|(June 21. 2018, 12:30 p.m.) -- LBREPORT.com has learned that the City of Long Beach paid a San Fernando Valley-based political consulting firm nearly $100,000 to design, print and send three Measure M "informational" mailers ["based on informational materials prepared by city staff and approved by the City Attorney"] to roughly 63,000 known LB voters.
The City's "informational" mailers recited that they were "provided for informational purposes" and don't advocate "a yes or no vote on the measure" and were paid for by LB taxpayers. A separate political committee, operated by Mayor Garcia (with his Chief of Staff as its Treasurer) conducted a separate advocacy campaign for Measure M that (among other things) sent mailers displaying Mayor Garcia and police and firefighting personnel. [The City "informational" mailers didn't include pictures of Mayor Garcia, but in our opinion they were tendentious and incomplete, along with other City actions related to Measure M beyond the scope of this article.]
The issue remains newsworthy as Mayor Garcia [not city management this time] has proposed four (five if one includes a City Auditor-related item) Charter Amendments for which he seeks to conduct a special November 2018 citywide election. That means the June 2018 election scenario on Measure M could be repeated if the Council approves holding a November 2018 special citywide election for the Garcia-sought Charter Amendments.
LBREPORT.com inquired about the City's use of any vendor(s) in connection with its Measure M "informational" campaign, and the City's Public Affairs Officer, Kevin Lee, provided us with information we report below along with related matters of public record.
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|In August 2017, city staff publicly floated the option of a City Charter amendment that it said could "fix" issues resulting from taxpayer litigation challenging the City's utility revenue transfers. By December 2017, Mayor Garcia was scheduling meetings of the City Council's Charter Amendment Committee to consider already-drafted text for Measure M.
On February 8, 2018 (a little less than a month before the City Council voted to put Measure M on the ballot), EDH & Associates emailed the following proposal to City Manager Pat West:
RE: Proposal for Preparation and Distribution of Informational Mailers Regarding Transfer Tax Measure
On March 7, 2018 the City Council voted to put Measure M on the ballot.
On April 24, 2018, roughly a week before vote-by-mail ballots began flying citywide, the City of Long Beach generated a Purchase Order for $99,435.96, payable to EDH & Associates and billable to the City Manager's Dept. "for the period commencing 03/08/2018 to 03/07/2019 for providing voter communication services in accordance with department needs and/or fund availability."
As previously indicated by city staff and reported by LBREPORT.com on June 4, city staff paid the cost of printing the Measure M informational fliers using General Fund election savings.
The roughly $100,000 paid to EDM and Associates was in addition to a separate $100,000+ advocacy campaign supporting Measure M funded by contributors to a campaign committee operated by Mayor Garcia; its two primary campaign contributors were the political action committees (PACs) run by the leadership of the Long Beach Police Officers Ass'n and the LB Firefighters Ass'n. EDH & Associates didn't play a role that we can see from records in that campaign.
However separate campaign reports show that in 2016, the same Garcia-run advocacy committee (operating under a prior name in advocating passage of the 2016 Measure A sales tax increase) paid EDH & Associates at least $62,400 [from the campaign's contributors] for consultant services in connection with that 2016 measure. EDH has also provided services to the 2018 re-election campaigns of a number of LB incumbents including Mayor Garcia.
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