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    LB Unified School District Board Meetings To Be Televised...In Lakewood, By Lakewood City Hall

    Lakewood City Council votes unanimously to televise citizen-made video of LB school Bd. meetings on Lakewood city cable channel; LB taxpayers remain blacked out

    (November 13, 2002) -- In response to a written request indicating a group of Lakewood and LB residents are frustrated by LB Unified School District Boardmembers who refuse to televise their own meetings for parents and taxpayers, the Lakewood City Council has voted unanimously to broadcast citizen-made video of LBUSD's Board meetings on the City of Lakewood's cable channel.

    The Lakewood City Council's November 12 vote stemmed from a written request agendized by Lakewood resident Toby Hess:

    Honorable Mayor and City Council
    City of Lakewood
    5050 Clark Avenue
    Lakewood, California

    This is to request your permission for the cablecasting of Long Beach Unified School District Board meetings on the Lakewood municipal access channel. This is a pilot program that we want to start later this month and continue for at least 120 days. We also intend to submit the board meeting tapes to the Long Beach and Signal Hill cable system.

    Because the [LB] school district continues to refuse to use its million-dollar video production capability for this purpose, a group of Lakewood-Long Beach residents and myself, intend to provide "gavel-to-gavel" coverage of the meeting as a public service. We will not edit or editorialize on the proceedings. We do intend to provide a short, factual "Before the Board" commentary of the items that are discussed at the meeting so that viewers can understand the context of the agenda items.

    We will meet any reasonable technical standard for cablecasting provided us by your cable TV staff. It is our understanding that VHS format tape is an acceptable cablecasting media.

    We request a regular cablecasting time and eight playbacks of each program we submit.

    Thank you for considering our request. We applaud you for your continuing interests in the educational quality and governance of the school districts serving your community.

    Among local residents testifying in support of the request was ELB activist and recent School Board candidate Jeannine McManigal-Ball, whose campaign included a pledge to support televising LB School Board meetings. She was defeated by Jim Choura, a Lakewood resident supported by much of LB's political establishment.

    LB School Board member Suja Lowenthal has previously indicated she favors televising LB School Board meetings. L.A. School Board meetings are televised, as are LB's City Council meetings.

    Lakewood's pilot program will be viewable only by Lakewood residents. LB taxpayers and parents remain effectively blacked out...although LBUSD has its own cable TV channel (viewable in LB) on which it could televise its own meetings.

    In July, two LB School Board incumbents, Ed Eveland and Bobbie Smith, publicly rebuffed a request by LB taxpayer and veteran school activist Reyna Akers that the LB School Board televise its meetings.

    At that time, LB School Board member Eveland claimed televised meetings of the LB City Council and L.A. School board "become nothing but zoos, with people like you that get up and are constantly negative, never have anything to say." He said, "I watch the L.A. Unified School District meeting every week and I watch the Long Beach City Council meeting every week, and the reason I do is I get more damn entertainment out of those programs than any comedy that there is."

    Boardmember Smith said the Board had decided televising Board meetings "is too costly, and we could use those funds to improve student achievement."

    The Lakewood City Council voted unanimously to approve a pilot program to televise the LBUSD meetings.

    This story is developing as we post.

    The Lakewood City Council acted in response to a written communication agendized by a resident...a procedural right LB residents once had until the LB City Council quietly voted during the O'Neill administration to erase it. The procedure had been routinely respected by previous LB Mayor Ernie Kell and previous Councils.

    LB Councilmembers have effectively ignored a proposal by grassroots LB activists [including publisher Bill Pearl] to restore the right of LB residents to agendize written communications for Council action.

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