|(July 23, 2017, 4:13 p.m.) -- Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez owns nearly all of the homicides (red Xs) and other shootings (blue and other color Xs) on the map below in her 1st Council district.
Nearly all of those X's weren't there when she took office. Every one of them occurred while Gonzalez was in office, except for the last six months of her predecessor/now Mayor Garcia. And yesterday (July 22), 1st dist. residents just saw another murder (Willmore City neighborhood.) [UPDATE] And later the same day, two vehicles were struck by gunfire (their drivers unhurt) in the northern part of the district (Daisy south of PCH.) [end UPDATE]
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That's inequity. Good and decent residents of the 1st Council district and their neighbors experience gang activity and violent crime at levels that most other parts of LB never experience. LBREPORT.com has repeatedly called this a "tale of two cities."
Councilwoman Gonzalez co-owns the X's in her district with the rest of her Council colleagues because in our opinion their unanimous budget votes all helped perpetuate this inequity. Since taking office in mid-July 2014, Councilmembers Gonzalez, Price, Mungo, Uranga and Richardson -- all of whom want voters to re-elect them to second terms -- have voted three times to approve Garcia-recommended budgets that fail to restore LBPD's field anti-gang unit as part of their continuing failure to restore 191 of 208 police officers that LB residents previously had and no longer have.
Shortly after taking office, Garcia installed Gonzalez as chair of the Council's "Elections Oversight Committee," where her first priorities included changing LB law to let Council incumbents triple the amounts they can annually amass in their contributor-funded "officeholder accounts." Two years after that maneuver, Gonzalez and a Council majority voted to change LB law to let themselves and other City Hall incumbents spend those "officeholder accounts" to elect their political friends to other offices.
When we asked incumbent Gonzalez at an August 2016 budget meeting in her district if she favored restoring more police in FY17 than Mayor Garcia had recommended (at the time it was 8 officers), she tried to block our camera shot.
We urge savvy Long Beach residents not to let Gonzalez and her Council allies evade the public safety equity issue by simply adding or shifting some band concerts and park programs. Park programs are a fairly raised equity issue, but the bigger equity issue for entire neighborhoods is public safety equity.
LBREPORT.com has stood alone in editorially advocating that the Council restore 35 citywide neighborhood deployable officers in FY18. Combined with 17 officers restored in FY17, 35 more officers would mean 52 additional officers for deployment in neighborhoods citywide, basically 25% of the officers LB taxpayers previously had and no longer have. It's very modest and overdue.
If LB's current incumbents claim they can't do this, after approving raises for city management while LB consumers now pay the highest sales tax rate among CA cities (shared with only a few others), they will show that they are part of the problem and not the solution on neighborhood public safety equity.
It's among the issues that we believe LB's upcoming elections for Council districts 1, 3, 5, 7 and 9 and Mayor should be about. The coming weeks will show if 1st district resident(s) will rise to replace Gonzalez by speaking clearly and without flinching on this and other issues that prioritize taxpaying residents instead of political machinery.
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