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, April 6, 2013

Here's How the Voting for Best Elected Local Official Went...

The Beachcomber news asked its readers to vote for the "Best" in many categories. I have just learned that with 4,000 votes cast, I was selected. Thanks to all who voted for me. This is a special honor.

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Wednesday, April 3, 2013

The real reason Long Beach has a surplus

Do You Believe in Magic (album)
Do You Believe in Magic (album) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Don't want to burst the bubble and take the magic away. But the real reason we are experiencing a surplus in 2014 is because we received a $26 million dollar jump in property taxes because they had been swept away and sent to redevelopment all these years.

Take a look at when Long Beach started to have economic problems and you will see they weren't caused by public employee pensions. Because if they were the cause, when the City Council negotiated pension reform, the City would have realized a surplus. Right? Wrong.

When the City put 42% of the entire city into redevelopment it swept that tax increment into what was largely a debt servicing agency. Don't believe it? Go on line as I have and read all the redevelopment reports that the City of Long Beach filed with the State Controller John Chiang. 98% of the funds/taxes collected by Long Beach redevelopment went into Administrative costs, salaries and debt services. By its own reporting, the City created few jobs because of redevelopment. Gradually as property appreciated more and more money went into redevelopment instead of the general fund. That meant all of those property taxes did not go into the general fund to be used across the entire city.

Some on the City council railed against the Governor and State Legislature for abolishing redevelopment and redirecting property taxes to government and not local development. Not I. As the representative of an area that has only a sliver of redevelopment area -- it surrounds Schroeder Army Hall -- the eastside had to rely upon general fund moneys only for city services and improvements. Redevelopment areas in the rest of the city received both redevelopment funds and general funds. Most significantly, tax increment was not available for the entire city.

There are spots of success in Long Beach directly linked to redevelopment. Come on. Let's be open and transparent. Before we all go slapping each other on the back and saying what a great job we did creating the surplus, we need to admit that had redevelopment not been abolished last year and property taxes not returned, we would be singing a different tune and there would be no surplus. Residents deserve our honesty so they can weigh in when we make decisions that impact them. They had no say when Long Beach diverted property taxes into redevelopment and it is time we told them what problems that created with our budget.

Knowing that, we should pause and say, never, never again should a council get involved in a scheme that takes away property taxes from the general fund.

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Help Us Catch These Thieves

English: A car that has been burglarized. Bad ...
English: A car that has been burglarized. Bad for me, good for Wikipedia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The LB Police have released a video of thieves getting access to residents' cars with some type of device. This was filmed in El Dorado Park Estates by a security camera on a house.

Take a look at the video and let the police know if you know them.

Here's the release and the video. By the way -- a good dog that barks would have scared these creeps away.

Press Release from the Long Beach Police Department - April 3, 2013


The Long Beach Police Department is asking for the public's help in identifying three suspects wanted in connection with a series of auto burglaries, where unknown technology was used to gain keyless entry into several vehicles.

During the early morning hours of February 26, 2013, three suspects were caught on surveillance camera in an East Long Beach neighborhood utilizing small handheld devices to unlock vehicles before burglarizing them.  In the video, two suspects are seen walking up to four different vehicles, two parked on the street, and two parked in the same driveway.  Although they are not able to gain access to the vehicles in the street, they are able to access the two vehicles parked in the driveway after a handheld device is manipulated causing the vehicle's dome light to come on and doors to unlock.  While this is taking place, a third suspect is seen walking on the opposite side of the street.  On this particular night, seven vehicles in this neighborhood were accessed and burglarized.

Potentially, there could be numerous residents who were unknowingly victimized, or believed they may have left their vehicles unlocked and a suspect took advantage of the opportunity, but there is no way to know for sure.  Investigators are uncertain whether any particular make or model of vehicle is more vulnerable than any another. The LBPD's Auto Theft Detail has been working with law enforcement agencies throughout the nation and internationally, as well as vehicle manufacturers, attempting to identify the type of technology that is being used.

The LBPD is strongly reminding residents to call 9-1-1 immediately if they see suspicious persons in their neighborhood at any time of the day or night, and to note a physical description of the suspect(s) and any vehicle, including make, model, color and license plate if possible.  

"This is a situation where technology is working against us, making our job much more challenging at a time where resources are already strained.  Just as law enforcement tactics evolve, so does the criminal element's and we need the community's involvement more so than ever," stated Long Beach Police Chief Jim McDonnell.  

The LBPD is also encouraging the community to practice the following safety tips, which may prevent you from becoming a victim, or minimize the loss experienced in an auto burglary:

- install motion sensor lighting around your home
- remove all valuables from vehicles, including trunks
- if your vehicle was issued a valet key, locate that key and ensure it isn't left in your vehicle
- consider installing surveillance cameras around your home, which could lead to suspect identification

Anyone with information regarding the identity of the suspects depicted in the video or the burglaries is urged to contact LBPD Auto Theft Detective Joseph Starbird at (562) 570-7362.  Anonymous tips may be submitted by calling 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), texting TIPLA plus your tip to CRIMES (274637), or

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Time to Ban Contributions from Contractors and Disclose Texts and Communications

California Watch
California Watch (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Long Beach Needs to Ban Contributions From Lobbyists and Contractors, Make Elected Officials Disclose Conversations Before Vote Including Texts and Emails During Council and Disclose Private Text Messages or Other Electronic Communications About City Business

by Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske
As part of “Open Up Long Beach” – a project to make the City of Long Beach more open and transparent, I monitor the efforts of organizations that are working on transparency in government, such as the Sunlight Foundation. Recently, that organization announced that the District Court in the District of Columbia upheld the long time ban on political contributions from any person negotiating or performing a federal government contract stating:

The ban on such contributions guards against “pay-to-play” arrangements, in which people seeking federal contracts provide financial support to political candidates in return for their help securing government business. It also protects such contractors from pressure to contribute or risk losing their work.  

The Court further stated that it was not the “courts’ practice to “‘second-guess a … [legislative] determination as to the need for prophylactic measures where corruption is the evil feared’.”

It seems then it might be time for the City of Long Beach to enact a similar contribution ban. Conceivably, that ban could be applied to those who seek approval for a development, an entertainment permit or those who are lobbying for a specific ordinance. Some would argue that it should extend to employee unions who are under contract with the City.

I was particularly taken back when year ago on February 14, the City Council voted on whether or not to ban operation of medical marijuana collectives.

Why? Because in excess of $8,000 had poured into the campaign and officeholder accounts of several council members from businesses and lobbyists representing the medical marijuana industry. Now that may not sound like a lot of money. But considering that contributions are limited to $350 for a campaign and $500 for an officeholder account, this is a considerable sum.

City Attorney Robert Shannon told the City Council over the past several months that we needed to ban the operation of medical marijuana collectives because the court ruled on a case specifically involving the City of Long Beach’s regulation of medical marijuana collectives. The court held that the City cannot regulate that which is illegal. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law. A ban not only impacts access to medical marijuana by residents but stops an extremely lucrative revenue stream for those who operate the collectives. Some of these lobbyists who gave contributions also sent Council members language they wanted inserted into the City’s ordinance – a fact never disclosed during the discussion or the vote.

Long Beach should handle this situation in one of two ways: Either ban the contributions from anyone who is negotiating with the City or doing work for the City and/or require the elected official to disclose before voting at City Council if he or she has received a contribution and a statement that he or she does not believe there is a conflict of interest. Plain and simple.

Several cities have enacted laws which disqualify a council member from participating in decisions affecting his or her campaign contributors. These laws disqualify the council member from participating in certain proceedings if the official has received campaign contributions from a party, participant or their agents within the 12 months preceding the decision. They also require disclosure on the record of the proceeding of all campaign contributions received from these persons during that period. In addition, these laws prohibit solicitation or receipt of campaign contributions during such proceedings, and for three months after the decision, from parties, participants or their agents.

The voters of the City of Los Angeles enacted changes to their charter in 2011 that create new campaign contribution restrictions on contractors bidding on contracts with the City. They have prohibited making campaign contributions to any elected City office, candidate for elected City office, or City committee controlled by an elected City official or candidate if the contract requires approval of the Council and the contract requires approval by the elected City office that is held or sought by the person to whom the contribution would be given. (In LA, the ban starts with contracts worth $100,000 or more.)

It is time that Long Beach strengthened our campaign finance laws by either prohibiting campaign contributions from those trying to do or actively doing business with the City and by requiring elected officials to publicly disclose before they take a vote whether or not they have received any contributions from anyone benefiting from a council vote.

Additionally, just this week the City Council of San Jose unanimously passed an ordinance requiring themselves to disclose if a lobbyist contacts a councilmember by text, email or handwritten note during a public meeting and to announce the identity of the lobbyist and the subject of the communication before it comes to a vote.

Another major development regarding texts and emails came last week with a court ruling that San Jose City Councilmembers’ private text messages, emails and other electronic communications about city affairs must be made public.

The City Council can pass these legislative items to increase openness and transparency or the voters can gather signatures to place a package of reforms on the ballot in the next general election. In either case, Long Beach needs to move forward on this issue.

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