Hidden agenda?

I’m greatly concerned about agenda item #17 on the Long Beach City Council meeting agenda on July 13, 2010.
Regarding this agenda item, the backup on item #17 shows a 2003 memo written to then Mayor Beverly O’Neill with numerous cost-saving options. In 2004, the City Council voted on one of those options to go from four meetings a month to three. Nowhere in that memo does it deal with the impact on the community in the entire city. Nowhere does it deal with the fact that the Council meetings go long enough now. What are the overtime costs for those meetings that run until 11 or 12 at night? What would happen if we went to two meetings a month? Would there be more overtime costs (for staff) because meetings would take longer? Or would the public be limited to two minutes in what they already find it hard to address in three minutes?  Wait a minute, is that the reason some councilmembers want to limit the council meetings to twice a month, to limit the public input into city business?
The Council’s pay is based on four council meetings per month. I would be remiss in not thanking Councilmember Schipske for agendizing a cut in pay for the Council should the meetings be passed to only two meetings per month. The public already is limited as to what input we have by only getting three minutes per agenda item! We did not cut the salaries of the mayor and Council for having to prepare for three meetings a month instead of four.  Not only should some of the Council’s staff and mayor’s staff be cut, but they should be equalized as to what chiefs of staff and their staff get paid. Why are some chiefs of staff paid lower than others? Yes, seniority should count; however a cap needs to be put on each office’s staff as to what they can or can’t be paid. That’s how the private sector works. Why should government do things differently than the private sector?  That makes more sense than cutting council meetings!
The Council has already reduced public safety– LBPD and LBFD.  Public Safety departments are the only ones that keep the taxpayers/residents of this city safe. Now we are going backwards 10 years to public safety levels being reduced even though we have more people in this city!  It seems to me that the City Council and mayor should be worrying about the safety of their constituents– rather than trying to limit the taxpayers’/residents’ input in City business.
This is the reason the public does not trust the City Council and the mayor. This will not only contribute to more of a lack of transparency but will also make the Council meetings longer. This is not a way to save money. The Council meetings were supposed to come to the community and address issues in each district.  Now it is a just a “night off” for the Council. This is just another step to keep the public in the dark. Please also note that this is not only a district-wide issue, but it is a city-wide issue.
The residents of your districts elected you! This city is funded by the taxpayers– not the councilmembers. Last time I looked, the public/taxpayers are the ones who should be voting on whether or not there should be less council meetings– not the council.  So much for accountability and transparency if this passes next week.

“Where do we go from here: chaos or community?” Martin Luther King, Jr., 1967
Annie Greenfeld
Community Volunteer
6th District Resident

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