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Did Mayor/Councilmembers Misinform You About Measure M (Including Denying It's A Tax)? City Att'y Sends "Privileged Communication" to Mayor/Council After Retired Councilwoman Schipske -- Co-Author Of Ballot Argument In Opposition And Part of Legal Team That Enforced State Taxpayer Protections -- Alleges They Did And Cited These Items To City Att'y 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.

(May 24, 2018, 9:03 a.m.) -- has learned that the Long Beach City Attorney's office has sent what it describes as a "privileged communication" to Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and Long Beach Councilmembers after retired Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske -- part of the legal team that enforced state taxpayer protections (Prop 218) to which City Hall responded by proposing General Fund ("blank check") Measure M and among the co-writers of the official ballot argument against the measure -- cited examples of the Mayor and some Councilmembers using their personal social network channels or personal emails to make claims about Measure M that Schipske alleges are factually inaccurate or otherwise problematic.

"I can confirm that the City Attorney's Office received a complaint from Gerrie Schipske regarding certain statements being made by the Mayor and/or City Council Members with respect to Measure M," Deputy City Attorney Rich Anthony told late yesterday (May 23). "I can also confirm that the City Attorney’s Office has issued correspondence to the Mayor and Council Members in connection with the complaint, but the contents of that correspondence are, as you know, subject to the attorney-client privilege. It would therefore be inappropriate to include any more detail at this time."

Ms. Schipske tells that on May 19, she emailed the City Attorney's office:

[Scroll down for further.]

The Mayor and some members of the City Council are tweeting, texting and sending email newsletters in which they tell the readers that "Measure M is not a tax measure!"

Those of us who have written the "arguments in opposition" to Measure M, request that you immediately instruct the Mayor, City Council and senior staff to stop misleading the voters. The State Constitution as amended with Proposition 26 (and interpreted by the courts) clearly defines a "tax" to include "any levy, charge or extraction of any kind imposed by a local government."

Other cities have attempted to assess their utilities and transfer those funds into the general fund. These cities have called these transfers "fees," which do not require voter approval.

The courts have ruled that such transfers were not "fees" but a "revenue generating tax" because the amounts of the "revenues derived from the fee or charge shall not be used for any purpose other than that for which the fee or charge was imposed."

Simply stated, a city cannot assess a fee on its utilities -- such as a fee on sewer and water pipelines or a percentage of utility revenues -- and transfer the revenue from the fee into its general fund because such assessment and transfer is a “tax” which requires voter approval.

Measure M is a tax. The up to 12% assessment on the three utilities’ gross revenues will be transferred to the general fund and thus constitute a "revenue generating tax." (Which we also believes violates Proposition 218 as amended by Proposition 26.)

We await your response and action to correct this intentional misleading of Long Beach voters.



Ms. Schipske also provided the City Attorney's office with examples of communications she considers problematic. (These communications used the electeds' personally-controlled social network channels and email domains, not city government channels):

  • Mayor Garcia Tweeted: "What’s Measure M? And Why You Should Vote YES. Measure M is NOT a tax increase. It's a City Charter Amendment to authorize the transfer of surplus utility revenues to support services for Long Beach residents such as paramedics, fire, parks, police, and library services." []

  • Vice Mayor Richardson Tweeted "This is important. Vote YES on measure M to protect our local services" in echoing a Tweet supporting Measure M by the LB Firefighters Ass'n.

  • Councilwoman Suzie Price sent a mass emailing (using her personally operated, email) stating in pertinent part re Measure M: "...No, it is not a new tax, but rather, it's an amendment to the City's charter that would allow the City to continue receiving utility funding in the way we and other cities have done for decades...Again, Measure M is NOT a tax, but instead a way of maintaining a funding source the City depends on. So, I am sending this message with the hope that you will vote in favor of Measure M and support continuing the services we all depend on." [Councilwoman Price's communication also invited recipients to read a story bylined to Gazettes Executive Editor Harry Saltzgaver and the City Attorney's "impartial analysis."]

Caveat: Since the City Attorney's communication to the Mayor and Councilmembers is privileged attorney-client material, has no knowledge of, and is unable to report at this point, whether the City Attorney's office considers problematic the content alleged by Ms. Schipske to be problematic.


On May 21, Schipske added in an email to Deputy City Attorney Rich Anthony that the Mayor's Tweet "incorrectly tells voters the transfer is surplus funds when the measure states Gross Revenues. These are serious problems."

And on May 23, Ms. Schipske informed Mr. Anthony of an ad on MSNBC [we presume during local commercial cutaways] "featuring Mayor Garcia stating M will not raise taxes and only transfers surpluses. This is outrageous lying to voters." [ is currently unaware of who paid for the MSNBC local cutaway ad.]



On May 22, separately noted that Mayor Garcia and some Councilmembers had been using their personally-controlled social network channels and/or emails that Measure M isn't a tax...and published salient text (below) from the City Council's March 7 voted resolution which put Measure M on the ballot and explicitly used the term "tax" in describing the reasons for the City's action.

Text source: City Council voted Resolution No. RES-18-002S

...WHEREAS, some have alleged that under California Propositions 218 and 26 (California Constitution, Article XIIIC, Section 1(e) and Article XIIID, Section 6), these revenue transfers from City utility accounts to the General Fund are general taxes requiring voter approval; and...

WHEREAS, Proposition 218 (California Constitution, Article XIIIC, Section 2) likewise requires that all general taxes which are imposed, extended or increased be approved by a majority of City voters voting at an election called for that purpose; and

WHEREAS, pursuant to Proposition 218 any general tax measure submitted to the voters must be held concurrently with a regularly scheduled general election for members of the City Council;

...NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Long Beach resolves as follows:

Section 1. The foregoing recitals are true and correct and are hereby incorporated and made an operative part of this Resolution...

In the public interest, also made the full text of Measure M available which isn't published in the official voter information pamphlet, which only provides (in addition to arguments pro/con) the City Attorney's "impartial analysis."


On a related matter, Measure M's General Fund/"blank check" substance is detailed in the full text of Measure M here (also not published in the official voter pamphlet or in other City materials of which we're aware. (See pdf pages 8-9, section 1407 (7) ["All proceeds from transfers authorized by subsection (5) above can be spent for unrestricted general revenue purposes."] and section 1501 (f) [All proceeds from transfers authorized by subsection (d) above can be spent for unrestricted general revenue purposes"]).

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