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Friday, December 18, 2009

What Would Long Beach Taxpayers Think? WWLBTT?

So glad to learn that since my colleagues rejected a lobbyist ordinance a year ago -- saying it was not needed -- (instead of it being fatally flawed like some are posturing about now) --that they are working on their own.

All of the work was done in the Elections Oversight Committee -- a matrix showing all other big cities and what they do. We reviewed all the other cities language and gave that report to the full city council which rejected all of it on a 7-2 vote.

So back to the drawing board.

It isn't just an ordinance that is needed -- it is a new attitude that sets the bar high for public officials and key department heads -- instead of WWJD (what would Jesus do) -- it should be -- WWLBTT? What Would Long Beach Taxpayers Think?

What would they think when an elected official takes a gift from someone doing business with the city?

What would they think when a department head travels with a paid lobbyist and that lobbyist then gives direction to city staff on what he wants done?

What would they think when an elected or city staff gets wined and dined by developers?

From the hundreds of responses I have received from taxpayers -- they are livid and assumed that Long Beach already had in place clear guidelines so that everyone inside City Hall knew what was appropriate and not.

So we don't need just a lobbyist ordinance -- we need a new attitude that respects the taxpayers of the City who pay our salaries.

P.S. We also need an ordinance that prohibits any elected official or department head or city manager or Planning or Harbor Commissioner from leaving service with the City of Long Beach and then representing anyone doing business with the City of Long Beach for a period of 3 years! No more revolving doors.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

If I were City Prosecutor

Facts: The City of Long Beach spends over $11.7 million tax dollars each year for a City Attorney and a City Prosecutor.

We need to ask ourselves if we: a) need to spend that much money and b) are we getting the most from our tax dollars.

We need to ask ourselves, what would we do if we were City Prosecutor or City Attorney. So today, I answer:

If I were City Prosecutor, I would:
  • Start showing the voters what I do with their monies. This would mean including statistics showing how many cases filed and how many won and caseloads for each of the attorneys in the office.
  • Explain why I spend funds on brochures and office redecoration.
  • Really take domestic violence cases seriously.
  • Step up local environmental prosecution.
  • Step up code enforcement prosecution.
  • Set up an Office of Public Integrity to handle complaints about public official misconduct and Brown Act violations and other violations of the City Charter.
  • or alternatively -- merge the office of City Prosecutor with the Office of City Attorney or dissolve the Office of City Prosecutor and let the City contract out to private law firms for prosecution of misdemeanor crimes in Long Beach.
No, I am NOT running for City Prosecutor but since the office is being vacated, how about if we all start looking on how to make it more effective for the taxpayers of Long Beach?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Airport on Track for Improvements

A right-sized parking structure and then a right-sized terminal are on the near horizon at Long Beach Municipal Airport. We broke ground last week on the parking structure and hopefully that bodes well for the terminal improvements.

As a reminder -- the City was held up in moving forward on both of these projects because of lawsuits filed by the Long Beach Unified School District and the PTA. Now that the suits are over -- we can move forward - still carefully because we need to be able to fund these projects with FAA grants and passenger facility charges (PFCs).

The PFC brings me to an article run in the local media -- the FAA sets these charges -- right now they are set at $4.50 per passenger. The PFC can only be used on airport related projects -- they do not go into the City's general funds. Long Beach will use these PFCs and FAA grant monies to do a number of improvements at the Airport.

The FAA is discussing increasing the PFC to $7.00 per passenger. Long Beach has no authority to increase these fees.

As I said during the ground-breaking -- The City of Long Beach got it right when it hired the new Airport Director, Mario Rodriguez, who agreed that the proposed parking structure needed to be reduced in size. Mario is moving these projects along at the appropriate speed. But as an elected official -- I know we can't please all the people all the time..

Save Station 18

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