|(\Oct. 18, 2020) -- The nearly 2,000 LB residents part of the Long Beach Against Illegal Fireworks Facebook page now face the uncomfortable reality that, at least for the moment, their primary problems aren't scofflaws and bombs. Instead it's their City Hall's behavior in dealing with scofflaws and bombs. It will require speaking truth to power.
For the time being, stop talking about bombs and barking dogs. The starting point for further discussion with Councilmembers should be delivering what the incumbents publicly directed on June 23 and city management (which answers to the Council) hasn't delivered. Here's the record:
City Manager Modica replied: "I don't have a date yet for that. I think we had looked at about a 90 day, if I remember the item for the first kind of check-in, and this also calls for a 90 day, so we'll set our clock to that and get as much of that information as we can by that time."
That time has now expired. Ninety days should have put management's report and follow-up Council action in October. As LBREPORT.com reported (when others ignored the issue), there was no agendized management report or Council action scheduled in October.
Instead of focusing on delivering what should have been delivered, Councilwoman Zendejas moved the goal post in the wrong direction, inviting further management delay by asking to combine a report on her item with Austin's previous item. "Certainly," said City Manager Modica. "We can build on some of the research we've done in the past...and we will combine these two together because they do speak to very similar items and bring those back. We're hearing you, there's a lot of questions that you have and [we] want to do kind of a bigger comprehensive report of all the issues."
Zendejas then ensured delivery and actions would be further away than promised, claiming the combined items would create more "opportunities to make a difference for next year and hopefully next year we can say that this year was different because we didn't see fireworks in our city."
Next year?!? Neither Councilman Austin nor any other Council incumbent objected to delaying action to 2021. Their silence effectively sentenced LB neighborhoods to months of continuing explosives and bombs leading up to another New Year's Eve of war zone conditions.
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Meanwhile, on August 24, city management sent the Mayor/Council a non-agendized memo (visible at this link indicating it has formed a "Fireworks Committee" comprised of City staff, including the Assistant City Manager (Chair), Police Chief, Fire Chief, City Prosecutor, and two Deputy City Attorneys and said the Committee "will meet monthly." Excluded from the Committee are any representatives of the grassroots Facebook group that had pressed City Hall to act in the first place. No Council incumbents objected to this.
The Aug. 24 management memo also disparaged use of administrative enforcement, applied successfully by multiple other cities including neighboring Lakewood. "Currently, the City has the ability to issue administrative citations, which can carry fines up to $1,000, per California Government Code Section 36901, for violations of ordinances. The Committee will evaluate whether it would be possible to increase the fine amount through a new ordinance, or through the addition of new fees, such as the Fire Marshal fee ($250) and other penalties imposed by the City of Lakewood, CA. Issuance of administrative citations, however, poses a number of challenges as have previously been communicated in a memorandum dated March 15, 2019. Criminal prosecutions have proven to be more effective."
Facts show otherwise. Administrative enforcement enables heftier civil penalties/fines than current misdemeanors. It lets cities apply the fines more easily. It bypasses the criminal law courtroom. It avoids issues that stymie police enforcement.It makes proof against the scofflaw easier to obtain. LBREPORT.com's coverage of Lakewood's successful sue of administrative enforcement can be viewed here.
What should fireworks-weary LB residents do now? Don't let Council incumbents move the goal post. (1) Insist on what was promised and not delivered...deliverable before Christmas; and (2) Speak in political terms that politicians may not like but will understand.
1. Use social networks -- right now -- to tell residents in CD 6 and 8 that their incumbents have failed to deliver on promised actions to abate illegal explosives and fireworks. If you wish, link to this editorial and our prior coverage (linked above.)
2. Tell CD 6 and CD 8 residents NOT to cast their ballots for incumbents Austin and Andrews unless the incumbents publicly commit to agendize the items they voted for on June 23 (listed below) for discussion no later than Thanksgiving with voted implementation by Christmas.: Don't flinch. Your request is modest. The incumbents voted for all of these three months ago.
3. Tell CD 2, 6 and 8 residents not to vote for challengers to the incumbents unless they publicly commit to agendize the seven items above for Council discussion within 30 days of taking office and voted implementation within 30 days thereafter.
4. Tell Council incumbents Suzie Price and Rex Richardson they can forget about becoming LB's next Mayor unless they support the actions above (that they previously voted for.)
The alternative is to let LB's Council incumbents, enabled by non-elected city staff, evade actions they publicly voted to direct, should have deliveed and didn't. If LB's most savvy fireworks-impacted residents let City Hall lie, their issue will die.
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