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Long Beach redevelopment chief placed on leave over vacations with lobbyist

December 11, 2009 |  5:37 pm

The top development official for the city of Long Beach was placed on paid administrative leave today while the city investigates trips he has taken with a lobbyist with business before his office.

Craig Beck, head of the city's development services and redevelopment agency, has been under scrutiny since local media started reporting about his discounted stay at a Napa hotel during a vacation last month with lobbyist Mike Murchison.

City Manager Pat West said he decided to put Beck on leave after the city attorney on Thursday presented an initial review of Beck's activities, which confirmed Beck had taken other trips with Murchison and raised more questions about their relationship.

"This is a public trust issue, and it's fair and appropriate," West said in an interview. "Certainly there was nothing illegal, but . . . I require all of my employees to conduct themselves with the highest ethical standards and I take that very seriously."

Murchison is a lobbyist for LodgeWorks, the company that owns the AVIA Napa Hotel and has been seeking approval through Beck's office for a 125-room hotel in downtown Long Beach.

Beck could not be reached for comment, but has told the Press-Telegram he unknowingly received a discounted room from LodgeWorks and said he repaid the full amount when he returned home.

He has worked for the city for 21 years, spending just a little more than a year and a half as the head of redevelopment, West said.

--Tony Barboza in Orange County