(June 20, 2007) -- This morning, LBReport.com invoked California's freedom of information law (Public Records Act) to seek access to documents reflecting what LB City Hall is doing -- that prosperous surrounding cities told us they don't do -- and we believe is inimical to the interests of LB taxpayers and businesses.
On June 19, 2007 at 11:56 p.m. after roughly eight minutes of discussion (mainly rationalizations by Councilman Gary DeLong and Mayor Bob Foster) seven Councilmembers (Andrews and Schipske dissenting) approved a sales tax kick-back arrangement, giving back sales tax revenue to which LB taxpayers would otherwise be entitled in connection with a tenant desired at the Marina Pacific shopping center.
The motion to approve the management-proposed deal came from Councilman DeLong who argued, as did Mayor Foster, that taxpayers will be better off with the big tenant and the rebate than with a lesser tenant without the rebate...and Robert Swayzee from City Hall's Economic Development Bureau recited the obvious truth that Long Beach has to compete with other cities.
Earlier that day, we telephoned City Halls in Cerritos, Signal Hill and Lakewood -- communities surrounding LB that have major sales tax generators -- and asked staffers if their cities had programs in place that give back a share of that sales tax for big operators.
Cerritos and Lakewood staffers expressed bewilderment at our question and indicated their cities had no such programs. Signal Hill also said no but was less categorical; a large business might be able to negotiate an arrangement for some benefits via that city's Redevelopment Agency which would get Signal Hill residents some public improvements in return (street lights, infrastructure, etc.)...and regarding sales tax revenue, Signal Hill's car dealerships don't have a sale tax rebate deal. They pay taxpayers; taxpayers don't pay them.
Prior to the LB Council vote, we editorially called LB's 1990s era "Sales Tax Incentive Program" a remnant of "the taxpayer-milking denial-minded former O'Neill administration [that flies] in the face of what we think LB voters wanted when they elected the more rational Bob Foster." So imagine our surprise when Mayor Foster and Councilman DeLong rose to justify this corporate welfare by telling LB taxpayers to accept half-a-loaf, to embrace a beggars-can't-be-choosers marketing strategy.
We didn't hear that loser-mentality from these two men when they sought LB votes a year ago.
Like some former East European regime, some at LB City Hall see prosperity across the border and pretend not to realize the reasons why. The truth is, LB won't see the prosperity it deserves until it puts its residents and taxpayers ahead of outside interests who come here for subsidies and handouts.
LB needs to stop acting like an easy date, letting others use us for their pleasure while leaving us with the consequences...and saying it felt nice.