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Sunday, August 16, 2009

TESLA President Says He Has Been Treated As a "Second-Class Citizen" by City

All the sound and fury coming from the 14th Floor of City Hall doesn't negate the fact that at a time cuts in fire and police services are being proposed by the Mayor and City Manager, the President of TESLA Motors, a company that can bring 1,000 jobs to this City states that he and his company have been treated by these same folks as a "second-class citizen."

Remember when recently the public and local media demanded to know why Jet Blue disclosed it was unhappy with the City of Long Beach? Well, just like the Jet Blue issue, the issue about what the City has or has not been doing to encourage business to come to the vacant Boeing hangers across from Douglas Park and to bring jobs is not a "private matter" as the Mayor would like to make it out to be. Nor is it just a matter between Boeing and TESLA anymore than the continuance of the C-17 plane a matter just between Congress and Boeing -- otherwise why did the City spend so much money in lobbyist fees to help Boeing on that issue?

The Mayor and City Manager made it a "public matter" when they included TESLA Motors and Long Beach Studios in the FY 2010 budget ( the same budget that proposes cutting fire and police) as potential sources of revenue that will help the City reduce its deficit. The public is entitled to learn what the Mayor and city staff are doing or not doing to make sure those sources of revenue are real.

So I stand by the facts of my conversation with Elon Musk, President of TESLA Motors last week:

· TESLA President Musk stated (and wrote to me in an e-mail) that he feels TESLA has been treated as a "second-class" citizen by the City of Long Beach;

· TESLA has been trying to relocate to Long Beach on the Boeing property (not Douglas Park but across the way in the large hangers) and to bring 1,000 jobs to the City; and

· TESLA Motors recently received a $465 million dollar loan from the US Department of Energy to build its electric vehicle and has been attempting to talk with the Mayor and the City Manager but calls have not been returned because city staff have made it clear that the Mayor wants a movie studio. Well, so do I, but we are now in danger of not having either business . No discussion has taken place about having both businesses on the property.

Ironically, last Friday, the Mayor and the City rolled out the "red-carpet" for a Korean company that also makes electric vehicles to encourage them to bring 400 jobs . (To date, that same "red-carpet" has not been rolled out to TESLA even though city officials know that other cities, like Pomona, are actively courting the company and recently hosted a visit by the cross-America TESLA roadster.)

City council members are asked by City staff to come and meet potential businesses that want to re-locate to the Boeing property and to personally encourage them to be here. That's why I talk with Boeing Realty almost weekly, meet with New Castle Partners who are trying to develop Douglas Park and have met with the people behind the movie studio and have spoken with the President of TESLA. I want to do everything possible to bring jobs to Long Beach including letting the public know why we may lose them.

Save Station 18

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