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Feature Stories

Schipske Suggests City Hall Move to 5th

From Issue: Volume XXI - Number 13
6/28/2013


By Steve Propes

In a recent interview, Fifth District Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske talked candidly on subjects ranging from being gay to municipal budget issues. In April, she became an official candidate for mayor. Schipske does not contest that her relationship with current Mayor Bob Foster is less than cordial. “He’s been angry at me from the moment I started a blog. I’m not controlled by anyone; I don‘t curry his favor. He doesn’t like independent people, Gabelich, Uranga and Richardson, and all of them are women.”

Recently, Schipske made a motion that would require council members to disclose “who is receiving texts during meetings and who is accepting money from others.” According to Schipske, “In San Jose, they have to disclose their emails and their checks. The public is entitled to get this.”

“My motion was to send it to committee,” but it died for lack of a second. Schipske wasn’t entirely surprised. “I don’t know what the mayor did, I saw some arm-twisting during the meeting,” Schipske recalled.

“The mayor wasn’t inclined to get something through. I talked to a colleague and asked, ‘where were you?’ The answer was ‘I didn’t like where you’re going.’ They didn’t want it discussed. Residents were outraged.

“It was to test the issue. I could tell there was something going on, they didn’t want to take the chance. People should be mad that their current mayor doesn’t want campaign reform.”

“He wanted to make sure his opinion was heard, then he left. If you start tallying up the times he leaves the floor, the public would be concerned.” Suggesting some of these absences are to give speeches or meet other obligations, Schipske asserted, “I do wish he would come to council meetings every Tuesday because that sends a message to people.”

Despite this, she also stated, “I’m not running against him, I’m running for mayor. We don’t need a campaign of negative stuff, let’s talk about those positive things we would do.

“The city of Long Beach has the highest unemployment in the state at 10 percent because 23 percent of the city is below the poverty level. You address it with leadership. I’ve taken on Long Beach City College for their abolition of vocational programs.

“[I want to] aggressively market the City of Long Beach to businesses. I’ve pushed to establish a green technology zone for solar and wind and other clean technology in Long Beach. When I proposed that, the mayor made fun of that, said it might interfere with enterprise zones. We need a training center here.”

“I would have zero tolerance for the blight still allowed in the city. I have case files that have been enforced. There is a little tolerance in some other areas of the city, but we don’t have it in the Fifth District. We need to make sure we have city staff to enforce that.”

Schipske stated the city manager gives the mayor the budget on July 1; the council on August 1. “We get a very limited amount of time for a $3.5 billion budget. A month and a half is not sufficient to judge it. There is nothing that prevents the manager from giving the mayor and the council the budget at that the same time as they’ve done the bulk of the work.”

Schipske will move the council receive the budget on an earlier date. Does she expect to get a second? “No.”

A major OC Weekly story and an ABC News blog were about the potential first gay mayor in Long Beach. “This isn’t to make history, I just happen to be here at the time these issues are prominent, the issue was made when I ran for Congress, which would have made me the first openly gay to be elected to that office.”

Looming high over the city is the fate of the well-worn City Hall. “There is a push to have this gigantic civic center in a private-public partnership, known as a 3P. The new courthouse will cost $160 million more than if it was built by the state because it is a private venture. If we build a 3P downtown, we would lease City Hall from the private developer until it’s paid.”

“The port is now moving its temporary headquarters into the eight story P2S Engineering building at 5000 East Spring Street at Clark Avenue in the Fifth District. The port is going to refurbish it, but when they have built their own headquarters downtown, why not take that as City Hall?”

Schipske noted her mayoral campaign currently has 120 donors. “People tell me, ‘I’m a Republican, I didn’t vote for you the first time, but I will now vote for you for mayor because of the work you’ve done.’ You have to win the Fifth to win mayor.”

steve@longbeachcomber.com