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(May 15, 2018, 8:50 a.m.) -- At midafternoon Saturday May 12, a male (unclear if adult or juvenile) walked along the 1700 block of Gundry Ave. (about south of PCH and LBCC's Central LB campus) boldly flashing gang signs while shooting a gun into the air.

The suspect was gone by the time officers arrived, says LBPD Public Information Officer Arantxa Chavarria. Someone's car was struck and presumably damaged] by the gunfire. Police recovered evidence of the shooting. LBPD's gang detectives responded and the investigation is ongoing.

This happened in broad daylight in L.A. County's second largest city which no longer funds its police department's former field anti-gang unit -- 22 budget-erased LBPD officers who no longer on the streets working with gang detectives -- because of voted actions by LB's then-Councilman/now-Mayor Robert Garcia (now on a taxpayer-paid "citywide" tour while refusing to rule out that he'll seek higher office before completing the new term he just sought) and the 6th district's incumbent, Councilman Dee Andrews.

LBPD's 22-sworn officer field anti-gang officers were among 191 police officers that LB taxpayers had but no longer have despite giving Mayor Garcia and the rest of LB's incumbent Councilmembers a $40+ million annual cash infusion from Measure A, the June 2016 General Fund ("blank check") ballot measure that has left LB consumers paying the highest sales tax rate among all CA cities (tied with only a few others.)

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On the same afternoon that the suspect (who remains the streets) flashed gang signs and fired a gun in the air, LB residents received the Garcia/LBPOA/LBFFA funded junk mailer below.

Graphic from "Mayor Robert Garcia Committee to Support Utility Transfer Measure M, Committee Major Funding by Long Beach Police Officers Association, Long Beach Firefighters PAC, Local 372"

Two years ago, the largest single campaign contributor to Garcia-run campaign for "blank check" Measure A was the political action committee of the Long Beach Police Officers Association. Today, the LBPOA PAC is one of the two largest contributors (along with the LB Firefighters Ass'n PAC) to Garcia-run campaign seeking voter approval for General Fund ("blank check") Measure M.

The mailer cynically uses police officers and firefighters as props, telling recipients that Measure M will "maintain" current police levels. That itself isn't fully truthful, since Measure M is legally a General Fund "blank check" measure that lets the Mayor/Council spend its revenue on any General Fund items, but using the word "maintain" for Measure M is self-damning. Garcia admits that he envisions using Measure M to "maintain" current police levels, NOT to restore any additional portion of nearly 200 police officers and three fire engines for LB taxpayers. (Measure M would authorize City Hall imposed fees on LB water/sewer/gas bills, divert up to 12% of the City-run utilities' revenue for Mayor/Council "blank check" spending, raise monthly LB water/sewer/gas bills to cover the diversion and create an additional utility tax gouge charged each month on the higher utility bills.)

As has repeatedly noted, Long Beach remains a "tale of two cities" in which mainly working class neighborhoods remain de facto geographically segregated and disproportionately impacted by violent crime, much of which is gang-related. LB's Mayor/Council let this status quo persist because they benefit politically when the LBPOA/LBFFA PACs endorse and contribute their re-elections. The incumbents then later show their gratitude by dispensing sizable pension-fattening pay raises.

Voters can break this machinery by showing it no longer works by voting "no" on Measure M. Its defeat would end the Mayor/Council expectation of receiving "blank checks" and effectively require the Mayor/Council to put a replacement, more taxpayer-respectful measure on the November 2018 ballot. LB taxpayers deserve, at minimum to start, legally guaranteed restoration of LBPD's 22-officer field anti-gang unit plus another ten overdue citywide deployable officers and at least two of the three fire engines, all of which LB taxpayers previously had and no longer have.

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