Perspective / Opinion

Guess Who's Trying To Derail Gerrie Schipske's State Senate Bid 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.
(Feb. 23, 2018, 4:10 p.m.) -- For Dems, Independents and Repubs familiar with the stealthful way some Dems used the Party's machinery to undermine Bernie Sanders, what we are about to describe won't be a surprise.

On Feb. 21 -- two days before the start of the CA Democratic Party's endorsement convention in San Diego this weekend (Feb. 23-25) -- a press release flew into media mailboxes announcing [despite a campaign since Sept. 2017 by former Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, a Dem, to unseat Repub incumbent state Senator Janet Nguyen (SE LB-west OC)] that a Dem pol named Tom Umberg has decided to enter the race. doesn't endorse candidates but we do remind voters of what incumbents have done (or haven't done) on important issues. This makes some Party partisans mad because we put principle over party in what we find important, for better or worse.

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As has previously reported, Republican incumbent state Senator Nguyen: (1) Voted for SB 35, the local control damaging de-facto housing density dictating developer-enabling CEQA-rights-erasing bill that Sac'to Dem leadership supported and the City of Long Beach didn't oppose; and (2) Voted for a LB City Hall-written bill (SB 562 in 2015) carried by state Senator Ricardo Lara (D, LB-Huntington Park) that facilitated the LB citywide-taxpayer-milking downtown-desired Civic Center transaction (that editorially said went beyond the "outrage of the year" and qualified as a potential "outrage of the decade.") The Civic Center deal was supported by then-Mayor Bob Foster and his now-successor Robert Garcia.

Schipske and Foster, both first elected in 2006, were frequently on a collision course. In 2008, Schipske infuriated Foster by derailing his desired property parcel tax ballot measure (by requiring voter approval by a taxpayer-protective 2/3 margin.) In 2013, Schipske was the sole Council dissenter on the Civic Center deal favored by Foster and Garcia.

And in 2013, Schipske proposed two reforms that alarmed some people inside LB City Hall. She proposed to (1) ban campaign contributions by contractors and others with business before the Council and (2) require disclosure of Councilmembers' emails that (at that time) evaded Public Record disclosure if officeholders used a non-City Hall website, email domain or social network. On the day of the Council item, an independent source told us that some people on City Hall's 14th floor were "freaking out" over the agenda item. At the Council meeting, then-Vice Mayor Robert Garcia was among Councilmembers who sat silent, refusing to second Schipske's motion to simply discuss her proposal in a Council committee, effectively killing it.

Imagine how much different LB's 2018 elections would be today if Schipske's campaign contribution reform had been enacted in 2013. Regarding emails, the CA Supreme Court ruled in 2017 that such communications are indeed public records.

We presume that the last thing Bob Foster, Robert Garcia and others like minded want is a reform-inclined Dem like Schipske in Sac'to where she might gum up the machinery.

Whose fingerprints are on this? Umberg's pop-up pre-Convention press release says his endorsers include retired LB-area state Senator Betty Karnette and (big surprise) former Mayor Foster.

When asked in early 2014 by a reporter for the now-defunct LB Register what his role was in a well-funded "independent committee" that popped up to support Robert Garcia for Mayor (against several competing candidates including Schipske), Foster famously replied: "you don't see my name on it." has had our differences with Ms. Schipske. She didn't like our coverage when we reported that she hadn't swiftly opposed JetBlue's desire for international operations at LB Airport. We wish she'd distanced herself from Dems who stuck with Hillary Clinton (who included Garcia, who penned a slobbering political love-letter to anticipated President-Elect Clinton hours before her campaign's election night train wreck. coverage here.)

When it comes to the Dem Party's endorsement, and the money it could free up in a big bucks battle against Repub incumbent Nguyen, Schipske may find herself undermined by the Dem party apparatus to which she's been loyal for decades.

We'll be interested to learn what takes place at the Dem Party's endorsement proceedings.

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