Mayor Garcia Offered Bogus Pretext To Cancel July 21 City Council Meeting; Council Did So And Will Get Paid Without Conducting Public's Business; Garcia Surfaced At Biden Campaign Event; Taxpayers Are Owed That Canceled Council Meeting
|(July 22, 2020, 1:25 p.m.) -- On June 24, 2020, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia sent the City Clerk's office the memo below. It scheduled a July 7 City Council item (that ultimately surfaced as part of the Council's "consent calendar" on which no Council discussion occurs unless desired by Councilmembers.) Mayor Garcia wrote:
To: Members of the City Council
But there was no "extra meeting" in June. Long Beach Municipal Code section 2.03.020(B) (which Garcia references but doesn't quote) states: "Regular meetings of the City Council shall be held...on Tuesday of each week, except the last Tuesday of each month, on which there will be no regular meeting of the City Council."
In other words, the Council was legally required to meet to conduct the public's business on June 2, June 9, June 16 and June 23. Unmentioned by Garcia, the June 2 Council meeting didn't happen. It was canceled in the aftermath of May 31-June 1 civil unrest/rioting/looting.
When the July 7 consent calendar was called, no Councilmembers said anything about this. Councilman Roberto Uranga made the motion to approve the consent calendar, seconded by Councilman Al Ausitn and the Council vote was 8-0 (with Mungo absent.)
A few weeks later, LB residents learned the rest of the story. In mid July, Garcia began Tweeting about his plans for July 21 (the date of the Council meeting he asked the Council to cancel.) He indicated at midafternoon July 21 that he planned to take part in a Biden Presidential campaign event, then boasted he'd done so. His Tweets below speak for themselves.
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Garcia's boastful Tweets were spotted by savvy writers at ForThe.org and Tweeted on their LBC Meeting Notes Twitter feed. Good catch.
Amnesia File: It's not the first time Garcia has shrugged Long Beach residents in this presidential campoaign. On Oct. 26, 2019, LBREPORT.com reported that Mayor Garcia had canceled his Saturday Oct. 26 "Meet the Mayor" event with LB residents to travel to Iowa to campaign for presidential candidate Senator Kamala Harris (D, CA). On Tuesday, Oct. 22, a number of LB residents who signed up to attend the LB event (one was scheduled at the Bay Shore branch library, and a second one a bit later at Drake Park) received the following email from the event's attendance organizer ("Eventbrite"):
"Thank you for your RSVP to Meet the Mayor, however because of a change in schedule, we won't be able to have this event this Saturday. We're sorry for any inconvenience. s/ Office of Mayor Garcia."
The email didn't provide a reason for the "change in schedule"...but on October 26 Mayor Garcia was in fact in Iowa campaigning for candidate Harris. A "Kamala Harris For the People" campaign release headlined "Long Beach Mayor Returns to Iowa to Campaign for Kamala Harris. To read Garcia's self-serving Tweets and photos, see LBREPORT.com coverage coverage here.
LBREPORT.com believes what Mayor Garcia did in derailing conduct of the public's bossiness is important. First. what he did wasn't aa accident. It was intentional. In our opinion, it showed how he treats his duties as elected officeholder. .That should matter to LB voters and may or may not matter to those considering prospective hires for an incoming Biden adminsitration.
Second, LB taxpayers are now owed that July 21 Council meeting. Mayor Garcia proposed, and the Council ultimately canceled, that meeting under false pretenses. The Council needs to reschedule that meeting for taxpayers in the coming weeks. There's plenty to do.
Among items overdue for Council action are restoring the public's right to agendize items, requiring disclosure/attachment of the full text proposed contracts of over $50,000; restoring the public's right to use the Council Chamber's video equipment (not just as a hearing party); restoring release of LBPD crime stats by Council districts and restoring LBPD's field anti-gang unit.
And the Council can begin explaining why it lets Mayor Garcia maintain a whopping ten member staff -- larger than any previous LB Mayor -- when he has no Council vote, no city policy setting authority and no City binding contractual authority. Garcia stopped putting his office calendar online when he was elected Mayor (so we don't know what he really does with his office time) but from his recent conduct he may consider it dispensable in the face of politics.
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