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Schipske's Work to Open Up Long Beach Gets Statewide Notice
It's Sunshine Week -- Making Government Open

Schipske's Open Up Long Beach Highlighted in "State of Transparency in California: 2013" as "City Hall Success Story in Public Engagement"


California Forward, a nonpartisan, non profit organization whose mission is to bring government closer to the people has highlighted the efforts of Long Beach Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske in its "State of Transparency in California: 2013" report.


The report, which is an analysis that explores the core issues of governmental accountability and transparency in California, was released this week to coincide with Sunshine Week, which is an initiative promoting dialogue about the importance of having an open government and being able to access public information. Three cities are highlighted as "City Hall Success Stories in Public Engagement" in the report. The first story discusses the efforts of Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske to make Long Beach more open, transparent and accountable:


Long Beach Launches "Open Up Long Beach" In January of 2012 Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske of the City of Long Beach took public education and transparency efforts one step further. Her initiative "Open Up Long Beach" provides residents with increased access to the city's every day affairs and includes opportunities to learn about what individual council members are working on, what committees they sit on and what projects they spearhead. The project combines an online resource with "Open Up Long Beach" community meetings.


"I am very honored that California Forward has acknowledged 'Open Up Long Beach'," says Schipske. "I agree that with so many difficult decisions facing local government that the demand and need for transparency is great. I am doing what I can to make certain that Long Beach is open, transparent and accountable."


Schipske frequently writes on her two blogs ( and , Facebook and Belmont Shore Patch on the issues before city council  and posts city documents that provide readers with background information on the issues. She also sends email alerts on events and issues and has launched a "behind the scenes" tour of city operations to give residents a closer look at how their government and its agencies operate. To date, Open Up Long Beach has visited: the oil islands, SERRF waste to energy plant, the Emergency Operations Center, the Long Beach Health and Human Services department and laboratories, and the inter workings of the Aquarium of the Pacific. Schipske was the first councilmember to post her schedule on line and to provide a 24/7 problem/complaint system on the city website.



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Dear Readers,


I am writing today because this week is International Sunshine Week-an initiative dedicated to educating the public about the importance of open government. As such, I would like to reassert my commitment to fostering a transparent government.


Government transparency is the cornerstone of democracy.  As such, it is our collective responsibility to protect our right to a government that is open, and whose business is the business of the people it serves.  Similarly, it is the responsibility of state and local elected officials to work to actively increase the public's access to public information, to provide opportunities for citizen participation in key decision-making processes and report the results of those decisions back out to constituents.


Governments that create pathways for citizens' effective engagement and participation typically learn that doing so, enables them to enhance their own performance; by using public feedback to guide their decisions, government leaders can fund and implement programs and services that are reflective of the public's interest and that are highly impactful at improving their overall quality of life.


Here in Long Beach, I have been working to identify solutions for increasing government transparency and exploring opportunities that will encourage collaboration and innovation. In January of last year, I led the launch of "Open Up Long Beach," a government transparency website that aims to provide residents with access to important information, including city budget documents, council agenda items, City departments, and other important resources. 


My council colleagues and I have also initiated several online applications that serve as dynamic two-way communication channels between residents and city staff and implemented new open government policies, requiring that all city contracts be posted online.


California Forward, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization, is just one of the many groups throughout the state that are working to bring government closer to the people. This week, they are launching their "Government Transparency Portal," an online tool that residents can use to access information about the inner workings of their local government as well as others throughout the state.


With the increased use of technology and the internet as well as of dozens of other online innovations, there's no reason not to be more open and transparent, especially now in the digital age. I support open, transparent local government, and I encourage you to do the same.

Thank you for being engaged in this important civic effort.


Councilwoman Gerrie Schipske, 5th District

P.S. Pass this along to your neighbors. Ask them to get involved.