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    Long Term Taxpayer Consequences = Long Term Political Consequences

    (May 4, 2008) -- In 2002 under former Mayor O'Neill and former City Mgr. Taboada, the then-City Council gave City Hall's non-public safety employees a taxpayer-damaging pension spike.

    The item was a taxpayer injustice from its inception, agendized for the last day of an outgoing Council and the first day of an incoming one...when someone may have thought it wouldn't get much media attention. covered it in detail; others didn't.

    Four years later, it got plenty of attention.

    In 2006, Mayoral candidates Doug Drummond and Bob Foster pointed to "pension potholes," strongly criticized the former Council's voted action and hounded Councilman Frank Colonna with it...who went on to lose the Mayor's race.

    In 2006, City Auditor-candidate Laura Doud velcro'd incumbent Auditor Gary Burroughs to his uncritical position on the pension spike...and Burroughs (also saddled with the QM) went on to lose the Auditor's race.

    Vice Mayor Bonnie Lowenthal is the sole remaining Council incumbent to have voted for the pension spike twice (enacting it required two votes). Councilmembers Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch were both handed this stinker on their first Council day in office and went along with their colleagues in voting for it.

    On Tuesday, May 6, 2008, a mainly-new Council is scheduled to vote on a new proposed contract that would obligate taxpayers to give the pension-spiked non-public-safety employees five more years of raises with no stated funding source in FY 09 and beyond.

    If approved by a Council majority, this new deal -- adding insult to injury -- would drain an estimated $15 million more from LB taxpayers over its five years in addition to spiking some of city employee pensions still further (raising the base salaries on which their ultimate pension payouts are calculated).

    The proposed deal doesn't deliver serious "give-backs" that LB taxpayers deserve. It doesn't provide a defined contribution pension system used by sane businesses.

    It's proposed by city management on top of millions more for wage/benefit increases for PD (deal done) and FD (deal set for separate Tuesday vote) at the same time Mayor Foster says the city is "living paycheck to paycheck" and management acknowledges major revenue sources (property taxes and sale taxes) are decreasing. reported the pending Council action in detail on Friday (May 2). To view it, click here.

    In the roughly 48 hours since first reported this story, we've been deluged by emails (mainly not for publication and some unprintable) and phone calls variously stating, "Are they nuts?"

    In our view, Council approval of the proposed non-public-safety payraise/pension spike contract would be a taxpayer-hostile act.

    It would create long-term taxpayer consequences...and it should -- and we believe it will -- carry long-term political consequences for those who support it to the detriment of taxpayers on Tuesday.

    On Sunday (May 4), the Press-Telegram consumed much of its front page with a photo of a yacht race and ran an editorial trying to defend the proposed city employee contract.

    We don't have a photo of the yacht race, but we found a painting of a 1773 Boston Harbor event and updated it locally. It conveys our feelings.

    LB Tea Party

    Email us with your comments to

    Your comments:

    Great Job. Instead of tea we should be throwing the Council and City Employees Union into the Bay.

    [name not provided

    An excellent piece of journalism on the disgraceful behavior by our City Council members and former Mayor O'Neill.

    So, what kind of leadership has Mayor Foster provided on this matter? None, apparently. The results of Tuesday vote by my own Council member will tell me how to vote when re-election time rolls around.

    The IPT [ed note: obviously a long-timer; the PT was once called the "Independent Press Telegram"] has descended to the level of a throw-away. If it weren't for the LBReport, we wouldn't know what was going on in Long Beach.

    Larry Balint
    Long Beach

    235 years after the Boston Tea Party and they are still trying to get tax on tea and the citizens to foot the bill. I'm surprised they'll continue to drink the tea even though it will be salty and poor tasting even for Councilmembers.

    Once again it is time to ask where the money is coming from. I know they believe it grows on trees but some of us would like a refreshing break from this glass of Lipton.

    Dan Pressburg

    It's difficult to find words that express how incredibly irresponsible voting for city employee salary increases is at a time when tax revenues have rapidly declined.

    Has Long Beach not paid attention to what is occurring in the city of Vallejo? Because of overinflated public employee salaries, the city will soon vote on whether to file for bankruptcy.

    Does anyone know what that really means? INSOLVENCY! Your city is broke!

    I have challenged Long Beach city officials, on numerous occassions, to reveal the current state of Long Beach's municipal finances. I've been met with a zero response.

    Many cities in California have revealed they're in dire financial straits. However, other than Mayor Foster's revelation that Long Beach was "living paycheck to paycheck", there has been no information as to the condition of the city's finances.

    Is there a point to all the secrecy? Why not be honest with the residents and taxpayers of Long Beach? If there are severe revenue/expense issues, now is not the time for salary increases.

    Juan Pardell
    San Francisco

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