|(July 9, 2018) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that Mayor Robert Garcia's office planned nearly a month ago (if not longer) to schedule the next Joint Charter Amendment/Council meeting on July 17 at 3:30 p.m. -- a time when many residents are at work -- for the public's nearly last opportunity to be heard before an August public hearing and Council vote on whether to hold a special citywide November 2018 election (City Clerk est. cost: $470,000-$650,000) on five Charter Amendments that the Mayor publicly proposed after he and other incumbents were re-elected.
The 3:30 p.m. start time will accommodate a 5:30 p.m. ceremonial (i.e. fake) "swearing-in" ceremony to be staged at the Terrace Theater for the Mayor, Councilmembers and other incumbents re-elected in the 2018 election cycle. City officials will already have been sworn-in days earlier by the City Clerk as their new terms begin at 12:01 a.m. July 15.
LBREPORT.com has further learned that a third and final hearing on the Garcia-sought Charter Amendments, coupled with a possible Council vote, is scheduled for August 7, with no time officially set but tentatively planned for 3:30 p.m.
The City Charter changes would give the Mayor and Council incumbents another election cycle with their names on the ballot (eliminating the requirement of a term-limit write-in bypass), create an "ethics commission" whose members the Mayor/Council would choose, and create a "redistricting commission" that -- as newly revised by Garcia for the July 17 meeting -- would have the power to redraw Council district lines and thereby affect the citywide balance of power after in 2020 census.
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In response to public criticism of his initial "redistricting" text (which was "advisory" and let the Mayor/Council redraw district lines), Mayor Garcia has made a number of complex changes to the measure's draft text. It now provides: "The exclusive authority to redraw Council district boundaries is vested in the Long Beach Independent Redistricting Commission" and includes a number of complex procedures for choosing members of the newly empowered redistricting commission (full text here.) The July 17 neeting will be the public's first, and nearly only, opportunity to speak to the revised text of the "redistricting" measure (and the four other measures) before a final August 7 Council hearing and vote that could put some or all of them on the ballot.
CA Government Code section 34458 requires the City Council to hold one of three required public hearings "outside of business hours" (meaning after 4:30 pm) ostensibly to promote public participation. LB's Mayor/Council held their initial public hearing (June 12, 2018) at 5:00 p.m. to meet that requirement.
At the June 12 hearing, Mayor Garcia gave the public three minutes to speak to all five proposed Charter Amendments (amounting to roughly 36 seconds each if a resident sought to address all five.) No Councilmembers objected to this or made motions to allow the public additional time.
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