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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

10 Breath Taking Reasons Why Only One Member of Council Stood Up for Taxpayers And Voted Against Spending Yet Another Million Dollars on Yet Another Consultant

On Tuesday, December 3, the Long Beach City Council on a 7-1 vote (Schipske voting “no”) approved spending over $1 million to hire a consultant to put together a “Request for Proposal” that will be sent to developers for the demolition and rebuild of the City Hall and Main Library that were built in 1976. The demolition and rebuild are projected to cost at least $435 million. ($12.8 million x 34 years). City staff has already told prospective developers that the project could be financed with “either taxable financing, tax-exempt financing or any combination.” The current City Hall is valued at $86 million.

 10.    The City Council wasn’t even shown the proposed contract with the consultant so we didn’t get to review what over $1 million was buying in terms of services, number of hours for the services,etc.  It’s just money, right?  We still don’t have a fire engine in Belmont Shores or a rescue unit in North Long Beach. But we’ve got consultants.

9.       The Council has not been given an extensive seismic report, as requested from City Management, that details why the current buildings are: a) unsafe and/or b) cannot be retrofitted. So if the buildings are so unsafe that they need to be torn down, why are they still occupied and will be for the next several years while this project gets put together?

8.       The Cities of San Francisco, Los Angeles and Pasadena have all retrofitted their City Halls instead of tearing them down, even though their buildings were constructed in: 1912 – San Francisco; 1928 – Los Angeles; 1927 – Pasadena. And, the shock of it all, these cities involved their City  Council and their taxpayers.

7.        The City Council was told it will not be allowed to read the “Request for Proposal” before it is sent to the developers. Only city staff will get a look at it. Ergo – a consultant will determine what type of financing, what size of the buildings, what other buildings will be on City property, etc. Is this so elected officials can say “gosh we didn’t know" if the project goes bad?

6.        The Council removed a large portion of funding for “public outreach” efforts that would ask the taxpayers for their opinions on this mega project. Seems only fair? If the elected City Council doesn’t get to give input on this project, then why should taxpayers...
5.        The developers responding to the “Request for Proposals” will be compensated with up to one-half million dollars each for just responding because it takes a lot of effort to put plans together – even plans that might not be accepted by the City Council. Nice work if you can get it.
4.        Part of the proposal that has already been given to developers for a “new main library” calls for a much smaller structure of 50,000 – 70,000 square feet down from its current 135,000 square feet. When City staff was asked where the smaller figure came from, the staff person responded “I made it up.” Amazing. Perhaps the entire reasoning that this project has to go forward was “made up” as well.
3.     The City Attorney has indicated that the City might need to ask the State Legislature to pass legislation to allow the City to set up a special financing of this project with a private developer. That’s because there are limits to on-going financial obligations. But heck, just maybe we can get them waived.
2.         The City Council would not even discuss a proposal by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske to prohibit campaign contributions from developers, contractors or anyone doing or bidding to do business with the City of Long Beach. So watch the campaign contributions start flowing in on this project that has no direction from City Council, minimal input from the taxpayers and no documentation as to why the buildings can’t be retrofitted instead of torn down and rebuilt. Merry Christmas.
1.        Five council members currently serving in office will be out of here, when the final proposal is given to City Council next July 2014. So a brand new Mayor and Council and City Attorney will be handed a project they didn’t review or approve but which already had cost the City several millions of dollars and may cost the taxpayers hundreds of millions more. Now that’s political planning.

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