The 13th Annual Protectors’ Breakfast honoring local law enforcement and fire department members took place Wednesday, October 29th, at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel Los Angeles Airport.
The keynote speaker was Congresswoman Jane Harman, who represents the 36th Congressional District, which covers 20 miles of coastline, from Venice to the Port of Los Angeles in San Pedro Bay.
Christina Davis, president and chief executive officer of the LAX Coastal Area Chamber of Commerce, which sponsors the popular event, introduced representatives from the Los Angeles Police Department, Pacific Area; Los Angeles Police Department, Airport Detail; Los Angeles World Airports Police Department; Los Angeles City Fire Department; Los Angeles County Fire Department; Los Angeles County Lifeguards; Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Marina del Rey; the California Highway Patrol; and the U.S. Coast Guard.
Harman, who was running for re-election, began her speech by saying, “Anyone in the room not registered to vote should slink out now. This is historic, don’t pass it up.”
She thanked the protectors at the meeting for their unwavering dedication to protecting local citizens and said they all play an enormous part in keeping citizens safe.
Harman told the audience she takes their position, not the federal government’s, when it comes to safety.
There is a serious problem with intelligence gathering and sharing, and it is inadequate because there is no national interoperable communications ability, and it’s an “embarrassment and a black eye,” said Harman.
In February, the switch from analog to digital television broadcasting will open up the analog spectrum for exclusive dedication for a National Interoperable Communications Network for first responder emergencies, which is under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), she said.
“It’s very disappointing that this has not happened sooner, and it will not have happened yet by the end of 2009,” Harman said.
On the economy, Harman said we are in a recession now, not headed for one, and it will be a while before it gets better.
She said that in all her years in Congress, she has never seen an October like this, with such financial collapse.
People have forgotten the basic rule of the economy, that there’s no such thing as a free lunch, she said, adding that loans are not gifts — lenders expect to be paid back and borrowers shouldn’t borrow if they can’t pay it back.
Some lenders were convinced that the rules no longer applied and have made foreclosures someone else’s problem, she charged, adding that the government was compliant and Wall Street was the cheerleader.
New debt was pumped into the financial market and normally government is expected to prevent this behavior, but that didn’t happen this time, she pointed out. The regulation system is outmoded and regulators were encouraged to be hands-off, she said.
The local area is far better off than most, because “you have the best rep in Congress,” Harman joked, “but also because of the business gateways to trade and aerospace to lead the recovery.”
Revenue from the Ports of Los Angeles is down but not collapsed and is coming back up, but revenue from international travel at Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) is down seven percent according to Gina Marie Lindsey, the executive director of Los Angeles World Airports, the congresswoman reported.
Harman said she would be taking a tour of LAX the day after this event to look at safety enhancements.
Tourists are still visiting the beaches and Hollywood and more people are coming back to the airport, she said.
LAX must accommodate the extension of the Green Line to LAX, she said.
“I don’t mean reconfiguring the north runway to decimate Westchester businesses,” Harman said. “I want to work with you to keep the LAX gateway without punishing you,” adding that she supports “some kind of runway configuration that doesn’t destroy the neighborhood.”
Harman said she opposes the proposed Australian-owned Woodside Liquid Natural Gas (LNG) facility and hopes that Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger vote against it.
“This [LNG project] puts the bulls-eye on LAX, with tankers of explosive LNG offloading to pipelines under the fragile Santa Monica Bay to the north side near LAX, where it will be loaded and moved elsewhere,” said Harman.
Adequate alternatives are available, such as the Sempra facility near the Mexican border that can provide for LNG to be sent through a pipeline to California that is not in a fragile infrastructure.
“We can import it from other states; why buy from Australia? Think about it,” she said.
Reliance on fossil fuels from the Middle East could be decreased with a goal of zero dependence if investments in local infrastructure are made, such as clean energy highways, technology and buildings, Harman said.
She noted that Northrop Grumman Corporation builds satellites that track global climate change, and said the aerospace business is sound, providing 600,000 jobs locally.
The important factor is to pay attention to aerospace jobs, getting young people involved and making those jobs more sought after, as they were in the days of President John F. Kennedy in the 1960s by fixing education and the way things operate, Harman said.
“Rocket scientists don’t grow on trees,” and the industry needs to be more nimble, flexible and as exciting as it used to be, not like the Pentagon, she said.
“The federal government,” not Democrats or Republicans, is part of the problem, with each party in strength voting against each other, and it can be part of the resolution, because fixing this dysfunctional federal system is a challenge, she said.
The new President and new Congress will have to fix the process and forge a partnership, to solve a variety of problems such as the economy, climate and oil, she said.
“I’m a Blue Dog Coalition member, a conservative financially, who believes in ‘pay as you go’, and when you write a check you have to pay, those are the principles,” Harman said.
Harman said the Blue Dog Coalition — which is celebrating 13 years in 2008 — is a group of 47 conservative and moderate Democrats from around the country, promoting a moderate viewpoint that bridges the gap between ideological extremes and is particularly active on fiscal issues. Information, house.gov/ross/BlueDogs/.
Harman has represented the 36th Congressional District since 1992, and in 2006 she completed eight years of service on the House Intelligence Committee (the final four as ranking member) and she continues in her seventh term as chair of the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence and Terrorism Risk Assessment.
Harman is also a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, sitting on the Telecommunications and the Internet and Energy and Air Quality Subcommittees.