What Are They Hiding? On
|(November 7, 2017, updated Nov. 8, 8:50 a.m.) -- On November 8, the "League of California Cities," a privately-operated entity that operates using dues paid by its "member" cities (including the City of Long Beach) using their taxpayers' money (details below), has scheduled an "Information Briefing" in Pasadena regarding the package of housing bills enacted by the state legislature this year. Those bills include SB 35 which LBREPORT.com has reported in detail in connection with density increases sought in Long Beach city staff's proposed revision of the city's Land Use Element.
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The League's website includes a flier (to view it, click here) which states that
The flier adds:
WHO SHOULD ATTEND
LBREPORT.com believes the public is very interested in knowing what the League is using its taxpayer-drained dues to tell Mayors, Council members, Managers, Planners and Commissioners about these public-impacting matters.
The League designated its Nov. 8 "Informational Briefing" for "LEAGUE MEMBERS ONLY." Accordingly, LBREPORT.com sought permission to attend from the City of Long Beach, which is a dues-paying League member. The City of Long Beach's interim Public Affairs Officer said the City takes no position one way or the other on our request and since the event is a League organized matter, we should contact the League's public affairs person directly.
LBREPORT.com (an online news outlet now in our 18th year of operation) did so on Monday November 6. Here's the pertinent portion of our request:
LBREPORT.com requests permission to attend the League's Nov. 8 Information Briefing in Pasadena on the 2017 "Housing Package" [recently enacted CA legislation.] Our presence at the event would be limited to sitting in the room, making notes and using an unobtrusive hand-size voice recorder to record ambient audio (no attached wires) not to webcast but to ensure quoted accuracy. We will be glad to provide the audio file to the League and to the City (so both will have an identical record for their files) and we agree to provide "pooled" resources so other LB outlets can access the audio and any other content by us related to the event. If there is any registration charge, please let us know...
In less than two hours, we had the League's reply: "This is a a member-only briefing so we are not able to have you attend."
LBREPORT.com has asked the City of LB's interim Public Affairs Officer if any members of LB city staff or LB electeds plan to attend the Nov. 8 event. UPDATE: We are informed that City Hall staff from Planning, Housing, Government Affairs and the City Attorney’s office will be attending and no Long Beach elected officials will be attending. END UPDATE
Based on the League's dues schedule (on its website at this link), we estimate that Long Beach taxpayers paid roughly $113,724 in 2017 and slightly lower amount in 2016. Source: dues schedule on the League’s website (at this link. (If you're reading this outside Long Beach, you can use the same dues schedule to find out what your City Hall is paying.) [The League's public affairs person wouldn't provide us with the exact dues figure; we derived our figure from the League's dues schedule applying the latest updated LB population estimate from the CA Dept. of Finance, Report E-1.]
The bottom line is that the Long Beach City Hall has been and is currently paying a privately run entity a six figure annual sum in public money while preventing the public and the press from knowing what it recommends that city officials do or not do on policies that directly impact the public.
Yes, the League opposed SB 35, but not because it erased a number of public rights under CEQA, but because it undercut some City Hall-exercised "local control." The League simultaneously supported Sac'to passage of SB 1, the legislation that imposed a whopping increase in the state's gasoline tax on November 1 (and some taxpayer groups, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, are now working to repeal.) The League also supported SB 3, a $4 billion debt bond that (if voters statewide approve it in November 2018) will allocate a sizable chunk of its revenue to incentivize developer-desired public-subsidized below-market rental units under by SB 35 and other state legislation.
Developing. Further to follow.
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