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Supervisor Knabe Reception at Cerritos Library

 

Pictured are (seated from left) Community Participation Manager Connie Hinger, Administrative Assistant Pam Mendoza, Assistant City Manager Kathy Matsumoto, Public Information Manager Laurie Kajiwara, City Clerk Vida Barone. Top row (l-r) City Attorney Mark Steres, Community Safety Manager Daryl Evans, Assistant City Manager Vince Brar, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, City Manager Art Gallucci, Community Development Director Torrey Contreras, Public Works Director Kanna Vancheswaran. Photo courtesy city of Cerritos.

Pictured are (seated from left) Community Participation Manager Connie Hinger, Administrative Assistant Pam Mendoza, Assistant City Manager Kathy Matsumoto, Public Information Manager Laurie Kajiwara, City Clerk Vida Barone. Top row (l-r) City Attorney Mark Steres, Community Safety Manager Daryl Evans, Assistant City Manager Vince Brar, L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, City Manager Art Gallucci, Community Development Director Torrey Contreras, Public Works Director Kanna Vancheswaran. Photo courtesy city of Cerritos.

By Tammye McDuff

The Cerritos Mayor and City Council as well as Staff and Cerritos Commissioners gathered for a recognition reception for Supervisor Don Knabe this past June 9th, 2016, held at the Cerritos Library.

During the council meeting, a video was shown commemorating Knabe’s term as Mayor and Councilman for the City from 1980 to 1988.

“We have the honor and pleasure of having Supervisor Don Knabe with us this evening. Before Don shares a bit his remarks with us,” said Mayor George Ray, “I just want to express my gratitude for the outstanding representation he has provided to our city and to all the communities within his district.”

Knabe’s dedicated efforts on behalf of this region has stimulated the economic development, increased funding for law enforcement, and resulted in renewed youth literacy and arts enrichment programs.  Local families appreciate the Knabe Fishing Derby, held for the last 20 years.

“Cerritos is myself and Julie’s home town,” said Knabe, “I’ve had an incredible run, serving 2 million residents in 28 cities for 34 years, it has been a great experience,” taking a break to steady his voice and gather his words,” I have been visiting all of the cities and this is the toughest one to say good-bye to.”

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3 Responses to Supervisor Knabe Reception at Cerritos Library

  1. Farewell Cerritos Reply

    June 26, 2016 at 3:53 pm

    Supervisor Don Knabe looks back on nearly 35 years of public service

    Supervisor Don Knabe at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Knabe will term out as a County Supervisor at the end of the year after 20 years of service.

    Supervisor Don Knabe at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey, CA on Thursday, June 16, 2016. Knabe will term out as a County Supervisor at the end of the year after 20 years of service. (
    Don Knabe is a termed-out supervisor walking.

    “Noon. December fifth. 172 days,” he said during a recent interview at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey.

    That’s when the 72-year-old Cerritos resident will officially call it a career after 20 years representing 2 million people in the 4th District on the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, one of the most powerful bodies in the state — so much so that a member of Congress is giving up her seat to run for the board.

    Knabe, one of the most recognizable figures from the South Bay to Long Beach to Whittier, has championed the once-floundering Downey rehabilitation center, secured funding for services across Southern California and implemented a program to rescue newborn babies.

    In the Midwestern twang he never could quite shake, Knabe reflected on his nearly 35 years in public service with the county, grinning at some of the behind-the-scenes political maneuvering and looking back proudly at his time in office.

    “The thing I’ll probably miss most is being able to pick up the phone and help somebody and make a difference,” he said. “That’s the essence of this job. It’s been an incredible ride. It’s probably the best political job in America.”

    THE AEROMEXICO CRASH

    A native of Rock Island, Illinois, who served in the Navy and graduated with a business administration degree from Graceland University in Lamoni, Iowa, Knabe was a small business owner when he was elected to the Cerritos City Council in 1980.

    Within two years, the late 4th District Supervisor Deane Dana tapped Knabe to join his South Bay staff and help coordinate work with cities in the district. A 90-day trial period turned into a 34-year county career, as he quickly rose to chief of staff.

    Knabe served eight years on the Cerritos City Council, including two terms as mayor. He was mayor when 82 people died in Cerritos on Aug. 1, 1986, after an Aeromexico DC-9 collided — on its final approach to LAX — with a private Piper Archer carrying a Rancho Palos Verdes family. Among the dead was the wife of Knabe’s close friend.

    While dealing with his own grief, Knabe, using his pull at the county and his clout as mayor, brought together local, state and federal resources to manage the emergency and assist the families of crash victims in the aftermath.

    “It was a life-changing experience, I don’t how else to describe it,” he said. “It imparted on me a measure of compassion and understanding I didn’t have before.”

    In 1987, Knabe dropped a run for the Assembly, then lost a 1988 state Senate race that broke spending records. Term limits took him off the Cerritos City Council the same year.

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    MAKING ALLIES

    While working on local policy in Cerritos, it was under Supervisor Dana where Knabe gained insight into state and federal issues that affected the coastal county district that stretches from Marina del Rey to Diamond Bar. The board as a whole oversees a budget of billions in taxpayer dollars, the largest jail in the country and the nation’s largest population of foster youth.

    Knabe, a moderate Republican, also learned how to make allies in the thorny landscape of county politics, where his boss was an entrenched, pro-development supervisor who drew sharp criticism for, among other maneuvers, his flip-flopping on the issue of county employee pensions in the election year of 1992, when he previously had blocked efforts to repeal pension rules that boosted by 19 percent the retirement pay of some officials.

    Dana also promoted a $4 million memorial in his name, in the form of a nature center at San Pedro’s Friendship Park, known now as Deane Dana Friendship Park and Nature Center. Knabe opposed his boss on the issue, and yet when Dana announced plans for retirement in 1994, he handpicked Knabe to run as his successor.

    The fit seemed natural to Dana supporters and his detractors. Knabe had been seen by some as a shadow supervisor. A 1996 Press-Telegram report quoted one county insider referring to the supervisor and chief of staff as “Deane Knabe.”

    “Yeah, I was, but in a good way,” Knabe said of the shadow supervisor accusation.

    Knabe explained that after Dana won re-election in 1992, he planned to go back into the private sector. But his boss grew ill in 1994, announced he would retire after his term, and asked Knabe to run for his seat in 1996. He would not have run had Dana not asked him, Knabe said.

    Dana announced his retirement nearly two years before his term was up, which gave Knabe time to raise more than $2.5 million from developers, business and labor interests during his first campaign, in which he emphasized public safety, streamlining government through consolidations, job development, protection of beaches, and welfare reform through accelerated citizenship and job-training programs.

    Knabe also touted his work while on the board of the former Rapid Transit District and took credit for the Sheriff’s Department landing a contract to patrol the Metro Blue Line. He won the seat against businesswoman Gordana Swanson with roughly 62 percent of the vote.

    In 2000, Knabe was elected again after running unopposed. He had advocated for a pilot program for capturing child support evaders, secured a $400,000 grant to fund mental health services for homeless veterans in Long Beach and introduced a job program for veterans and supported a youth job program. He also called for a review of the education system in the county’s juvenile justice system.

    Knabe won re-election overwhelmingly in 2004 and 2008.

    PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT

    By the latter part of the last decade, Knabe had firmly established himself as an elected leader, having initiated the Safe Surrender program, which allows young mothers to give up unwanted newborns at fire stations or hospitals rather than discarding them in the streets. Last year he announced a scholarship program for safely surrendered children.

    Since 2001, 145 babies have been saved through the program; one boy saved through the program later introduced himself to Knabe as “No. 26.” It’s an issue that makes Knabe nearly choke up as he talks about it.

    “It’s just almost overwhelming when you see these families, to see the joy in the families,” he said. “If you ask me, it’s what I’m most proud of in my career.”

    He pushed for needed education improvements in the county’s juvenile justice system, and championed the Rancho Los Amigos in Downey. County supervisors, facing a health care budget crisis in 2003, voted 4-1 to close the center, which serves patients with severe spinal and head injuries. Knabe was the lone no vote. Plaintiffs later won a lawsuit to keep the facility open.

    “Rancho Los Amigos is my passion,” Knabe said. “It was the only time in my political career I rooted for the county to lose a lawsuit, and they did, and I was right. It’s a big deal for the patients. It’s a big deal for the employees. I worked very hard to make sure Rancho is taken care of.”

    Jorge Orozco was a physical therapist when he first met Knabe and is now chief executive officer at the facility. Knabe, he said, is a fixture there, someone intimately acquainted with staff and patients.

    “He’s allowed us to create a number of programs that are so meaningful in getting our patients back to life,” Orozco said.

    Knabe’s relationships with cities in his district led to Long Beach landing Jim McDonnell as police chief in 2010, in the wake of Anthony Batts announcing his departure for the top cop job in Oakland.

    McDonnell was an assistant chief in the Los Angeles Police Department when he lost out to Charlie Beck for the top post. In Long Beach, City Manager Pat West angered the Police Department by allowing outside candidates to apply for chief.

    It was Knabe who recommended McDonnell to West and former Mayor Bob Foster, who said McDonnell turned out to be one of the best police chiefs in the country.

    “It was important,” Foster said. “You can’t exclude a guy like this, who lives in Long Beach, and Don was a really strong supporter who thought highly of Jim.”

    McDonnell left Long Beach in 2014 when he won election as Los Angeles County sheriff. Knabe had a good-natured laugh over that: “Then the Long Beach people got mad at me for taking him from Long Beach,” he said.

    Foster said Knabe is a nonpartisan supervisor who never refused to help Long Beach.

    “He’s been a great ally, a great partner in almost everything we’ve done,” Foster said. “When we need help, he’s always been there. He’s gone out of his way for the city to provide funds for important projects. … I hate to lose him, I really do. Personally, politically, professionally, I think the world of him.”

    FENDING OFF DETRACTORS

    Knabe won re-election in 2012, running unopposed and fending off detractors who for years said he frequently used his position to support his son, Matt Knabe, whom he once employed to operate his Long Beach field office.

    Knabe often voted on contracts awarded to firms represented by Matt Knabe, who had become a lobbyist. The votes appeared to be legal and within state regulations but raised questions related to conflicts of interest. Knabe said it is difficult for him to forgive and forget media coverage of the votes, which he says took a toll on his family.

    “There never was a scandal, but they tried to create one,” he said. “But my family is off-limits.”

    Knabe’s work to help young people will be part of his legacy in the county, said 5th District Supervisor Michael Antonovich, a fellow Republican and the county’s longest serving supervisor, who is termed out and running for a state Senate seat.

    “Supervisor Knabe is a strong advocate for children’s causes, including Safe Surrender, foster youth, health care, and combatting sex trafficking and will have a lasting impact on the county of Los Angeles,” Antonovich said in an email.

    Mariko Kahn, executive director of Pacific Asian Counseling Services, a Westchester-based nonprofit with its biggest office in Long Beach, said Knabe has been relentless in his support, particularly for the Cambodian community.

    “What I would say about Don is, he is what you want a politician to be — a man of integrity, a person who cares, and for me, what’s also important with politicians, is a sense of fiscal responsibility, who can manage priorities, because there are many, many needs,” Kahn said.

    Knabe announced in 2014 the launch of Operation Libraries, an initiative to invest $45 million to upgrade county libraries in 4th District communities. It’s one of project he’s looking forward to working on in the months leading up to his exit from office.

    He looks ahead to spending more time with his wife, Julie, a Long Beach native and former president of the Cerritos Chamber of Commerce. The couple have two sons and four grandchildren.

    But sitting inside Rancho Los Amigos, Knabe recalled the day he moved into the supervisor’s seat. No longer could he advise someone else and pass the blame when things went wrong, Knabe said.

    “It was amazing how I felt that day,” he said. “Now I had to take full responsibility. The responsibility is enormous, but making a political difference in people’s lives is the best job in America. For me, it’s been an incredible ride.”

    A GLANCE AT THE 4TH DISTRICT COUNTY RACE

    Fourth District Supervisor Don Knabe terms out of office after 20 years on the county board.

    U.S. Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, and Steve Napolitano, a chief deputy to Knabe, won the two spots on the Nov. 8 runoff ballot on June 7 to replace the outgoing supervisor.

    The 4th District includes 20 million people, stretching from the coastal South Bay through Long Beach, and as far northeast as Hacienda Heights. It includes South Bay beach cities, Marina del Rey, Artesia, Torrance, San Pedro, Whittier and Norwalk.

  2. Briarwood Reply

    June 22, 2016 at 7:22 am

    Picture is pathetic and rude. Why the sexual divide between men and woman? Why all republicans and no democrats?

    Julie Knabe was born and raised in the city of Long Beach. She dated every dude on the varsity teams. In return, pre-employment era was primarily based around the executives in Long Beach. The ones who she dated. She is too old to have been raised in Dairy Valley, said area was not even conceived yet.

    Look at the track record for Don Knabe, how he voted on LA County Board of Supervisors, he’s abstained on many issues including the Mideast issues.

    Don Knabe does not have a good re-pore with African Americans in the community, and wouldn’t support his own African-American Neighbors on Briarwood in Cerritos . He was modern day Trump racist.

    Hawaiian Gardens aborted Knabes PR firm, another useless annotate.

    Knabes sit on Auto Mall Board. When Knabe leave office and the city, our sheriffs will change guards too. Briarwood residents will be more then happy, to see the mass exit of sheriff patrol, which cruised the street hourly.

    When Don leaves his political perch, there will be no more hi republican offices held in state. Will see if Julie robs mouths with the county elite anymore. Hawaii will be there new residence. His sons felt that they were too good to live in 90703, so lived in greater Long Beach fish tank.

    Julie nor Don never answered their emails. Don’s office secretary played political warfare. She was paid to non answer his community which elected him to mayor and supervisor. Don was born and wore a salesman wardrobe, and leaves office with less then perfect community scorn-card.

  3. New Chapter Reply

    June 17, 2016 at 9:15 am

    Mr. D. Knabe did a very nice job rehabbing the Cerritos Regional Park. Much improvement. Can’t say much for the art public places, as some of the pieces in the park, are not that fantastic. There could be some drastic improvements to the Lake; plus bring us more diversified recreational programs to the park for adults and seniors. Nothing for the rotting RV Industry, which was never tapped in to by him. Knabes were always above the RV industry, thumbs down to RV owners.

    Knabe left being Cerritos Retired Mayor, left the city with the pink elephant ( Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts) During his time as mayor and supervisor, the CCPA is still out of control to be stain-able.

    Very disappointed that Knabe been in office for a couple of decades, and has done nothing to improve the Cerritos: Del Amo Bridge behind his house on Briarwood, or the Flood control– nothing to increase recreational usage on the flood control nor intro a county Dog Park.

    Knabe (R) did nothing to work with Linda Sanchez (D) and bring back infinity of old industries which vacated Southern California:
    Boeing;
    Rockwell;
    RV industry;
    McDonnell Douglas;
    Hughes aircraft;
    General Motors;
    Ford Motors, etc.;
    Hospitals and medical Centers- still vacant hospitals;
    Nothing for mass transportation;
    Nothing for the filthy freeways in his district;

    Most of these above companies left the area before or during his political term as mayor/supervisor, but Knabe has done nothing to encourage or develop major industries from relocating back in to Southern California. Well what can I say, typical republican attitude; compared to both Bushes, which fueled the great recessions we are exiting from.

    It’s a sad day, Socal still has a high unemployment, homeless like we’ve never seen it before, and our Housing Industry is going to pot in most parts of Los Angeles. Many of Knabes Neighbors on his street were not happy with Knabes, he always tipped his hat to the Republicans, and flipped off the Democrats in the Socal areas. Knabes adjacent neighbors were not happy with extravagant cars (SUV) he drove, and Mrs. Knabe for refurbishing the house multiple times a year, paid for by taxpayers.

    Too bad he had to rely on his sons to manage his affairs, city is still burden by expensive Knabe’s Calmet waste Mgmt and the poor service of the Cerritos Sheriff. Pray to our lord, that Cerritos street sweeper contractor, can provide us affordable trash service, when Cal Met contract expires.

    Eric Garcetti, Los Angeles mayor, so far, seems to be Peoples Politician, but he in only part way thru his term,
    so allot can happen both negative/ positive.

    Supervisor Don Knabe and family of businesses are DIALING OUT.

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