Letters to Election

Gazette Newspapers offers Letters To Election as a forum for opinions about candidates and issues in the March 3, 2020, primary election.

We will try to print all letters received, with the following exceptions: personal character attacks or comments that may be libelous; organized letter campaigns; or letters not dealing directly with local issues.

Letters from candidates are accepted, with the exception that no letters attacking another candidate will be printed the week before the election. Letters should be 200 words or less (300 as space permits), must be signed and any affiliations relating to any campaign should be listed.

Email letters to editor@gazettes.com or mail to 5225 E. Second St., Long Beach, CA 90803.

Support Arts

Dear Editor,

I grew up in Long Beach and served on the Long Beach City Council for 12 years representing the Third District. I strongly support Measure B on the March 3 primary ballot.

There are several propositions on the ballot. Measure B is different from the others. It proposes an increase of 1% in the Transient Occupancy Tax (TOT) that will be paid by visitors, who stay in hotel rooms, not the residents of Long Beach.

The benefit of the proposal is that of the amount collected, a portion of it would provide $1 million to our art organizations to provide more art education in the schools and community.

Long Beach residents have long recognized the importance of the arts in our city. We who live in the city support the arts with our attendance and contributions.

We can now show our continued commitment by voting Yes on Proposition B.

Jan Hall, former Third District Councilwoman

Long Beach

Measure B Different

Dear Editor,

After studying the state bond proposition at great length, it is my desire to clarify the following.

I feel we are being taxed beyond reason. How many examples can we think of that tax funds ultimately did not end up not being used where they were promised? Too many.

Please note that Measure B is different! That’s true for the following reasons:

• The funds will go to the much needed arts in our city.

• The tax is collected from guests who stay in the hotels of Long Beach.

• The hotel operators support the measure.

• Measure B is not asking for taxpayers to open their wallets.

Our Arts community celebrates with great pride the amazing benefits of our arts programs, our culture. Our children, our leaders, say vote yes on B.

Jim Choura

Long Beach

Lead In Arts

Dear Editor,

I am writing today in support of Measure B. As the second largest city in the Southern California area, it is appropriate for Long Beach to take a leadership position in supporting the arts.

We are uniquely positioned as a tourist destination, with our beautiful coastal location, our generous supply of hotels, our many attractions and our fine restaurants. A strong offering of arts and entertainment dovetails as an inducement for people to visit our city. A strong offering of arts and entertainment is good for business in Long Beach, good for employment in Long Beach, and good for our residents.

Measure B funding will be very important to securing a sustainable future for Long Beach Camerata Singers. We are very proud to collaborate regularly with Musica Angelica Baroque Orchestra, and the Long Beach Symphony. Our relationship with the symphony makes Long Beach one of only four cities in Southern California with a Symphony/Choral partnership. With the help of Measure “B” we hope to expand our concerts, enhance our repertoire offerings, and most importantly, expand our educational programs in the community.

It is my hope that the residents of Long Beach will pass Measure B. The benefits are extensive and burden is light.

Jan B. Hower, president

Camerata Singers

 

City Out Of Control

Dear Editor,

This Long Beach city government is out of control and spending our tax money like drunken sailors on frivolities and pet projects. Beware of the old bait-and-switch they use to lure you into thinking that Measure A will support the police and fire. Beware of the slick mailers put out by police/fire/employee unions. Isn't it time that the citizens took control?

The only way we can fight this drain into city hall's black hole is at the ballot box. Vote no on Measure A and any other propositions/bonds that raise our taxes. Vote for and support candidates such as Robert Fox (Second District) and Juan Ovalle (Eighth District). They actually care about your well being and will work to curtail unnecessary spending.

Your vote does count.

Vote no on Measure A.

Diana Lejins

Long Beach

No New Taxes

Dear Editor,

This year we are being asked to raise another tax. Mayor Garcia seems to excel at spending others’ money as a new proposition is established every two years or so. Measure A increased the sales tax against the advice of the local Chamber of Commerce. So far I have not seen an increased presence of police officers in downtown Long Beach.

While some streets were finally resurfaced, there are still too many potholes on our roads. When Measure A was being sold to voters, it came with a claim that after the 10-year duration of the measure that it would not be extended.

A few months ago, Garcia stated he was considering asking the measure be extended. I have a strong dislike for politicians who tax and lie. Our mayor seems to have that problem.

Representative Lowenthal and Mayor Garcia have stated that it is everyone’s responsibility to care for the homeless. I fail to see why I worked for so many years to help drug addicts who are homeless.

Our veteran homeless are the responsibility of the U.S. government. They claim to care about veterans. So why are there so many homeless vets and so many suicides of vets? The homeless with mental problems do not accept the idea of help. They’re mental state does not allow them to take help of to cure themselves.

If Lowenthal and Garcia want to help the homeless they should do it through their church or local charity and not burden those of us with tight budgets.

I would like to see a five year period with no new taxes. The fact is our elected officials lack the ability to review current revenues and see how they can be optimized in use. Enough is enough with more taxes.

Steven D. Arias

Downtown

Where Does It Go?

Dear Editor,

I am confused by what Mr. Pinch of Salt said about Measure A and voting yes. Why are we being taxed 10.25 percent but only getting 2 percent back? Would you pay for a car and oh, only give me the tires because well, the rest can go to someone else?

This is the problem with the tax measures/SB bills/HR whatever. If Measure A is saying we are paying 10.25 percent sales tax here in Long Beach for the benefit of Long Beach, 10.25 percent of the money collected in Long Beach for Long Beach’s sales tax should stay in Long Beach.

He says he’s being pragmatic, really? He prefers to benefit as “directly as possible?” He thinks a split of 2 percent for where it’s supposed to go, but 8.25 should go elsewhere is being pragmatic about out-of-control spending and waste of my hard earned money?

I am totally confused with the pragmatism of that.

Alison Spack

Long Beach

Make Government Responsible

Dear Editor,

I do not understand the support behind Measure A. This city tax is in place for several years to come. To make it permanent now, eight years in advance, is reckless.

We have no idea what the state of the economy will be in eight years. If we feel we need to continue this tax when we reach 2026, we can revisit this issue, with an expiration date once again. Why not? Why make it permanent this far in advance?

We as citizens need to be aware of our budget. For information, go to one or both of the following:

http://www.longbeach.gov/press-releases/city-of-long-beach-unveils-proposed-2020-budget/

http://www.longbeach.gov/finance/city-budget-and-finances/budget/budget-information/

Sales taxes are regressive. We already have a high sales tax, put in place by taxpayers with the intention that it was temporary.

Frankly, I think the city needs to re-evaluate our expenditures over the next eight years to be certain that we do not need to keep this increase in place; to re-evaluate our priorities in our city. If our city leaders cannot do this, they do not deserve this permanent increase.

I love living in Long Beach. We are a great city. Please be fair to each other. Do not commit to a permanent sales tax many years in advance because you fear another jurisdiction will “take” it anyway. Makes it sound like we have all given up on responsible governance.

Diane Riska-Taylor

Long Beach

Street Promises

Dear Editor,

Long Beach streets were ranked up there as worst in the nation (2015) with the average Long Beach motorist reportedly spending $1,000 per year because of vehicle deterioration and depreciation, increased maintenance, fuel consumption, tire wear, etc. Passage of Measure A in 2016 was supposed to allow the city to invest in needed street repair and maintenance.

However, our streets remain marginal and at risk. That is because the city is budgeting and project to budget only $30 million to $35 million a year, or 30% less than Public Works says is required to get them in “Good” condition. Street liability is over $500 million! Residents are paying not only higher taxes from Measure A, but now LA County Measure M, and California state gas taxes as well.

Still, street budgets are not to the level required. Interestingly, we won’t get a complete picture of how bad the streets are because the next street assessment isn't planned until 2020 for arterial streets and not until 2022 for residential streets and alleys.

City officials are warning residents that if voters do not approve an extension of Measure A in the March 2020 election, streets will become even worse. The fact is, only 10% of Measure A total revenues went to improving our streets this year, and only 4% last year.

Back in FY 2017, when Measure A was passed, 46% of its revenue went toward streets, but still well short of what was required. As new state and county taxes kicked in, Measure A funding under the General Fund was shifted.

Overall, our streets are marginal and in an “at-risk” condition because of inadequate city budgeting, not because residents are not being taxed enough for improved streets.

Jim Hines

Long Beach

Need Accountability

Dear Editor,

For the purpose of my comments, I'm stipulating that the city of Long Beach's General Fund is fully utilized properly and with care, and Measure A is needed to cover some pressing needs that the General Fund cannot pay for, in spite of the diligent way it is managed.

A "temporary tax" is usually an oxymoron. Before the citizens of this city vote on whether to make it permanent, the city needs to give a detailed accounting on how the tax (making Long Beach among the cities with the highest sales tax in the country) has been spent.

Has it all be utilized as promised? Has any of it been used for pet projects (like "road diets") that many citizens find detrimental?

If, for example, part of it is to be used on roads, why is Studebaker Road, a major north-south artery, still in such bad condition from Willow all the way to Second Street?

How, specifically, has the tax been used for fire and police protection?

These are the questions I want to see answered satisfactorily before I vote to extend the sales tax.

Don Shoemaker

Long Beach

Top Candidate

Dear Editor,

After reading about many of the candidates in the Official Sample Ballot, it appears to me and many of my friends that one candidate stands out for our vote from the rest.

That candidate is Republican John Briscoe running for the 47th Congressional District. With his background he is the most qualified.

Bill Ruzgis

Naples

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