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|(June 13, 2020) -- LBREPORT.com recommends the nomination and appointment of Tomas Gonzales to LB's "Citizen Police Complaint Commission." In our view, he is the right person at the right time to fill a vacancy that has existed for nearly half a year.
The vacancy is for a 9th district resident. Mr Gonzales is a 9th district resident. 9th dist. Councilman Rex Richardson is the one who could start the process.
LB's City Charter states in pertinent part: "Each [CPCC] member shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. There shall be one Commission member appointed to represent each of the nine City Council districts, and two members appointed at large. Each member of the City Council shall nominate an individual to the Mayor to represent each respective Council district."
Mr. Gonzales' credentials are unmatched and unmatchable. He was an investigator for CPCC. He did his work so well that he uncovered matters in the handling of the public's complaints against police officers that some people inside City Hall didn't want uncovered. The City fired Mr. Gonzales but he didn't shrink. He sued...and ultimately the City (with Council voted approval) paid him $700.000 to settle the case.
To our knowledge, LB's police union hasn't said anything publicly about the CPCC vacancy, but we presume Mr. Gonzales is the last person it wants on the CPCC. He has shown his willingness to go where the truth leads no matter whose toes it steps on.
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|As LBREPORT.com has previously reported (here), LBPOA gave 9th dist. Councilman Rex Richardson over $8.000 in contributions (2013 to the present) to his 2014 election, 2018 re-election, contributor-fueled "officeholder account" and a 2019 ballot measure committee he created that now sits on a six figure warchest he controls. (He responded by giving a larger sum to a statewide ballot measure supporting changes to bail requirements.)
As previously reported in LBREPORT.com "Follow the Money" coverage and given timely focus in a story by the independent outlet FORTH.org (at this link), the LB police officers union has given Mayor Garcia roughly half a million dollars since 2015.
The 1990's Charter Amendment text that created CPCC contains verbiage that lets the City Manager stymie CPCC's recommendations. "The Commission shall have the following powers and duties: To [after conducting investigations and fact finding] make recommendations concerning allegations of misconduct to the City Manager, who shall have final disciplinary authority. [emphasis added] "
Fortunately, the public can correct this with a ballot measure. Unfortunately, LB's current Mayor and Council had three recent opportunities to let LB voters approve a Charter Amendment ballot measure giving CPCC meaningful oversight. They didn't. They offered LB voters the June 2016 Measure A sales tax increase, the June 2018 Measure M utility revenue transfer and the November 2019 Charter Amendments AAA-DDD (the latter including anti-reform measure BBB enabling the Mayor and Council incumbents to seek third terms without a write-in requirement.)
For us, this is a matter of check and balance. We believe the leadership of LB's police union has gone beyond an understandable role to advocate wages and benefits for its members. By dumping sickening sums in Long Beach elections, it has installed or maintained Mayors and Councilmembers who've shrugged what we consider LB's worst inequity: a "tale of two cities" in which mainly working class districts endurse disproporitonately high levels of shootings and homicides.
LBPOA has given political cover to electeds who erased roughly 20% of LB's police levels (something other area cities didn't do to weather the "Great Recession.") Those electeds have left L.A. County's second largest city without its former field anti-gang unit and a police level so thin that it's roughly equivalent per capita to erasing over a third of LAPD's officers. And to date, the LBPOA-backed incumbents haven't called for restoring any specific number of officers by any date certan of over 180 officers that LB taxpayers had and no longer have. The Measure A "blank check" sales tax increase (for which LBPOA was among the biggest campaign contributor) freed up other General Fund sums that the Mayor/Council used to cover pay raises and other spending..
The entire city will now see if Councilman Richardson (with the ability to nominate), Mayor Garcia (with the ability to appoint) and the full Council (with the ability to approve) will let Tomas Gonzales improve the way CPCC currently operates until a current or future Mayor/Council give LB voters an opportunity to fundamentally fix thigns with a Charter Amendment. .
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