|(December 26, 2019) -- LBREPORT.com chooses as our "2019 Outrage of the Year" actions we included in a story as part of our detailed "Follow the Money" election coverage. Some LB media outlets apparently didn't consider it newsworthy as they didn't tell their readers about it.
In September 2019, Mayor Garcia, state Senator Lena Gonzalez and the LB Police Officers Association PAC bypassed LB's voter-enacted contribution limits to candidate campaigns by giving $10,000 each to the LB Firefighters Ass'n PAC which then used the sum to run an "independent expenditure" campaign (not legally bound by candidate contribution limits) to support electing Mary Zendejas in LB's
That cynical maneuver gave a $30,000 boost to Zendejas on top of over $100,000 her campaign had collected from various corporate/development interests, their paid lobbyists and organized labor (reported by LBREPORT.com in our Follow the Money coverage here, here, here, here, and here). The net result produced 858 votes for Zendejas (in a multi-candidate race in a district with roughly 50,000 residents), sufficient to install her on the Council with a citywide impacting vote through at least Dec. 2022.
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Councilwoman Zendejas also has the possibility of twelve additional years on the Council through 2034 as a result of Charter Amendment BBB, advanced in 2018 by Mayor Garcia and City Auditor Laura Doud who portrayed the measure as closing a "loophole" in LB's voter-enacted law that required incumbents to wage a write-in campaign in seeking more than two terms. Under the Garcia-Doud measure, incumbents can now avoid the write-in requirement in seeking third terms. (Two Council incumbents, Andrews and Austin, are already exploiting this the March 2020 election cycle.)
In an item agendized for the final Council meeting of the year, Mayor Garcia proposed to name Councilwoman Zendejas to chair the Council's "Elections Oversight Committee." That's the same Committee perch to which then-newly elected Mayor Garcia appointed then-newly elected Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez in 2014, who then used the position to advance a change in LB law that (on a split Council vote) tripled the totals LB's incumbents can annually collect from friendly contributors to their "officeholder accounts." Two years later, Garcia chose then-newly elected Councilwoman Jeannine Pearce to chair the same Committee who then advanced a change that lets the incumbents weaponize their tripled "officeholder accounts" to help elect their friends to other political offices.
On December 17, 2019, the Council approved Garcia's choice of Councilwoman Zendejas to chair the "Elections Oversight Committee" (and rearranged some other Council committees) on a
LBREPORT.com has repeatedly said "Elections matter." Our coverage doesn't treat elections and those who use them to gain or maintain power as a joke. Elections have real world consequences for taxpayers and neighborhoods.
In 1994, LB's then-prominent progressive group ("Long Beach Area Citizens Involved"/LBACI) and Councilman Alan Lowenthal (whom they'd help elect) urged enactment of "Proposition M," dubbed the "Long Beach Campaign Reform Act." Placed on the ballot by the City Council and approved by a vote of the people of Long Beach, it included limits on campaign contributions in candidate races accompanied by the following finding (still visible in LB Muni Code section 2.01.120 (E)):
Officeholders are responding to high campaign costs by raising large amounts of money in off-election years. This fund-raising distracts them from important public matters, encourages contributions which may have a corrupting influence and gives incumbents an overwhelming and patently unfair fund-raising advantage over potential challengers...The integrity of the governmental process, the competitiveness of campaigns and public confidence in local officials are all diminishing...
In our view, LB's November 2019 1st Council district election made a mockery of those principles. It is in our opinion symptomatic of much of what has become acceptable to some in LB that we believe LB shouldn't accept and should reject when given the opportunity in upcoming elections.
For the foregoing reasons, LBREPORT.com chooses the actions of Mayor Garcia, state Senator Gonzalez, and the leadership of LB's police and firefighter union PACs in connection with LB's November 2019 1st Council district election as our 2019 "Outrage of the Year."
For our list of 10 "Runners=Up" for 2019 Outrage of the Year, click here...and let us know if there are others you'd include.
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