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Statement by the Publisher / Opinion

LBREPORT.com Marks National "Sunshine Week" In Long Beach, Where In Some Areas The Sun Never Shines


LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. Support independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.
(March 11, 2019) -- This week, LBREPORT.com joins the American Society of News Editors and Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press in observing "Sunshine Week" [ASNE's website text] to focus "attention on public information, open government and journalismís role in promoting transparency." We're not a member of either group but we think Sunshine Week is very worthwhile, especially in the current political atmosphere.

Sunshine Week is an annual national event scheduled to coincide with the birthday of James Madison, America's 4th president, who stressed the importance of including checks and balances in America's constitution. He wrote the 1st Amendment explicitly giving the press the ability to independently exercise that check and balance on those holding government power.

In that capacity, independence obviously matters. Roughly 200 years after Madison, the then-Executive Editor of the NY Times, Abe Rosenthal, explained why to one of his reporters who wrote accurate stories but had become close (horizontally) with a politician. He famously fired her with the words (roughly paraphrased): "I don't care if my reporters sleep with elephants, but I don't want them covering the circus."

LBREPORT.com isn't part of City Hall's circus. We're not owned, operated, edited or written by a member of a City Hall Commission, Committee or Task Force and we don't have outside business interests that depend on negotiations, approvals or other actions by those on whom we report. For nearly 19 years, we've seen LB Mayors and Councilmembers come and go and sometimes we annoy them, most times not because what we report isn't true but because it is.

For Sunshine Week, we share with you the types of things we encounter in trying to shine a light in some LB areas where (to borrow a phrase) the sun never shines.

  • After the LB City Council voted (without dissent) one week before Christmas to spend over $4 million more for its new Taj Mahal Civic Center, including $1 million for something called a "media wall," we made a request under the CA Public Records Act for artist renderings (a picture would tell a thousand words) and other items related to it. The Public Records Act requires a response within 10 + 14 days, which City Hall provided, but to date without any public records.

  • After the City Council voted to cut $1 million off the previously agreed purchase price for a developer/operator of a NLB property, LBREPORT.com requested documents related to that decision. To date, no public records.

  • When we noticed that a Councilmember listed a $3,000 expenditure from his "officeholder account" (sums donated by friendly contributors) to pay a political consulting firm, the City Attorney's office contended LB "officeholder" records aren't public records. There was no citable Public Records Act-related legal authority supporting City Hall stonewalling stance, a Deputy City Attorney simply analogized to unrelated matters.

  • We've requested documents related to a City Hall pitch to the Angels because thus far the story lacks some journalistic basics, like who, what, when, where. (The why seems self-evident, since it might benefit some downtown commercial property owners and businesses.) So exactly who made the pitch (names)? When? To whom? What did they pitch? Was any of this discussed with LB's policy-setting City Councilmembers, and if so with whom and when? A skillfully-written City Hall release provided none of this information.

  • Some Angels-related questions might be answered if Mayor Garcia put his Mayor office schedule online. Amnesia File: In seeking the Mayor's office in 2014, Garcia boasted that he'd put his Council office schedule online, but once in power it disappeared despite a costly new website and half a decade later it hasn't reappeared. LB's Mayor prefers to Tweet more often than Trump, dispensing messages he controls, without doing what Presidents, Governors and other Mayors do: hold periodic open news conferences where reporters might ask him about subjects he doesn't control.

It's sometimes lonely standing outside the circus tent, but to us it's better than letting ringmasters hand us a shovel following the elephants.

Happy Sunshine Week...and thank you for reading and supporting independent news on LBREPORT.com.

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Support really independent news in Long Beach. No one in LBREPORT.com's ownership, reporting or editorial decision-making has ties to incumbent Long Beach officials, development interests, advocacy groups or other special interests; or is seeking or receiving benefits of City development-related decisions; or holds a City Hall appointive position; or has contributed sums to political campaigns for Long Beach incumbents or challengers. LBREPORT.com isn't part of an out of town corporate cluster and no one its ownership, editorial or publishing decisionmaking has been part of the governing board of any City government body or other entity on whose policies we report. LBREPORT.com is reader and advertiser supported. You can help keep really independent news in LB similar to the way people support NPR and PBS stations. We're not non-profit so it's not tax deductible but $49.95 (less than an annual dollar a week) helps keep us online.


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