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, January 15, 2011

Long Beach City Manager's Weekly Report

Friday Newsletter 01-14-11a                                                            

Schipske Helps Save Historic Library Cornerstone

I am proud to say that I spearheaded the efforts to rescue a historic granite cornerstone that once was part of the City's first library building.

As you might recall, last year when the City was getting ready to "swap" the Public Service yard for acreage off Second Street, I asked for an inventory of the artifacts and other items stored over there.

During the photo presentation to Council, I noticed a photograph of a cornerstone that read:
Gift of Andrew Carnegie, A.D. 1908
Since the history of Long Beach is a passion of mine (having written two books on the topic and working on a third), I recognized immediately what the cornerstone, lying in the dirt and weeds represented for the City of Long Beach.

Our City was the beneficiary of a $30,000 gift from Andrew Carnegie, who had made his fortune in steel and set about giving away 95% of his wealth to create libraries across the U.S. The condition was a city needed to give the land for the library and promise to tax its residents for the upkeep. Which the City of Long Beach did at Pacific Park (now called Lincoln Park).

Only 1,681 cities qualified for Carnegie grants from 1889 - 1923. It helped that Long Beach had been operating a library in City Hall and that the City was committed to public schools and public libraries.

The cornerstone was laid on September 5, 1908 and on May 29, 190 the building was open to the public. The use of the Long Beach Public Library grew rapidly. In 1906, the library had 6,678 volumes and by 1910, it had 18,373.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Do we all feel better now that the unions are threatened?

I have been pushing to open up the collective bargaining process in Long Beach for several years but found little interest on the City Council. 

But I am offering it again because I do believe "sun shining" would have prevented some of the mess that we face. Why? Because if voters knew what we were negotiating and city management had to certify that we had the money to pay for what was agreed to, then you bet some prior decisions would never have been made.

Sorry folks, but I am not going to jump on the band wagon of threatening the public employee unions. First of all I do think such a threat constitutes an unfair labor practice charge and is bad faith bargaining at its worst form which violates state labor law.

Secondly it is disingenuous. Every one of the employee unions in Long Beach have indicated they  know that there has to be a change in the pension formulas and they are willing to change the formulas. The Mayor and the Council knows that. And we also know that the changes can only be made for FUTURE employees.

Thirdly, it is hypocritical to claim that public employees are acting as if they are entitled to the pensions and the salary increases. Isn't anyone in the news media ever going to point out that it was this Mayor and this Council (including me) who voted to give the employees salary increases a few years ago and that no one during those negotiations on the management side supported using some of the salary increases to pay for the pensions? (Something that the public would have known about if we had "sun shining.") How about reminding the public that because the Mayor and City Council recently negotiated these contracts that the employee contracts are NOT OPEN for changes?

How about also reporting that the public employee groups were presented with options during the budget process that if they accepted the negotiated salary increases that the Mayor and City Council gave them, then cuts would have to be made in their ranks? So they accepted the cuts and now we're pissed??

So are we saying now that we didn't really mean it? That because they didn't put the salary increases WE gave them towards their pensions but accepted the fact that there would be layoffs -- that we were kidding they had a choice?

Fourthly, the majority of the high salaries (over $100,000) and pensions that are constantly complained about in the press and by those handing out the pitchforks for the rallies -- are for management level employees -- not the rank and file employee who picks up our trash, cleans out the sewers, or does a thousand other services. So where is the plan to carefully weed out unnecessary management and to reduce management salaries? Where is the announcement that we will set the example at the top?

Fifthly, threatening that if things don't get better we have to contract out for basic city services is also unwarranted and illogical. Hello. The Los Angeles County Sheriffs and Fire Department are also public employees with similar salaries and pensions.

Do I think pensions need to be fixed? Yes. Do I think public employees should pay more of the share for the pensions? Yes. And when the contracts which THIS MAYOR and THIS COUNCIL agreed to a few short years ago expire, we need to make it the top issue on the bargaining table and we need to let the public know we are doing it.

But I also feel elected officials should be honest and open about the collective bargaining process and what part they had in creating the problems we face  -- something that right now is not happening.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to deal with an active shooter. Or what I learned today in my monthly briefing from the Long Beach Police Department.

I wrote on Facebook that the shootings in Tucson over the weekend, hit too close to home for me as an elected official who has received ugly emails or confrontations in public. Whatever your political beliefs, it should be apparent to everyone that violence has no place in politics, let alone in our daily lives.

The seriousness of what happened hit home again today during my monthly briefing with the Long Beach Police Department when I was handed a copy of the the document below.  I pass it along because unfortunately it isn't just elected officials who are the targets of violence.

What a sad commentary on our society today.

Active 001

Save Station 18

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