Follow the Money: Within Less Than 90 Days, Rex Richardson-Named Mystery Ballot Measure/Tax Increase Committee Collected Over $200,000 From These Sources
UPDATE: Includes comments by Councilman Richardson
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(August 1, 2019, 8:50 a.m., updated 9:45 a.m.) -- In a less than 90 day period between early April and late June 2019, a "Lift Up Long Beach -- Rex Richardson Ballot Measure Committee" collected a whopping $200,000+ for something he hasn't publicly disclosed from contributors he had to disclose under state law (and did) by July 31. LBREPORT.com's spotted it and as part of our "Follow the Money" coverage reports the contributors and their contributions below.
On June 24, LBREPORT.com reported (first again) that the group had filed its organizational paperwork on March 25, 2019. We also reported (first again) on upcoming fundraiser for group and asked Councilman Richardson for permission to attend. He politely declined saying it was premature but offered to discuss it with us a few days later. (We chose to wait for the campaign contribution report that's now available.).
So...for exactly what did these individuals and entities give money to support? A parcel tax? Some other type of tax? How much? To do what? To benefit whom?
[UPDATE] Councilman Richardson responded promptly to our invitation for info on the ballot measure. He tells LBREPORT.com (text message): "We have a housing crisis on our hands and we need to find ways to solve it. Lift Up Long Beach Families is bringing together regional stakeholders to explore a ballot measure that will address homselessness and housing affordability in 2020. In the coming months, we will be engaging wiht the community on ideas. We look forward to hearing your ideas."
LBREPORT.com replied: "Contribs didn't give $200k for a conversation. Cmon..." To which Councilman Richardson responded: "That's how it works. Raise money around an idea of a goal. It's more than a year out to refine and shape the idea for the ballot." [end UPDATE]
If a City Council majority were to put another LB tax measure on the ballot, it would likely be for the high voter turnout November 2020 (Presidential election) ballot and wouldn't collide with City Hall's desired Measure A General Fund ("blank check") sales tax measure that the Council recently voted to put on the March 2020 ballot.
The contributors listed below are from the CA Secretary of State's website. LBREPORT.com adds background/context following the list.of contributors.
In July 2018, Councilman Richardson and a number of Councilmembers signaled their support -- just not immediately -- for a LB tax increase ballot measure (details not discussed) to provide more "affordable" (low income/subsidized) housing and/or homeless related programs. (LBREPORT.com coverage here.) As LBREPORT.com reported at the time:
[July 26, 2018 LBREPORT.com text] Mayor Robert Garcia, Councilman Rex Richardson and a number of Councilmembers have effectively signaled their support for a Long Beach tax increase of some currently unspecified type on some currently unspecified group of taxpayers to provide what they called a "dedicated local revenue source" -- not for the November 2018 LB ballot [when Garcia seeks voter approval for Charter Amendments] but at some at some future point [after Mayor Garcia says tax increase is supported by sufficient constituencies to mount a successful campaign.] The publicly stated purpose for the "dedicated local revenue source"/tax increase will be to enable more "affordable" (low income/subsidized) housing and provide more homeless-related services.
That was the outcome of two and a half hour Council discussion (including public testimony) on a July 24 item agendized by Councilmembers Richardson, Gonzalez, Austin and Andrews who sought management options -- initially for consideration at the next available Council meeting -- of an unspecified "dedicated local revenue source."
Not one Councilmember supportive of a "dedicated local funding source" publicly uttered the word "tax." (Lead-agendizer Richardson only acknowledged in a single reference that his proposal involved what he called the "t" word.)
Mayor Garcia went so far as to defensively claim that he and the Council aren't responsible for increasing LB taxes.
Mayor Garcia stated: "As a reminder, the City doesn't, we don't tax anybody. The taxes that pass the City are voted on by the voters, and so this Council doesn't go and increase someone's tax or do a parcel tax. That is only decided by voters in the city..." [Editor note: Garcia headed the political committee carrying his name that ran a roughly $600,000 campaign for the June 2016 Measure "blank check" sales tax increase, put on the ballot without dissent by the Council, that brought LB the highest sales tax rate in CA, tied with only a few other cities.]
At the same time as he absolved himself and the Council of responsibility for LB tax increases, Mayor Garcia stated: "Should this City look and work with the community a local source of to fund more affordable housing? The answer in my opinion is absolutely "yes."...[W]hen you put measures like this in front of a community, you have to bring everybody to the table. You don't pass things without some kind of community conversation that involves all the affected people that are going to be part of this type of campaign that would need to take place."
Garcia argued that some type of "dedicated local revenue source" is needed for affordable housing after Sacramento dissolved local Redevelopment Agencies statewide [that had allowed LB City Hall to divert property tax revenue to float debt that enabled City Hall-favored developers to buy "blighted" properties for projects in locations and types approved by City Hall.]
3rd dist. Councilwoman Suzie Price was the only Councilmember to speak the word "tax"...in citing reasons on the merits why she didn't support Richardson's proposal as agendized. Councilwoman Price said the item combined two complex, important but separate issues -- "affordable housing" and "homelessness" that deserved thoughtful but separate discussion. She added that in her view, the agenda item attached "homelessness" to make it sound more attractive politically...and said she couldn't imagine supporting, or her constituents supporting, a tax increase, as proposed in such preliminary form as was agendized.
Councilman Richardson defended his proposal, arguing it reflected previous Council discussions, including a 2017 Council meeting at which a city staff memo listed the option of a "bond" (debt bond) among measures to fund affordable housing. Richardson also insisted that "affordable housing" and "homelessness" are linked.
However, Richardson ultimately backed off proposing a measure for the November ballot, saying it would require a special July 31 Council meeting to hear city management's "revenue" options and select one in time for an August 7 Council vote to meet a deadline for the November 8 ballot. Richardson stopped short of opposing a November ballot measure; instead he invited (effectively dared) any of his Council colleagues to make such motion...and none did. That effectively deferred the tax increase discussion at that time.
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