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    Propagandizing At Public Expense

    (Oct. 29, 2005) -- We advise the City Council to receive and file a propagandistic item agendized for November 1 -- a week before the coming statewide election -- by Councilmembers Patrick O'Donnell, Bonnie Lowenthal and Tonia Reyes Uranga.

    In the words of their agendizing memo, "Because of the negative impact on local services we respectfully ask the Council to join us in opposing Propositions 74, 75 and 76."

    For the record, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association advises "yes" votes on all three measures...but the reasons on both sides are less important than the principle involved here.

    In our view, the agenda item is little more than a clumsy attempt to turn the City Council proceedings into a political infomercial (live telecast plus three replays plus free print media coverage).

    We actually think this stunt may backfire...because LB taxpayers know, or should know, that LB already has suffered a "negative impact on local services" -- including closed libraries and thin police levels -- stemming in part from a costly vote cast by Councilmembers Lowenthal and Reyes Uranga themselves.

    In July 2002, Councilmembers Lowenthal and Reyes Uranga effectively voted to fatten the long-term pensions of non-public-safety LB city employees. These employees already receive generous taxpayer-paid benefits plus a private retirement system that avoids relying on "Social Security".

    Spun by then-city management as a short-term cost-saving measure, management acknowledged the action would have long-term costs...a matter that didn't deter any incumbent.

    As a result, money that today could be used to keep libraries open and provide neighborhood police is now being used to help pay fattened retirements for LB city employees.

    Then-city management agendized the Council action after the 2002 elections (when it couldn't become an election issue) for the final meeting of an outgoing Council and the first meeting of an incoming Council (when it would be eclipsed by farewell speeches and welcoming ceremonies).

    However reported the infamous votes...and we invite taxpayers to recall them now:

    • July 9, 2002 (9-0, first reading): Yes: Councilmembers Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson, Grabinski, Webb, Shultz.

    • July 16, 2002 (9-0, second reading) Yes: Councilmembers Lowenthal, Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson, Reyes Uranga, Webb, Lerch.

    Councilman O'Donnell wasn't part of the 2002 vote but he has chosen to cast his lot with those who were.

    For over a decade, LB City Hall shortchanged taxpayers on police levels and claimed the money was needed for services like libraries. Today, LB's libraries (which taxpayers paid to build) are often closed and the money isn't paying for police or libraries; it's paying for extravagant pensions and raises because of City Council actions.

    Councilmembers who think LB taxpayers haven't figured this out are putting a thumb in the public's eye...and inviting the public to vote accordingly. This is a time for Councilmembers to set things right and tend to the Council's business...which isn't butting into people's private election choices.

    We say receive and file.

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