FPPC ID# 1385812
|(May 30, 2016, 7:50 p.m.) -- Over the past few months, we've watched as various LB non-government groups let LB government officials present the case for City Hall's June ballot Measure A that would raise LB's sales tax to 10% (currently 9% in Lakewood/Signal Hill and 8% in most OC cities) and let the Mayor and Council spend the money on what general fund items they wish.
At the same time, some in leadership positions in those groups thought it was acceptable not to let any opponent of the ballot measure present the case against the ballot measure. No opportunity to challenge City Hall's narrative. No opportunity to counter what city officials claimed were facts. No chance to present facts countering what city officialdom claimed.
This didn't just prevent opposition speakers from speaking; it prevented the group's members and others from hearing what opponents had to say. Yes, the public could sometimes ask city officials questions...to which the city officials then provided the only allowed answers.
So...is this the new "Long Beach Way?" If so, in our opinion, it differs little from part of a sample ballot pamphlet we created below:
[Scroll down for further.]
We wouldn't let some foreign power do this to us. None of our government officials could do this (the constitution prohibits such government action.) We're focusing on the actions of LB's independent, non-governmental neighborhood, civic and business groups. Some of them effectively treated the arguments of opponents as dispensable in the conduct of their group meetings.
In a major urban center with nearly half a million residents in the second largest metroplex in the country, only one neighborhood group of which we're aware -- the DeForest Park Neighborhood Association in North Long Beach under president Dan Pressburg -- presented both sides of the tax increase ballot measure. We covered it and made extended audio available citywide.
Our city's Mayor was scheduled to speak, but at the last minute said he'd become busy in Sacramento. That was plausible...except that weeks earlier we offered him and any Council incumbent of his choice the opportunity to publicly debate two individuals who'd signed the ballot argument in opposition...and we never heard back from him.
Some groups told us they couldn't find speakers in opposition (although they were on file with the City Clerk.) Some said they didn't want a "debate" but couldn't explain why they wouldn't allow even a non-debate style presentation by opponents. Another said letting the Mayor speak without opposition seemed OK because many of the group's members already opposed the tax increase (huh?) Another said the ballot measure's proponents didn't provide a speaker in support when they learned there'd be an opposing speaker (speaks volumes if true.) And one 5th district neighborhood group initially announced on Facebook that the Mayor and the district's Councilmember would speak about Measure A, but when some group members proposed a speaker in opposition, the group's leadership changed the group's scheduled topic to evade discussing the ballot measure entirely, self-censoring both sides. Good grief.
Of what were LB's self-censors afraid? Mayor Garcia is quite capable of taking care of himself in a public forum, but he didn't have to worry much about such discourse because multiple monied enablers and special interests ante'd up nearly $400,000 (thus far) to create an echo chamber to drown out the opposition.
LB's neighborhood, civic and business groups could have provided a respectable check and balance to this by simply allowing both sides of the ballot measure; instead, too many of them effectively became part of the echo chamber.
Faced with a David vs. Goliath challenge, LB Taxpayers Association co-founder Tom Stout traveled the length and breadth of the city, handing out primitive copies of his opposition ballot argument to residents eager to read what their group's leadership wouldn't allow to be heard.
All of us just transitioned through another Memorial Day, recalling those who died while protecting our freedoms. In about a month on July 4th, we'll celebrate the fact that some people 240 years defied a King and chose liberty over death.
What would they think if they returned to today's Long Beach and found some local group leaders willing to let city government present its side of a ballot measure to raise taxes while they deemed dispensable the viewpoint of taxpayers in opposition?
We hope that members of these groups will convey to their group's leadership that censoring the opposition to City Hall's ballot measure was wrong; if the group's current leadership doesn't accept this, we presume members can change their group's leadership.
And we remind LB voters that they can send a powerful message showing that the pro-tax-hike echo chamber doesn't work...by voting No on Measure A:
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Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050