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So Long Paul: Council Bids Farewell to Longtime Member

By Teresa Rochester

Until the end of his tenure as a council member Paul Rosenstein stuck to his guns up on the dais at City Hall, vigorously defending fluoridation, a controversial issue he championed.

It was fitting that fluoride was on the agenda of Rosenstein's last meeting as member of the Santa Monica City Council.

During a ceremonial send-off Tuesday night for the eight-year council veteran, who opted not to seek reelection last month, colleagues remembered the tenacity and convictions they said they appreciated despite sometimes differing views,

"You're always well informed and articulate," said Mayor Ken Genser. "I know this has to be a bittersweet moment for you Paul because you care so much about the City. I personally want to wish you a lot of luck."

In a note read by Councilman Michael Feinstein, Mayor Pro Tem Pam O'Connor, who was out of town and had served with Rosenstein on the Planning Commission, told the former mayor that "there is life after City Council and many more challenges."

Council members praised Rosenstein on his stance on environmental issues, workers rights and urban planning, including his work on the task force that created the downtown transit mall.

Rosenstein was first elected to the council in 1992 running as part of the slate of the powerful tenants organization Santa Monicans for Renters Rights. In 1996, after breaking from the group, Rosenstein launched a successful independent bid for a second term.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein said that when he participated in the founding meeting of Mid-City Neighbors he never dreamed of what lay ahead. Since then, Rosenstein has served as president of the neighborhood group and sat on the Board of Electrical Appeals, the Pier Restoration Corporation Board, the Planning Commission for three years and the City Council, where he served eight years, two of them as Mayor.

Rosenstein told the audience that when he was first elected the city was in the midst of a deep recession that required budget cuts. But things have changed. "As I see it, our main challenge today is whether Santa Monica will strangle on its successes," he said.

"Looking at the big picture, we strive to be a livable community, a sustainable community, a community that cares about people," he continued. "It is fitting that tonight, for my last meeting, the three main items on the agenda relate to each of these."

Traditionally departing council members are feted the night new council members are sworn in. However, Rosenstein will be out of town on business next week, when newly elected Councilman Herb Katz takes his seat on the dais.

Rosenstein recently took a position as the political director of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, local 11.

"It's a pleasure to go to work in the morning," Rosenstein said during a break in the council meeting. He admitted, however, that while the City Council is now behind him "it will take a while to decompress."

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