December 13, 2007

Public Disclosure...well sort of

Well I am glad to see at least another City Council member agrees with LAAG. The city of Lakewood for the most part tries to comply with the letter of the law but surely does not comply with the spirit of the law. It is so many things. They tout their "internet friendly" service desk yet results are no where a swift as the speed at which your request gets to them. They spend hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on consultants and IT infrastructure but the taxpayers never see the results. We have brought this to the city's attention numerous times and we are ignored. The implication of the city's silence is that they like things just the way they are. Don't let taxpayers really know what is going on as it creates too much work, just like with fireworks and RV's. Keep as many issues hidden in plain view as possible so no pesky voters show up at the meetings and get themselves on cable TV (of course no one can really watch the streamed meetings as they are played at odd hours and worst of all are not archived; again another example of complying with the letter and not the spirit of the public disclosure laws.)

You can find out all you want on the Lakewood website about dance class schedules but Heaven forbid they post on their home page a meeting announcement that they think the public may want to attend. (well unless city council members think they can attract lots of voters who agree with their position).

This Costco hearing is a prime example. Read the excerpt below from the PT. Now we dont care if you agree with the Costco or not. Thats not the point. The point is the city tries to do things under the cover of night as much as possible. Skolnick tells the Press Telegram that Lakewood did not "intend" to hide this from Long Beach (what about Lakewood voters?!). I never saw one announcement from Lakewood via its silly email newsletter about the 12/12/08 hearing (plenty of notices about firehouse cookbooks on sale though) If Lakewood knew there "had been a lot of press on the project" (of course not about the specifics or time and date of the meeting) then why didnt the city step up and post the notice on the front page of the website? Would that have killed them? No but they knew it would bring too many people out of the woodwork and Heaven forbid we dont want that.

Now of course it is somewhat the pot calling the kettle black here with Long Beach. We all know that all these border cities fight like Shiites and Sunni's when it comes to attracting new tax revenue (lets not get into incentives). And quite frankly Long Beach has egg on its face with respect to hiding its own City Council meeting agenda items from the public. (LB Report uses the oft used phrase "mushroom treatment"...keep 'em in the dark and fed manure.)

The point is the same. City's need to use the Internet to inform the voters more. But until the voters clamor for it or Sacramento legislates it you wont see any up to date meaningful disclosures of the nasty things that happen (or could happen) at city council meetings for a long time.

From the Press Telegram article 12-13-07

Long Beach's 5th District City Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske said she felt the study was insufficient and that Long Beach was not given adequate notice about the meeting or the project that affects her constituents within Lakewood Village. "Lakewood wasn't a good neighbor," she said. It was not Lakewood's intent "to hide this from Long Beach," said City Attorney Steven Skolnik, adding that city managers from both cities spoke about the Costco months ago and that there had been a lot of press on the project.

For more coverage as to why Lakewood wanted to bury the notice of the meeting read LB Report

Lakewood Accountability Action Group™ LAAG | | Lakewood, CA
A California Non Profit Association | Demanding action and accountability from local government™

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