Editor’s Note: The following was mailed to the California Policy Center office. It address the issue of release time in Long Beach, and is particularly interesting because it is from a retired LAPD chief of police, Stephen Downing.
The attached will be published as a column in the Long Beach Beachcomber this Friday. I provide this copy in the event you may like to consider publishing the story to your subscribers – of which I am one.
Long Beach Resident and Retired LAPD deputy chief of police”
* * *
August 16, 2016
Mr. Pat West
City of Long Beach
333 West Ocean Blvd. #13
Long Beach, CA 90802
Over the past five years the City of Long Beach has paid out a total of $1,200,387 to a city employee who has not worked a single day for the benefit of the Long Beach taxpayer – but has instead been allowed to work full time for a private corporation that supports, plans and finances political campaigns – a direct and egregious violation of taxpayers rights.
Under California law, local governments are strictly prohibited from engaging in political advocacy using public resources. Local governments may make public statements of an informational nature, provided they are factual and impartial. Statements that are not factual, or that are not impartial are prohibited both by our state and federal Constitutions.
The Free Speech clauses of the federal and state Constitutions prohibit the use of governmentally compelled monetary contributions (including taxes) to support or oppose political campaigns since “such contributions are a form of speech, and compelled speech offends the First Amendment.” Smith v. U.C. Regents (1995) 4 Cal.4th 843, 852.
Moreover, “use of the public treasury to mount an election campaign which attempts to influence the resolution of issues which our Constitution leaves to the ‘free election’ of the people (see Const., art. II A 2) … presents a serious threat to the integrity of the electoral process.” Stanson v Mott (1976) 17 Cal.3d 206 218.
According to compensation records provided to Transparent California by the City of Long Beach the full time president of the Long Beach Police Officer’s Association (POA) has been compensated with funds from the city treasury totaling $1,200,387 over the past five years.
In addition to conducting employee organization representation activity with the City of Long Beach during the five year period (for which release time is separately provided through the legal requirements of the Meyer-Milias Brown Act) the POA president has also devoted his taxpayer-paid time to advocate for, direct and manage the planning, execution, supervision and distribution of monies from the LBPOA PAC to endorse and support a wide variety of political campaigns including those of the current Long Beach Mayor, City Attorney, City Prosecutor, a majority of the sitting members of the Long Beach City Council, Kamala Harris for U.S. Senate, Patrick O’Donnell, Al Martsuchi and Mike Gipson for California Assembly seats, Betty Yee for State Controller, Jackie Lacey for District Attorney, Kim Nguyen, Susan Jung Townsend and Debra Archuleta for Superior Court judgeships, Felton Williams and Jon Meyr for School Board positions – as well as expending city-paid time for planning sessions with elected and non-elected city officials while allocating almost 300,000 from the LBPOA PAC to support the officeholder-controlled, special interest PAC-funded, mailbox-stuffing campaign that urged a YES vote on Measures A & B – a local measure that increased the Long Beach sales tax to the second highest local sales tax in the Nation.
It is a serious breach of the public trust when government officials spend public funds to create an advantage for one side of a political campaign. We have informed the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association about this activity.
As you may know, HJTA has successfully sued individual officials in similar circumstances for an accounting and personal reimbursement of mishandled public funds.
In order to avoid litigation over this matter, we demand that the Government of the City of Long Beach immediately cease using public funds to support the political activity of the LB POA president and restrict his release time – as well as the POA’s entire board of directors – to membership job related representation activity permitted and mandated by the Meyer-Milias Brown Act.
If we receive written confirmation from the City of Long Beach prior to adoption of the 2017 city budget that these demands have been met, we will take no further action.
Long Beach Resident and Taxpayer
Cc: Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Legal Department
Robert Garcia, Mayor, Long Beach
Members of the Long Beach City Council
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