AUDIO: Hear Long Beach Councilmembers Collect $50 Each For Four And a Half Minute July Meeting As Members Of Their "Housing Authority"
A week earlier, Council voted at Mayor's request to cancel its July 21 Council meeting; he turned up at afternoon Biden political event, Councilmembers collected their pay without conducting public's Council meeting business
A week earlier, Council voted at Mayor's request to cancel its July 21 Council meeting; he turned up at afternoon Biden political event, Councilmembers collected their pay without conducting public's Council meeting business .
|(July 23, 2020) -- On July 14, 2020, all Long Beach City Council incumbents collected $50 each for casting three votes (plus one to approve the previous month's minutes) as members) as they met (via teleconference, possibly at home) as LB's "Housing Authority." There was no discussion on any of the four July agenda items. Their proceedings took a little over three and a half minutes (after one minute for opening roll call.)
Long Beach Councilmembers have been collecting the monthly taxpayer-paid perk since creating it for themselves in a 2006 Council action. Previous Councils (that included then Councilman Robert Garcia) continued collecting the sum during the "Great Recession" as they voted to cut taxoayer services including police, fire and libraries. The current Council could change the practice but hasn't...and in June 2020 had two agenda opportunities to do so and didn't. .
The Council's four-minute July 14 Housing Authority meeting came one week after Council incuments voted (July 7) to cancel the public's July 21 Council meeting at the request of Mayor Robert Garcia,. On the afternoon of July 21, Garcia turned up as a participant in a Biden presidential campaign event. Meanwhile, Councilmembers who voted to cancel their meeting continued to collect their salary despite not conducting the public's July 21 Council meeting business. (LBREPORT.com details and editorial here.
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The Council meets monthly as the "Housiing Authority" a few minutes before the start of their main Council meeting. From April 14 forard, they met via teleconference (meaning they could do so from home.) The Housing Authority also has two appointed members who receive $50 for each Housing Authority meeting they attend. .
The Housing Authority's officially described duties are [City Clerk text]:to serve "with the City Council as members of the Board of Directors on matters pertaining to housing programs sponsored by the federal government and Housing Authority operations"). Below are the dates and duration of Housing Authority meetings in 2020 (source: CIty Clerk minutes.) .
2019 totals collected by Councilmembers for attending their Housing Authority meetings were:
Pn November 21, 2006, the Council (under then Mayor Bob Foster) adopted an ordinance paying $50 per meeting to members of LB's "Board of Examiners, Appeals and Condemnation" and "Disabled Access Appeals Board" (on which no Councilmembers sit) and slipped in in a $50 per meeting payment for themselves for attending "Housing Authority" board (on which all Councilmembers sit.) Those voting "yes" were then-Councilmembers Bonnie Lowenthal, Suja Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, Patrick O'Donnell, Laura Richardson, Tonia Reyes Uranga and Val Lerch. Absent were then-Councilmembers Gerrie Schipske and Rae Gabelich.
Every subsequent Council could have changed the $50 payments but didn't...and just weeks ago the Council had two agendized opportunities to do so and didn't.
Near the end of the June 9, 2020 Council meeting with no public discussion by any incumbents, Councilmembers voted 8-1 (Supernaw dissenting) to change the city's salary schedule as sought by Mayor Robert Garcia and advanced by his (now former) Budget Oversight Committee chair Stacy Mungo, to begin paying (retroactive to Jan. 1) all Mayor-chosen appointees to Council-created "advisory" Commissions and double sums paid to Mayoral appointees to decision-making City Charter-created Commissions. A week later on June 16, the Council voted a second to enact the changes, again with no Council discussion (7-2 (Supernaw, Austin disseing).
On either or those twoo agendized occasions, any Councilmember(s) could have moved to change or end the $50 payments to themselves for attending their few-minute long "Housiing Authority" meetings. None did.
The Council also didn't change another self-payment perk: Councilmembers pay themselves $100 each time they meet as members of the "Successor Agency" to the [now defunct] Long Beach Redevelopment Agency. The last time the Council did so was pm Jan. 7, 2020 and its meeting (indicated in City Clerk minutes) lasted from 5:20-5:24 p.m, Those present and collecting their $100 for the four minute meeting were Coucilmembers Zendejas, Pearce, Supernaw, Mungo, Andrews, Uranga, Austin and Richardson (Price absent.)
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