|(Feb. 5, 2021, 7:30 a.m.) -- It's too easy and too soon to close the book on the City of Long Beach's multi-year attempt to smear CPCC whistle blower Tomas Gonzales, who died on Feb. 2 after years of battling cancer.
Mr. Gonzales lived long enough to see a jury reject City Hall's defamations against him pursued under previous Mayors and management. The City ultimately dropped its appeal of the trial court's judgment and paid Mr. Gonzales roughly $700,000 to settle the case.
But that wasn't just part of the distant past; we consider it part of the recent present
In June 2020, Mayor Garcia had the opportunity to fill a vacancy on the CPCC. He could have filled it with Mr. Gonzales. He didn't...and his unwillingness was assisted by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson's unhelpfulness.
LB's City Charter states in pertinent part: "Each [CPCC] member shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to confirmation by the City Council. There shall be one Commission member appointed to represent each of the nine City Council districts, and two members appointed at large. Each member of the City Council shall nominate an individual to the Mayor to represent each respective Council district." The vacancy was for a 9th district resident. Mr Gonzales was a 9th district resident.
Mr. Gonzales' credentials were unmatched and unmatchable. He was a former CPCC investigator. He went where the truth led no matter whose toes it stepped on.
We presume Mr. Gonzales was the last person the LB police officers union wanted on the CPCC. Mayor Garcia, Councilman (now Vice Mayor) received generous campaign contributions from the LB police officers union. Get it? .
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LBPOA gave 9th dist. Councilman Richardson over $8.000 in contributions (2013 to the present) to his 2014 election, 2018 re-election, contributor-fueled "officeholder account" and a 2019 ballot measure committee he created that now sits on a six figure war chest he controls. (Richardson responded by giving a larger sum to a statewide ballot measure supporting changes to bail requirements.)
Since 2015, LBPOA's PAC has given Mayor Garcia roughly half a million dollars..
The 1990's Charter Amendment text that created CPCC contains verbiage that lets the City Manager stymie CPCC's recommendations. "The Commission shall have the following powers and duties: To [after conducting investigations and fact finding] make recommendations concerning allegations of misconduct to the City Manager, who shall have final disciplinary authority. [emphasis added] "
The public could correct this if given the chance with a measure put on the ballot by the City Council. LB's current Mayor and Council had three recent opportunities to let LB voters approve a Charter Amendment ballot measure giving CPCC meaningful oversight. They didn't. They offered LB voters the June 2016 Measure A sales tax increase, the June 2018 Measure M utility revenue transfer and the November 2019 Charter Amendments AAA-DDD (the latter including anti-reform measure BBB enabling the Mayor and Council incumbents to seek third terms
With that record, and their LBPOA ties, do you trust them to offer a meaningful measure, or some half measure with loopholes?
Fortunately, Mr. Gonzales has left us an unflinching legacy that allows us always to ask: "What would Tomas do?" .
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