No Dissent, Council Votes To Approve Ballot Text, Declare "Fiscal Emergency," Police & Firefighter Unions Voice Lockstep Support For Re March 2020 Ballot Measure To Extend
(July 16, 2019, 8:57 p.m.) -- As carried live on LBREPORT.com, the City Council voted
The presidents of LB's police union (LBPOA) and firefighter union (LBFFA Local 372) came to the City Council podium and testified in support of the measure. The two City public safety unions were the two largest financial contributors to the 2016 campaign to enact the "tempoary" Measure A sales tax increase. (Following voter approval of Measure A in 2016, the Council approved new contracts with both unions containing sizable raises; the City is currently negotiating new contracts with those unions and other city employee groups.)
Under Measure A, LB consumers now send LB City Hall roughly $60 million more each year. With that sum, the Council has funded mainly infrastructure items and also restored 22 out of 208 officers erased between 2009 and 2014 (leaving LB taxpayers without 186 citywide deployable budgeted officers including LBPD's former field anti-gang unit.) The Council also restored Fire Engine 8 (Belmont Shore) and Rescue 12 (NLB) but not Fire Engine 17 (Stearns Park), Engine 101 (downtown) and Engine 18 (ELB). (City management has applied for a temporary FEMA grant to restore Engine 17.)
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Assistant City Manager Tom Modica indicated that management plans to repeat the process it used in 2016, bringing the Council in the coming weeks the text of a non-binding resolution [that can be shown to voters in the coming campaign] reciting the current Council's "intent" to use the sales tax revenue for certain purposes. City management indicated the new resolution will include using the extended sales tax to enable the Community Hospital transaction in which the City will enable a for-profit LLC will operate a smaller version of Community Hospital for a dollar a year rent on seismically challenged city-owned land. The transaction will require LB taxpayers to share with the LLC the cost of addressing seismic issues with LB taxpayers paying roughly $25 million over 15 years.
As part of its voted actions, the Council also approved the text and ballot label that LB voters will be shown moments before they mark their ballots.
The only public speaker besides the police and firefighter union presidents was LB architext/urbanist ("City Fabrick") Brian Ulasewski who spoke in support.
No individuals, Council candidates (in 2019 and 2020), political groups, advocacy organizations or neighborhoods groups spoke either pro or con.
Two weeks earlier, one LB taxpayer spoke in opposition: Joe Weinstein, PhD, who said LB City Hall had shown itself consistently committed to Oscar Wilde's style of budgeting: "Give me the luxuries of life; the necessities will take care of themselves." He said the City had spent sums for extravagant items (including a new City Hall) while failing to restore [roughly] 200 police officers and charged that the City had previously made misleading and arguably illegal ballot measure statements to voters.
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