One Councilmember, Or More, Should Agendize Vote To Restore LB's Prior Law And Reverse Election-Tilting, Incumbent-Perpetuating Officeholder Account Changes is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(April 28, 2017, 10:15 a.m.) -- At least one Councilmember, or up to four, should agendize an item to reverse the self-serving action of a Council majority, enabled by Mayor Garcia, that recently changed LB law on allowable uses of contributor-fueled "officeholder accounts" to serve themselves and not the public. If three Councilmembers won't agendize the change for the upcoming Council meeting, any single Councilmember can do so by noon on Monday for the next week's meeting.

We urge an agenda item to restore LB's law on "officeholder accounts" to what it was before the Council's voted actions of April 11 and 18. Only two additional Councilmembers would be needed for this to succeed beyond Supernaw, Price and Mungo, who would hopefully stick with their April 18 voted dissents.

There's been a citywide outcry, from left to right, insiders to outsiders, over what a Council majority did and how they did it. Here's what they did:

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  • Council incumbent X can now use his/her "officeholder" account (to which contribution totals were TRIPLED by Council actions in Jan-Feb. 2015) to help re-elect Council incumbent Y. And Council incumbent Y can use his/her"officeholder" sums to help re-elect Council incumbent X.

  • Council incumbents X or Y can use "officeholder" sums to re-elect Mayor Z. And Mayor Z, whose officeholder account can be three times the tripled size of Councilmembers, can use Mayoral sums to help re-elect Council incumbents X and Y.

  • Councilmembers X, Y and Mayor Z can use their "officeholder" sums help elect politicians outside Long Beach who can help the incumbents advance.

This is machine-style stuff...and it may be even worse.

Could incumbent X give sums from his/her "officeholder" account to an "independent committee" that supports the election of Councilmember Y or Mayor Z? Could incumbents do this in addition to giving money to another incumbent Councilmember's campaign committee, so the total effectively supporting the candidate exceeds LB's limits on contributions to a LB candidate-controlled campaign account? Could Councilmember X use his/her current "officeholder account" sums to fund a campaign committee for their run for another office?

If "officeholder accounts" can't even be modestly limited (as the City Attorney's memo appears to suggest but didn't flatly assert), could the Council eliminate "officeholder accounts" entirely? LB electeds created them in 1995 over strenuous objections by election reform advocates that the "officeholder accounts" would turn into incumbent-dispensed "slush funds" (as they have.) The truth is the City of LB survived for many years without allowing city elected officials to maintain so-called "officeholder accounts."

It isn't clear to us from the Council's April 2017 actions that Long Beach HAD to descend Sacramento's swamp-level rules. We don't think it's smart to lower LB's standards to some Sac'to minimum if we don't have to do so. Councilwoman Price interpretted an 11th hour City Attorney memo as suggesting that LB's current laws wouldn't be enforceable. We don't read it that way, and the furthest City Attorney Parkin would go publicly is that he thinks LB's current rules would be difficult to defend. Huh? On what basis? What reasoning? Why didn't his office bring this up -- in late 2014 and early 2015 -- when the City Attorney's office GUIDED changes that let Councilmembers TRIPLE the annual sums they could collect despite the LB local limits that his office now suggests would be difficult to enforce? (The two cases cited in the memo were from 2010 and 1992.)

In our view, the City Attorney memo provides no political cover for incumbents. It's simply isn't credible, materializing just hours before the Council vote. The public, and Councilmembers, deserved an opportunity to subject that memo to meaningful analyze and scrutiny and discussion of possible alternatives, remedies and options. That didn't happen.

All of these issues, and more, deserved discussion and answers BEFORE a Council majority voted to do what it did. What took place was a travesty, an embarrassment. In full public view, Long Beach incumbents voted to try to tilt LB elections in their interests, installing a machine that will make it harder for the public to elect challengers who could bring changes and reforms.

What's happened has unified and angered voters that aren't ordinarily unified or angered on many things. Here's what smart LB electeds should do.

Three Councilmembers should agendize an item to reverse what's been done. If they won't do it together, one Councilmember can do it.

If not one incumbent Councilmember will do it, then in our opinion Long Beach voters should take it as an invitation (if they needed one) to elect new Councilmembers in districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 and new Mayor who didn't oppose what was done, presided over what was done and how it was done, and refused to veto the self-serving result of what was done.

Who knows? What happened may even paradoxically help bring changes in LB's 2018 election cycle.

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