Mayor Garcia's Choice For LB Planning Comm'r Appears To Have Been City of Los Angeles Resident Until Recently; He's In Leadership Of Union Whose PAC Gave These Campaign And "Officeholder" Contribs To Garcia And Several Councilmembers; UPDATE: Mayor Garcia's Chief of Staff Provides This Statement
|(July 18, 2017, updated 8:55 a.m. from 6:20 a.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that Mayor Robert Garcia's choice to fill a sudden-announced vacancy on LB's Planning Commission appears to have been a resident of the City of Los Angeles until fairly recently...perhaps as recently as just a few weeks or months ago.
In materials that first became publicly visible at late afternoon Friday (July 14) as part of the City Clerk's revised (finalized) July 18 City Council agenda, the Mayor's office seeks Council approval to appoint Josh LaFarga to replace Planning Commissioner Donita Van Horik (its current chair) whose surprise resignation Mayor Garcia's office simultaneously announced as effective in October with no explanation given.
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Mr. LaFarga was until recently a member of City of Los Angeles "Board of Neighborhood Commissioners," whose members must reside in Los Angeles. Minutes of its meetings show Mr. LaFarga last participated in its proceedings in late March, 2017. On Monday July 17, 2017, L.A. Board of Neighborhood Commissioners staffer Mike Fong told LBREPORT.com that Mr. LaFarga joined the Board in August 2015 and exited in early June 2017, informing L.A. Mayor Garcetti's office "within the past few weeks" that he was moving out of Los Angeles.
At late afternoon Monday (July 17), LBREPORT.com advised Long Beach Mayor Garcia's office (via email to his Chief of Staff, Mark Taylor) that we were preparing to publish these matters, asked his office to release a copy of Mr. LaFarga's application for the Planning Commission position and invited Mayor Garcia to provide a statement on what appears to be his appointee's recent move from Los Angeles.
[UPDATE, 8:29 a.m. July 18] Mayor Garcia's Chief of Staff emailed the following statement in response:
Mr. La Farga recently became a homeowner and now lives in Long Beach's 9th District. He has been actively working in Long Beach for many years as a leader in the building trades which makes him a strong candidate for this appointment.
[END UPDATE, story continues below.]
Mr. LaFarga holds a leadership position in "Laborers Plaster and Tenders" Union ("LiUNA!") Local 1309, whose PAC contributed $40,000 to support the campaign for last year's LB Mayor/Council sought sales tax increase/"budget stabilization" Measures A/B. The union's PAC has given campaign contributions and "officeholder account" contributions to a number of City Hall incumbents (source: LB City Clerk website)
Election campaign contributions
The union's PAC also gave a $40,000 campaign contribution in May 2016 to the "Mayor Garcia, Foster & O'Neill Committee to Support Measures A & B..." (Mayor/Council sought sales tax increase/"budget stabilization" measures, June 2016 ballot)
Mayor Garcia and five Council incumbents -- Gonzalez, Price, Mungo, Uranga and Richardson -- are seeking re-election in the April/June 2018 city election cycle. Contributions to them and others for the period Jan. 1-June 30, 2017 will become visible on or before August 1.
In his agendizing memo to the City Council listing his desired appointees, Mayor Garcia stated:
Josh LaFarga is being appointed to the Long Beach Planning Commission effective October 1, 2017 to fill the vacancy created by Donita Van Horik’s resignation. Josh LaFarga, a resident of the 9th District, has a long history of community service and activism. He currently serves as the Director of Public and Government Affairs and as Recording Secretary and Executive Board member at LiUNA! Local 1309. Josh has been a leader in the local building trades and has advocated for quality construction jobs across the region. He is also a member on the South Bay Workforce Investment Board and Co-Chair of the Legislative Committee for FuturePorts, the largest non-profit organization working to promote the Ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. Earlier this year the L.A. County Board of Supervisors appointed Josh to the Building Rehabilitation Appeals Board.
At 3:30 p.m. today (July 18), Mayor Garcia's desired appointments to Charter Commissions (Planning Commission and Harbor Commission) are scheduled to go before the City Council's Personnel and Civil Service Committee (members chosen by Garcia) -- Councilmembers Austin, Uranga and Pearce. And at 5:00 p.m. today (July 18), Mayor Garcia's office has agendized full Council approval of the Committee's recommendations, accompanied by an agendized notice that "if the Committee cannot meet and consider the appointments on July 18, 2017, due to lack of quorum or any other reason, [the Council should] waive the requirement for consideration and recommendation by the Personnel and Civil Service Committee in accordance with Section 2.03.065D" and confirm his desired appointees.
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