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LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA May 1, 2007 Election
Proposition G
Deletion of Obsolete Sections
City of Long Beach

Charter Amendment

15,220 / 69.7% Yes votes ...... 6,625 / 30.3% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Summary | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall Proposition G, which amends the Long Beach City Charter by deleting obsolete provisions regarding outdated tax, fiscal year and financial account descriptions, be adopted?

Summary Prepared by LWV Long Beach Area
Education Fund:

The Way It Is Now: Currently, the Charter includes seven sections which are deemed to be obsolete.
  • Four are property taxes: the Public Recreation Tax Levy, Library Tax Levy, Transportation Tax Levy and Municipal Band Tax. These taxes for these special purposes were placed in the Charter long before 1978’s Proposition 13. Since they had not been submitted to a vote of the people they are no longer considered usable.
  • The Department of Public Utilities no longer exists as such. It has now become the Long Beach Energy Department.
  • The fiscal year, shown in the Charter as from July 1 to June 30, no longer applies. Long Beach now uses the State’s fiscal year, usually October 1 to September 30.
  • The provision for a General Purpose Reserve Amount (with a maximum of $2,500,000) has not been used for some time. Instead, there is now a reserve that is 10% of the general fund, approximately $36 million. The City Council has access to this reserve and may spend it as they see fit after a vote.

What this Measure would do: This measure would delete all of these items from the City Charter.

Proponents Say:

  • We should eliminate the outdated and unnecessary provisions from our city Charter which would help streamline it.
  • The taxes specified in the Charter have not been levied in over 50 years and would require a vote of the people to reinstate.

Opponents Say:
  • The whole Charter should be changed because it is obsolete, harmful and undemocratic.
  • The Charter doesn’t address real issues such as massive fuel consumption.

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney Robert E. Shannon
Voter approval of Proposition G would delete Sections 903, 1500, 1700, 1707, 1714, 1717 and 1724 from the Long Beach City Charter.

Presently, the Long Beach City Charter contains provisions establishing taxes for public recreation, libraries, transportation and the Municipal Band. The proposed amendment would eliminate these tax provisions.

Presently, the Long Beach City Charter requires the establishment of a Department of Public Utilities. The proposed amendment would eliminate this requirement.

Presently, the Long Beach City Charter designates the City's fiscal year, and requires the establishment of a general purpose reserve account and limits the amount of funds which may be placed in that account. The proposed amendment would eliminate this requirement.

  Official Information

City of Long Beach
Local Facts

City Profile
LWV Long Beach Presents Live 'Pros & Cons' on the Ballot Measures

date: Saturday, April 21
time: 10 am - 12 noon
place: Los Altos Library, 5614 Britton Dr
plus: short presentation on the city Budget for fiscal 2008 by David Wodynski, Bureau Manager, Budget and Performance Management Bureau
more info: LWV Long Beach Area
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Arguments For Proposition G Arguments Against Proposition G
Because our City's Charter is over eighty years old, some sections have become outdated and unnecessary, which is the reason for this "clean-up" amendment. For example, because of substantial changes in the City's financial practices and departmental structure over the years, certain sections describing outdated accounting and department names should be deleted.

In addition, the Charter appears to impose certain taxes for public recreation, libraries, transportation and the Municipal Band, which have not been imposed in over fifty years. Moreover, California's Proposition 13 now requires that even if the City desired to impose these taxes, it would require a new approval by a vote of the people. In order to avoid confusion regarding these taxes, I believe that they should be deleted entirely from the Charter.

Robert E. Shannon
Long Beach City Attorney

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Vote No on G, and send the politicians a big message: our need and challenge is to update the obsolete attitude and provisions of the entire charter, not just a few harmless old sections.

Local government should be leading the change to a more participatory democracy, not clinging to an anti-democratic charter. Maybe it's natural for established local politicians to endorse the present setup, whose model often seems closer to Tsarist Russia than to the citizen democracy which ancient Athens showed is possible. But our city needs the empowered and encouraged talents of all citizens in order to properly study, deliberate and address all our problems. We should enable all willing citizens to meaningfully participate, without their having to join the elite for whom political office or appointment or activism is a career or totally pre-emptive activity.

I urge all independent-minded voters to seek out alternative media and opinion, and alternative perspectives, as for instance in and (in coming weeks) on my website .

Mathematical and Statistical Analyst

Prop. G abolishes a few supposedly obsolete but harmless charter provisions. But meanwhile, our existing charter as a whole is indeed obsolete and thereby very harmful. That's because our city faces deep problems, even compared with other California cities. These problems now include pollution, poverty, and lack of police to cope with crime and intimidation.

We are unusually and dangerously entangled in global warming. Our local economy now is hugely promoting it, and our neighborhoods are in peril from it. Much of the massive fuel consumption which triggers global warming arises from massive transport - promoted or served by enterprises like PoLB, LGB and Boeing. Melt of the Greenland ice, perhaps within a few decades, will forever drown neighborhoods like Belmont Shore, Naples and Peninsula.

Effective coping with our problems will require true working democracy - involving all willing citizens as empowered partners.

Our charter and municipal governance remain archaic and anti-democratic. We have nearly as many adult citizens as a small state, and more than each 1776 colony - but far more taxation and far less representation per resident. Unlike state governments, ours lacks multiple centers of power and initiative, and the checks and balances needed for due precaution. We don't even have a second legislative chamber such as a large assembly of neighborhood representatives. Between elections, out of over 350,000 of us adult Long Beach citizens, just the same few dozen people (Council, Mayor, elected officers, some Commissioners) get any power to make any decisions.

Vote No on Prop. G, to send the message that our city needs not fake but real charter reform. Our home city needs not obsolete oligarchy, but timely democracy.


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Created: July 30, 2007 17:52 PDT
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