Friday, September 14, 2018

FPPC Drops Complaint

FPPC Counsel Says ‘Not enough evidence’ of Violation of Law by City of Long Beach on Measure M Mailers – Matter Could Be Taken to City Prosecutor -- Apologizes for Unclear Response on Complaint

Long Beach, CA – September 14, 2018 – Ruth Yang, Counsel for the Fair Political Practices Commission today told Gerrie Schipske, who filed complaints with the FPPC, alleging that the Mayor and City Council had spent taxpayers’ dollars to advocate for passage of Measure M, that she did not find “enough evidence” to continue an investigation.

Schipske had alleged that the Mayor and City Council collectively and individually had spent taxpayer dollars to advocate for the passage of Measure M. Specifically, the City hired a political consultant to develop direct mail pieces that were not sent to all voters, but a targeted 43%, which makes them not general information as required by law. Additionally, the pieces advocated for passage by omitting key issues such as the measure was a tax; the transfers were from gross revenues and the City could raise utility rates to pay for the transfers.

“I am deeply disappointed in Ms. Yang’s response,” says Schipske. “I had been emailing and calling FPPC several times for an answer on the main complaint.”

Schipske added that Ms. Yang apologized for not having sent correspondence earlier on the entire complaint, and instead only responded to allegations concerning Mayor Garcia and Councilmembers Richardson, Andrews and Price utilizing taxpayer paid cellphones and emails to advocate for the passage of Measure M.

“She did offer that I could ask the City Prosecutor to look in the matter, which does not appear likely.”

Friday, August 31, 2018

FPPC Drops Investigation Against Councilwoman Price -- Didn't Spend More Than $1000 to Advocate for Measure M

The Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC) which investigates complaints about certain violations about campaign spending and spending of taxpayer money to advocate for or against ballot measures or candidates, has dropped its investigation against Third District Councilwoman Suzie Price.

A FPPC complaint had been filed by OpenUpLongBeach founder and public advocate, Gerrie Schipske, asserting that the Mayor and City Council and certain individual councilmembers used taxpayer monies to advocate for the passage of Measure M.

In dismissing the complaint that Councilwoman Price had used taxpayer funds to send out a lengthy email advocating for Measure M, the FPPC Enforcement Division held that Councilwoman Price used "personal funds" to advocate for Measure M and that because the threshold for an independent expenditure is $1000 or more, the complaint was dismissed.

The complaint against the entire City Council and Mayor concerning hiring a political consultant to target only a portion of voters with information and advocacy on Measure M is still under investigation by the FPPC.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Political Action Committee To Launch

Schipske Prepares to Launch Action Committee to Fight for Open, Transparent and Accessible Local Government

August 21, 2018 – Former Council member Gerrie Schipske today announced that she is filing paperwork necessary to launch a new political action committee that will raise and spend money to fight for open, transparent and accessible local government. She issued the following statement:

“In 1994, the voters of Long Beach approved a ‘Campaign Reform Act,” because of their concern that:

Monetary contributions to political campaigns are a legitimate form of participation in the political process, but the financial strength of certain individuals or organizations should not permit the exercise of a disproportionate or controlling influence on the election of candidates…The integrity of the governmental process, the competitiveness of campaigns and public confidence in local officials are all diminishing.

Today, many voters are concerned about how the ‘Campaign reform Act’ has been weakened by this Mayor and this City Council and how we are seeing the growing power of special interests in our City which contribute tens of thousands of dollars for candidates and ballot measures. Consequently, this Mayor and this City Council continue to raise taxes, to increase and consolidate their power and to further weaken the City’s ‘Campaign Reform Act’.

Voters supporting open, transparent and accessible local government need a way to reach other voters to stop these actions. A political action committee will provide this way by raising and spending money to reach voters with the information they need to make good decisions at the ballot box. Action will be a general purpose, local political action committee. Our Treasurer will be David Gould, a seasoned political consultant on campaign finance.

We are setting up an on-line secure link so that contributors can make contributions safely on-line. Contributions can always be sent to: action, c/o David Gould, 249 E. Ocean Blvd., Suite 685, Long Beach, CA 90802. Contributions are not tax deductible.”

Contact: Gerrie Schipske: 562 201-1296 and


Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Schipske Files Notice --Ballot Titles Violate Election Code

Contact: Gerrie Schipske (562 201-1296)  August 7, 2018
Taxpayer Advocate and Former Councilmember Schipske Files Objections to Descriptions for Charter Amendments Dealing with Merger of Utilities and Giving the Mayor and Council a Third Term in Office

Former Councilmember Gerrie Schipske today filed a notice with the City Clerk concerning the proposed ballot titles of the Charter Amendments which would merge the City’s utilities and extend the terms of office for the Mayor and the City Council. Schipske contends that pursuant to Election Code 9203, the ballot titles are misleading because they do not include enough information for the voter and actually hides the real intent and impact of the amendments.
Schipske asks that the City Attorney make the necessary changes before the Council proceeds. Election Code 9204 allows a voter to request the court to direct the City Attorney to amend a ballot title when it is found to be ballot title false, misleading, or inconsistent with the requirements of Section 9203 .
Notice to Mayor and City Council:

"Long Beach Utility Consolidation. Shall the City Charter be YES amended to consolidate the existing gas, water and sewer utilities and potentially other future City-operated utilities into a single utility department overseen by a five-member Public Utilities Commission, the members of which shall be appointed by the Mayor, subject to Council confirmation?"

The "short title" above quoted totally fails, directly or indirectly, expressly or impliedly, to indicate that the proposal is intended to make major changes in the City Charter and the structure of City government.

The short title fails to disclose that the measure merging the water and gas departments will eliminate the Charter established Water Department and the Board of Water Commissioners, which have operated in an independent manner since 1954. This proposed merger is not a ministerial action taken by City management. This is a substantive change in the City Charter and the oversight of the Water Department.

"City of Long Beach Term Limits Amendment. Shall the City YES Charter be amended to limit the Mayor and City Councilmembers to serving three terms and to prohibit individuals who have already served three terms from being elected as write-in candidates?"

The "short title" above quoted totally fails, directly or indirectly, expressly or impliedly, to indicate that the proposal is intended to extend the terms of office for the Mayor and City Council from two to three.

The short title fails to disclose that this amendment to the City Charter will eliminate the current two term limitation and replace it with a third term and further eliminate the right of voters to elect a candidate who runs as a “write-in.”

The City cannot opt to provide “all the sweet” and “exclude the bitter” in providing a short title that is defective in that it fails to disclose the substantive changes in the structure of City government and elections. As such, the titles are clearly misleading and do not substantially comply with Elections Code 9203.

Friday, August 3, 2018

Who Wants to Play Spin the City Charter?

Who Wants to Play “Spin the City Charter?”
By: Gerrie Schipske

Hey, readers. Have you heard? Apparently, voters have been beating down the doors of the Mayor and Councilmembers, begging them to change the City Charter…in a hurry.  Usually when a City embarks on changing their charter (which functions like a constitution), a “Blue Ribbon Task Force” is appointed and an expert is hired to help guide a review of the entire Charter. From that review and a series of public meetings, recommendations are forwarded to the Mayor and City Council for further public hearings.

I know I went to Hawaii for 10 days in June, so I may have missed all of that, but apparently the Mayor and Council don’t need any stinking experts, meetings or public input. Instead, it seems they played “spin the City Charter,” and selected 5…count them…5 sections of the Charter they are convinced need changing this November.

And why these specific five? Four of them are packaged as innocuous little items that hide the true agenda for the November blitz: 1) the consolidation of the Gas and Water Commission into a Public Utilities Commission; 2) the establishment of a Redistricting Commission to deal with drawing council district boundaries every ten years; 3) the establishment of an Ethics Commission to keep tabs on the behavior of our elected officials (members will be appointed by the Mayor whom they are watching); and 4) allowing the City Auditor to conduct “performance audits” (which she admits she can already do but wants the people to tell her, her job again).

The fifth change to the charter and the real reason for this kabuki theater, is that the current Mayor and City Councilmembers want another term in office. They are proposing to do away with the current limit of two terms and the provision for a write-in and adding a third term. Seems like they are concerned that the current provision of a write-in means that the Mayor and Councilmembers could be re-elected forever. Come on folks. Trying to stop elected officials from running forever? These are the same people who told you Measure M wasn't a tax (but it is) and that it would take funds from surplus utility money (and it isn't which is why you are getting a water rate increase).

Let’s be clear, only Beverly O’Neill succeeded in winning a third term as Mayor as a write-in. The only councilperson elected on a write-in is Dee Andrews from the 6th District. Is this what triggered the move to eliminate write-ins? Oh the horror, should Andrews do it again and win a fourth term. But wait! They have drafted language to exempt him so he can run for a 4th term. 

The truth? The current Mayor and Council “need” a third term because they have nowhere to go politically for another 6-8 years. 

Congressman Lowenthal isn’t leaving D.C. anytime soon. State Senator Lara may not win Insurance Commissioner if the GOP rolls out enough voters to kill the gas tax -- then Lara stays in the Senate. Assemblyman O’Donnell has 6 more years left in the Assembly, so his seat isn’t "available." 

What are a termed out Mayor and Council to do but ask you to extend their terms by claiming it “closes loopholes.”

If this group was truly being “ethical” by putting the third term forward, they would make sure it did not impact themselves, but only “future” mayors and city councilmembers.

So, get ready for all the “informational and campaign” mailers that are coming your way. And let's hope you all get your ballot argument pamphlet in time to read why these charter amendments should not happen. Remember, lots of voters never received the ballot arguments on Measure M.

Spoiler alert: City Auditor Laura Doud already put herself out as the spokesperson on behalf of changing Mayor and Council term limits to three, by telling the news media: “Voters in many jurisdictions including Long Beach have shown they want term limits.”  

Really, Laura?  You failed to mention that there are no term limits at all for you, the City Attorney and the City Prosecutor. Does this mean you support all of you stepping down now that two of you have served three terms and the City Attorney is serving his second term? Just trying to close the loopholes.

FPPC Drops Complaint

FPPC Counsel Says ‘Not enough evidence’ of Violation of Law by City of Long Beach on Measure M Mailers – Matter Could Be Taken to City P...