Hommel or Klein for Long Beach City Judge – Election Tuesday November 4

The last several weeks we’ve asked readers through our blog posts and we’ve also spoken to people around town trying to get opinions and insights into the candidates and the intrigue surrounding the City Judge election. We’ve read the the candidates’ flyers and the limited election press.

Our own opinion, for what it’s worth:

Mr. Klein has worked for the City for 20 years, but we don’t see that experience as having much relevance to the position he seeks, acting as a Judge on matters that he rarely deals with as City corporation counsel.  At the same time, the City Judge position generally does not require the legal firepower of a court handling serious criminal or commercial matters.  In fact, Mr. Klein’s campaign flyers focus on his desire to have night court hours to deal with traffic and parking violations.  What the position requires is reasonable intelligence, a good base of knowledge of how the law works, a willingness to learn, fairness and good judgment.  Does Klein have these characteristics?  Probably.  Some have strong opinions about him (not just Mr. Gusler or Ms. Banschick), but he’s survived many different administrations.  Is that a keen sense for diplomacy or that he knows where the bodies are buried?  Don’t know.  But we don’t see him as “owed” the position for having served the City for 20 years.

Mr. Hommel has worked for the City, too, but has broader experience than Klein, particularly in different court settings. From a standpoint of experience similar to what he would do as Judge, he appears to have that, where Klein really lacks it.  As we noted above, though, at least we don’t see the position as anything like what a state or federal court would handle, so we don’t see that as the be-all and end-all.  What we’ve heard about Hommel and what seems apparent is he has relevant experience, has a base knowledge of the law and from what we’ve heard could be be expected to to be willing to learn, be fair and exercise good judgment.

Here are things of concern:

Klein has very serious accusations made against him concerning the litigation with the Seapointe Tower developer.

The LBDC did not back Klein, even though he has worked more for democrat than other administrations, and one of its staunch supporters — Ms. Banschick — attacked him repeatedly in the press, alleging serious ethical violations in the Seapointe Tower developer litigation.

The City fired Hommel a year or so ago when he announced he would run for Judge Tepper’s position.  His boss then was Klein, the guy now running for the same job.

This stuff does not leave a good taste.  It just doesn’t.  Klein may be the good guy in this stuff, but we just don’t know and that’s unfortunate for the voters (and maybe him).

In the end, we are not for or against Klein or Hommel, but Klein has more intrigue about him.  Nor do we think he’s “owed” the judgeship or has the prereqs to be the judge *because* he was City counsel.  On balance, Hommel no doubt has more applicable experience.  But it’s not the U.S. Supreme Court either.

Vote your conscience.  We will.

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1 Response to Hommel or Klein for Long Beach City Judge – Election Tuesday November 4

  1. Jay Gusler says:

    I don’t think it’s any secret that I harbor an intense dislike of Klein, but I also don’t think that my personal animosity should detract from the credibility of the claims in the lawsuit (linked elsewhere on this site). While the allegations in the lawsuit are yet to be proven, I think the public should pause to think about the integrity of a guy that wants to become a judge.

    Unfortunately, I have always believed that whoever won the Democratic primary for judge would go on to win the general election. This is due to my belief that most people mindlessly vote their party line, regardless of the individual running. This year we have three statewide races where the incumbent Democrats are polling well. Add to that the strong candidacy of Kathleen Rice for Carolyn McCarthy’s old seat and you have the potential for a significant coattail effect that will likely carry some Democrat judges to victory in what is otherwise a typically a steep uphill climb around these parts.

    While party-line voting is never a good idea, I think doing so in the City Court race is a particularly bad choice. I strongly urge the voting public to think long and hard before casting their ballot for City Court Judge based upon nothing more than the party name in the left hand column.

    In plain language, my lawsuit accuses Klein of being a thief. Instead of filing a perfunctory Answer denying the charges, Klein has made a motion to extend his time to submit an Answer. One must ask why? The allegations in the lawsuit – if proven – would constitute a crime that will result in Klein’s removal from the bench should he (as expected) prevail on Tuesday. So, one way or another, Klein’s days are numbered.

    It is also anticipated that should Klein lose on Tuesday, he will not be long for the Office of Corp Counsel. Whether this be due to my lawsuit (really “our” lawsuit) or his hijinx in connection with the Haberman litigation, the guy is damaged goods. I don’t think that even his much vaunted map of the local political cemetery saves him here. The man has become a public relations nightmare for the City. The best thing that could happen for the City is for Klein to be elected judge on Tuesday which spares them the unpleasantness of firing him.

    What all of this means is that if Ted Hommel wins Tuesday, we will – in the very near future – be rid of Klein entirely from Long Beach City government. I don’t see how it could be any other way. So, if you hate Klein (as I do), vote for Hommel. But even if you don’t hate Klein, remember that Klein fired Hommel for seeking a post (City Court Judge) that Klein wanted for himself. Is a person that would do such a thing really cut out to be a judge? Not in my book.

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