Statement by the Publisher

When Barbarians Were At The Gate...


"It's not about flooding. It's about funding." (Long Beach realtor Joe Sopo at 1996 Long Beach community meeting re Congressionally-imposed flood insurance.)

(July 1, 2012) -- What happens when federal legislation advances, with impacts nationally that locally would have drained hundreds of dollars each year from family homeowners (more for commercial property owners) whose properties lie within shaded areas on the maps below carry a mortgage/loan from a federally backed lender (bank/S&L)?

While this was taking place, not ONE Long Beach news outlet of which we're aware reported it...except (After Congress had voted and the threat was over, the PressTelegram ran a single story.) ran 13 stories and two editorials (one with an action plan that included suggested text for readers to use in emailing CA's two US Senators). We changed our front page to carry live video of Senate proceedings. And for the record, a year earlier in 2011, was first (again) to report in detail about the potential consequences of the legislation.

What potential consequences? If you own a house within the shaded areas, and it carries a mortgage/loan from a federally backed lender, we unofficially estimate (the legislation wasn't specific) that the annual additional de facto tax you'd pay would be between $400-$1,000 per year depending on your home and loan. (One Senator estimated the cost would be more).

That's money that you wouldn't have available to spend on your needs, your family, your children, for medical costs, for school...or at any Long Beach businesses.

Eliminating that costly legislative language was a truly daunting task. The advancing legislation had bipartisan support. It was supported by a number of powerful U.S. Senators. It was publicly supported by the Obama administration White House. It was one vote away from Senate floor approval that would have sent it to a conference committee where lawmakers had budget incentives to approve it. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, the legislation was a predatory maneuver to force low-flood-risk homeowners to pay flood damages in higher risk flood areas (sparing Congress the need to budget money to do so).

Councilmember Gerrie Schipske amplified our coverage by sending an email blast with accompanying dispatch on her non-taxpayer-paid blog on Sunday (June 24) that cited our coverage. Less than 24 hours later, Senators Feinstein and Boxer arrived in their offices Monday morning to find nearly 100 emails (that we know about) urging them to strike the damaging verbiage from the bill.

This was consistent (coincidentally) with LB City Hall policy, and we'll be reporting separately on what happened during the five crucial legislative days that followed.

L.A. County Supervisor Don Knabe, who was personally involved in the advocacy, confirmed in a telephone conversation with us that it's accurate to say the outcome -- which successfully removed the damaging legislative text -- went "down to the wire." It really did.

Supervisor Knabe added that continuing vigilance on this issue is necessary. He's absolutely right...and we'll have further on this separately.

In response to our coverage, we received many emails from readers. Nearly every one included two words: "thank you." Of course we are grateful, but we have to say "thank YOU." We just did what we think a news outlet should do.

We believe that knowledge is power. Without knowledge of what's taking place, you have no power to act to protect your interests.

Of course some officials may want you to be quiet, to defer to them when crucial actions or inactions can determine what happens to you and your family. That elitist attitude is the opposite of our view.

We share the view of former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (whose words the Lakewood Accountability Action Group quotes in its email alerts).

Justice Brandeis stated: "The most important political office is that of the private citizen."

We agree. was launched to report news independently, to report developments that affect you and your family and all of us, regardless of whose toes it steps on and even if we are alone in doing so.

And happy July 4th. is reader and advertiser supported. We're not owned by an elected official or an out of town corporate cluster and we're not part of the policy setting board of any group on which we report. You can help keep our independent news online 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 for all we do) helps keep us online. To support us, just go to our front page and click on the banner (with the honeydew colored background) near the top click here. And thank you.

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