Long term Redondo Beach City Attorney faces challenger
City Attorney Webb proud of four terms
by Dan Blackburn
This will be his last campaign, Redondo Beach’s long-time Redondo Beach City Attorney Mike Webb said. He is seeking his fifth four-year term and facing opposition for the first time in nearly a decade.
Webb was first elected in 2012 and in 2017 was forced to take a nearly five-month medical absence after suffering a stroke, from which, he said, he has fully recovered.
He still has a little unfinished business, he said, and a specific agenda on which to work, but he’s comfortable looking back at his accomplishments.
Webb helped pioneer the county’s only outdoor homeless court, one of several Redondo Beach programs designed to help people get off the streets and into affordable housing.
“We wondered, ‘What was needed to help keep people off the streets?”
The court idea took off rapidly, and has become the template for similar programs in other cities.
“We bring resources together and make [finding housing] as easy as possible. It can be hard for anyone without a residence, a computer… it’s virtually impossible. We found additional mental health and addiction counseling. Sometimes these folks have a chance for a home, but they can’t get into it because they have some kind of [minor] offenses and we try to get those expunged, so we got the cooperation of the public defenders’ office for that.”
Webb said he’s “done a number of creative things to address homelessness. “We talked to members of the public about their perceptions of the problem. We wanted to find out how it was impacting quality of life [of residents].”
Now, he said, “Numerous officials from other cities are meeting with us and adapting those parts of our program that works for them.”
Webb also is proud, he said, of helping develop a temporary “emergency pallet housing program,” initiated in September.
The 15 small, modular units have been installed on Kingsdale Avenue in North Redondo Beach. Federal funding from the CARES Act is paying for the program.
“It’s worked remarkable well,” Webb said. “We’ve got 20 people off the streets. And based on early results, this is going to have long-term, beneficial impact. But there is no perfect solution.”
Webb started with the city as a prosecutor in 1994. He’s a graduate of the University of California Hastings College of the Law.
In 2009, Webb mounted an unsuccessful try for a Congressional seat being vacated by Jane Harman. ER
City Attorney challenger Harden Sooper questions expenditures
by Dan Blackburn
He’s launching the first challenge to Redondo Beach’s city attorney since 2009, and Harden Sooper says taxpayers’ costs for supporting the office can be lowered significantly with his election.
Sooper, a deputy district attorney for Los Angeles County, is taking on Mike Webb, who has held the position since 2004 and today is the highest-paid employee on the city’s payroll.
Sooper is particularly critical of Webb’s cost to the city: According to Transparent California, a data bank of state employee salaries, Webb’s annual total pay and benefits is $469,794,73.
“I would take an immediate pay cut,” said Sooper this week. “I think that money needs to go for other priorities for our city.”
He suggested his opponent “doesn’t always give the best advice. The idea of having an elected city attorney is to provide accountability to the people and to give the council sound legal advice,” Sooper said, “regardless of what the council or city manager wants to hear.”
It’s not uncommon for Webb to provide “frankly irresponsible guidance to the council in an effort to lead them to a particular place,” Sooper said. “You have people on the council who rely entirely on the city attorney’s advice. It’s not the city attorney’s job to make policy.”
About Webb’s tenure, Sooper said, “That’s a really long time. The system breaks down when no one runs against the sitting city attorney for a decade.” Now, he added, “there is no accountability for anyone. Not healthy.”
Sooper was particularly critical of Webb’s “extensive” use of outside law firms to handle a variety of kinds of litigation, “including cases in which the city shouldn’t even be involved. We need to fix situations before they become lawsuits. That’s a big priority. And when you don’t have any accountability, this doesn’t happen.”
A graduate of USC’s law school, Sooper joined the District Attorney’s office in 2012 following an eight year stint with the California Army National Guard JAG Corps. He currently handles gang-related murder cases.
“Something else I would bring to the office,” he added, “is my experience dealing with violent crime victims.”
A volunteer youth baseball coach, Sooper also serves as a member of the Redondo Beach Police Department Community Engagement Board, and now is chair of the Redondo Beach Public Safety Commission.
He and his wife, Kate Korman-Sooper, who is the chair of the Redondo Beach Recreation and Parks Commission, have three sons. ER
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