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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.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Should the City Council let you know what is being offered to public employees?

Psst! Do you want to know when the City Council offers public employees salary and pension increases before it's too late to have input?

Right now, the City Charter allows the Council to direct City Management to negotiate with public employees without telling the public what is being done before the contract is agreed to by both sides. And, nothing in the City Charter requires the City Manager to certify that the City has the funds to pay for what is being given in the contract so contracts can be agreed to without the public knowing "how are we going to pay for it?"

Funny thing is that all school districts are required under state law to sunshine bargaining proposals, to allow the public to comment on the offers and to make the CEO of school districts certify that the school district has the money to pay for the bargaining proposals. This hasn't "ruined" the bargaining process for either side.

So why is it cities are allowed to keep this process hidden from the public?

That isn't right and as a Charter City, Long Beach can amend its charter to require that this process gets opened to the public for scrutiny.

Will you help me change this and open up the process so that the public knows what is being offered and asked for by both sides BEFORE negotiations begin?

On Tuesday, January 18, during the City Council, we will be discussing my agenda item outlining how our Charter can be changed to require that the City Council open up the negotiating process so that the public knows ahead of time what is being offered to employees and what the employees are requesting in any new contract negotiations. Additionally, the City Manager would have to publicly certify that the City has the funds to pay for any increases given in a contract.

I am trying to get the City Council to put this "sunshine" requirement on the next ballot so you have an opportunity to vote for a fully open and transparent process.

There are many people who want to stop this proposal. You will hear their "argument" that we don't need to set this in law -- that "future city councils can follow our policy." Nonsense. If this requirement is not put into the charter by a vote of the residents, this council and future councils can continue refusing to open up this process.

By helping me get this on the ballot we can open up the process of bargaining so that the public can provide input at an early stage and the City Council is held accountable for that we agree to. This will make a giant step towards real pension reform. 

We can make all the noise we want about adjusting the formula for pensions (and they do need to be changed for new hires)-- but those formulas will not have an impact for at least 15 years because we are not hiring a lot of new employees.

Opening up the process right now will have immediate impact because the public will be brought into the process at the beginning instead of at the end when it is too late.

After you read this email, take a moment and email the Mayor every member of the City Council and tell them you support a Charter Amendment requiring that City contracts be "sun shined" so that the public can know at the beginning of the process what is offered and that the City Manager must certify before the contract is signed that the City has the money to pay for what is being given in the contract.

Please send your email to:

Save Station 18

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