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Friday, July 9, 2010

Things Candidates Did not Tell the Voters

Several of my colleagues who also faced re-election in April are supporting a proposal to reduce the number of council meetings to two a month.Funny, they didn't bother to campaign on this issue. They didn't bother to tell voters: re-elect me and I will vote to cut the number of times I have to report to work for you.

The argument that it will save $3500 a month is ridiculous. If that is so, then reduce the Mayor and Council's office budgets to pay for the public meetings. Have each council person chip in $375 to hold the meeting.

The argument that it will allow council people to hold community meetings on Tuesday with their constituents is also nonsense. Hold your community meetings 6 other days in the week if you aren't having enough meeting with your constituents. A public council meeting is the only time the public can watch and participate as we openly deliberate on issues. But maybe that is why my colleagues want to limit those opportunities -- less public discussion, less pesky constituents seeing what is being done.

Okay. So you want to cut the number of times you need to show up for city council meetings to twice a month? Then I urge you to support my charter amendment which would cut our salary 50%. (That's because our salaries were set by charter in 1988 when council met 4 times a month. In 2004, the council cut out a meeting and now some want to cut out yet another meeting.)

Put it on the ballot in November and let the people tell us what they really think of a council that doesn't want to do the job they were elected to do.

Retrofitting Suburbia

Every time I have attended a conference on municipal issues, I learn lots. I am in Rancho Bernardo at the Independent Cities Conference and today heard a very informative report on how some communities are moving to Smart Code. Basically, Smart Code is

an integrated land development ordinance. It folds zoning, subdivision regulations, urban design, public works standards and basic architectural controls into one compact document. It is also a unified ordinance, spanning scales from the region to the community to the building.
This is exactly what Long Beach needs. We need a sense of what we want Long Beach to look like instead of allowing continual development that has resulted in Long Beach looking like a patchwork. Development in Long Beach is a crapshoot for both the residents and the developer. Residents don't really know what a development is going to look like or if it will fit into an area. Developers don't know exactly what city planners are going to allow them to do and not do. Smart Code takes all that away because both parties know exactly what is desired in a development.

Additionally, Smart Code takes into account the need to address climate change and public health issues such as the growing obesity rate among young people who do not walk their neighborhoods.

Here is a link you might want to check out on this growing concept:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Charter Agenda Items -- Reducing Mayor and Council Salaries and Moving Elections to November

I am proposing two charter amendments that will address problems that have been raised recently:
  • Proposal to reduce the number of City Council meetings to only two times a month. 
  • Reduced voter turn-out for city council elections.
Three council members want to reduce the number of council meetings to just two a month. When the council and mayor's salaries were set in 1988, they were set based upon 4 council meetings a month. Sometime around 2004, the Council reduced the meetings to 3 and now they want to reduce it to two.  So, I am proposing that the voters get to vote on reducing the salaries of the mayor and city council commensurate to the 50 percent reduction in public meetings. (Please. I don't buy it that two meetings a month will allow council members to have more community meetings. I have community meetings frequently on other days/nights than Tuesday. Two meetings a month will mean more decisions get made behind the scenes and public involvement will be squashed because after all "we have a very full agenda with only meeting two times a hurry along." The people of our city are struggling financially and what is being proposed is an insult to every resident who would gladly change places with 9 city council members and work full time.)

Voter turnout in April primaries in Long Beach is dismal. The elections are costly because the city conducts them. Study after study shows that timing of an election is everything for turnout and it reduces costs to cities, which is why 40% of cities have moved their elections to be concurrent with statewide elections.


I am proposing to move our elections to a November winner-take all. This would increase voter turnout because voters already vote in state and federal elections. It would also reduce costs for the City which can consolidate the election with the county. And, it would reduce campaign spending. A candidate would only have to raise and spend for one election.

We need to remember that Long Beach once elected council members by having candidates run from an area in a primary and then the top two had to be run for city wide vote. We don't do that any longer.

Let me know how you feel about these issues.

Pretty Quiet 4th

It was fairly quiet this 4th of July and there didn't seem to be as many people in the parks as were last year.

Even though fireworks are illegal, there were pockets of streets with sparklers and small fireworks going off. The police had their hands full with responding to these.

I want to thank the LB Police Department and the Parks, Recreation and Marine Department who met earlier to discuss the park permit process.

Save Station 18

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