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    News / In Detail

    At "Beer & Politics," Questioner Asks 1st dist. Council Candidates "Would You Support Mandatory Furloughs Or Other Give-Backs From [City] Employees?" Read Candidates' Responses

    (Feb. 25, 2009) -- At Tuesday night's (Feb. 24) "Beer & Politics" (a freewheeling monthly event held at Gallagher's Pub and created/hosted by Michael Clements), all six candidates seeking to become LB's next 1st district Councilmember (succeeding now-Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal) delivered their campaign messages and fielded Q & A. host/executive producer Art Levine was in the audience and asked:

    "...[W]ould you support mandatory furloughs or other give-backs from employees which, as was mentioned earlier, constitute about 80% of the General Fund?"

    In the public interest, has transcribed salient portions of their responses below:

    Rick Berry: "Yes. I've been through a furlough program at my last employer so I know what that's about. I've participated in it as a manager. We have to set an example. Car allowances, you know, they gotta go. I can walk to City Hall from my house, thank you very much, so yes I definitely support that."

    Jana Shields: "...[T]he City Council needs to lead the way. I definitely feel that the unions need to back off, that the negotiations need to work with all nine unions and the City Council needs to voluntarily take a pay cut, including the Mayor, equal with the furloughs."

    Misi Tagaloa: "...[W]e really need to start thinking outside the box. I really think we could both balance the budget, build the base for the next five years of prosperity and take care of everybody, but initially I would say no."

    Robert Garcia: "I think that in any type of economic crisis or downturn, I don't think the first thing you want to do is talk about furloughs per se, but everything has got to be on the table at the end of the day. So I think in general, city employees are the people that work hard to keep our streets safe, the people that are cutting our trees, the people that are picking up our trash, we should value and we should respect them for the work that they do, and the hard work that they're putting in every day in our city. Now, I think though that it's responsible to say that depending on where things go with our economy, we have to look at everything that can produce additional revenue and the citizens for the city. I honestly think that in these hard times, everyone, every area of city government is going to have to give and sacrifice in these hard times. I think that the City Council needs to continuously cut their own budgets. I think that most of us would probably be willing to do as well. I think that every level of management...needs to cut as well. We need to eliminate costly consultants that are really weighing down our city. So there's a lot that we can do, but we should keep everything on the table.l

    Evan Braude: We do have to look seriously at the budget. I do not in generally furloughing. That's not the first choice. We need core services and the people who work for our city, whether some people like the individuals or not, the reality is we have to have a working core group of, whether it's the police and fire, whether it's the men and women who are cleaning up our streets or whatever might it be, parks and recreation, we cannot do without those services, and I would be hard pressed to cut that down. I will however believe that we should look at our budgetary priorities and when we can make cuts we do. I did make cuts. I cut my budget when I was on the Council because it was the thing that we had to do to be able to balance the budget. The bottom line is balancing the budget. If we have to make cuts, we will make them. That's the hard job...that those people for the 1st district who are going to be electing us to do. That's the reality that has to be done. We can not allow that to continue on.

    Bill Grisolia: "...Furloughs? Obviously we want to help people that are working to make Long Beach a better place, so working families, our employees, we want to try and preserve and maintain their jobs and we want to do it in an equitable fashion. So no, we don't want to cut. We've been cutting a long time. We've got the structural deficit thing, but remember what I told you before: from day one, I'm going to work to increase revenues in this town...We can achieve that in this town. However it's going to take a concerted effort to pull together and move us forward."

    LB's next 1st dist. Councilmember (as with all Councilmembers) will have an equal vote on spending and tax/fee issues impacting LB residents and businesses citywide. The special election (a "winner take all" contest in which the winning candidate could receive less than 50% of the vote) is April 7.

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