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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.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Long Beach Municipal Band

I have received dozens of emails asking that the Long Beach Municipal Band not be reduced or eliminated out of the city budget.

First, please know I live across the street from where the El Dorado park concerts are held on Fridays and have attended these concerts long before I was elected to City Council.

Secondly, the city faces a $18 million dollar deficit. The concerts performed by the musicians cost the city $450,000 for 6 week -- 2 hour venues. The same amount funds 4 police officers or 4 firefighters for an entire year.

Thirdly, Long Beach long ago abandoned employing a Long Beach Municipal Band. Instead, they would contract each summer for a conductor who would put the call out in Southern California for band players. They would come together and play each summer. The next summer different players would sign on.

Fourthly, people who attend the concerts do donate -- but the amount is small: $50,000 which leaves $400,000 to come out of the budget.

So that being said, we need to find a corporate sponsor to underwrite the costs and/or get a conductor and band that will play for less than $15,000 a concert plus the costs of the sheet music which I understand runs @ $54,000.

We are cutting parks, recreation, libraries, police, fire, etc. That is why the Mayor proposed cutting band concerts. Let's find a solution.

Federal Court Ruling on Prop 8

I released the following statement to the press today following the announcement that the Federal Court has ruled Proposition 8 is unconstitutional:

"The decision by the Federal Court today ruling that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional should be celebrated by everyone -- no matter what a person believes concerning sexual orientation -- because our constitutional rights were affirmed and remain in tact."

My vote last night on taxing marijuana

I voted against declaring a fiscal emergency last night that would be linked to putting a tax on medical marijuana because I have consistently raised questions about how we can tax something that should not be sold. Medical marijuana collectives are supposed to be non-profit and are not supposed to be selling.

Moreoever, how is it that if we consider this to be medicine, we are taxing it? We don't tax other medicine.

I did vote to tax recreational marijuana -- however, I don't believe Prop 19 will pass.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

3 Person Fire Trucks Have to Be Negotiated --- Rolling Brownouts is Rolling the Dice on Response Time

The problem with a budget being dropped in the laps of City Council that contains proposals by the Mayor to cut fire and police without any analysis of what the impact would be on service levels, is that everyone thinks they are an expert on fire and police staffing.

Take for example a proposal being shopped around -- reducing the level of staffing on a fire truck from 5 to 3 persons.And the proposal for having a rolling brownout -- closing firestations throughout the city on a rotating cycle.

Let me share with you what just happened when the city council in Reno, NV tried this:

Staffing levels are a bargained issue.

Without data showing the council what the impact would be of reducing staffing levels, both in response time and effectiveness, not to mention how reduced staffing exposes firefighters to work hazards, then we have no business putting it out there as an action in this budget cycle. If my colleagues want to get it analyzed and negotiated then go for it, but it can't be done in the current budget cycle because there isn't sufficient time.

Also there is something very wrong with a city council directing staffing patterns for any department. We don't and should not tell the police where and how to staff. We don't tell our Public works department how many people should be on a street repair crew. You get my point.

But don't take my word about why reducing staff on a fire truck or emergency apparatus is dangerous, take a look at NPFA 1710 --

NFPA 1710: Standard for the Organization and Deployment of Fire Suppression Operations, Emergency Medical Operations, and Special Operations to the Public by Career Fire Departments, 2004 Edition. Click here.

This is published by the National Fire Protection Association which is the expert on fire, electrical and building codes and safety in the U.S.

 The rolling brownout is another dumb idea. Click here and see what is happening in the City of San Diego which is using brownouts to save money -- a kid just died and some are contending it was because of the longer response time needed to bring a paramedic across town when the local station is on closure.

Save Station 18

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