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.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Should Long Beach Ban Plastic Bags at Grocery Stores?

Come and listen to both sides on this issue.
Plastic Bag Panel Discussion Flier

156 Area Schools to Receive Solar Car Kits From Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske

The early bird may catch the worm, but it will be  middle school and high school students from Long Beach schools who will be getting a solar car kit when they attend an orientation this Saturday morning on how to build a solar car sponsored by my office.

156 school teams have signed up to participate in the 2nd Annual Solar Grand Prix and as part of the event they must attend a mandatory orientation in order to find out the rules of the Solar Grand Prix and to receive a solar car kit which they will use to build their cars.

I started this event last year and we received 50 applications from student teams. This year the response tripled because students and teachers found the experience last year to be so exciting and word got out that this event provides an opportunity to learn the basics of this alternate form of energy. Also, the races are fun and the students enjoy being creative in their designs.

Students will receive a solar car kit at the end of the orientation and will have until race day -- Saturday, April 9th -- to build their car. Cars will be judged on creativity and design and will be entered into a series of races on tracks constructed by the local Carpenter's union. The event has expanded so much that it will be moved from Good Neighbor Park to the large area behind the Parks and Recreation Administration Building where soccer is played.

The Solar Grand Prix will also feature solar energy and electric vehicle displays. The event is open to the public.

Several of the winning teams from last year's Solar Grand Prix will be on hand during the orientation to share their experiences with the teams entering the races this year.

The Solar Grand Prix orientation will be held at 8 am this Saturday, January 22 at the LB Water Treatment Plant, on Redondo off Spring. Teams must be pre-registered to attend the orientation and to receive the solar car kit. Kits were donated by a number of sponsors.

Adults wishing to volunteer to help with judging the cars and monitoring the races on April 9th are welcome to contact my office at: 562 570-6932.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Status Report on $600,000 Loan to Worthington Ford

I requested an update from City Management concerning the $600,000 loan that was given to Worthington Ford last year. The following is the response:

worthington ford

Check out the improvements on the Queen Mary

City Council was given a presentation last week that I am sharing with you that shows the numerous improvements made by the current operator of the Queen Mary. You really need to go and see them for yourselves. They are impressive.

queen mary

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Why you got a calendar from LB Gas and Oil Department

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.


Chris Garner

Director - Long Beach Gas and Oil

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

State Controller Posts Financial Report on Long Beach Redevelopment

Okay so it is early in the morning and I should be in bed. However, Council just got notice that we are having a special meeting during City Council (aren't all of our meetings, special) regarding some fast action needed to save our redevelopment monies from the newly elected Governor who is shut down redevelopment and return the tax dollars back to the city's general fund...or something like that.

Not quite sure why the City Council can do this since we are not the Redevelopment Agency for the city. Hmmm.

So, being curious about how much money we are talking about, I went on line to find the latest financial report sent by all redevelopment agencies to State Controller, John Chiang.

Okay for all of you who want to know what I know... here's the report. Pay special attention to pages 58 and 124 and 125. Shows that more than 18,000 acres of Long Beach is redevelopment. That the agencies take in millions of tax increment and spend millions.Also shows how much square footage was constructed or rehabed..and how many jobs were created by redevelopment money. The bad news is how much debt redevelopment has.


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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