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Editorial

Mayor Garcia: Veto That Ordinance


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(April 20, 2017, 8:35 a.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia has no vote, but he has a veto, and he should veto the "officeholder account" ordinance that barely passed the City Council on April 18. The measure carried by only one vote (5-3) and has never received over six Council votes at the same time. Garcia's veto would require six affirmative Council votes to override his veto and enact the measure...and there may not be six votes to do so (since Councilwoman Mungo switched her position on April 18 and voted against it and another Councilmember(s) may reconsider their prior votes.)

If Mayor Garcia lets the incumbent-perpetuating money-machine take effect, LB voters can and should hold him fully responsible. Garcia's fingerprints are all over it.

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Garcia hand-picked the Elections Oversight Committee chair (Pearce) who then planted it on her Committee's agenda in March. Garcia presided when the measure reached the Council on April 4 with an agendized recommendation for a city management study of its feasibility. He then let Pearce -- without any objection or audible concerns from him -- blindside the public by making a motion to advance the measure toward enactment with NO study AND despite the Committee's voted recommendation AND its item's Council-agendized title to seek a study. That maneuver caught Councilman Supernaw by surprise, in response to which Garcia coldly responded that it was Pearce's motion, and (with the City Attorney) let this mockery of the Brown Act take place.

A little over two years earlier, Garcia's then-chosen Elections Committee chair and former Council office aide Gonzalez made it an early priority to advance a measure that tripled annual collectable officeholder sums from her committee. Of course Garcia was the largest beneficiary, piling in nearly $75,000 in "contributions" in 2016 -- outside an election cycle -- from a congestion of special interests, lobbyists and insiders. See them yourself at this link...and note the self-serving way Garcia and Gonzalez both doled out the money mainly (although not entirely) to politically useful groups.

Of course Garcia is trying to hide behind an eleventh-hour City Attorney office memo that no serious person should believe because of the way it materialized. The City Attorney's office didn't raise the memo's issue in Committee or full Council proceedings on March 14, April 4 or April 11, 2017 and it didn't do so over two years earlier when the Council tripled the officeholder collectable totals. If the two federal cases the memo cites from 1992 and 2010 are somehow relevant now, why weren't they relevant in 2014 and 2015 when a Council majority tripled total collectable sums they claimed they wanted to help neighborhood groups and community events but now want to use to elect their favored political candidates?

We haven't commented on the substance of the City Attorney's memo because it was produced in a way that has prevented serious examination of its substance. The public -- as the elected City Attorney's ultimate client -- shouldn't accept advice like this with no time for serious consideration of its impacts and considering possible options. Councilman Supernaw cited the memo's eleventh-hour appearance as among the reasons he wouldn't vote for the ordinance change and he was spot-on

Perhaps it would be better to eliminate officeholder accounts entirely (as potential 5th dist. Council candidate/former Councilmember Schipske now proposes.) Long Beach survived without "officeholder accounts" until 1995.

The process by which this entire measure advanced was willfully stealthful and non-transparent. LBREPORT.com was first (again) to blow the whistle on it and the PressTelegram to its credit then ran its own well-written piece.

What a Council majority, with the Mayor's tacit support, has tried to do was a travesty, an insult to Long Beach residents who voted in 1994 to enact local election reforms that sought to reduce the influence of money. In contrast, LB's current crop of Council incumbents and this Mayor have done exactly the opposite by amplifying the influence of money in LB area elections.

If the City of Long Beach isn't absolutely, positively legally required to lower outselves to Sacramento's swamp-level standards, we shouldn't do so, and options for not doing so were never seriously examined or discussed by any Council Committe or by the full Council.

Enough. Ya basta! Mr. Mayor, veto that measure.

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