" Runners-Up For 2020 Outrages Of The Year; We Have Several, In Detail
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Runners-Up For 2020 Outrages Of The Year; We Have Several, In Detail



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No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report.

LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
LBREPORT.com's "2020 Outrage of the Year" and its runners-up reflect the opinion of LBREPORT.com, LLC.
(January 3, 2021, 4:05 p.m.) - LBREPORT.com's lists below our runners-up for "2020 Outrage of the Year." Many of them reflect actions that a Council majority can reconsider and reverse. However one of them (and we list it first) deals with the inaction of some of our media colleagues.

Quick jumps:

  • Failure to report passing and contributions of LB taxpayer and neighborhood advocate Tom Stout

  • City Council lets the Aquarium of the Pacific's governing board continue to block public and press access to its meetings and minutes, effectively enabling closed-door approval of jaw dropping salaries for "non-profit" Aquarium management

  • Councilwoman Mungo Tries To Fog Fiscal Facts As She Approves $3.1 Million Total Cost Artificial Turf El Dorado Park Soccer Field

  • Stonewalling Public Records Act request for documents, pro and con, on the artificial turf project.

  • Long Beach Mayor/Council Let LBPD Hide Shooting Crime Stats; Compare LAPD's Transparent Detailed Shooting Data With Zero In LBPD Crime Stats

  • Despite Marches Protests, Demonstrations After Police Death of George Floyd, Long Beach Fails To Track Race, Gender, Age Of Victims Of Neighbhorhood Shootings By Gangs And Others; Their Lives, Apparently, Don't Matter

  • The Quarter Million Dollar Gift Of Public Money

  • Long Beach State Senator Lena Gonzalez Votes To Kill SB 640 That Would Have Allowed Intervention To Treat Severely Mentally Ill Homeless.

  • Failure to report passing and contributions of LB taxpayer and neighborhood advocate Tom Stout We find no mention -- in the So Cal News group chain's

    PressTelegram, co-owned Gazettes or Pacific6 subsidiary owned/operated (John Molina co-founder of parent company) LBPost.com of the passing of outspoken LB taxpayer and neighborhood advocate Tom Stout.

    In our view, these outlets' omission speaks volumes about their respective news filtration systems. Mr. Stout co-founded (with Kathy Ryan) the LB Taxpayers Association. He called for pension reforms that former LB Mayors and Councilmembers shrugged while tying LB taxpayers to now-crushing pension debt. And he co-authored the ballot argument against Measure M, a 2018 City Hall attempt to siphon off a share of LB utility revenue for blank check City Hall spending. (Earlier this year, a Superior Court held Measure M unconstitutional; City Hall is appealing that ruling.)

    The above mentioned outlets treated the life and civic contributions of Tom Stout as worthless. That's their record. We respected Mr. Stout's work and marked his passing here and here. In our view, our competitors record on this is an outrage, ultimately reflecting on their news products.
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    City Council lets the Aquarium of the Pacific's governing board continue to block public and press access to its meetings and minutes, effectively enabling closed-door approval of jaw dropping salaries for "non-profit" Aquarium management. The Aquarium's latest IRS Form 990 tax return -- visible at this link lists those salaries at p 32. It indicates Aquarium President/CEO . Dr. Jerry Schubel (who retired earlier this year) was paid during the tax return period a base salary of $369,240, plus bonus and incentive compensation of $87,500, plus other reportable compensation of $9,693, plua retirement and other deferred compensation of $64,355, plus non-taxable benefits of $11,919 for a total of $542,707. Others in the seven highest paid among Aquarium management were paid (total sums) between $184,357 and $260,340, The Aquarium's newly hired replacement for Dr. Schubel didn't respond when we asked him for his salary by email earlier this year. All this, while the Aquarium seeks donations to, among other things, help feed its fish. \

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    Here's the verbatim text the non-profit Aquarium told IRS about its salary setting process:

    THE SAME PROCESS FOR COMPENSATION DETERMINATION FOR THE CEO IS USED FOR THE POSITION OF CFO. THE FOLLOWING PROCESS IS UNDERTAKEN EVERY TWO YEARS. WE CONDUCT A BIANNUAL, INDEPENDENT EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION STUDY. OUR ESTABLISHED PHILOSOPHY INVOLVES SURVEYING THE SALARIES OF COMPARABLE POSITIONS IN PEER ORGANIZATIONS AND SETTING AND ADJUSTING SALARIES AND RANGES ACCORDING TO THE RESULTS OF THESE REGULAR MARKET SURVEYS. THE POSITIONS INCLUDED IN THE MOST RECENT EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION REVIEW CONDUCTED IN FALL 2018 FOR APPROVED COMPENSATION PAID IN 2018 ARE: CEO; CFO; VICE PRESIDENT DEVELOPMENT; VICE PRESIDENT MARKETING; VICE PRESIDENT OPERATIONS; VICE PRESIDENT HUSBANDRY; AND VICE PRESIDENT HUMAN RESOURCES. THE NEXT COMPENSATION REVIEW WILL TAKE PLACE IN FALL 2020. THE SURVEY IS REVIEWED BY THE COMPENSATION COMMITTEE WHICH IS COMPRISED OF INDEPENDENT BOARD M EMBERS. THE COMPENSATION COMMITTEE PRESENTS THE FINDINGS TO THE WHOLE BOARD THAT APPROVES EXECUTIVE COMPENSATION PHILOSPHY IN GENERAL AND CEO/CFO SALARIES SPECIFICALLY. ALL APPROVALS ARE DOCUMENTED CONTEMPORANEOUSLY IN THE APPROPRIATE MEETING MINUTES.

    And it adds:

    "CEO'S MEMBERSHIP FOR SOCIAL CLUB WAS BOARD DIRECTED, USE OF SOCIAL CLUB IS STRICTLY BUSINESS USE, THEREFORE NOT INCLUDED IN HIS TAXABLE INCOME."

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    The Aquarium website lists the names of its governing board members here. They include both John Molina and Dr. Mario Molina as well as former Mayor Bob Foster and incumbent LBUSD boardmember Doug Otto (none of whom receive Aquarium pay or benefits.) Did they vote to approve these bloated Aquarium salaries? Who did? We'd like to see the minutes of those board meetings, report their names to you and attend their future board meetings to learn what they're up to. but the Aquarium has stubbornly refused for years to allow this.

    This outdated anti-transparemt policy needs to change...and the City Council can catalyze that change. The next time Aquarium management seeks Council approval for anything, the Council can attach a condition requiring public and press access to Aquarium board meetings and minutes. The Council should not approve any Aquarium-sought discretionary action unless the Aquarium allows overdue public and press access to its minutes and board meetings. Five Council votes can and should make this overdue reform if/when given the opportunity in 2021.

    Sponsor



    Councilwoman Mungo Tries To Fog Fiscal Facts As She Approves $3.1 Million Total Cost Artificial Turf El Dorado Park Soccer Field

    Fifth district Councilwoman Stacy Mungo earned runner-up "Outrage of the Year" status for (a) her ham fisted attempt to fog the $3.1 million total taxpayer cost of the controversial artificial turf soccer field in El Dorado Park and (b) her Council office's stonewalling of Public Records Act requested records, pro and con, received by her office on the project. On the latter item, we include the City Attorney's office failing to hold Mungo's office to the law.

    City staff publicly confirmed the project's $3.1 million total cost in the Fiscal Impact statements accompanying the Dec. 8 Council agenda item. (There were two version of city staff's Fiscal Impact text both of which listed the project's total cost as $3.1 million.)


    In November 2019, city staff told LB's Parks & Recreation Commission that the project cost was $1.5 million and said city management had the sum in hand. But documents obtained from city staff under the CA Public Records Act show that by early 2020 staff realized that realized the $1.5 million sum wasn't sufficient because two other artificial turf soccer fields at Admiral Kidd and Seaside Park had consumed sums intended to cover the El Dorado Park field. In February 2020, then-acting City Manager Tom Modica approved upping the El Dorado Park field's budgeted amount by $850,000 to $2.35 million using Measure A "blank check" sales tax dollars. A line item in City Hall's FY21 budget reflects this, displaying the $2.35 million item.


    After Sept. 8, 2020 Council approval of the FY21 budget, city staff put the project out to bid and received bids lower than expected...but the total project cost also included a 10% cost contingency, plus spending the entire $2.35 million budgeted cost sum plus roughly $760,000 budgeted for other cost items [Fiscal Impact statement text] including planning and design, project and construction management, inspection services, labor compliance, CIP administration, and construction phase engineering/architectural support.

    Mungo simply omitted mention of these project cost items. She told her constituents that the project's total "field costs" were $1.85 million, omitting roughly $1,3 million in other LB taxpayer costs (the 10% budgeted contingency, plus the $2.35 FY21 million budgeted cost item, plus the roughly $760,000 added by city staff.)

    Counciilwoman Mungo told recipients of her Dec. 6 "Neighborly News" newsletter: "So glad to see this improvement has come in well under the original estimated and inflated cost of $3.1 million," and claimed she had confirmed "with our Public Works team that the initial posted agenda item contained an error in the fiscal impact statement regarding the total cost" and "they have committed to correcting it before consideration Tuesday."

    Here's the exact text of a revised Fiscal Impact statement that appeared online on before Dec. 4 at 5 p.m. for the Dec. 8 Council agendized item. :

    FISCAL IMPACT

    The total budgeted amount for the project is $3,111,644. Total contract amounts to be awarded equals $2,038,814, which includes an award for site construction in the amount of $1,323,115, and an award to install the turf field in the amount of $530,352, and a 10 percent contingency for each of these items in the total amount of $185,347. In addition, the cost for eight years of field maintenance will cost $144,000, plus a 10 percent contingency amount of $14,400, for a total not to exceed amount of $158,400. Additional project costs include planning and design, project and construction management, inspection services, labor compliance, CIP administration, and construction phase engineering/architectural support. Total project costs are supported by $761,644 in FY 14 one-time funds along with $2,350,000 in Measure A funds that are budgeted in the Capital Projects Fund Group in the Public Works Department. Sufficient appropriation is budgeted in the Capital Projects Fund Group in the Public Works Department for the capital costs.

    The total maintenance cost for the eight years of field maintenance is $158,400, or $19,800 annually for the contract period, inclusive of a 10 percent contingency. The Parks, Recreation and Marine Department will oversee the annual maintenance.

    Here's how Councilwoman Mungo portrayed the taxpayer costs to her constituents (omitting roughly $1.3 million of the project's total costs:)

    The El Dorado Park West Artificial Turf Soccer Field Project bidding process has concluded and the contracts for work are before the Council for consideration this Tuesday, December 8th...

    Breakdown of the recommended proposed costs/contracts (Agenda Item 54):

    $1.32 million for site construction

    $530 thousand for purchase and installation of all-weather synthetic turf

    Total Field Costs: $1.85 million.

    In addition to the above, $144 thousand for 8 years of maintenance services was also included, which is a significant reduction in what it would cost to maintain and water a natural grass field at the same level this all-weather field provides.

    So glad to see this improvement has come in well under the original estimated and inflated cost of $3.1 million. This project is a job generator at a time when people need work. If approved this would be the final of the three turf field projects originally approved in 2014. Like the other two extremely popular fields, El Dorado Westís field would serve tens of thousands of kids and their families for 15+ years of year-round healthy, active play.

    Please note that we did confirm with our Public Works team that the initial posted agenda item contained an error in the fiscal impact statement regarding the total cost. They have committed to correcting it before consideration Tuesday.

    If approved by Council, the construction would be completed just in time for the Summer 2021 season - we hope even before the restrictions will be lifted. So many families will be looking for safe outdoor activities for kids to interact with their peers once our current COVID-19 infection rates have lowered.

    The bottom line: On December 8, 2020, Councilwoman Mungo made the Council motion, seconded by Councilman Austin, to approve the artificial turf field project despite its Fiscal Impact total project cost of $3.1 million. The Council vote was 7-1. Voting "yes" were Zendejas, Pearce, Price, Mungo, Uranga, Austin and Richardson. Supernaw voted "no." Andrews was absent on the vote (present earlier.)

    Sponsor

    Sponsor

    Stonewalling Public Records Act request for documents, pro and con, on the artificial turf project. In September 2020, LBREPORT.com made a Public Records Act request for (paraphrase/summary) communications pro and con with Mungo's office on the El Dorado Park artifical turf project. On Oct. 26, Assistant City Attorney Mike Mais told LBREPORT.com the City's PRA facilitator in the City Managerís Office was "informed by CD 5 (Councilwoman Mungoís office) that they have no records responsive to your request."

    But roughly two weeks later in mid-November, Mungo wrote in her "Neighborly News" newsletter: "Who are against [the project]? We have recorded 75 people willing to share their name and reach out to us directly to oppose the project with 115 phone calls and emails received since July of 2019...." So where are those records? Or any records in support? If she has them, she needs to release them; if she doesn't have them, she needs to explain their whereabouts. (No Councilmember can legally destroy records in their office without going through a process that she didn't go through.)

    LBREPORT.com believes Mungo's office is scoffing the public's rights under the Public Records Act We regret that the LB City Attorney's office pretends it can't do anything when faced with these actions (for which we include the City Attorney's office as an enabler in this runner-up 2020 Outrage.) .

    Some Mungo supporters have tried to attack us for supposedly costing the City large sums in making Public Records requests. No, it's the other way around. Council incumbents like Mungo have cost LB taxpayers millions, most recently $3.11 million artificial turf soccer field, and we're exercising our legal right to report details about their actions to taxpayers who have a right to know.

    This issue isn't over with the Council's December 8 vote. Mungo's voted action, joined by the votes of her Council colleagues, have put a scar on the face of El Dorado Park. It will provide a continuing monument to Mungo's arrogance and the mindless support of her Council colleagues and deserves to have political consequences for all of them.


    Long Beach Mayor/Council Let LBPD Hide Shooting Crime Stats; Compare LAPD's Transparent Detailed Shooting Data With Zero In LBPD Crime Stats.

    (Reported by LBREPORT.com on Sept. 20, 2020 at this link.)

    With the tacit approval of its policy-recommending Mayor and policy-setting City Council, the City of Long Beach (L.A. County's second largest city) fails to disclose the number of non-police-involved shootings in the City's crime statistics or their general locations. .

    Long Beach's practice contrasts with the City of Los Angeles where LAPD shows the number of shootings -- with separate line items for "shots fired" and "shooting victims" AND their increases/decreases And their local division (geographic) locations -- in its routinely released crime stats.

    In terms of transparency and detail for its taxpaying residents and businesses, LAPD's practice puts Long Beach to shame.

    LAPD provides access to these shooting details in its crime stats citywide at this link. On the same page, it provides links to the data for EACH of LAPD's geographic divisions.

    In contrast, Long Beach Police Department crime stats display NO shootings.

    The Long Beach Police Dept. (operating under the City Manager who answers to the City Council) does what many local law

    enforcement agencies do,. LBPD includes shootings among "aggravated assaults," a collective category that can range from a bar fight with one party wielding a table fork to a near fatal shooting. LB's practice satisfies federal crime compiling bureaucrats but leaves LB taxpayers and neighborhood groups in the dark on non-police-involved shootings,

    Nothing prevents LBPD from displaying the shooting details that LAPD does: shots fired, shooting victims and their general locations (in LB;s case by Council districts.) LBREPORT.com (and some of our competitors) get our shooting information by requesting it daily from LBPD;s Public Information Officers, who provides the information. However LBPD doesn't list the shooting data in its publicly released crime stats.

    The shooting data may prove embarrassing to Council incumbents in some Council districts.

    LBREPORT.com has repeatedly raised the issue of the city's of LB's use of "aggravated assaults" to conceal shooting numbers (in 2015 coverage here, 2018 reports here and here and most recently in July 2020 here.

    The City Council's "Public Safety Committee" (Price, Supernaw, Austin) could long ago have agendized the issue for discussion and a recommendation to the City Council. Under chair Price (since mid-2014), it hasn't.

    Any City Councilmember could agendize the issue for Council discussion and voted direction to the City Manager to have LBPD include shooting information (shots fired, persons hit, Council district) in LB's crime stats. Under Mayor Garcia (since mid-2014), no Council incumbent has done this.

    It's now up to LB taxpayers -- voters, neighborhood groups and businesses -- to press LB Councilmembers to direct city management/LBPD to disclose the number of shootings (shots fired and persons hit) and the Council districts in which they occur in LBPD's crime stats.


    Despite Marches Protests, Demonstrations After Police Death of George Floyd, Long Beach Fails To Track Race, Gender, Age Of Victims Of Neighbhorhood Shootings By Gangs And Others; Their Lives, Apparently, Don't Matter.

    If someone is shot/wounded/or killed by a police officer (or even just stopped and questioned), the City has to collect information on the person shot or stopped and the circumstances. It's CA law.

    But if someone is shot/wounded/killed in a Long Beach neighborhood shooting, the kind disproportionately impacting working class neighborhoods and frequently committed by gang members, LB doesn't collect or provide any publicly releasable information about the victim. To be blunt, their lives don't matter.

    LB's equity and race focused Councilmembers and School Board members are mum on that inequity, the "tale of two cities" that LBREPORT.com considers a chronic injustice and has editorially decried. They only seem to care when a police officer does the shooting, not gangs or other neighborhood criminals who prevent children from safely enjoying neighborhood parks, who make streets unsafe for students walking to libraries to access computers and span the digital divide. These students find it a lot harder to concentrate when they live in a shooting-plagued gang infested neighborhood that students in more affluent areas don't experience,

    If you can't measure it, you can't correct it, and LB has created the perfect conditions for NOT correcting it. It doesn't make shootings visible in its crime statistics (see item above) AND it doesn't track the race, ethnicity, gender and age of non-police involved neighborhood shootings,.

    LB's police defunders seem quite comfortable with treating working class neighborhoods as guinea pigs for social experiments that treat gangs as victims instead of perpetrators. To view how widely accepted this perverse viewpoint has become in Long Beach, can you name a single LB elected who has publicly called for ridding LB neighborhoods of gangs? On the contrary, when a 14 year old Cambodian child was found shot to death in the 1400 block of St. Louis Ave., newly elected CD 6 representative Suely Saro posted a social network message stating: "Please Donít be so quick to judge when 'gang-related' is mentioned." Egad.

    Councilmembers who are genuinely data driven should direct LBPD to begin publicly reporting the race, ethnicity, gender and age of neighborhood victims of non-police shootings. Their lives should matter too.


    The Quarter Million Dollar Gift Of Public Money: On April 14, 2020, nine LB Councilmembers -- Znndejas, Pearce, Price (seconded the motion) Supernaw (made the motion), Mungo, Andrews, Uranga, Austin and Richardson -- voted to advance $250,000 in city taxpayer resources for a city crew to perform Community Hospital repairs ("including but not limited to") elevator repairs. This was despite the fact that, as stated in the agendizing memo, Community Hospital's was supposed to make those types of repairs under its lessee with the City.

    The Council approved the quarter million dollar advance offered by Councilman Daryl Supernaw from his budgeted district discretionary funds (effectively citywide taxpayer dollars) with no guarantee of reimbursement to LB taxpayers by the LLC/operator. Pacific6 spokesman Brandon Dowling has told LBREPORT.com that "The $250,000 in elevator repairs were paid by the City of Long Beach and invoiced to the City of Long Beach. No money was ever 'givení to MWN and we were never invoiced for the services.") The extent and types of repairs performed and their costs haven't been independently confirmed at this point by LBREPORT.com.

    In our opinion, the $250,000 sum amounted to a gift of public money. Gifts of public money are generally prohibited under CA's Constitution and Government Code unless in some cases used for a "public purpose." We're not expressing a view here on whether the transaction was or wasn't for a "public purpose." Our outrage stems from the fact that the Council didn't include any requirement for MWN to repay LB taxpayers for the quarter million dollar sum.

    In our opinion, it will remain a continuing outrage facing LB's incumbents and any candidate(s) seeking to replace them fail to publicly call on MWN to reimburse LB taxpayers for the $250,000 sum within a legally binding reasonable time frame.

    LBREPORT.com includes the following for context. The hospital's lessee is "MWN Community Hospital LLC" one of whose participants is Pacific,6 partnership co-founded by John Molina.

    In October 2019, the City Council voted 7-0 (Supernaw motion, seconded by Price, Richardson absent) to approve MWN's Community Hospital lease with the City. It lets MWN terminate the lease if the LLC decides it no longer wishes to operate the facility as an acute care hospital. In that case, the lease requires the City to reimburse MWN for its start-up costs plus the LLC's share of retrofit costs plus the LLC's cumulative net operating loss. The lease also requires the City to pay half the cost of seismic upgrades, amounting to $25 million payable by the City over 15 years in 1 million to $2 million annual sums. The accumulated sum could be so large that the City would likely have to let MWN or another entity buy Community Hospital to pay it off.

    That means that under the Council approved lease, Long Beach residents could lose Community Hospital as an acute care hospital and, despite having paid out considerable sums, also lose Community Hospital as a City-owned asset. LBREPORT.com coverage here.

    Also in October 2019, the Council voted 7-0 (CD1 vacant, Andrews absent) to approve an "Economic Development Subsidy" in which a Pacific6 affiliate planning to turn "The Breakers" (210 E. Ocean Blvd.) into a luxury hotel will receive $13 million over nine years from 80% of the hotel's room tax.

    A Pacific6 subsidiary owns/operates LBPost.com (acquired in mid-June 2018 from Cindy Allen's ETA Advertising) and the LB Business Journal (acquired in Feb. 2020 from long time independent owner/publisher George Ecnomides.)


    Long Beach State Senator Lena Gonzalez Votes To Kill SB 640 That Would Have Allowed Intervention To Treat Severely Mentally Ill Homeless.

    This story as initially reported by LBREPORT.com on Jan. 12, 2020 is linked here.) We noted in a publisher's preface that "Current CA law leaves severely mentally ill homeless persons, a number of whom may be helped with medications, untreated to wander helplessly and try to survive on the streets. LBREPORT.com has previously reported in detail (here and here) on SB 640, a Sacramento bill that proposed to change the status quo. LBREPORT.com now reports on what recently happened to SB 640."

    We add this epilogue: Sen. Moorlach was defeated in his November 2020 re-election run. He's now seeking election to fill a vacancy on the OC Board of Supervisors.


    The foregoing choices for runner-up Outrages of 2020 are our choices. We apperciate your choices submitted to date (including the Belmont Beach Aquatics Center which may turn out to be an Outrage of 2021; opponents are visibly organized here.) We welcome your additional 2020 choices to our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/lbreport, our Disqus comment system below or by email to mail@LBReport.com


    Jan 4, 2021, 6:35 a.m.: State Senator Gonzalez/SB 640 outrage added
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