An inside look at the City of Long Beach by Gerrie Schipske

Google Alert - open government

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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Why Form 803 is so important to open government

I just finished filing two Form 803s and sent them off the Long Beach City Clerk who is make sure they get filed with the Fair Political Practices Commission in Sacramento.

What is a Form 803 you ask?  It is a disclosure of any contribution made to a charitable organization at the behest (request) of a politician. These are not campaign contributions but instead monetary contributions made by a person or corporation to a non profit organization.

The intent of the form is to publicly disclose whenever an elected official has asked for money to be donated to a favorite cause.

In my case, I requested several companies to donate to Partners of Parks (a non profit organization which supports projects for the parks and recreation). I raised more than $50,000 for the 4th of July Municipal Band Concert and Fireworks Show at Vets Stadium.

A Form 803 is required whenever a contribution of $5,000 or more is made at the behest of an elected official. So, I needed to file one for the $22,000 donated by Sares-Regis Company and the $10,000 donated by Lamar Advertising. All the other donations made were under $5,000.

These forms give the public one more look into whom an elected official deals with. and an accounting of large contributions made at the request of the elected official -- all perfectly legal, but nonetheless needing disclosure.

Technically speaking, the Mayor of Long Beach should be filing these forms for the contributions made to Children of the Night which funded his inauguration events.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Property taxes doubled in Long Beach but Fire Response time increased

Where To Get Real Story About Long Beach

The current focus on City Council is on the pending Fiscal Year 2015 budget. But what won’t be discussed during these deliberations is what is contained in the Fiscal Year 2013 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.” These reports are done yearly, after the budget is adopted by the Council.

In the 2013 CAFR (it is online at: http://www.longbeach.gov/civica/filebank/blobdload.asp?BlobID=40391 ) you will find such gems as the fact that property taxes received by the City of Long Beach have doubled since 2004, while response times of fire service arrival on scene for emergency calls within six minutes has gone from a high of  73.6% of the time in 2004 to a very low 55.1% in 2013. (Only 55 percent of the time do they arrive within the national standard of 6 minutes -- that means many times it is in excess.) Property taxes have doubled yet response times increase. 

Doesn’t that bother you a little? Do you think this is acceptable? Don't you want to know why this happened and why some fire stations are still

The budget process is unfortunately structured in a way that almost prevents in depth discussion of these issues.


The Council Public Safety Committee should be holding meetings to discuss the fire service and police department so that the full facts get out now – not those that are conveniently discussed after the fact.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Destruction of Public Records Stopped...For Now

Paper shredding lorry
Paper shredding lorry (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Reacting to the news that boxes of public records were to be destroyed -- records that were generated in the office of the Mayor and in the 7th Council District -- many people contacted the City Council and asked that the records be at least scanned or turned over to the Historical Society of Long Beach.

The newly minted City Council listened and the item for approval was taken off the agenda.

It remains to be seen what happens with the records. The history of the Mayor's office is contained in its records. That history needs to be preserved so researchers can access and eventually let all of us know what was going on during those years.

Thank you residents who stepped forward on this issue.