Councilwoman Schipske forwarded your email to me for a response regarding the 2011 Long Beach Gas and Oil (LBGO) calendar. I can understand why a member of the public might consider the calendar frivolous but I can assure you that there are valid reasons why the calendar is produced and sent.
The calendar fulfills a 2005 requirement from the Federal Department of Transportation (DOT), which regulates the natural gas industry, to increase consumer knowledge on how to safely use natural gas. Therefore, each of the past 5 years, LBGO has mailed out the calendar to all residents and businesses in Long Beach. Hopefully, you noticed on the inside of your calendar extensive information regarding natural gas safety precautions, carbon monoxide, Dig Alert phone numbers, etc. This focus on safety is especially relevant this year as in September 2010, there was a major explosion on a natural gas pipeline in Northern California that killed eight people and destroyed 37 homes.
Some common questions asked are 1) why is taxpayers money used for this purpose?, 2) why not just include the safety information in a gas bill stuffer?, and 3) isn't producing the calendar very expensive?
1) NO taxpayer money is used to pay for the calendar. LBGO only utilizes its gas utility revenues for funding the cost of the calendar.
2) While natural gas safety information in the past had been provided via a utility bill stuffer, DOT has determined that that practice was insufficient because:
§ Few people take the time to read the stuffers
§ Few people retain the stuffers for future reference
§ Many natural gas users, such as apartment tenants, do not receive the utility bill
As a result, the industry has largely gone to utilizing calendars as a cost-effective means to convey important safety information, as people keep the calendars handy year-round.
3) All efforts are made to minimize the cost of producing the calendar. The beautiful Long Beach photos were provided free of charge from an amateur Long Beach photographer and the Long Beach Business Journal. All the design work was done internally by my Executive Assistant; therefore, no additional expense was incurred. The printing of the calendar was done by a Long Beach-based company at a cost of 29 cents per calendar. The cost for mailing the calendar using the least expensive option (bulk mail) is 18 cents per calendar. Therefore, the entire cost for each calendar is only 47 cents per calendar. If LBGO opted to purchase calendars from the American Public Gas Association, each calendar would have cost LBGO approximately $1.89, a significant price increase per calendar.
I can also understand you questioning as to why both LBGO and the Port of Long Beach sending out calendars this year. As I hopefully explained above why LBGO feels it necessary to utilize a calendar to convey its required safety message and, therefore, it was felt that LBGO needed to continue its practice of mailing out its calendar. Attempts were made to persuade the Port of Long Beach to utilize some other marketing means to celebrate its 100th anniversary. However, these attempts were obviously unsuccessful.
If you would like to discuss further, please feel free to call me at 562-570-2001.
Director - Long Beach Gas and Oil
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Wednesday, January 19, 2011
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