City Council Passes Budget in the Late Night Hours - Cuts Fire and Police Staffing, Libraries and Recreation Services
Moments after six members of the Long Beach City Council voted in the middle of the night to make Long Beach the only major metropolitan city to staff its fire engines with 3-man crews, Council members Rae Gabelich, Steven Neal and Gerrie Schipske issued the following joint statement:
"In a shameless display of disrespect to the residents of the city, 6 members of the council orchestrated a vote on the budget in the late hours of the night after the public had left the council chambers. By waiting until the public left, they violated every principle of transparency and openness and proceeded to seriously cut essential public safety and quality of life services with few public in attendance.
"As a result of that vote, one-half of the City's fire engines will only have 3 fire fighters, instead of the standard 4 that every other major metropolitan city provides. Other reductions in fire services will also take place at Stations 14, 18 and 19. This means that the City of Long Beach will have the lowest number of on duty firefighters in the last 40 years.
"At least twenty one police officers were also eliminated with this late night action - including patrol officers, gang enforcement, Homeland Security detail, and violent crime detectives. All at a time when the state is getting ready to release prisoners back into the community.
"Six on the council ignored the concerns of both the Police and Fire Chiefs who expressed reservations about the cuts proposed by Mayor Bob Foster and City Manager Pat West.
"Despite more than 28 residents giving testimony earlier in the evening against making cuts to public safety and quality of life services, the majority on the council waited for the public to leave before they jammed through a budget that seriously cuts these critical services.
"What we saw tonight was a blatant disregard for the will of the people and a lack of transparency in the budget process, This is a sad night for the City of Long Beach."