|(July 20, 2017, 11:45 a.m.) -- Mayor Robert Garcia owns what took place at the July 18 City Council meeting, Eight of nine incumbent City Councilmembers co-own it: Jeannine Pearce, Suzie Price, Daryl Supernaw, Stacy Mungo, Dee Andrews, Roberto Uranga, Al Austin and Rex Richardson (Lena Gonzalez recused herself based on another matter and didn't publicly oppose what took place.)
As a result of what they did, effective Oct. 1, residents in neighborhoods citywide will have decisions about their property and their neighborhood on land uses, zoning, density, proposed developments, parking and traffic impacts made in part (most requiring a Council appeal to repair) by someone who as of the date of the Council's vote had been a Long Beach resident/homeowner for barely 56 days. [Source: May 24 deed recorded date for a house purchased in the 9th Council district.]
To be clear: this isn't about the appointee, Josh LaFarga. It's about Mayor Garcia, who thought he could get away with concealing matters (that we reported (first again) here) and expected the collusion of Councilmembers willing to cast a robotic vote and shrug the City Charter's "check and balance" duty they owe the public who elected them.
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That's what raises what took place beyond some policy disagreement on which reasonable people can disagree. In our opinion, NO reasonable person could possibly believe that these Councilmembers credibly carried out their check and balance duty in this matter.
By our standards, and we believe any rational person, Mayor Garcia's choice for LB's Planning Commission is the most unqualified individual to be handed Planning Commission voting power in the past 25 years. He's lived in Long Beach for less than two months. On this basis alone, what Mayor Garcia and the Council did was in our opinion an insult to the public's intelligence.
And there's more: The appointee's union job is to promote jobs and benefits for the union's members, while the Mayor and Council have just put him in a Planning Commission position to approve developer-sought projects (on grounds they provide "jobs") that residents may understand will negatively impact their neighborhoods. This may not be a legally-barring "conflict of interest" but in our opinion, it's a de facto conflicting interest.
And there's more: Do you believe this appointee would even have been considered, much less approved, if he didn't hold a leadership position in a building/trades union whose PAC has made campaign and "officeholder" contributions to Mayor Garcia and a number of LB Councilmembers (Uranga, Gonzalez, Andrews) as well as $40,000 to the Mayor/Council sought sales tax increase ballot measure?
Is THAT how you want the City of Long Beach governed?!?
Mayor Garcia concealed the name of his desired appointee until the late-Friday afternoon (July 14) release of the City Clerk's July 18 Council agenda. LBREPORT.com scrambled to get these details and report them before dawn on July 18.
At the Council's "confirmation" proceeding, only one public speaker, Warren Blesofsky (Long Beach Citizens for Fair Development) raised issues regarding Mayor Garcia's appointee.
Sadly, Robert Fox (Council of Neighborhood Organizations), who after the vote writes on Facebook that he urged all Council offices to oppose the appointment [and we believe him], chose not to oppose the appointment at the Council podium; instead, he proposed some future discussion of possibly the City Charter to require some longer minimum time for an appointee's residence. Respectfully, no. That wasn't the issue then and it isn't the issue now. The issue is that LB's current City Council could have and in our opinion should have rejected the appointment on its merits when it came to them...and they didn't.
In our opinion, the only acceptable result now is to reverse what's been done. The Mayor and Council incumbents seeking re-election now have unwisely made themselves part of what in our opinion is the worst Mayor/Council appointive action in recent Long Beach history. They need to grasp that their vote will cost them votes in the upcoming April/June election cycle unless they reverse what they did. That will only happen if Long Beach neighborhood groups use their voices to express "no confidence" in what their electeds did and at their next scheduled meeting adopt a resolution something like this:
"We [fill in group name] by voted action of our members on [fill in date] urge our Councilmember(s) [fill in their name(s)] to strongly encourage appointee LaFarga to decline the Planning Commission position, and urge Mayor Garcia to in his place appoint, and our Councilmember(s) to approve a Planning Commissioner with a demonstrated history of supporting residents and Long Beach neighborhoods."
If your group lets LBREPORT.com know when your vote on this comes up, we'll cover it and report it. Just email us at: mail@LBReport.com.
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