By Steven Piper
An agenda item that would have proposed reducing Long Beach’s City Council meetings from three times to two times a month was removed by 3rd District Councilmember Gary DeLong before last Tuesday’s 5pm council meeting, according to an email sent out by Long Beach City Clerk Larry Herrera on Tuesday afternoon.
“I pulled the item because we did not have a full council,” DeLong said. “I’ll re-agendize it when everyone is present.” [Eighth District Councilmember Rae Gabelich was not at the meeting.] In addition, two new council members, James Johnson and Steve Neal, will be sworn in next week, potentially bringing new ideas and opinions to the nine-person group of elected officials. “Since we do have new members coming on, I’ll wait a month or so to get them up to speed,” DeLong said. “Although they both look like fast starters.”
DeLong said that, by changing the meeting schedule of city council from three to two times a month, the transparency of city government would remain consistent because the same amount of items will be heard during the meetings. “Long Beach has enormously increased transparency in the last five or six years,” he said. “We should all have an open mind and be willing to try new ideas. If, for some reason, this is not a positive move, we can always go back to the way it was before.”
Currently, the council meets every Tuesday except for the last Tuesday of the month. If approved, the motion would reduce the council meetings to only the first and third Tuesdays of every month. The change would align Long Beach with other, smaller municipalities like Signal Hill and Lakewood, whose councils meet only two times a month.
Supporting DeLong’s efforts have been Councilmembers Robert Garcia (1st District) and Suja Lowenthal (2nd District), both of whom have been reported by other local news sources as saying that fewer meetings would allow more time to meet with constituents.
Opposing the effort to cut the meetings by one third has been 5th District Councilmember Gerrie Schipske.
In a letter to the editor published in the Signal Tribune last week, community volunteer and 6th District resident Anne Greenfeld said she strongly opposes an agenda item that would reduce Long Beach City Council meetings from three times to two times a month.
“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,” Greenfeld wrote. “So much for accountability and transparency if this passes next week.”