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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.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

You Gotta Give Them Hope..

There are two things I haven't made much of over the past seven years on City Council. I haven't made much of the fact that I am the first openly gay elected official in Long Beach (was first elected in 1992 to LBCC Board of Trustees) because I am who I am and that "am" includes a lot of things, not just the gender of the person I love.  And, the second matter is that this is the age of "gotcha politics" however I have found that sometimes it is best to let slights go by the wayside and not expose the smallness of others.

But as we are in "LGBT Pride" week and the City is getting ready to open up Harvey Milk Park, I thought that enough is enough. 

Several weeks ago, the Mayor  and the Vice Mayor held a public news conference on top of the Civic Plaza to raise the "Pride Flag" in solidarity to show the Supreme Court that Long Beach supported the overturning of DOMA and Prop 8.

I was purposely not invited to this event. Instead, a member of the news media called and gave me the invitation. When asked why I wasn't invited, the Mayor's office responded that it "had been on Facebook." I attended anyway and neither the Mayor nor the Vice Mayor had the courtesy to introduce me as even being there let alone as the only member on the Council who actually has a 33 year relationship that will be impacted greatly by the court's decision. I took it in my stride and then that evening helped organize a rally in the Civic Center Plaza on behalf of Marriage Equality.

Then it happened again. An invitation was sent announcing the opening the Long Beach's Harvey Milk Park on May 21st. I wasn't sent an invitation by the Mayor or the Vice Mayor who are hosting this event. A kind staff person at City Hall sent it to me because she knew I had not been invited to to the flag ceremony.

When I asked the Vice Mayor (who by the way I had nominated for that position at his request), why I had not been invited, he also dismissed me saying "it was on Facebook" and then blamed his Chief of Staff who I understand was sent to my office to "apologize."

Mistakes do happen so let's give him the benefit of the doubt. But the following is no mistake. 

I asked to be able to speak at the opening as the first openly gay elected in Long Beach and because I had suggested that the park include a place to honor local LGBT leaders which apparently is also happening. I thought it would be appropriate. The Vice Mayor responded that I could not speak because the City Parks and Recreation Department had a policy that only the Mayor and the councilperson for the district could speak. 

Funny, I always invite the Mayor and City Council to all of my events and if they attend ask them to speak because these are public parks and that is professional courtesy.

Well, you guessed it. The City Manager confirmed "no such policy exists." If it did, representatives of the Harvey Milk Foundation would not be able to speak at the opening this Tuesday.

I know this is campaign season and obviously someone thinks he will get "political Brownie points" if he keeps me out of public events. But that kind of smallness doesn't reflect what Gay Pride is about or what Harvey Milk worked so hard to achieve. 

When the City of San Francisco opened up the first Harvey Milk Plaza in 2001, all openly gay electeds were invited to speak because it was understood that the "soapbox" Harvey Milk used when he talked was more than a prop, it was a statement to focus on how important it was for our community to be heard and not silenced. (I understand there is a copy of that soapbox in the Long Beach Harvey Milk Plaza.)

Harvey Milk's most famous line was "you gotta give them hope." I am hopeful the inclusiveness Milk advocated will catch on here in Long Beach.

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City-wide I Love My Public Library Collection Drive Raises $1K for Long Beach Libraries

Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske's annual "Library Round Up" that encourages residents to "round up spare change" was expanded this year city-wide. The city-wide I Love My Public Library collection drive netted $1000 in total donations which will be presented to the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library at Tuesday's City Council meeting.

In February the Long Beach City Council voted to place collection boxes in every Long Beach Public Library to raise funds to help with purchase of books and materials for The City's libraries. The City has had to cut back on the materials and events budget of our libraries for the past several years, and the I Love My Public Library collection drive helps fill in that gap.

"When we started this annual drive to raise money for the Library's summer reading program, in the Fifth District with local businesses and the Ruth Bach and El Dorado Neighborhood Libraries, it was a way to help the two libraries provide materials that budget cuts would not have otherwise been possible," explained Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, "this year when the entire City Council voted to make this spare change drive, a city-wide event, it demonstrated how important our libraries are to the entire community."

Library Round Up collection boxes were placed at the library for the months of February - April (National Library Month). Patrons of The City's libraries donated money by adding their spare change to the collection boxes when they visited.

"We're thrilled to have the support of the entire City Council for our Libraries, which in turn supports our community's residents," said Long Beach Public Library Director, Glenda Williams.

The funds collected by the Friends of the Long Beach Public Libraries will be disbursed appropriately. Friends of the Long Beach Public Libraries also hosted a series of events during this same time period entitled: I Love My Public Library, to encourage residents to show their support of public libraries by getting involved in helping our local libraries.

The I Love My Public Library fundraising effort at all Long Beach libraries was a great success.

In past years, the spare change collected was donated to the Friends of the Long Beach Public Libraries which in turn contributed funds to restore an entire paperback book collection and hosted several children's events.

Libraries collected $800.09, and an additional $200 was donated through other sources.
Libraries collected as follows:

Main Branch: $109.79
Alamitos: $52.40
Ruth Bach $74.40
Bay Shore $94.27
Brewitt $31.56
Burnett $ .53
Dana $55.20
El Dorado $134.05
Bret Harte $65.60
Los Altos $63.67
Mark Twain $53.00
North $65.62
Outside Donations $200.00
Donate to Your Local Library
More information about the I Love My Library project, please contact the Office of Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske at 562-570-6932, or Director of the Long Beach Public Library, Glenda Williams, at 562-570-6016. For more information on how to make a donation to the Friends of the Long Beach Public Library, go to: Friends of the Long Beach Public Library.

Monday, May 13, 2013

BSNF Offers Package of Mitigation Efforts on SCIG Project -- We Need a Public Discussion at Council

English: Four BSNF units (a GE C44-9W is leadi...
English: Four BSNF units (a GE C44-9W is leading) with a double-stack train descending Tehachapi Pass, between Caliente and Bakersfield, CA. Deutsch: Vier BNSF-Loks (eine GE C44-9W voraus) mit einem "Double-Stack"-Containerzug fahren den Tehachapi Pass hinunter, zwischen Caliente und Bakersfield, Kalifornien. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The following was sent to all Council members about BSNF Rail Company's proposals to attempt to mitigate the impact of their proposed rail yard project which will sit adjacent to the residents of west Long Beach, who are already greatly impacted by pollution and noise.

The package appears promising, however, it needs to be placed on a public Council agenda so that the Council can discuss in the open each of the proposals and vote on each. This will also give the public a chance to talk on the issue.

All of this is too important to the quality of life of our residents to have it done behind closed doors and without the public being able to weigh in.

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