Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Public Records Request Filed on Charter Amendment to Merge City Utilities

Contact: Tom Stout (562 595-1473); Joe Weinstein (562 492-6531); Diana Lejins (562 421-8012); Gerrie Schipske (562 201-1296)

Taxpayers’ Advocates File Public Records Request on Proposed Merger of Water and Gas Departments – Concerned No Analysis Done on Impact and Merger May Pave Way to Privatize City Utilities

July 30, 2018
The four taxpayer advocates who challenged Measure M which transfers funds from both the Gas and Water departments, today issued a statement following the filing of a Public Records Request:
“We are most concerned that the Mayor and City Council are proposing a major change in the City Charter to merge the Gas and Water Departments into a Public Utilities Department without any documented analysis of the impact of such a merger.
We have reason to believe that this merger is being proposed to remove the independence of the Water Department to make certain it is no longer ‘a rogue department’ that makes actions independently of the Mayor and City Council. This merger will facilitate transfers of revenue without objection.
We also share the concern of some city staff who believe that the Mayor, City Council and major management are possibly being ‘lobbied’ to contract out or to privatize the city’s utilities which include water, gas, refuse, sewers and a city-run electricity service that is currently being considered.
All of these issues need to be brought out into the open before the proposal is placed on the November ballot so that the voters are clearly informed.”
The following is the PRA request:
Pursuant to my rights under the California Public Records Act (Government Code Section 6250 et seq.), I ask to obtain a copy of the following, which I understand to be held by your agency:
1.   Any writing containing information relating to the impact (i.e. costs, utility rates, staffing of department, control by City management, etc.) of the proposed Charter amendment to merge the Water Department into a Public Utilities Department under a newly formed Public Utilities Commission.
2.   Any writing containing information as to why the oil operations of the Gas and Oil Department will not be part of the merger.
3.   Any writing containing information as to the specifics of why the proposed Charter amendment language has been purposely left as vague as to the selection and termination of the General Manager of the proposed merged Water and Gas Departments.
4.   Any writing containing information relating to the City of Long Beach operating its own electricity utility under the proposed Public Utilities Department.
5.   Any writing containing information relating to contracting out and/or privatization of any or all of the City of Long Beach’s gas, water, refuse, sewer, SERFF utilities should the Public Utilities Commission and Department be formed.
6.   Any writing containing information relating to representatives of EPCOR Utilities Inc., and/or Sustainable Power Group, LLC contacting elected officials and/or city management concerning the City’s gas, water and future electricity utilities.
I ask for a determination on this request within 10 days of your receipt of it, and an even prompter reply if you can make that determination without having to review the record[s] in question.

Schipske Calls for City Attorney to Stop the Destruction of Council Records His Office Claimed Were Destroyed

Dear Mr. City Attorney: As you might recall, in 2016, I was subpoenaed and deposed as a witness in the matter of Peggy Crisp v. City of...