Analysis & Commentary
Some Mythology From Mayor O'Neill's Past "State of City" Speeches
In the public interest, LBReport.com has posted some noteworthy statements from Mayor O'Neill's previous "State of the City" messages. Annotations by us follow in smaller font.
January 14, 1997
"This past December we broke ground on the Queensway Bay waterfront development project...[T]his entertainment, dining and shopping destination will attract five million people annually to Long Beach. When completed, families, tourists, and citizens will partake of the multitude of enertainment options, or just enjoy a relaxing stroll along the waterfront promenade."
"Consistent with the Police Strategic Plan, the number of sworn officers reached 838 compared to 665 in 1993."
City Hall's 1994 Police Strategic Plan included a preliminary staffing strategy that advised providing taxpayers with 878 officers in FY 95-96 (by October 1996), 929 in FYI 96-97 (by October, 1997) and over 1,000 by now. In June, 1995 (Mayor O'Neill's first budget cycle), then City Manager Hankla proposed, the Mayor concurred in and the Council voted to stall the budgeted level at 839 officers until September, 1996 when the level would supposedly rise to 888 officers. In August, 1996, Manager Hankla proposed, Mayor O' Neill concurred in and the Council budgeted 859 officers. Mayor O'Neill's office then portrayed this as an "increase."
LB's budgeted officer level remained at 859 until 1998, when the Council raised it to 860. Under City Manager Henry Taboada, staff obtained a federal grant bringing LB's budgeted level to roughly 900. LB currently gives its taxpayers a budgeted level of barely 2.0 officers per thousand residents while L.A. provides over 2.5 per thousand and Signal Hill delivers over 3.0.
"Today, our greatest public safety challenge is the need to construct a new 911 emergency communictaions system. The existing system is obsolete and subject to failure potentially putting lives at risk. As you know, our efforts to pass a ballot meaure this past November recieved strong support of the City Council, the Police, Fire and City employee unions, business community and neighborhood leaders, garnering 58% of the vote -- but short of the 66 2/3 required for passage. A modern 911 system must be built, which means we will now have to carve into an already tight City budget in order to find the money to fund these critical improvements. The City Manager will provide the City Council a list of options by the end of this month."
When the Council put its proposed tax hike on the ballot in August, 1996, it issued a Minute Order, assuring the public it was committed to completing the ECOC by the end of 1999. After the ballot measure failed, then City Manager Hankla (to his credit) assembled an alterntive 911 ECOC financing plan in roughly 5-8 months. [In our opinion, this showed the Mayor-City Hall backed tax increase wasn't needed in the first place.]
Despite having the money in place only months after its Minute Order "completion by the end of '99" timeline, City Hall admitted in late 1999-early 2000 that its "best case" scenario for completing a new 911 ECOC at its own chosen Stearns Park site was summer, 2002. (This was before City Hall agreed under neighborhood pressure to move the ECOC to Spring St./Redondo Ave.) City Hall's latest "Strategic Plan" has since moved the goal post for completing the 911 ECOC to the end of 2002.
January 13, 1998
"Our success [in reducing crime] can be directly attributed to [a list, including]...adding close to 150 sworn officers."
As of January, 1998, the budgets adopted under Mayor O'Neill had increased budgeted officers by 20 positions above the budgeted level she inherited, passed in June, 1994 under outgoing Mayor Ernie Kell.
January 12, 1999
"In 1999 we will finally break ground on our new 911 Emergency Communications Center."
As of January 2001, groundbreaking still hadn't taken place, but not because the site was changed from City Hall's preferred site of Stearns Park. See annotation to 1997 address.
January 11, 2000
"The prestigious Meyers Group for the second year has named Long Beach as the most livable City in Los Angeles County."
The Meyers Group survey (reflecting what the firm said was its subjective judgment) only dealt with cities of over 100,000 population. It didn't claim to include L.A. County cities ranging from Beverly Hills to Lakewood (as the Mayor's words did.)
The Meyer's Group 1999 press release said LB "could be considered the most desired Los Angeles County location for new home buyers" and quoted a firm official saying LB is "the only large city in Los Angeles County that is close to all the major employment centers, and offers quality housing for less than $300,000." We think that's right, but we find it odd that the Mayor would, in effect, boast when some property values in our city are lower than one might otherwise expect.
"The numbers tell a compelling story regarding the growth of tourism and convention sales in our community.
In 1994 our hotel occupancy rate was less than 55%, today it is close to 80%. This is the fifth year in which we have led all Los Angeles and Orange County cities in hotel occupancy growth.
In 1994 the Convention and Visitors Bureau was booking 212,000 future room nights annually. Today they are booking over 370,000 yearly.
Those room nights have an economic value of over $320 million.
The transient Occupancy Tax in 1994 was $6.3 million, in 1999 it should reach $13 million. This is the fifth consecutive year of double-digit growth in the transient occupancy tax.
Room rates have also increased 33% in the last four years.
At least three new hotels are being planned for downtown."