Thursday, November 1, 2012
Saturday, March 17, 2012
Last month a coalition of over 22 organizations came together and presented THE PEOPLES STATE OF THE CITY. Here is the text of the presentation I gave to the group, a slide presentation has been included for your reference:
Many have said that Long Beach is a tale of two cities. In many ways this statement is very true. There are folks in Long Beach who don’t have worry about only having 5 dollars in their pocket and having to decide between buying gas to get to work or buying milk and bread for their children, there are some in this city who don’t think about getting their paycheck and just days later still being in the red.
Some who never worry about how they will pay the rent this month or if they will be able to make their house note or worry that they might even lose their home, some in this great city will never have to work two jobs to make ends meet or worry about filing bankruptcy or going on public subsidy just to get health insurance.
And yet those of us who do have to worry about such things have never before in the history of our city been under attack.
Working families and immigrants have been portrayed as the culprits and blamed for this bad economy yet we are not responsible for the greed of the corporations, the financial collapse of the housing market & the banking industry, nor to blame for the growing price of gas and education.
Locally, the focus has not been on the corporations or the banks but on working men and women and their right to a good pension, the right to collectively bargain and to join a union and the right to a livable wage and in many areas of this nation our very right to vote is being challenged.
But now, like never before, we are united as a community, coming together to push for a clean and safe city, a good well paying job and an organized effort to hold those in control, those in power and those who oversee our money – to hold them accountable and responsible for their actions.
Let’s take a look at what our city looks like and see if Long Beach is really a tale of two cities and maybe even how we can have our policy makers listen to both.
This map shows our districts – earlier you identified what district you live in, identified your councilperson, please take a moment to focus in on where you live because the maps that follow will be extremely revealing about which Long Beach you live in.
Long beach has been said to be the most diverse city in the nation, let’s take a look at this city.
African American Population
As you can see the dark orange indicates a concentration over 16% especially in the 9th and 6th-
African Americans are present in 7 of the 9 districts in this city.
Latino’s are the largest minority group in the city comprising 40% of the City of Long Beach’s population, w concentrations over 55% in the 9th, the 6th and the 1st district. But again, a large presence in 7 of the 9 council districts.
(Asian, pacific Islander, native American and other minorities)
This map shows the API population and as you can see, with a concentration of over 25% in the 7th district and parts of the 6th district. But again a large presence in 7 of the 9 districts
Only in the eastside districts of the 5th and the 3rd we do not have majority minority districts. (the 5th district 66% white and 3rd s district 70% white). While we have 7 of the 9 districts comprised primarily of people of color.
6th 95%, 9th 90%,1st district -90%, 7th -83%, 8th -83%
4th -67%, 2nd – 65% People of Color or as they are called, Majority Minority Districts.
Based on ethnicity alone we see a striking illustration of the tale of 2 cities, but that alone does not mean a thing, only when you combine the other statistics is there an indication that we may have a stark division in this city – especially when we get to voter turnout, then you will see why voting is so important.
As I mentioned, many people in this city do not have to worry about losing their homes but in fact many do, as you can see from the map, this snapshot taken just last month, January 2012 foreclosures, really the 2nd and 3rd round of foreclosures and I am hearing that there will be a 4th and 5th round as the economy rights itself. But most are concentrated in north and west Long Beach in the 9th, 8th 7th 1st and 4th districts. North town was hard hit.
This is particularly disturbing because much of our wealth is determined by home ownership.
When the coalition for good jobs and healthy community surveyed the city 47% of those surveyed said they were struggling to make ends meet and an additional 13% said they were facing serious financial difficulties. A clear 60% of those surveyed indicated that they are in financial hot water.
We have presented a chart with the results of the coalitions community survey.
Let’s take another look at another issue community folks said they were concerned about and that is violence.
The concentration of shootings is mapped out with the highest number being I the 1st district, then the 6th and 4th, the 8th and 9th. Are our candidates for office talking about these shootings and how these can be stopped? As a reminder, we have elections in the 2nd, 4th and 8th in April.
Also, on a side note, please take note where there are no shootings.
But violence has many causes, and there are certainly other crimes we could have mapped out.
But in many of these locations, especially downtown, we see these neighborhoods also are high in poverty, foreclosures and other indicators.
We know that in many of these areas, families are living in overcrowded conditions in these districts.
If you read the paper last week about the hotel worker who has a one bedroom in the 1st district and whose only wish was that he made enough to have good medical insurance and that his children did not have to sleep in the living room.
When you live in overcrowded condition because housing is not affordable because of the wages you make, you often have to settle for a smaller space than you need.
I think you can see why the community was so demanding of policy makers regarding the downtown plan. The push for community benefits such as moderate workforce housing unfortunately was never realized.
When you have limited space you cannot just go to the next room and shut the door or to your lush front or back yard, there is no next room and often no yard, and no privacy.
So where do folks go, they go outside, to the street and often while there, they don’t need to look for trouble, trouble finds them.
Another issue identified in our survey was pollution and a the peoples wish for a healthy community.
Environmental justice issues are a concern when you have a job but don’t have health insurance because many of the pollution generating industries affect the health of our residents especially children and seniors.
When we decide where to live, we try to go to places that are clean, have great green space like parks and walkways but Park land is not distributed throughout the City in the same proportion as the population.
The number of acres per 1,000 varies widely, ranging from only 1 acre per 1,000 residents in the North and West Park Districts, to over 16 acres per 1,000 in the Eastern Districts.
Much of the park land in Long Beach is concentrated on the eastern edge of the City, while the majority of the City’s residents are in the central and northern areas.
But even more than that is this thing called the I-710 freeway home to hundreds of thousands of trucks and they have to go on the Long Beach freeway because it is the most direct route to the largest intermodal container yard in the world, not the state or nation …..but the world…. the Hobart yard in the city of Commerce.
Over 100,000 people in this city live in poverty, and over 190,000 or over 40% of the city live below twice the federal poverty level threshold of $43,908 for a family of four in 2009.
As you can see by the map there is a concentration of families in poverty in the 1st, 9th districts and west and central part of our city.
Again, note which areas have no poverty.
Long Beach is characterizes by extremely high levels of income inequality. 20% of the households with the highest incomes claimed more than half of all income in the city. While the lowest earning 20%, earned just 3% of the piece of the pie. Guess what part of long beach earned the 50%?
Poverty has a lot to do with having a job but in Long Beach even if you have a job you can be poor.
Household by income
Many full time workers don’t earn enough to make ends meet. Nearly 26% of Long Beach’s 144,611 full time workers earned less than $25,000 per year in 2009. And in 2010 52%, just over half of all households earned less than $50,000.
These are FULL TIME WORKERS!
And who suffers the most, the children.
Children in real poverty
And as you can see by this slide, the percentage of children in real poverty in the United States is 42%, in Ca it is 44% in LA County, it is 49% but right here in the LBC it is 55%.
Nothing to be proud of.
It doesn’t matter if you are an immigrant or not, because 19% of those in poverty are native born and 20% are foreign born.
Poverty is directly tied to your having and keeping a job, and more importantly having a job that makes a living wage.
Over 70% of all people in poverty in this city are people who have a job, ……..the working poor.
80% of our working families make under $100,000, 52% like I said, make less than $50,000, and 16% make less than $15,000.
But as you know it depends on the job you have. Hotels and food service workers make about $23,538 a year, and all full time workers in long beach make an average of $41,036.
Some of you may have noticed that long beach is a tourist town. Many of our leaders were elected on the mantra of trade, tourism, technology and retail.
We have hotels, restaurants a convention center and an airport, and the tourism industry is growing. Thank God for the tourist because they actually saved us when the military left long Beach and we closed the ship yard.
But those high wage manufacturing jobs were replaced with low wage service employment. This graph shows the growth of the tourism industry in the last 10 years. Yet other cities who have a strong tourism industry like San Francisco, New York, and San Diego pay their hotel workers much more–compared to Long Beach. In fact we are the lowest on the list of cities.
But please note that this November you will see an ordinance and be able to vote for a living wage for all hotel workers in Long Beach, now you see why it is needed.
If we are a tourist destination then we should act like other cities. Clearly LB is last.
Mayoral Election by district
And finally as I end my presentation on the tale of two cities I just want to add that all politics is local. As we go into a presidential election in June don’t forget the statistics here and don’t forget April - we have some decisions to make. Take a look as the tale of 2 cities continues in the voting booth.
In April of 2000 in the 6th district alone only 11% of the voters showed up to vote, yet when they voted in June, over 20% showed up.
We either need to change our voting month to June or make people more aware of the April election.
Those that vote by mail as Permanent Absentee Voters or PAV’s, tend to vote more regularly over those who go to the voting booth.
In 2010 only 36,067 people voted for the mayor, 22,000 voted early at home by mail, 15,718 voted at the polls.
42% of all “Vote by mail or PAV voters” voted in April 2010, while only 10% of all Non PAV’s (or those who went to the polls) voted for our mayor. SO that tells me that those PAV’s who vote at home are four times more likely to vote than those who like to go to the polls.
This graph shows all voters by district. As you can see the eastside districts overwhelmingly vote. In this case the 7th and 9th are the next highest because of the efforts of working families who voted in the write in races that year.
Voter map, electing the mayor
So who voted in the 2010 mayoral election?
Sort of looks like slide 6.
Over 77% of those who voted in the mayoral race were white. This tells me that white, homeowners who vote by mail are electing our mayor.
As my father used to say, you dance with the one that brought you. ………Sorry to say that 7 of the 9 districts have not been asked to dance!
So when someone takes you to a dance you are obligated to dance with them and not mess around with anyone else.
As elected officials, we are supposed to serve everyone we represent, however at times there is a tendency to address the needs of only those who got us in office and ignore the rest. A good elected official will fight that urge.
This slide shows in red the number of registered voters, the majority in the 3rd and 5th districts
The blue is the number of people who actually voted, still the largest number in the 3rd and 5th.
In conclusion, we see the eastside in many instances untouched by foreclosures, shootings, and poverty and environmental impacts.
Yet they chose our mayor and other citywide offices. Who do you think your representatives are going to listen to, those that voted or those that didn’t bother to vote?
I don’t want you to get discouraged because together we can make a difference. We can make a difference in April, there is a school board race in the west /central part of our city. The 2nd, 4th and 8th council districts have races and there is also community college race.
Please share this information with your neighbors so they can understand the importance of having their voices heard and their votes count. Don't forget to vote on April 10th!
Tuesday, September 6, 2011
Thank you to Council Members Gerrie Schpske, Rae Gabelich and Steve Neal for thinking of the residents of the City and presenting a logical and comprehensive and transparent budget recommendation that would have provided the residents with additional services and increased public safety.
The telephone town hall that the three council members held drew an audience of over 2,100 participants and at Tuesday’s council meeting the comment line in support of the 3 council members well thought out plan was long and impressive.
As Rae said Tuesday night, the public wants to be involved in the budget. They have to be, they are the ones most affected by the budget, and it is our money!
Instead of discussing where the money will go in public, the 14th floor would rather do it in private and put it on the agenda long after the public has gone home. Why discuss the budget after you pass it?
What a shame that the other council members found it easier to bow to the mayor’s “either you are with me or not” attitude. He wants to get his way at a time when they should have been working together to respond to the residents of this city in public not in private.
The mayor stated that the prudent thing to do is to save it for the future; the problem is that the “savings” doesn’t stay saved but are doled out by the Mayor as a reward to those who vote with him.
My feeling is 2014 needs to come quickly so we can elect a mayor who does not threaten a veto whenever he wants to take the win from a council person and put them in his or her “place.” Just remember that the council represents the people and we should never allow them to identify the issues, we the people should identify what we know the priorities to be in our communities.
Council Member Gary DeLong said the budget adjustments are painful; yes they are especially in 2012, an election year, and shame on the representatives from the communities most in need yet don’t even attempt to fight for their constituent.
Libraries, Parks, Police and Fire are the basic needs of any community, especially the 1st, 4th 6th and 9th. Thank you, Steve Neal for having the guts to fight for your community, would that my councilman and the others had the fortitude to do the same.
Monday, April 18, 2011
The bike lanes may in fact turn out to be a great thing for the city but why didn’t we put any in the North - South routes so working folks could actually use them to get to work and enjoy our great downtown? They may be coming, but once again the East – West Coastal routes are the first to get these changes. The much hated bike lanes actually bring money into the district via improved signalization (coming soon) and beautification measures like trees and potted plants. While on the city council, Rae Gabelich and I requested that comparable dollars be spent in other parts of the city, and not just in the downtown area.
Are the West, Central and North areas of the city once again losing out on federal dollars intended to improve the entire city, not just areas where bike riding is a recreational pastime. The City’s emphasis on increased tourism brings jobs in restaurants and hotels. These low wage jobs are mostly located in the downtown area. If a bike is your only means of transportation to school or work these can be a God send, but then again, that assumes that these bike lanes were actually meant to improve all our neighborhoods and provide assistance to people who actually need them! .
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Perhaps, given the happenings in Wisconsin and right here in Long Beach, we need the Knights of Labor. We need some Knights in shining armor to help put a stop to the demonization of union members and the working class.
The Knights began as a secret society of tailors in Philadelphia in 1869. The organization grew and as worker militancy rose, their membership grew. In less than 10 years, by 1886 the group had over 700,000 members! The organization was committed to seeking radical reform like the eight-hour day, the abolition of child labor and equal pay for equal work, and political reforms including the graduated income tax.*
Fifty years later in 1935, the Wagner Act gave employees the right to collectively bargain, be represented by a union during negotiations and the Act also gave us the National Labor Relations Board. Today we are ALL benefitting from the Knights of Labor’s ideas and other united efforts like the Congress of Industrial Organizations that showed us that united, working families gain.
Almost a century later we are ALL benefitting from their advocacy, yet the actions in Wisconsin are threatening the very gains we enjoy today. Over 130 years of hard fought gains by workers in this country are now seriously at risk.
Why on earth would someone want to take away the unions right to collectively bargain? Divide and conquer? Make no mistake about it; this is a veiled attempt by a Republican Governor to use the fiscal situation to cast a fatal blow to unions in Wisconsin and in this country. Similar attempts are being made in Ohio and other states. While the Wisconsin’s Governor is a blatant example of someone using a fiscal issue for political ends this does not stop in Wisconsin.
Right here in Southern California, and in our own city at Tuesday’s budget hearing, we have elected officials suggesting that the real problem with our budget is that Labor is not doing their part. This from a mayor that threatened to veto the council and the bargaining group’s agreement if they did not follow his desired path during contract negotiations just over a year ago. So now we have a contract that HE negotiated and he is asking them to again come to the table, because he really didn’t mean what he said. And, quite frankly, according to the contract he negotiated, they don’t have to come to the table until 2013.
He states that our recalcitrant unions lack “will to negotiate” and at the same time says it is not negotiations as usual. Does he mean just give him what he wants? His desired solution by the way will only just cover half of the deficient. Do we once again see elected officials like the one in Wisconsin, using a fiscal situation to press a politically motivated desired outcome?
Add to that a Vice Mayor that states, "We all know the root cause of this crisis." Does she mean the workers who keep us safe, clean our streets and aid our sick and elderly in time of need? Does she mean our public safety workers, our refuse workers, our crossing guards and our fire and paramedics?
The Council in Long Beach needs to stop pointing the finger at Labor unions and start getting to work on increasing revenue and trimming the budget. In 2002, we had a deficit of over 109 million dollars and in 3 years cut it to less than 10 million with the support of labor. The present council is struggling with 54 million deficits and working to cut that in the same 3 year time frame, and alienating labor along the way.
It is time to get to work in partnership with our community, our city workers and management to find meaningful solutions. Wisconsin is a prime example of an elected official pointing the finger at the bad guy and refusing to negotiate in good faith. We have had enough of pointing the finger at who they think the "bad guy" is. Be careful, it just may be you.
*Reader's Companion to American History. Eric Foner and John A. Garraty, Editors. Copyright © 1991 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Yet in the State of the City there was no mention of our residents who are most in need, no mention of any immediate or short term relief for those who find it hard to put food on the table or a roof over their families heads. Yes, we all agree that pension reform is needed to stem the rising costs of our unfunded liability, but if you ask anyone in the city who is a victim of the above mentioned statistic, it is doubtful that they will describe the solution to their problems as pension reform.
To throw out the political hot potato of pension reform as the #1 issue in this City and then use the forum of the State of the City to inflame and attempt to coheres employee representative groups to acquiesce, comes off as a pitiful attempt at a campaign to rally support for a candidate for statewide office. And more importantly it does nothing for the man on the street that is searching for a solution to the problems many in our city face.
Shall I remind our Mayor about Measure I and recently Measure GG? The public and City Hall sometime differ on not only what our priority issues are but how to fix them. And in the complex world of pension reform, there are many ways to skin the cat.
This pension mass hysteria and anti public servant sector attack is in fact now spread to other members of the city. One City Council person sent out an E mail blast stating “Pension Reform is our Top Priority”. This e mail came from a council district with a 15% increase in violent crime, failing infrastructure, and the highest poverty rate in the city. As one of his constituents put it, “You can fix your pensions, but first, please fix my potholes.”
As I stated, we all agree that we need to act now to deal with our unfunded liability but even the city acknowledges that reforming the pension system for the future does nothing to serve our current unfunded liability.
I only hope that our city does more than political rhetoric regarding pensions, but right now we just need gas money to get to a job we may be lucky enough to have, and enough money to keep food on our table and our children in college. That is the real state of many in this city.