all a bunch of city councilmen who had never held higher office, it might be different."

Patch did not ask DeLong about fundraising relevance. Patch will continue to cover the 2012 election bid for the 47th U.S. Congressional District, which straddles L.A. and Orange counties, as the candidate positions firm up on national issues of interest. We will report on endorsements and quarterly campaign donations periodically.

John B. Greet December 02, 2011 at 06:06 PM
Maybe it just means the Dubliner has better beer. I know they make a wicked corned beef on rye!
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 02, 2011 at 07:18 PM
I love the stew.
Mike Ruehle December 02, 2011 at 07:26 PM
Why the heck was Rotundo made the Emperor of this weekend's Belmont Shore Christmas Parade, considering the 2nd street bar owners no longer control the Belmont Shore Business Association as they once did when Rotundo and Gary Roth (Belmont Station) were board members. Especially after the poor treatment new BSBA President Frank Colonna received from Rotundo a couple of years ago at a BSBA monthly meeting when Colonna announced his resignation from the BSBA board of directors for health reasons. http://www.belmontshore.org/ Especially considering how the BSBA has been embarrassed by Rotundo's very public spat with Councilman DeLong. Personally, I was hoping DeLong and Rotundo would ride on the same float in the Christmas Parade dressed up as bad Santa and his little Elf. Unfortunately, the parade planners have spaced the two combatants eight cars apart to avoid fireworks.
Shore Resident December 02, 2011 at 09:26 PM
Maybe all three of you....bad Santa, his little elf, and the grinch.
Mike Ruehle December 02, 2011 at 10:55 PM
Don't leave yourself out. The group can always use a BROWN NOSING reindeer.
Shore Resident December 02, 2011 at 11:07 PM
That's actually somewhat humorous, though I know that's not how it was intended. You're a mean one, Mr. Ruehle. Enjoy Mt. Crumpit.
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 02, 2011 at 11:30 PM
You guys crack me up. Do you remember the year of the Fantasy Ranch Gentleman's Club float (it had about 5 names that year, possibly castle)? I didn't know the deal, turned to my quite wry LA Times sportswriter friend and said, huh, that name sounds vaguely....and he said, Ah yes, nothing says Christmas like a stripper......
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 02, 2011 at 11:33 PM
Editor prerogative, I can correct my own typos. I'm moving further parade comments of mine to that story. I want to hear people's favorite floats of yore. So I can, of course, share mine.....
BSResident December 03, 2011 at 08:57 PM
The other bar property the Lorbeer family owns is leased to Dogz Bar and Grill. Before that it was leased to Evo. The Lorbeers lease to Legends and Evo / Dogz. Two bars with a significant history of nuisance related issues. But that doesn't seem to bother them much as long as the rent is on time. Way to support the Belmont Shore community. When Dogz reapplies for the entertainment permit that was taken away from Evo it looks like the fix is already in for approval by Dirty Delong.
Mike Ruehle December 03, 2011 at 09:32 PM
Up until two years ago, Bill Lorbeer lived across the street from Belmont Station/Evo/Dogz in one of the homes owned by Bud Lorbeer's family trust. However, Bill Lorbeer moved out of Belmont Shore two years ago because he said his family could not take all of the fighting and late night police activity from the bar HIS FAMILY OWNS. Before leaving, his neighbors on Glendora Avenue complained to Bill about the late night problems caused by the family owned Lorbeer bar. Bill responded to several of his neighbors, "I DON'T GIVE **** ABOUT THIS NEIGHBORHOOD." Several witnesses were all to happy to see him leave. Lorbeer.......pillar of the community.
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 03, 2011 at 09:46 PM
I know Evo was a major nuisance to surrounding residents and was forwarded three or four emails over months by residents to DeLong's office citing live music (no permit), music blaring down the street (police reported they couldn't hear it a certain number of houses away) and interior construction done without a permit, the allegation being that they were adding capacity for people but not getting permission so as to not increase parking requirements of city codes. Nothing seemed to be done for months on end, and the response to one resident was please call the police so we build up a record. But. I thought Dogz had really improved it and IMHO it looks far better. So I hope it isn't true, because I love their mac and cheese with bacon. We also found them responsive when they did have a fight. http://patch.com/A-kS8l
Mike Ruehle December 03, 2011 at 11:26 PM
Dogz is on its best behavior now because it wants the entertainment permit back. Once it gets the entertainment permit, it will be back to the same old BS. Also, Lorbeer has submitted plans to the city to expand Belmont Station into the store next door that he also owns to double the size. I have a copy of the plans. Lorbeer knows Dogz has to be on its best behavior so residents don't oppose his plans.
tinytom December 03, 2011 at 11:38 PM
What's goin in where Shore House was?
BSResident December 04, 2011 at 03:43 PM
The building looks better, but Dogz is not on it's best behavior. There have been 3 large scale street fights outside the bar in the last three months. After one fight a person had to be taken to the hospital because of his injuries. It's pretty much turning into Evo all over again. I wouldn't patronize this place and I suggest you and your neighbors stay away as well.
BSResident December 04, 2011 at 03:49 PM
The Shore House is being taken over by Simmzy's which is a gastro pub concept from Manhattan Beach. Delong is supporting a 12am cutoff 7-nights a week for the new alcohol license. Previously the Shore House could only serve alcohol until 10pm.
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 04:34 PM
To be fair, how much can a bar truly do about the bad behavior of people outside the establishment? If Dogz is over-serving or violating any other laws or regulations, fine, prove that this is so then hammer them. But what are they reasonably supposed to do about street fights?
Mike Ruehle December 04, 2011 at 05:15 PM
Another bar.
Mike Ruehle December 04, 2011 at 05:31 PM
99% of the complaints I received from residents about late night disturbances in Belmont Shore while I was president of the Belmont Shore Residents Association originated from the 6 bars permitted to stay open past midnight. Seldom were complaints made about the other 52 businesses in Belmont Shore with alcohol licenses. People didn't complain about Bono's, Murphys, Quinns or George's, all of which have bars. That's probably because they catered to a different class of clients than Legends and Dogz. That's probably because they didn't offer late night and midnight happy hour like several of the bars open after midnight. That's probably because they don't offer 2 for 1 drink specials all night long. The bars have total control over what happens outside their premises by controlling the drinking of their patrons and choosing to cater to a class of people respectful of the community they are in.
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 05:47 PM
Ruehle, I have considerable respect for your extensive experience with 2nd Street issues during your tenure with the BSRA. Your point is well-taken that bars are responsible for the manner in which they choose to conduct their business and that when bars over-serve or cater to the party-life clientele, there will naturally by spill-over into the public spaces outside the physical or legal control of the premises. I've addressed the issues of business conduct. Where bars over-serve or otherwise violate laws and regulations, they should be inviestigated and, if proven, penalized. But how do we control what sort of clientele the bar chooses to cater to? Isn't that the exclusive right and pervue of the business ownership and management? Many of these problam places make a LOT of money, a LOT of which both the state and the city (including Shore residents) happily benefit from. So what's the constructive answer? Where do we draw the line between the right of a business owner to operate however he or she chooses so long as he or she complies with the law and the right of local residents to live in a peaceful environment? If you were to create the perfect policy and procedure, what would that look like?
BSResident December 04, 2011 at 05:58 PM
John - these are patrons that started to fight inside of Dogz and were pushed out the door to continue fighting on residential streets.
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 06:13 PM
Thanks, BSR. Did Dogz employees instigate the fight or did they do their jobs and eject the problem patrons from the business? If a fight breaks out in a department store (as so many did around the nation recently during the annual Black Friday silliness) is the department store responsible for the fight, or the people who are actually fighting? Assuming for the moment that Dogz did not over-serve anyone on that occasion and was otherwise following all the other laws and regulations, what else could Dogz reasonably have done other than what it did?
BSResident December 04, 2011 at 07:25 PM
John - I don't know the answer to your question(s). Fortunately the police dept and city do not ask questions like the one you posed when trying to determine whether a bar is a good operator or not. Otherwise a bar owner could just simply shrug off all mayhem caused by his/her patrons occurring outside the business and simply say "what else could I have done?"
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 04, 2011 at 08:56 PM
I am not sure how a business controls behavior of patrons, but it seems a good question to be asked of the businesses that have not had that many fights. What do they do differently? Has Riley's had such problems? Why not? George's is obviously a restaurant that serves drinks. On the proceeds to the city, the Police Chief said that earlier in the year in a letter to DeLong, which was made public. I would think that the community benefits far more directly from parking meter revenue, which does not go to the General Fund but to a business improvement and parking commission. Mike?
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 04, 2011 at 08:58 PM
The police chief said considerable staffing goes increasingly to the bar-related problems.
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 09:34 PM
Yet how would you suggest that the city, including the PD, better vet business and liquor license applicants? Did the Dogz owner(s) have a history of running problem bars? If not, how would the city be able to predict that Dogz might become one? Do the Dogz owners have criminal records? Have they been defendants in previous civil suits in which judgments were rendered against them? If not, what indicators might the City have reasonably used in making its assessments? If a bar owner is following every rule and regulation that is imposed, what else *can* he or she do?
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 09:39 PM
Perhaps then, one possible answer is to simply place a cap on the number of such businesses that may operate within a given geographic area. While that might eventually be litigated as an unlawful restraint of trade, I think it is one approach that might work, so long as the same standard is applied in all Council Districts and not just in one part of the 3rd. If the entire city is operated in the same way in this area, how can a prospective business owner possibly claim discrimination?
tinytom December 04, 2011 at 10:39 PM
John, if a place gets over-saturated with bars, then supply and demand says that you get things as said earlier like all night two-for-one drinks, midnight happy hour, etc., and the things that come with it, especially with a young population in this new more impoverished economy. Also, there is a hard to see opportunity cost of less business for bookstores by people drinking and not able to see the words on the page clearly.
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 11:04 PM
Thanks, tiny. I agree that at some point a community can and should be able to determine not only the number of bars within its jurisdiction but the overall quality of those establishments as well. This is what self-government is supposed to be about after all: People deciding through their elected represtatives how their community will be managed. This is not to say that there is no place in Long Beach for a number of good old-fashioned dive bars. I love me a good dive bar from time to time. But even dive bars can be dives yet still be well-managed and at least a couple of these places on 2nd Street don't seem to be. Again, I'm not sure how much legal trade we can restrain before we run afoul of those types of laws ourselves, but I think it is clear that several places on 2nd Street are not being managed in a very responsible manner. What happens outside of these places is just not the bars' responsibility so long as the bars are not over-serving, etc. Thus it falls to the PD to enforce the laws in our public spaces and, in so doing, to put regular and transient bar patrons alike on clear notice that their drunken nonsense will not be tolerated here. Unfortunately our PD is woefully under-staffed and under-funded right now and hasn't run a replenishment police academy in *several* years. LBPD needs more cops and hiring a few laterals here and there is just not effectively meeting that need.
Nancy Wride (Editor) December 04, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I wish I knew the restaurant-bar metrics more. Because it seems the residents MUST know them, out of self defense. The residents on Glendora have to be watchdogs in an upscale area like this? But it seems to me that DeLong's request for staff to study CUPs needs to be in place or decided before one more permit or license is approved. Thoughts?
John B. Greet December 04, 2011 at 11:48 PM
First, I think we need to accurately define the challenges. Yes there are some problems related to some bars on 2nd Street. Ruehle and some others can cite chapter and verse on some of the residents' horror stories. As compelling as those stories are they are still entirely anecdotal. We need valid and verifiable statistics on just how many ABC investigations and police calls for service each liquor licensee has generated (where that can be determined definitively) over the past five years and what the disposition of those investigations and calls was. With these facts we can then move forward into accurately identifying the true problem children along 2nd street. When we have done that we can then take steps to put those businesses on a sort of municipal probation, during which ownership and management will be required to clean up the bar's act or risk suspension or, if necessary, revocation of their business license. Businesses have to be able to succeed but they must do so by operating according to the community's standards, not their own.

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