(April 11, 2004) -- LBReport.com posts below in its entirety the text of a letter by LB Mayor Beverly O'Neill, responding to a Press-Telegram editorial that declined to endorse the reelection of Council incumbents in districts 2, 4, 6 and 8.
As LBReport.com reported on April 9, Mayor O'Neill sent the letter to the PT, with copies to other LB media outlets. Out of respect for the intended addressee, LBReport.com withheld posting the letter's text until published by the Press-Telegram on Sunday morning April 11.
An April 4 PT editorial said the Council incumbents seeking reelection were "each partly responsible for leading the city into a massive, $105-million three-year deficit" and had "failed Long Beach residents and taxpayers, and must be held accountable."
Following the text of the Mayor's letter, LBReport.com has included a link to our analysis and perspective on the letter.
LBReport.com is an independent, locally owned LB news source not affiliated with the Press-Telegram or any other media outlet.
[begin Mayor's letter text]
April 6, 2004
Letter to the Press-Telegram
From Mayor Beverly O'Neill
Regarding Press-Telegram April 4, 2004 Editorial
I was extremely concerned and disappointed with the Press-Telegram editorial on Sunday, April 4, 2004 regarding the endorsements for City Council. There were personal and professional criticisms made, however, I am only at this time going to address the obvious editorial stand on the City budget and the City Council actions.
The City Councilmembers currently up for re-election were condemned for passing blame, leading the City into deficit, and not being accountable. I must tell you that the current City Council, in its entirety, has shown leadership in addressing the City's budget, has supported the City's Three-Year Plan, and has not deviated from the plan.
In October 2002, the City Council became concerned about the growth in the City’s General Fund structural deficit and called for the creation of a Three-Year Plan to eliminate the structural deficit. The General Fund has had a structural deficit for approximately 15 years, and this is the first City Council to deal with this issue in a long-term, strategic way. In addition, in October 2002, the City Council terminated the former City Manager, citing among the reasons concerns with the budget process and condition of the General Fund.
In January 2003, as directed by the City Council, the Acting City Manager presented a draft Three-Year Financial Strategic Plan to the City Council.
In March 2003, the City Council endorsed the Three-Year Plan and subsequently endorsed the establishment of Fiscal Policies, preservation of the Emergency Reserve of 10% of the General Fund Budget, and creation of an Operating Reserve.
In September 2003, the City Council adopted the FY ‘04 Budget, which included specific actions targeted towards reducing the General Fund structural deficit by $40 million, leaving about $65 million in structural deficit to solve in the FY ‘05 and FY ‘06 budgets. We are well on our way to achieving our goal.
The City’s Three-Year Plan and related budget actions were reviewed with the major municipal credit rating agencies resulting in the City’s continued AA/AA- bond credit ratings. These ratings illustrate the confidence the financial community has in the leadership of the City of Long Beach to address and resolve our fiscal challenges.
The City's budget is a year-round process. The City Council begins budget reviews and discussions in May, and continues until approval in September. It takes a great deal of time to understand and address not only the depth of the problem we face, but also the many facets of the budget before decisions can be made. The four City Councilmembers up for re-election, Dan Baker, Dennis Carroll, Laura Richardson, and Rob Webb, as well as the entire City Council, have a comprehensive understanding of this process and the challenges we face - the learning process took a long time.
In my 10 years as Mayor, and in my prior career and years of involvement in the City of Long Beach, I have never seen a newspaper exhibit such apparent disdain for all elected officials.
Long Beach has a vibrant future -- one of that will see continued growth and a strengthening of our quality of life. However, our great City is also at a critical juncture - in addressing our budget, public safety and homeland security issues, job creation, as well as housing, healthcare, transportation, and the needs of our neighborhoods. Now is not the time for a change in leadership.
cc: Long Beach Business Journal
View From the Hill
Long Beach Times
Copy emailed on request to LBReport.com