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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.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Why We Can’t Put a Gate Between El Dorado Park Estates and Hawaiian Gardens

This map shows the incorporated areas in Los A...
This map shows the incorporated areas in Los Angeles County, California. Hawaiian Gardens is highlighted in red. I created it in Inkscape using data from the Los Angeles County Website (Los Angeles County Incorporated Area and District Map (PDF). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
In response to an increase of residential and auto burglaries in El Dorado Park Estates, some residents have asked why the City of Long Beach cannot install a gate on Pioneer Blvd., that would prevent criminals in Hawaiian Gardens from entering the area.

First let me respond that the Long Beach Police Department is working very hard both overtly and undercover to stop the crime in the area. Long Beach Police Commander Paul LeBaron has also been in numerous discussions with the LA County Sheriff’s command staff about coordinating efforts to make certain that criminals in Hawaiian Gardens are apprehended.

 Police also tell me that while there is a criminal element in Hawaiian Gardens, it isn’t responsible for all the crime that occurs in our area. That being said, the issue of access to El Dorado Park Estates has been something hotly discussed long before I came to City Council.

 When El Dorado Park Estates was originally constructed, the north end of Ritchie/Claremore was closed and barricaded. At the time the 605 Freeway was constructed, Long Beach granted a petition by Caltrans (California Department of Transportation) to open Ritchie/Claremore to Pioneer to permit freeway access. 

In 1994, frustrated by traffic coming into El Dorado Park Estates, residents pressed the City to block Pioneer Blvd., so that access would be limited. The court ruled that Long Beach did not have the right to close a street that would affect Hawaiian Gardens, stating that the closure . . . promotes the health and safety of some of (Long Beach's) own citizens by interfering with the rights of others.

 The City of Long Beach appealed the ruling but in 1998 the higher court also denied any efforts to block off traffic from the north stating about Pioneer Blvd., that: "(1) it provides motorists, including residents of El Dorado Park Estates, direct access to the 605 Freeway; and (2) it provides motorists, including residents of El Dorado Park Estates, a direct link to regional facilities such as shopping centers in Cerritos and Lakewood, employment centers in Long Beach and in the surrounding communities, and the Long Beach Airport."

Three years ago, I asked our Traffic Engineer to study traffic on Pioneer Blvd., to determine if more were coming in than going out. He completed the study and found that the traffic flow north and south was 50-50.
Many residents of El Dorado Park Estates use Pioneer Blvd., to exit the area and access the 605.

I understand the frustration of residents and we will continue to work closely with the LBPD, but there are few circumstances under which a court would change that ruling and allow one city to block off access to a public road.
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Monday, April 8, 2013

Why Agenda Item on Using Outside Experts to Analyze City Payroll Systems

Since joining City Council in 2006, I have pushed consistently for City Management to procure an automated time keeping system: A system that makes city employees check in every day when they come and when they leave. Most major organizations that employ close to 5,000 have a system. The City of Long Beach does not.

Such a system gives an employer important information -- such as who is at work and who isn't; who works their full shift and who doesn't. It also protects the employer because it documents when lunches are taken -- failure to do so puts the company at risk for a law suit from many employees who contend they never received their lunch break. (see below under related articles).

This automated system also gives the employer the ability to make schedules and assignments.; to track vacation and sick leave, etc. Employees are given a card to swipe or a code to use on the telephone. The system tracks work and ensures the employees are actually there at work doing their jobs for the number of hours they claims.

The City of Long Beach does not have such a system. Time keeping is done on green sheets of paper each week that are hand-written and given to staff whose job it is to put the information into a computer program.
The information is then sent to a payroll company that processes paychecks.

If we were to have an earthquake tomorrow. No one could tell how many city employees were actually at work.

That is insane in this day and age of technology.

Finally a year or so ago, City management put out a request for proposals for a human resources system. What they got back were program after program that offered numerous bells and whistles. Sadly, the City had not clearly indicated what it actually was seeking and so it received proposals that were all over the place. Consequently, the City pulled the RFP and nothing was selected and the manual costly system stayed in place.

ADP Government Services were one of the responders to the RFP and contact my council office saying that I should know what happened in the process and why there were serious problems. I met in my council office with two ADP representatives who explained that it was clear to them the the City did not have the expertise to clearly specify what kind of system was needed and that moreover, the City could not tell how much current systems used by the City cost. The reps felt (and I agreed) it was important that the City know what our current system costs to determine how to select and new one that should save the city money. However, it you don't have a benchmark, you can't set a goal.

ADP Government Services reps indicated that they contract with another company who can do a study to determine the "total cost of ownership" of current systems. In other words, they can determine how much per employee it is costing the city per month to track employees' work, to manually input time sheets and then to get a paycheck processed.

I sent this information to the City Manager and I did not hear back. So I met with Councilman Gary DeLong and told him of the possibility for the City to get an analysis done so we could determine a benchmark as we go out for a new system. Councilman DeLong and I met again with ADP Government Services and city staff from Financial Management, Information Technology and the City Manager's office. It was understood from that meeting that City staff would work with ADP to  have the no cost analysis done.

Several weeks later, I chaired a meeting of the Civil Service and Personnel Committee and asked for an update. I was told that our Financial Management Department had indicated it would not participate in this analysis.

Councilmember Gary DeLong and I decided to place the issue on the Council agenda so that the entire City Council could decide should the city avail itself of a no cost analysis of the costs of our current systems.
City management thereupon (that's a big legal transition word) went to the City Attorney and prevailed on him to write a memo in opposition of the proposed analysis on the basis that it would supposedly give ADP an advantage on future RFPs.

Really? This is very interesting in light of City Management's recent actions: 1) without an RFP it used Management Partners to identify efficiencies needed and then asked for $500,000 for Management Partners to do a more thorough study -- all without ever asking for other companies to bid on this effort; 2) without an RFP it spent $80,000 for a "feasibility study" of a tunnel between the new courthouse and the jail. It gave that work to AECOM which had already examined this issue some time ago and then the City Manager gave AECOM another $986,000 to design the tunnel (that would not be built) that AECOM had studied and found "feasible." There wasn't an RFP or any other company given a chance to bid on the design.

So let's be clear on what Mr. DeLong and I are proposing:

  1. The City needs an analysis by experts in the field of human resources systems to determine what it is costing the city currently to process time keeping, payroll, leaves, vacations, etc.
  2. ADP Government services will contract with a third party to conduct the analysis. All the information obtained will be public and available to the City as well as other companies who bid to provide the actual new systems that will be needed.
  3. The City is under no obligation to select ADP for any system purchase.
Also full disclosure:
  1. I have no financial interest in ADP Government Services.
  2. I have never received nor would accept any political contribution from anyone associated with ADP.
  3. All my meetings with ADP representatives have been posted on my calendar and held in City Hall.
  4. I don't really care which outside experts conduct an analysis of our current systems and how much they are costing the taxpayer. I just want it done so we can start implementing costs savings and efficiencies into City Hall that should have been done years ago. 

P.S. No one inside City Hall can tell me how much it costs the city/taxpayers to keep track of employees' time and to process paychecks.

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