(March 8, 2004) -- Five members of the LB City Council flew to Washington, D.C. to attend all or part of a meeting held by the National League of Cities, a membership group comprised mainly of city officials, and four of LB's Councilmembers will be on Capitol Hill later today (March 8) to lobby members of Congress on items desired by LB City Hall.
The trip by Vice Mayor Frank Colonna and Councilmembers Dan Baker, Tonia Reyes-Uranga, Jackie Kell, Bonnie Lowenthal -- comprising a majority of the City Council -- coincides with the National League of Cities' annual "Congressional City Conference" (scheduled for March 5-9). Councilman Baker is scheduled to return to LB on or about March 8 while the remaining four head to Capitol Hill to meet with some congressional staffers.
News of the DC meetings surfaced after the LB City Clerk issued a notice of a "Special Meeting" of the Council at an unusual site: "Longworth and Rayburn House Office Buildings, Washington, D.C. [March 8], 9 A.M." with the agendized subject matter "Meeting with Congressional delegation to discuss issues of importance to the City of Long Beach."
The notice stems from CA's Open Meetings law (the "Brown Act") which requires public notice and an opportunity for the public to attend when a majority of a legislative body's members hold meetings for such legislative purposes. The notice is supposed to include the date, time and place of the meeting...but this one omitted a few necessary factoids...like in what office(s)? With whom? At what time(s)?
While LBReport.com scrambled to find a stringer (a freelance DC reporter to attend the meeting), we simultaneously sought to find out where and when the meetings would be held. We located Carl Kemp, Manager, Public/Government Affairs, who was in DC and filled us in on salient details.
Mr. Kemp said that since Mr. Baker is leaving Monday...meaning there won't be a quorum triggering a Brown Act meeting...but Mr. Kemp indicated that meetings are scheduled to run from roughly 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on March 8 with staff from the offices of Congressmembers Juanita Millender-McDonald, Dana Rohrabacher, Linda Sanchez, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer and House Appropriations Committee staff. LB Councilmembers may "split up" and fan out to ensure all the offices are visited.
Mr. Kemp said the LB delegation is prepared to talk about a list of items, which generally include appropriations requests, "TEA-LU" funding (the big ticket transportation bill which includes upgrading the Gerald Desmond Bridge) and reauthorization for so-called "mega projects" in which the bridge and freeway are included.
The appropriations requests include $2.7 million for front line law enforcement (includes overtime, front line funding and gang intervention), money for the LB "sportspark" project, funding for skills development for at-risk youth and a request for street-scape improvement to Ocean Blvd.
Meetings with members of the LB delegation will stretch through the day...and there'll also be time to meet with HUD's director of financial management to deal with the 3/4 of a million dollars for Section 8 housing that LB says is owing.
Over the weekend, Councilmembers had an opportunity to attend the National League of Cities event which runs from March 5 - 9, 2004.
The National League of Cities web site states that "March 2004 will mark the real beginning of the campaign for the national office - a campaign that has significant implications for America's cities and towns. With most of the major primaries scheduled in February and early March, the Democratic front runner for President will emerge and the races for the House and Senate will begin to heat up. The Congressional City Conference provides a great opportunity to learn about the federal issues that matter to America's cities and towns, to lobby Congress on short-term issues that will be on the Congressional agenda in 2004, and to make sure cities and towns have a clear, consistent voice in the national campaign."
During the National League of Cities meeting, LB received a diversity award (for cities over 400,000 population) from the National League of Cities. Accepting for LB was Vice Mayor Colonna.