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(Feb. 21, 2016) -- We contrast below the "let them eat cake" attitude of Mayor Robert Garcia in trying to justify a "blank check" sales tax increase that he and current and future Councils could spend on basically anything they want with the very different real world words of long time community volunteer Gary Shelton, now a retiree on a fixed income.

We quote their words at the Feb. 16, 2016 Long Beach City Council meeting after Councilman Al Austin made the motion (that his Council colleagues approved without dissent) to have the City Attorney draft a ballot measure that won't legally require the current or future Councils to deliver what the incumbents claim now but will guarantee that nearly everything consumers buy in Long Beach will be taxed at 10%, while it's 9% in L.A., Lakewood and Signal Hill and 8% in most OC cities.

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In defending his proposal, Mayor Garcia scornfully asserted, "What will end up being to voters to cost on a monthly basis the cost of a Starbucks coffee, that will be the cost of this increase."

Given 180 seconds to speak as a lowly taxpayer, Mr. Shelton stated: "I'm here to sort of speak on behalf of folks like myself who can't afford a Starbucks coffee...The folks who can't afford that Starbucks coffee have somewhere around $600 to $1,200 maybe a month left over in expendable funds left over after they pay their needed payments, rent, so forth. Every single dollar of that is taxed in sales tax...That's what's called a regressive tax..."

When Mr. Shelton's 180 seconds expired, Mayor Garcia's cold reply was "Thank you, next speaker please." Motion-maker Austin, joined by the rest of the Council, likewise said nothing.

Affording a Starbucks coffee probably isn't an issue for Naples/Peninsula retired Mayors Bob Foster and Beverly O'Neill have endorsed the blank check regressive tax hike. Foster sought election in 2006 by pledging to put 100 officers on the street in his first four years; after eight years in office, he left LB with roughly 200 officers fewer than LB had in 2008 with roughly 20% of LBPD's citywide deployable gone. (Foster blames this largely on the "Great Recession," but surrounding cities didn't do anything like this.) Foster's budgets erased virtually all of the officers he'd started to add plus virtually all of officers added under O'Neill over the previous 12 years, including LBPD's field anti-gang unit that Foster recommended eliminating in his proposed FY13 and FY14 budgets and Garcia did eliminate in his proposed FY15 and FY16 budgets that the current Council (with Supernaw joining in 2015) approved.

For the record: the leadership of LB's Police Officers Ass'n said not a word in opposing these actions by the Mayors and Councilmembers they endorsed. This showed the entire city that as a union PAC, its priority is to install and maintain incumbents who'll reliably dispense pay and benefits, not provide more police for taxpayers. has repeatedly noted that Long Beach is a tale of two cities. Naples and the Peninsula don't have gang shootings that other parts of Long Beach endure. In September 2013, one of Austin's 8th district constituents, Laurie Angel, came to the Council speakers podium. Ms. Angel described what she and her neighbors experience. She urged Councilman Austin not to approve a budget that failed to provide the field anti-gang unit. He did nothing to support her and voted for a budget that resulted in erasing the field anti-gang unit.

This wasn't about frugality. Just weeks later in November 2013, Austin joined Garcia in voting to approve double-digit pay raises for city management. Two years later, the current Council voted to saddle LB taxpayers with the recklessly costly and unnecessary Civic Center tear-down/privatize/over-promised-cost boondoggle -- that the proposed sales tax increase can fund as "infrastructure" while siphoning dollars away from neighborhood street and sidewalk repairs.

The PressTelegram recently indicated that all of the 2nd district Council candidates support the tax hike. In the working class crime-impacted 6th district, where incumbent Dee Andrews wants a third-term as a write-in (and is endorsed by Garcia, Foster and O'Neill), we've heard no opposition on the proposed sale tax hike from three ballot candidates who seek to succeed him.

However in the 8th district, after trying as a constituent to try and talk sense into incumbent Austin, Ms. Angel has entered the race to move him off of his Council perch so she can run things differently as the next 8th district Councilwoman.

The French revolution swept away those who told the public to eat cake when they didn't have bread. What LB taxpayers do with a City Council that treats them as serfs will be seen in the coming months.

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