Jan. 2019: Mayor Garcia Tells "State of the City" LB Has "Fiscally Responsible Gov't"; July 2019: Mayor Seeks Council-Declared "Fiscal Emergency," Returns From Honolulu Junket, Agendizes "Consent Calendar" (No Discussion Sought) Council Item Claiming No Fiscal Impact From Trips He Could Pay For -- But Doesn't -- Using His Contributor-Funded Officeholder Account 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.
(June 30, 2019, 12:50 p.m.) -- A few days before the July 4th Declaration of Independence that rejected royal privileges, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia traveled to Honolulu for an event held by what amounts to a membership club for Mayors. The "U.S. Conference of Mayors," a privately operated group run by and for Mayors, holds periodic events that give Mayors useful platforms to boost their visibility and vote on policy resolutions on national and international matters.

Garcia's membership in the Mayor's club costs LB taxpayers $17,511 (billed annually). His recent junket to Honolulu presumably also entailed sums to register for the event on top of the round trip air fare, hotel accommodations, meals and the like. It's not immediately clear if he was accompanied by an entourage from his unprecedented ten-member taxpayer paid staff. Exactly what benefits totaling nearly $20,000 did LB taxpayers receive from Garacia's membership in the Mayor's club and recent junket to Honolulu?

Yes, previous LB Mayors including O'Neill and Foster also had memberships in the Mayor's club but that was when the City provided taxpayers with more police and fire units than the city provides now.

And it was before Mayor Garcia sought to renege on his words and the words of O'Neill and Foster who told voters that the Measure A sales tax increase would by its terms drop in half and disappear. Whether LB's Councilmembers will now join in collapsing their own credibility will become apparent at the July 2 City Council meeting when city management presents a report offering the incumbents various reneging rationales. ( coverage here.

[Scroll down for further.]

On the same July 2 Council agenda, Mayor Garcia has quietly agendized a "consent calendar" item on which no Council discussion will occur unless a Councilmember(s) requests it. It's a two sentence letter signed by him stating that he traveled to Sacramento on June 13, 2019 to "represent Long Beach" (for what public serving purposes aren't clear) to attend the swearing-in of former LB Councilmember/now-state Senator Lena Gonzalez..

A week later, he jetted off to Miami for an event held by National Latino Elected and Appointed Officials (NALEO).

Garcia's Council July 2 "consent calendar" item says it has "has no fiscal impact" but for LB taxpayers, we believe the opposite is true. suspects Garcia's "consent calendar" item signals his intention to seek LB taxpayer reimbursement for his Sacramento and Miami trips. Although his "consent calendar" item may have no "fiscal impact" in the sense that the sums may already be budgeted, that doesn't mean those sums must be spent.

And they don't have to be spent. There's an alternative if Councilmembers choose to exercise oversight that their constituents elected them to perform.

Regardless of whether one believes Mayor Garcia's junkets and membership perks somehow serve the public's interests beyond his own, it's clear to us that he could use his "officeholder account" to pay for those costs. Garcia's "officeholder account" isn't funded by taxpayers. It's funded by contributions to him. And those are now way beyond what they previously were.

That's because in 2015, a Council majority (led by Gonzalez) changed LB law to triple the annual amounts the Mayor and Council incumbents can collect in their "officeholder accounts." City Clerk records show that in the second half of 2018, Garcia collected (rounded) $45,800 for his "officeholder account" and amassed (rounded) $64,850 for the full year. On Dec. 31, 2018, Garcia's officeholder account had $8,636 with $3,241 in debts but with Garcia free to begin collecting up to $75,000 again starting Jan. 1, 2019. (Mayors O'Neill and Foster didn't have access to such funds for their travel and perks; Garcia does.)

In the second half of 2018, Mayor Garcia used his contributor-funded "officeholder account" as a de facto slush fund for what amounts to personal political purposes. He gave $1,000 to the campaign to elect Betty Yee State Controller. And $1,000 to the campaign to elect Fiona Ma State Treasurer. He gave $1,000 to the campaign to elect Ed Hernandez Lt. Governor (who lost). He gave the LB Democratic Club $1,000 and the Los Angeles County Democratic Party $5,500. He also chose to give sums to groups that, perhaps not coincidentally, can produce support from politically useful constituencies including Centro CHA ($1,000), CSU Associated Students ($500) and (while courting Cambodian community support for his Nov. 2018 Charter Amendments) Cambodia Town Film Festival ($1,000) and United Cambodian Community ($500).

To our knowledge, nothing legally prevents Mayor Garcia from using his contributor-funded officeholder account to pay for his desired travel and perks instead of forcing LB taxpayers to pay for them. We constructively suggest that he do the right thing and do so. We don't believe LB Councilmembers can force him to do so with sums contributed to his officeholder account, but we do believe they can raise the issue and urge him to do the right thing. If he makes excuses and refuses, the Council can start by reducing his office budget, including his bloated ten member taxpayer paid staff, in our opinion disproportionate for a mainly ceremonial Mayor without city executive power or policy setting authority. It's absolutely within the Council's rights to put their taxpaying constituents ahead of the Mayor's membership perk and travel desires.

If LB's incumbent Councilmembers fail to exercise overdue oversight on Mayor Garcia's July 2 no-discussion-sought item, it will give LB voters yet another reason (beyond their recent votes enabling a million dollar "media wall" and six figure "furniture enhancements") to grasp that LB City Hall doesn't have a "fiscal emergency" or a revenue problem. It has a spending problem.

Mayor Garcia declared in his Jan. 2019 "State of the City" message that Long Beach has "fiscally responsible government." Six months later, he publicly wants the Council to declare a "fiscal emergency." This is ludicrous. The truth is, the "fiscal emergency" stems from spending that he applauded and the Council approved. believes it displays a failure to grasp the significance of July 4th to treat LB's Mayor and Council as if they are royalty privileged to scorn the consent of the governed. We believe it's right to hold elected officials at any level accountable for spending they approve and enable. Whether candidates now lining up to replace them (1st dist., Nov. 2019; dists. 2, 4, 6 and 8 March 2020) will publicly commit to vote differently if given those powers remains to be seen.

Happy July 4th.

Opinions expressed by, our contributors and/or our readers are not necessarily those of our advertisers. We welcome our readers' comments/opinions 24/7 via Disqus, Facebook and moderate length letters and longer-form op-ed pieces submitted to us at








Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really 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.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Recommend to your Facebook friends:

Follow with:




Return To Front Page

Contact us:

Adoptable pet of the week:

Carter Wood Floors
Hardwood Floor Specialists
Call (562) 422-2800 or (714) 836-7050

Copyright © 2019, LLC. All rights reserved. Terms of Use/Legal policy, click here. Privacy Policy, click here