No-Kill Animal Shelter Advocates Spotted Issues Years Ago That Auditor Acknowledges Now; They Deserve A Seat At The Table; Council Should Agendize Discussion Of Auditor's Report; Mayor Should Add, Instead Of Exclude, No Kill Advocates To His "Visioning Task Force" 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.
(Sept. 16, 2018) -- When members of Congress or state legislators receive a report confirming serious problems previously raised by the public about a government agency, the public expects them to exercise their elective oversight, hold hearings, ask questions, demand answers and legislate changes as needed.

But when Long Beach City Councilmembers recently received two City Auditor reports critical of aspects of LB's animal control operation, that without explicitly saying so effectively validated issues raised for years by "No Kill" animal shelter advocates, LB's Councilmembers have -- incredibly -- thus far done nothing. LB's Council incumbents have failed to exercise responsible oversight, failed to hold responsive hearings, failed to ask overdue questions, failed to get important answers. They've even failed to take the minimal step of agendizing the Auditor's report for public discussion.

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Instead, LB Councilmembers (who have policy setting votes) have let Mayor Garcia (who under LB's City Charter has no policy-setting authority or an enacting vote) create an "Animal Care Visioning Task Force" that conspicuously excludes leaders and trusted supporters of the No Kill group. (The group, now called No Kill Long Beach, endorsed Garcia's 2014 election but has since strongly criticized his record as Mayor.).

None of the electeds look good in what's taken place thus far, least of all Garcia. At the Sept. 11 Council meeting, several public speakers used the period for public comment on non-agendized items to criticize and/or urge changes at the city operated animal shelter. Although the Brown Act limits members of the legislative body to "briefly respond to statements made" in such circumstances, Mayor Garcia responded with a 3:39 second statement -- exceeding the three minutes allowed to public speakers (a time limit he enforces.) Not one Councilmember raised a "point of order" to object to Garcia's oratory and the City Attorney sat mum.

Garcia's statement was politely self-serving, telling No Kill advocates he wants to meet with them to hear their views after he'd just excluded hearing their views by failing to include them on his chosen "task force."

In our opinion, the remedies now are straightforward. We urge implementing them swiftly to avoid further personal drama.

  • 1. The Mayor or at least one Councilmember should agendize the Auditor's report for Council discussion without further delay in either a Council study session or at the regular evening Council meeting. It's embarrassing that to date, LB Councilmembers haven't discussed in a businesslike public manner the serious issues the Auditor confirmed (after No Kill advocates raised many of them previously.) Councilmembers needn't, and shouldn't, simply defer to what the Mayor wants; Councilmembers have votes and policy-setting authority and he has neither. The Mayor's "visioning task force" may or may not prove productive, but it's clearly no substitute for Councilmembers exercising their elected oversight which they haven't done on this to date. (Following the Sept. 11 Council meeting, Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce wrote a Facebook comment seemingly warm to the group's goals. If so, she can demonstrate it by agendizing the Auditor's report for a Council study session or prime time meeting and inviting No Kill Long Beach to present a constructive presentation on the subject.)

  • No Kill shelter advocates have earned a place at the table. The City Auditor's report effectively validated a number of issues the group identified and cited over a period of years. One needn't agree with them (and in some respects we remain agnostic) to acknowledge the obvious: they deserve to be included and not excluded. Mayor Garcia ought to show he's big enough to add at least one, perhaps two, representatives from No Kill LB's leadership to his "visioning task force"...and tell all them to go where the truth leads no matter whose toes it steps on.

These constructive steps cost nothing but they can accomplish much. They could build consensus that the Auditor's report acknowledges is lacking and produce results that the public will trust.

The alternative leaves previously apolitical No Kill animal shelter advocates little choice but to continue on a political trajectory...just as the Long Beach Reform Coalition PAC focuses on an immediate goal of defeating the Mayor/Council desired term limit measure BBB. After all, who'd want to give a Mayor who excludes their voices and Councilmembers who fail to do their jobs a third Council term? .

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