LB Utility Users Tax:
Salient History & Useful Facts


The history below provides useful details concerning the history of LB's utility users tax. It doesn't include everything (no history does), but we believe it is a beneficial reference tool, documenting the record of LB City Hall, City Councilmembers, LB institutions and community members concerning the city's utility tax. will be posting this history in our Reference cyber-library for continuing public access.

To jump to specific sections, use the hypertext links below; for the full history, scroll past the Index to view the complete document.


1990 & 1991: Council votes to nearly double utility tax

1991: The "sunset clause"

1998-2000 events

1999-2000: Ryan collects petition signatures, gets his 5% rate cut on ballot

2000: Council scrambles to devise competing measure

August 1, 2000: Baker, Colonna & Carroll propose 3% rate cut that without explanation becomes 2.5%

August 8, 2000: Council puts its measure (Prop I) on ballot ahead of Ryan's (Prop J)

Ryan speaks at Aug. 8 Council meeting

Carroll & Grabinski try to revisit Aug. 8 vote; stopped by Roberts Rules of Order

LB Utility Tax: Salient History and Useful Facts

1990 & 1991: Council votes to nearly double utility tax

During the recession of the early 1990's, an already difficult period for many LB businesses and residents, the LB City Council voted to nearly double the utility users tax imposed on LB taxpayers.

The Council voted to increase LB's utility tax on gas, water and phone bills from 5% to 7% in 1990 (electric bills were raised to 7% in 1987) and from 7% to 10% on all utility bills in 1991. It imposed the 7% to 10% increase effective July 1, 1991 without even the normal 30 day ordinance waiting period by claiming an "emergency" existed. The "emergency" was the legal requirement to enact a balanced budget by June 30.

The 1991 vote made LB's utility tax one of the highest in the state. How this came about is described below.

On May 1, 1991, then-City Manager James Hankla transmitted his proposed budget to the Mayor and City Council. has posted the Manager's budget transmittal letter in its entirely in .pdf form at Hankla '91 budget letter.

In essence, the Manager's letter claimed that although certain budget reductions had already been implemented (including requiring most departments except police and fire to reduce their base budgets by at least 5%), this wasn't sufficient to balance the budget given forecast low revenues.

The Manager basically gave Councilmembers a choice: make additional budget cuts (which he did not recommend) from a list that would admittedly create severe service impacts (since they reflected 5% across the board reductions including police and fire) or don't make the additional cuts but enact an offsetting list of "revenue enhancements" (i.e. tax and fee increases) to balance the FY 91-92 budget and also help balance the FY 92-93 budget. The biggest "revenue enhancement" on the Manager's list was a 3% increase in the utility users tax,

The Council had the power to accept, reject or modify the Manager's proposed budget, including the proposed utility tax hike.

The Press-Telegram supported the 3% utility tax increase, twice editorializing in its favor. "Residents must pay for the services they require," the PT opined in May, then added in June, "[C]ouncilmembers -- all nine of them -- ought to go ahead and make the hard, but correct, decision."

The utility tax hike was also supported by the leadership of the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce and Long Beach Board of Realtors. The groups opposed two lesser "revenue enhancements" on the Manager's list, a property transfer tax hike and a business license requirement for landlords renting less than four units. (The Long Beach Business Journal reported at the time that the utility tax increase "will cost Long Beach businesses far more than residential users.")

1991: The "sunset clause"

The City Clerk's minutes of the June 11, 1991 City Council budget proceedings indicate several persons testified before the Council on the utility users tax. Among them was Mr. John Deats, who urged putting a sunset clause on the proposed utility tax hike.

After Mr. Deats and others spoke, 1st district Councilman Evan Braude introduced an ordinance to increase the utility users tax from 7% to 10%, and declare its urgency so the tax hike could take effect on July 1, 1991. Braude moved to conclude the hearing and declare that an emergency existed (allowing the tax hike ordinance to take effect in less than 30 days). The motion passed 6-3. (Yes: Braude, Edgerton, Drummond, Clark, Smith, Grabinski; No: Robbins, Kellogg, Harwood)

Councilman Braude then moved, seconded by Edgerton, that the tax increase ordinance:

"...include a sunset clause to provide that the 3 percentage point increases in utility tax rates enacted on June 11, 1991 shall be reviewed by the City Council prior to July 1, 1993 as part of its regular budget review process for fiscal year 1993-94, at which time it may change or repeal those increases..."

Although labelled a "sunset clause," the motion did not actually propose to end (i.e. sunset) the tax increase by a date certain. Instead, it promised to do in two years what the Council could do at any time (i.e. review and change or repeal the tax). Under the "sunset clause," if the Council did nothing, the 10% utility tax would continue.

Councilmember Harwood moved to table the motion (remove it from discussion); the motion passed and the Council went on to other budget matters. After a considerable period of time, Councilmember Edgerton moved to resume discussion by putting the utility tax back on the table (motion resuming discussion passed 8-1, Harwood dissenting).

The minutes then reflect the following:

"Mr. Calhoun [the City Attorney] read the amendment to the [utility tax hike] Ordinance, as follows: Section 3.68.170 - Review and Sunset - The 3 percentage point increase in utility tax rates enacted in Ordinance No. C-6897 on June 11, 1991 shall be reviewed by the City Council prior to July 1, 1993 as a part of its regular budget review process for fiscal year 1993-94, at which time it may change or repeal those increases. After July 1, 1993 this particular section shall cease to be of any further force and effect and deemed repealed.'"

The "sunset clause" left the tax hike in force unless the Council acted further. It sunseted nothing except itself.

This motion passed 6-3. (Yes: Braude, Edgerton, Drummond, Clark, Smith, Grabinski. No: Robbins, Kellogg, Harwood).

The Council did not enact the property transfer tax or the business license requirement opposed by the LB Chamber of Commerce and Board of Realtors.

Following the vote, Mr. George Economides, publisher of the Long Beach Business Journal, wrote: "Faced with the choice of making some tough cuts in city spending or raising taxes, the council took the easy way out by raising the utility users tax...[and other taxes and fees]...No relief, but what did we expect when there's no leadership." Mr. Economides went on to praise Councilmembers Robbins, Kelllogg and Harwood for their "no" votes on the utility tax hike.

When the 1993-94 budget proceedings arrived (the period indicated in the "review and sunset" provision), the City Council (then comprised of Braude, Lowenthal, Drummond, Clark, Robbins, Topsy-Elvord, Grabinski, Kellogg and Harwood) did not lower the utility tax hike from 10% to 7% or by any amount.

1998-2000 events

The City Council, which enacted the utility tax, has the power to lower it at any City Council meeting. In February, 1998, City Manager Hankla, responding to inquiries from several Councilmembers, presented a report arguing that despite the end of the recession, LB City Hall still needed the 10% utility tax. (City Hall had previously justified increasing the tax because of the recession). The Council took no action to lower the utility tax.

In 1999, LB fiscal reformer Norm Ryan announced he would gather signatures to put an initiative on the LB ballot to roll back the utility tax incrementally from 10% to 5%, giving taxpayers a 1% rate reduction per year for five years. The City Council responded by requesting a report from City Manager Henry Taboada. (Mr. Hankla retired at the end of 1998 and the City Council named Mr. Taboada City Manager. He served as Assistant City Manager under Mr. Hankla.)

Mr. Taboada's report contended in essence that Mr. Ryan's measure would have negative budget consequences. Following Mr. Taboada's report, several Councilmembers gave their negative views of Mr. Ryan's measure.

After waiting to speak, then limited to three minutes, Mr. Ryan dodged interruptions by the Mayor to answer his critics and, during his remarks, raised the issue of the sunset clause.

After Mr. Ryan spoke, Councilman Jerry Shultz asked City Attorney Robert Shannon if Mr. Ryan was correct: was there a sunset clause? Mr. Shannon replied -- accurately -- that there is no sunset clause.

1999-2000: Ryan collects petition signatures, gets his 5% rate cut on ballot

During the summer of 1999, Mr. Ryan proceeded to collect petition signatures. During this process, some city officials criticized his measure while others proposed "alternatives." In August, 1999, Mayor Beverly O'Neill called Ryan's measure "draconian" and proposed lowering the utility tax rate to 5% in 0.5% annual rate reductions over ten years (instead of Ryan's 1% annual rate cuts over five years.)

Councilman Frank Colonna suggested a 3% rate cut over five years. Then four Councilmembers (Roosevelt, Grabinski, Kellogg and Shultz) backed a 5% rate cut over seven years.

None of these "compromises" received the support of a majority of the Council.

Mr. Ryan continued collecting petition signatures. Eventually, he turned in over 20,000 signatures in support of his measure.

Mr. Ryan was then told he had not gathered enough signatures to qualify his measure for the ballot. This came to the attention of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, which noted that state law only required Mr. Ryan to gather about 3,700 signatures. This meant Mr. Ryan's measure arguably qualified for the ballot months earlier and LB residents should have had the opportunity to vote on it sooner.

Confronted with these facts, LB City Hall agreed in March, 2000 that Mr. Ryan's measure would appear on the November, 2000 ballot.

During the 2000-01 budget workshops, Councilman Kellogg made a motion to have the City Manager bring back to the full Council for consideration at the final budget hearing options for reducing the utility tax by 1%-2%. Kellogg's motion passed with only two Council members opposed (Colonna and Baker.) However, by the time the final budget proceedings rolled around, Kellogg was gone (termed out and replaced by Rob Webb) and two new Councilmembers had appeared (Carroll and Richardson-Batts). Kellogg's proposal wasn't raised by the holdover Councilmembers, incoming new Councilmembers or the City Manager.)

August 1, 2000: Baker, Colonna & Carroll agendize 3% rate cut that somehow becomes 2.5%.

After the April/June, 2000 Council elections, Councilman Frank Colonna (3d district) and Vice Mayor Dan Baker (2d district) and newly-elected Councilmember Dennis Carroll (4th disrtict) agendized for the August 1, 2000 Council meeting a proposal for a 3% utility tax rate reduction, 0.5% per year for four years and one percent in the fifth.

At the Council meeting, the Mayor asked which of the three Councilmembers wished to speak; a voice (off camera, sounded like Baker) replied: "I think we're gonna let the public speak first." The Mayor gave the floor to members of the public.

At this point, no one on the Council (including Carroll, Colonna and Baker) had publicly indicated anything other than their agendized 3% reduction. The speakers included:

  • Former LB Councilman, Dr. Tom Clark, spoke as "Co-chairman, People for Long Beach, which is in opposition to the current proposal to reduce utility taxes." Dr. Clark stated:

    "I'd like to make an observation in the context of my remarks. It's always something strange to me that knowing that the city has a deficit budget for I don't know how many years now, and we're not raising as much revenue as we spend, that someone could come up with a proposal that we should even make a reduction in the revenues that we have currently. Having said that, the reason I'm here tonight would be in support of a proposal that would give us an opportunity to possibly avoid some of the Draconian cuts that you're going to have with this proposal that's before you, before us now, the 5%...I would ask you to reduce your proposal to the least amount that you can. I certainly will work with you and work with that proposal..."

  • An individual (whom the Mayor recognized by name), a LB resident, urged the Council to "vote for a two and a half percent reduction in the utility users tax." This was the first public mention at the Council meeting of a two and a half percent decrease; the agenda item brought by Councilmembers Carroll, Colonna and Baker was for a 3% reduction.

  • Ms. Joanne O'Byrne, speaking as a boardmember of Friends of the Library, opposed 5% tax reduction and indicated Friends of the Library will support the Council "in placing an alternate measure on the ballot to reduce the utility users tax by no more than 3%."

  • Mr. Mike Murray, chair of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce, then testified in pertinent part

    "[T]he Chamber's Governmental Affairs Council and Board of Directors have heard various proponents and opponents of tax relief measures...It's the Chamber's position that the five percent cut over five years is too drastic a cut and is not a fiscally responsible tax cutting measure. We feel that the two and a half percent cut is a viable alternative. The Chamber and its 1,900 businesses strongly support this plan. The Chamber Board of Directors feels that the two and a half percent cut is a responsible and reasonable cut...

    "In a showing of solidarity that is unprecedented in my four years with the Chamber, the Board of Directors overwhelmingly approved the two and a half percent cut. Board members were calling me from vacations to ensure their vote was recorded...The Chamber urges the City Council to consider and eventually approve the two and a half percent utility users tax cut. Thank you."

  • Mr. William Molnar, CPA, former candidate for City Auditor, delivered a blistering reply to the Chamber.

    "I think when you see representatives of the Chamber of Commerce come before you, you have to sort of analyze the source. I think the Long Beach Chamber of Commerce is not the voice of business in this city, has zero credibility as far as representing the true voice of business because, like I said, a real businessman would never support a 10% utility tax or accept a 3% decrease in taxes when they could get a 5% decrease in taxes...Somebody also mentioned that the city is constantly in a deficit situation...

    "The city is always in a financial position of losing money, and you have to look at this in view of the current boom economy that we have, and I would say as a businessman and as a financial advisor, it's an absolute scandal and prima facie evidence that this city is mismanaged, that in these boom economic times in the state of California, where the state has a surplus, that the poor city of Long Beach, which is absolutely financially mismanaged, is running another deficit...."

    Mr. George Medak, a co-chair of "People for Long Beach" (an entity formed in opposition to Mr. Ryan's measure) and member of the Chamber's Board of Directors responded:

    "[T]he 1,900 businesses represented on that chamber do speak for business in the city of Long Beach, with all due respect. And they don't want to have taxes raised; they don't want to pay taxes; everybody in business understands that, but they're looking at fiscal responsibility coming up with this compromise. And the new City Council has done a great job compromising, working with the business community, labor's involved, and we've come to a point where there seems to be some action we can take that, that fights the 5% that's onerous...I commend the three Councilmen for coming forward with this and I hope we can stay together. This is rather unique where business, and labor and management have all come together on a policy, on a position, and I urge you to support the two and a half..."

Following additional speakers, the Mayor gave the floor to Councilman Carroll:

Mr. Carroll said:

"Thank you, Madame Mayor and my colleagues on the City Council. The initiative proposing to cut the utility tax by 5% has created some difficulty for city officials and those persons in the business community who I think have concerns about some of the issues raised tonight, that is, the effectiveness, efficiency and accountability of city government. On the other hand, making sure that our citizens are served with respect to public safety, good safe schools, making sure our businesses are productive. I hope that tonight the City Council has coalesced around the proposed two and half percent alternative that I will be speaking for under the leadership of the Mayor, Vice Mayor Baker and Councilman Colonna and the other members of the Council. ..."

This was the first public meeting mention by any Councilmember of a 2.5% plan.

Before launching into a series of prepared graphic slides of the type usually presented by the City Manager or subordinate staff, Councilman Carroll said:

"...and before I begin with the slide show, I do want to say and acknowledge George Economides and Norm Ryan, the persons who put the 5% initiative on the ballot. I know both of them. I know them both to be responsible persons. I know they both love and care for this city. I know them both to be businessmen who do believe, as Will [Molnar] earlier stated, that the less tax the better, and that is a philosophical position that has a long tradition in this country.

"However, I think Mr. Medak [Boardmember of the LB Area Chamber of Commerce and co-chair of "People for Long Beach," the latter formed to oppose Mr. Ryan's tax cut measure] also suggested there is a different perspective, we can only cut taxes so far, we have certain services and responsibilities as members of the community as well. So, I think Norm and George have done this city a great service. It is going to focus our attention on the upcoming budget process.

"We have a new era, I believe, of openness and accountability which I believe has already begun. I know I've spoken to [LBPD] Chief Lance and [LBFD] Chief Beck. They have implemented efficiency reforms in the Departments that are very difficult to implement any more, and I think you're going to be seeing more and more effective use of all government resources on your behalf. I know speaking for myself I have not yet been through the budget process but I would like to be given an opportunity to be a more informed watchdog for all of you. I also want to acknowledge Curtis Tanney and the [City] Manager's office who have graciously provided me the opportunity to use their resources in presenting this program...."

Councilman Carroll then began a slide presentation making various budget and tax claims, including:

"In 1991, the utility tax was raised from 7 to 10 per cent to pay for additional police officers. Those police officers did come on board. Those of you who remember the early '90s and difficult times the city had. It is one of the situation, I think, is a credit to us all is we had the foresight to raise the tax which is never happy thing to do and it paid off. We are now enjoying some of the lowest crime rates in a long time."

[ has posted the City Manager's 1991-1992 budget message in pdf form at City Manager's 1991 budget message. In pertinent part it basically described what a 5% across the board cut would do to balance the budget if it did not exempt police and fire. The Manager did not recommend this and said it could be avoided by raising the utility tax; the Council could have directed the Manager to return with other alternatives; instead, it voted 6-3 to raise the utility tax from 7% to 10%. (Yes: Braude, Edgerton, Drummond, Clark, Smith, Grabinski. No: Robbins, Kellogg, Harwood). The utility tax goes into the General Fund where it can be spent for items ranging from police to City Hall perks.]

Mr. Carroll continued:

"The fire department is being tasked to deal with the issue we all know exists at Community Hospital....We have seen, I think, the efficient and effective use of our tax money in the last nine years and we still enjoy the benefits of it. ..."

Councilman Carroll offered this explanation for City Hall's record of the past ten years:

"...[T]hose persons who feel that government is wasting their money, the level of scrutiny of government must increase and I think it is painfully clear to all of us that when property taxes are limited, it forces the city to use basically sales taxes over and above and apart from the utility tax. It creates a drive for a lot of projects that I'm sure the City Manager may not have given the nod to except he had to. I think the City Manager has had one of the difficult tasks that there is in the last ten years in trying to adapt with one hand tied behind his back, and I think legitimate criticisms may flow from some of the projects that have been proposed in this city, and they need to be carefully scrutinized, but I think it's important for us to understand the circumstances under which they are proposed. ..."

Councilman Carroll concluded:

"I thank all those persons in our city and the leadership of the Mayor and Vice Mayor Baker for bringing us together and I think you're going to see a coalition behind two and half percent tonight, those persons represented by Tom Clark and George Medak who have labored long and hard to find what they feel is fair both to the citizens as taxpayers and the citizens as consumers of the benefits of our city. And I think two and a half percent will be maybe a small step for this City Council, but it will be a giant step for the citizens of [sic] the Long Beach in the right direction, and if we find that after a two and half percent cut we can do more, I think you're going to find great support on this Council for revisiting that issue and doing what needs to be done for our taxpayers. Madame Mayor I would conclude my presentation and I believe Vice Mayor Baker does have a motion."

Vice Mayor Baker thanked Councilman Carroll, made a few remarks, then made a motion to request the City Attorney to prepare a ballot measure that would "enact a two and a half percent reduction in the city's utility user tax over a period of five years, a half a percent per year over five years." Seconded by Councilman Colonna.

Other Councilmembers spoke, including newly elected 8th district Councilman Rob Webb:

"I campaigned for a cut in taxes. I walked my district. I talked to my residents. I heard overwhelmingly from a lot of people that live in my district that they would like to see some tax relief. Now sitting in this chair, being responsible for coming up with a budget in the next month, I am faced with how do you, how do we deal with a, what would be a 10% reduction in our general fund. And that is a, that's a real reality that's hit home....So, I will join the ranks today and look forward to supporting some kind of a tax cut and 2 1/2% seems to be the flavor of the day and I will support that motion."

7th district Councilmember Ray Grabinski, who was part of the Council majority which voted to raise the utility tax from 7% to 10% in 1991, delivered a sometimes stinging rebuke to some of his fellow Councilmembers:

"[T]he reason we're in trouble is because we don't listen. We never brought those people [presumably, Mr. Ryan and his supporters] down here to sit and debate them here, in public, where everybody could listen, the 5% for five years, but I'll remind you, two times they sat down with members of this City Council and they were willing to compromise, and we kind of spit in their soup. And I'll tell you what, we're gonna pay for that...."

Mr. Grabinski continued:

"We should never be scaring the voters. Voters are wise enough to make good choices. And I'll remind some of my colleagues...the public went out and got these signatures, 19,000 signatures and they only needed 3,500...."

And in an enlightening revelation, Councilman Grabinski volunteered:

"The logic holds that if they get a choice between five and two and a half now, and I'll remind everybody it was three at two o'clock this afternoon so, I hope when it gets passed they put it in ink so it doesn't dry and become one and a half, because this is a tough, tough situation.

He continued:

And we have a good chance of staring 5% in the face. And this City Council, no matter how they vote on this, better start talkin' where we're gonna make the changes, I didn't say cuts, where we're gonna make the changes and what kind of, how we're gonna turn this into a positive thing, how we're gonna make this city run differently. How are we going to spread some costs that we had before, that we didn't have before. How are we gonna become creative with it. Because I'll tell you what. This was not representative of the community....[I]f we don't start workin' on how we make these changes, we'll be the ones goin' around spreading the bad news...cause that's how you sell something like this...`Oh, don't trust those five percenters." Even though they did everything right; even though they wanted to compromise with us; they're Draconian; we're the ones you can trust...Part of the reason they don't trust what's goin' on in government is because we don't deliver what we say we're gonna deliver, fixing the streets, taking care of the neighborhoods...

But all of those things are things that we could lose, and the reason we'll lose 'em is because of what George Medak said. Mr. Medak is one of the people who in some ways benefits from whether or not we do five percent or two and a half. I say that George because it's true. There's other people sitting on this Council who I kinda have a question as to whether they should be voting on this thing...

"You think about it. You think about the voters havin' an opportunity to vote on something that we took this long, I mean, this is the last time, we couldn't make any changes. And it came here as three percent and now it's two and a half percent. So anybody who wasn't privy to what happened this morning for the first six or seven hours is gonna be surprised when they wake up tomorrow, `I thought I supported three percent.'..."

On the motion by Baker, seconded by Colonna, the final vote was 6-3, requesting the City Attorney to prepare the 2.5 % measure for submission to voters. Yes: Baker, Colonna, Carroll, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Webb. No: Oropeza, Grabinski, Shultz.

August 8, 2000:
Council puts its measure on ballot ahead of Ryan's

A proposed ballot wording and ballot order were given to Councilmembers in writing over four days before the Council meeting, included as part of every Councilmember's agenda package. The material was also available to the public.

The Council approved the language below without discussion at the time but with some dissention afterward. It will be seen by voters in the voting booth and in official voter pamphlets with additional information. The Council-approved text was:

Proposition A [eventually designated Prop. I]

Shall the ordinance which reduces the utility users tax by 25% (5% each year for 5 years), be adopted?

Propoition B [eventually designated Prop. J]
Shall the ordinance which reduces the utility users tax by 50% (10% each year for 5 years), be adopted?"

Technique urged a week before by opponent of any utility tax cut

Describing the utility tax cut as a percentage reduction was technique publicly suggested at the previous week's Council meeting by Councilmember Jenny Oropeza (1st district), who has consistently opposed any utility tax reduction. On August 1, she advised:

"I do not agree that we should be thinking about how to make a 5% cut, which is in fact a 50% reduction in funds, we need to understand, we keep talkin' about 5% like it sounds like it's not a lot. 5% reduction is a 50% reduction in the resources that come from this funding source. And I think we ought to be talkin' about it in that way....I will continue to oppose a cut in the utility users tax, a 50% reduction in revenues, or a 25% reduction in revenues. Both are too much for me...."

The Oropeza August 1 formulation was incorporated in the City Attorney's proposed ballot language and ballot order. The item was agendized for the August 8 City Council meeting as item 32.

When the Council reached agenda item 17 (naming persons to write pro and con arguments in the voter pamphlet), the Mayor announced she would take 32 (the proposed ballot language and ballot order) before item 17 because "we really can't talk about item 17 until we've had [trailed off]."

The Clerk announced item 32 as agendized: "A resolution ordering, calling and providing for and giving notice of a special municipal election...for the purpose of submitting 3 ballot propositions..."

The Council, without discussion, voted unanimously to approve item 32. (Just prior to the vote, Mr. Grabinski could be heard off mike saying, "Sorry, I was out of the room." The Mayor replied, "Item 32. That was just to ask for the election.")

After the Council approved item 32, the Mayor proceeded to item 17. The Mayor presented a written transmittal letter on ballot arguments that described the cuts in the traditional terminology ("Propositon A: Utility Users Tax Cut - 2 1/2% over Five Years; Proposition B: Utility Users Tax Cut - 5% over Five Years"), not the inflated-appearing percentages that the Council had just approved for the ballot. City Attorney Robert Shannon attempted publicly to "correct" the Mayor's transmittal letter, portraying the measures as 25% and 50% reductions. A copy of the Mayor's original transmittal letter can be viewed at Reference/Aug 8 Council meeting

Ryan speaks out

Mr. Ryan addressed the Council. In pertinent part, he stated:

"...You have arbitrarily usurped Prop A for the Council initiative versus Prop B for the citizens' initiative. I have transmitted a letter protesting that to the City Attorney, citing Gould vs. Grubb. My understanding is that we would have a lottery initially, which I agreed to.

"And I find it very frustrating dealing with this city. I have come to the table two times before for a compromise, only to be turned away. The third time I agreed that a lottery was fair, only to be told an hour and half, two hours ago that in fact that would not happen, after a closed session...The fact you that would back out of a compromise and take the risk of litigation indicates to me that you understand that there is a political advantage to being first on the ballot...My feeling is that basically you are not willing to compromise, it is a lot of talk, and at every point you have denied the voters to vote on this last March, whether that was an accident or not, and now that there's an opportunity in November, you're seeking political advantage.

"You are playing dirty, and proof of that again is in the language. 25% cut versus 50% cut. Which Councilperson proposed that at the last Council meeting? The one Councilperson who's consistently not in favor of any cut at all, and in fact argued that that should be a tactic. So, I at least want to be on the record of my objections to this and in fact I will pursue litigation to make you do that which is fair."

Councilman Jerry Shultz asked the City Attorney how the state of California determines the order of ballot measures. City Attorney Shannon noted that a state statute speaks to the order of state measures, and stated that the Council was not bound by this although it "does create a methodology or by analogy that you can use." Mr. Shannon indicated the statute puts "other legislative measures" ahead of "initiative measures in the order in which they qualify" and using that by analogy, that order is "similar to what would be used if these were state measures."

Carroll & Grabinski Try to Backtrack,
Stopped By Roberts Rules of Order

4th district Councilmember Dennis Carroll began to address the issue raised by Mr. Ryan, saying it "slipped by at least this Councilman" and asked that the Council revisit item 32 after discussing item 17. However, Councilwoman Oropeza, well versed in Roberts Rules of Order, noted (accurately) that to reconsider an item requires a motion, a second and a majority vote to reconsider by the Council. This quieted Councilman Carroll for the moment.

Colonna as Inquisitor

3d district Councilmember Frank Colonna asked the City Attorney about those seeking to write arguments against City Hall's measure. "There are individuals who are indicating that they're representing groups. For example, there is one who is stating, `President of the Concerned Parents and Teachers of Long Beach.'...[W]hat is it that's out there that requires something other than just a statement..."

City Attorney Shannon replied there was no "bright line rule", the basic point being that the "title designtion not mislead the voter and not suggest that the person represents the view of an organization as opposed to simply indicating that they are an officer in that organization, and we would have to examine each of the titles on a case by case basis."

After Mr. Shannon indicated his office would be involved in this process, Councilman Colonna said he "would like to question the authorization and I'm a little bit concerned and suspect on just how this, these empowered groups that I've never heard of, one in particular, suddenly emerges as a leading argument in proposing opposition to the ballot measure."

Carroll & Grabinski Outfoxed

After the Council approved item 17 (ballot argument signatories] unanimously, Councilman Carroll (who a week earlier had co-sponsored a Council effort to put a counter-measure on the ballot against Mr. Ryan's measure) moved to reconsider item 32, specifically the ordering dimension of it:

"It's my belief that this is a matter of great public importance, that the method whereby the propositions are denominated A and B is at least perceived to have some great significance, although personally I don't know that this situation is analogous to persons running by name...I don't perceive there's that much difference in this particular instance, but I certainly think the public should be entitled to hear the differing points of view with respect to each Councilman's position."

7th district Councilman Ray Grabinski, who tried and failed a few weeks earlier to put a different counter-measure on the ballot against Mr. Ryan, also complained about the item for which he'd just voted (and which had been presented to him and all Councilmembers in writing days before):

"I'm telling you, this is the most undemocratic process I've seen, for an issue that has premier importance, and I see some people shocked on this Council, and I appreciate Councilman Carroll's asking for reconsideration and I will be shocked, but I won't be surprised, if we don't get reconsideration...My colleagues are ready to ramrod this because they think they have the votes...I walked in on 32, not knowing that precluded what we were talking about, so I would really appreciate reconsideration, just because I was out of the room..."

The motion for reconsidertion failed, 6-3. (Yes: Carroll, Grabinski, Webb. No: Oropeza, Baker, Colonna, Kell, Richardson-Batts, Shultz).

Following the vote, Mr. Grabinski could be heard off mike saying, "That's outrageous. That is outrageous."

Court orders City Hall To Halt "Informational" Mailing

In October, a multi-color brochure (Long Beach Wave) appeared in LB utility tax bills, "dedicated to providing factual information regarding the General Fund, the UUT [utility users tax] and the management of the City of Long Beach." Paragraph headings included, "The UUT has helped the City" and "UUT: A Long Beach Advantage." The brochure featured pictures of the Police Chief, Fire Chief, Library Services Director and Director of Parks, Recreation and Marine and described services provided by their departments, supposedly thanks to the utility tax.

Mr. Ryan learned a second mailing was planned with a somewhat modified version of the brochure. He sued. A Superior Court granted Mr. Ryan a Temporary Restraining Order forbiding LB City Hall from sending the second brochure or using taxpayer resources for materials that did not fairly present both sides of the issue.

Salient portions of the Court's order are posted at Court order restraining LB City Hall re utility tax

The Press-Telegram editorialy supported City Hall's measure, Proposition I.

The Long Beach Business Journal editorially supported the Ryan/petition signature measure, Proposition J.

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