Notice: This is not a City of Long Beach site.

Dear Readers: Please note that this is not a City of Long Beach website and is not paid for nor maintained by taxpayer funds.

If you contact Gerrie Schipske through this site on any matter pertaining to the City of Long Beach, a copy of your contact will be forwarded to her official city email as an official public record.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Parks, Recreation and Marine Commission Meeting Agenda -- No Action on Soccer Lights

Although it was originally on the agenda for the upcoming meeting of the Parks, Recreation and Marine Commission that it would reconsider the proposal for installing lights on the field adjacent to Willow and Studebaker, the item was withdrawn so that the City can properly notice all parties of the meeting.

That being said, I received over 200 emails over the past few weeks on the proposal -- divided among the following lines: people who live near by don't want the lights; parents of soccer team players want them.

The process needs fixing so that all parties can participate in this decision.

Lake Clean Up Done...More to Come

Thanks to the 39 people (adults and students) who came out today to help clean up the area in El Dorado Park near the back lakes. On top of being a successful event, we were treated to the sights of goregous birds on and near the lakes.

Our next "clean up" will be after Easter and will focus on painting and cleaning the benches, tables and the awful restroom in the back area. All are welcome to help.

Friday, February 12, 2010

My voting record.

The Press Telegram just ran a story on the voting records of the incumbent and candidates running in the 9th District. To save them the effort, here's my voting record from the records of the Los Angeles County Registrar of Voters since 1992 (I was registered since 1971 --back in the days you had to be 21 to vote; but the records only show from 1992 onward. And I also voted in April 1992 --that's when I was elected to the Long Beach Community College Board of Trustees):

Requested Democrat Ballot02/05/2008
Requested Democrat Ballot06/06/2006

In the pocket of the people.

The fun phrases being thrown around: "union lackey, in the pocket of the unions, union slave..." That's how some people are describing the Mayor and City Council.

I understand that these same people don't like the Mayor and Council's support of collective bargaining or the pension levels that the city is currently obligated to pay (and which need to be addressed by both state and local levels). But name calling doesn't elevate the discussion.

Now the latest I have heard is that the only reason I support using Schroeder Army Hall for a police substation is because the police union wants it.(They omitted the 7 other council members who voted for it as well.)

Really? My understanding is that when this issue was first raised, the Councilman from the 4th District stated that the POA didn't want the east station to move out of the 4th Council district and that they wanted a substation in the 4th and not in the 5th (which is just actually blocks away).

At no time have I ever talked with the police union about Schroeder Hall. Ever.

The proposal to use that surplus army property as a police substation was made by a citizen's committee which approved the city's application for that use. (The committee approved that use instead of the other applications which also included transitional housing units.)

That property -- which is in great condition -- will save the City of Long Beach millions of dollars because of the value of the land and the fact that the buildings do not need to be demolished. The current police substation next to Krispy Kreme is bursting at the seams and is costing the city thousands in rent.

And yes, the 800 pound gorilla is still in the room -- accepting the property from the army requires that the city accommodate the homeless -- which the city is still working on in order to minimize impacts on the surrounding community.

I don't know if people notice my votes on the council. But I am in no one's pocket except the people who elected me.

State of the 5th -- 2010

I presented my 4th annual State of the 5th to a full house at the LB Water Treatment Plant on Spring and Redondo which is posted for your reading to the right of the blog.

Folks got a chance to meet and to hear our new Police Chief Jim McDonnell. The City Manager, Pat West and Eastside Commander Cynthia Renaud also spoke.

Crime is down and low in the 5th. Code Enforcement is up and active as more and more constituents call to have problems taken care of in their neighborhoods.

Fire Services continue to be mostly for medical transport and rescue.

Bach and El Dorado continue to be the most used branches in our library system.

Streets, sidewalks and trees can't be fixed fast enough but we are making good progress in consolidating the areas and getting more done with the monies we have. This year the 5th will received over $600,000 (instead of the usual $300,000) for sidewalk repairs.

I talked about how the biggest challenge to the City is pension reform and creating non-governmental, diverse jobs if we are to get our tax base healthy again.

We had a brief update on our improvements to the Airport and what is going on over on the Douglas Park project.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Oh to be a developer in Long Beach.

Last night's council discussion on why the city had to give a piece of land on Terminal Island for $400,000 less than the city appraisal and on top of it to credit any improvements against the rent so that the lessee will not pay rent for 8-10 years is exactly why taxpayers are fed up.

On one hand the council raises fees for its services -- including charging residents $1200 for a traffic study to document that the traffic the city brought to their neighborhood because of sports teams in the parks is causing a parking problem -- and then says because the city is cash strapped can't possibly waive them. But when it comes to developers. Lordy, lordy does it ever bend over backwards to waive, reduce and say goodbye to revenue when it comes to developers.

"We couldn't possibly clean up the mess on the property so we'll let the lessee do it and that's why we won't charge rent." Hello. We are a city, a governmental agency giving away assets.

What was amazing to listen to and watch was the councilmember of the 3rd district rally to support the councilwoman of the 7th district on this deal. That is what I call effective lobbying.

Lobbyists Will Register. All Gifts are Prohibited. More Changes to Come.

The City Council on a 9-0 vote passed the city's first ordinance to register lobbyists. What a difference year and several months makes. Why it was just November 2008 when the existing council (sans Garcia) voted 7-1 (the one being me) AGAINST virtually the same ordinance.

Well, let's not complain. We need to move forward. So the vote yesterday now means Long Beach joined the big boys (those other cities who already register lobbyists).

A very significant change is the "no gifts" provision by any elected or city official (key staff). I have used this rule since my election in 2006 and have pushed for its adoption for a long time.

Have also pushed for disclosure of meetings and discussions out of the public view --ex parte. My colleagues are still reluctant on that one but I will still push.

I am also bringing forward an ordinance to increase the time between leaving elected office or a high level city job and returning as a lobbyist. The revolving door is wrong and needs to be stopped.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The problem is not Murchison. It's always the council's fault.

Today's Press Telegram spends considerable ink profiling local lobbyist, Mike Murchison, and painting him as someone who lives to influence the Mayor, City Council and city staff.

They are correct. Murchison does specialize in influence. That is his job. That's what makes him effective to his clients who are attempting to do business in Long Beach. So does that make him "the bad guy?" Nope. He is effective (on most council people and seemingly the Mayor and his staff) at doing his job. He gets his clients through to the winning line.

(I have to add here that I am amazed why anyone hires a lobbyist to do business in Long Beach...a point I bring up whenever a lobbyist brings in a client to my office. I tell the client -- "you don't need to pay someone to get an appointment with my office. You just need to pick up the phone and call me. I will talk to anyone who requests a meeting. That's my job.")

If Murchison is effective at influencing decision makers it is the decision makers who need to be held accountable. And the council to date has refused to be accountable on the issue of lobbyists. Not one council member sitting on the current council, except me, voted for a lobbyist ordinance in 2008 and voted to prohibit all gifts from lobbyists. Therein lies the fault.

Last time as the council took up the lobbyist ordinance, several council members waxed sadly about how accepting gifts from lobbyists was how you did business and that to refuse the gifts was insulting.

With poetry like that, how did we ever expect city staff to refuse hotels and trips or offers for tickets to hockey games or baseball games? When your boss says its okay to accept gifts from influence peddlers, then it's hard to turn them down when they are offered to you.

From the time I ran for council (you can check out that website to verify) I called for disclosure by electeds before they vote on whether or not they have received anything from anyone connected to the issue. The response I have received to that -- "people can look up campaign reports." Really. How about the electeds taking responsibility for disclosure? I have also called for disclosure of ex parte discussions so that the public gets the benefit of knowing what was discussed on city business behind closed doors.

So this Tuesday, thanks to Councilman Robert Garcia who joined me in calling for a lobbyist ordinance, we will have yet another vote and I will again make a call for no gifts of any amount from lobbyists or anyone doing business before the City Council. I will also support disclosure of ex parte discussions.

Let's stop demonizing those who have taken advantage of a broken system and fix the system.

Save Station 18

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