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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 1, 2012

Schipske Responds to Mayor's Budget Proposals -- Says cut disproportionately hit 5th Council District

For immediate release
Contact: Office of Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske: 562 570-6932

Schipske Responds to Mayor’s Release of FY 2013 Budget
Long Beach, CA – August 1, 2012 – Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske today issued the following statement in response to Mayor Bob Foster’s release of his Fiscal Year 2013 Budget. The City Charter requires the Mayor to give his budget by August 1 so that the City Council can pass a balanced budget not later than September 15th.

“I want to thank the Mayor, the City Manager and the staff of Financial Management for their work and diligence in preparing the recommended FY 2013 budget. It is not an easy task because of the scope of services provided in this city and the complexities involved in funding these services.
The city budget is the most important policy document this city council will review as it charts the course for the city’s future and maps out what we want that future to look like.

This budget must balance the need to provide core services in an economy which has reduced revenues and that has been slow to fully recover. 

That being said, I listened to the Mayor and read his statement. I also reviewed the materials which were only given to the three council members in attendance after the press conference. I am concerned that for the second year in a row, there is an announced oil surplus (in excess of $17 million), yet reductions in services in police, fire, library and recreation services are being proposed. There is also a list of items on which the ‘surplus’ is to be spent as outlined in the Mayor’s proposals.

This approach doesn’t make sense. If I have debts, the very first thing I must do when I get more money than I budgeted, is to pay those debts – not to go off and buy a new car. 

For the past two years, we have been told – to cut essential city services such as police, fire, recreation, and libraries – and then spend the so called ‘oil surplus’ on projects.

Alternatively, the budget deficit announced for FY 2013 is not a surprise. It was announced in last year’s budget. So it doesn’t make sense if you knew you were facing a deficit in the coming year that you would spend surplus funds. Why wasn’t the ‘surplus’ of last year used to prevent a deficit this year?

The proposed budget cuts should be of particular concern to residents of eastside Long Beach -- especially the 5th Council District:
  • ·        A further reduction in fire department services and a major change in the staffing of medical services response units which will downgrade the level and type of staff on each rescue unit;
  • ·        A reduction of three police divisions into two and the planned retirement of 40 police officers;
  • ·        The elimination of after school and youth sports programs from all 5th District parks so that they can be provided only in ‘areas with greatest density, highest crime and limited alternative recreation activities’;
  • ·        Cutting Park Ranger patrol services of city parks to three days a week only at El Dorado Regional Park;
  • ·        Reducing branch libraries to becoming ‘self-service’ locations with minimal library staff and the laying off of 17 positions; and
  • ·        Cutting $1 million dollars (1/3 of total amount) for sidewalk repairs (the 5th has the most sidewalks needing repair in the entire city).

I am particularly concerned to hear (and read) the Mayor’s response to the increase in crimes on the eastside:  Mayor Foster stated: ‘No one in a policy position should get caught in a panic or rush to judgment regarding crime increases. We all should remember that crime hit 40 year lows, so recent increases in some segments are applied to a very low base.’

Excuse me? Violent crimes are up in the eastside. Residential and commercial burglaries are up in the eastside. Auto theft is up in the eastside. At every public meeting held by the Long Beach Police Department, there is a discussion that with prison re-alignment this level of crime will continue and increase. And council shouldn’t ‘rush to judgment?’

I will be holding a budget town hall at which I invite the Mayor and City Manager to address residents about why this budget as presented includes unacceptable disproportionate cuts for the eastside of Long Beach – especially the 5th Council District."

 Click link below to see full FY 2013 budget and documents:

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

White Fly Infestation -- What We Are Doing

Many constituents have written me recently complaining about the dreaded white fly that is infesting streets of our city trees.

Our City Arborist (tree specialist) has been inspecting these trees and working with both the County of Los Angeles and the University of California -- Davis experts about white fly control.

Here's what they say:

Message from Public Works Department:
“We are still struggling with the overwhelming abundance of white flies. Weather conducive to early and rapid replication created a population of white flies beyond our preparatory efforts for biological control.

"We confer with the University of California Agriculture and Natural Resources and follow their Statewide Integrated Pest Management Program. The recommended process to control white flies is through the placement of natural enemies such as lacewing larvae.

“External application of pesticides are not overly effective and the most effective pesticide is Malathion, which we don't want to use. A more recent alternative that has come to our attention is Trunk Injection. This process injects an insecticide into the phloem system of the tree. When the white fly feeds on the tree's sap, they become infected and die.

"This process should not be used on trees that will produce food within the year following the process.

"For Council District 5 in particular, we are focused on Ash trees, so this caveat is not of concern. We have conducted a pilot on a couple of Ash trees on Ladoga and Deborah Streets. The insecticide takes 7-10 days to work through the tree to the sap and we will be checking for efficacy next week. If this process works better than a biological approach, we may go citywide on our 1,500 Ash trees.”
---Michael Conway, Director, Public Works Department

I am including a slide presentation (click here) (done in Florida -- which has the same problems) that you might find helpful, as well as links to articles and websites. (Click here to get article on home garden pest management)

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