Why are you interested in this position?
Everywhere I go in Long Beach, voters tell me they want reform. They want a City government that is open, transparent, and accountable, not to mention ethical. They want a City government that protects them, makes their neighborhoods safe and reduces, not creates, barriers for owning or operating a business. They are fed up with being the “piggybank” that funds one failed City project after another. They want reform and I can bring it.
What relative experience do you have in this career field?
I have been an attorney since 1990 which is two years longer than the current City Attorney and my opponent, but I will not hold their inexperience against them. I know Long Beach city government inside and out, headed the City’s Commercial Services operations with 105 employees and served on several city commissions and on the City Council for eight years. I have served as general and operations counsel to several businesses and organizations and served nine years at the State level reviewing and deciding discipline actions for licensed physicians. I taught law and ethics at CSULB for six years. For the past several years I have served as an Administrative/Regulatory attorney, assisting clients at state and federal hearings concerning healthcare benefits.
What are 3 changes you would like to make while in office?
Restore public trust that the office is neutral and represents all of Long Beach.
Institute aggressive, proactive risk management to prevent, not just pay claims.
Implement an Anti-Corruption program that makes it clear there is zero tolerance for any unethical, illegal behavior by city officials, employees and those who do business with the city.
What are your top priorities for small businesses ?
Top to bottom look at all regulations with input from small businesses to see which zoning and licensing requirements can be legally eliminated or revised because they do more harm than good.
With regards to your background and expertise in environmental law, what are major issues you foresee the City facing?
The Office of City Attorney is a full-service operation, providing legal advice in all areas of law impacting the City of Long Beach, and has assigned a Deputy City Attorney with specific expertise in environmental laws. I foresee more activism by the State Attorney General who has filed actions under against cities and counties who approved projects in low-income neighborhoods and communities of color who already suffer disproportionately from air pollution-related illnesses such as asthma and heart diseases. Major environmental issues currently pending in the City of Long Beach are: 1) The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) and the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): The proposed project is a new General Plan Noise Element, which would replace the City’s existing 1975 Noise Element. 2) The proposed project involves both the adoption of a Climate Action and Adaptation Plan Project (CAAP) and a Safety Element Update: The proposed project for the purpose of this Addendum includes two components: 1) the “Equivalency Program” to allow for the exchange among permitted uses; and 2) the development of the 108-unit primarily residential, mixed-use project at 7th Street and Locust Avenue (636 Locust Ave). The project scope includes a Land Use Equivalency Program (Equivalency Program), which anticipates the exchange of floor area previously analyzed for commercial and office uses and hotel units within the Downtown Plan Program Environmental Impact Report (PEIR) (SCH No.2009071006) to residential dwelling units. 3) The proposed Parks Zoning and Dedication Project (Part 1) – May 2021 (Project) will facilitate cleanup of land use and zoning designations of existing parks so that they have the appropriate Open Space (OS) Place Type and Park (P) zoning designation, in order both to appropriately reflect the existing land use and to protect the park use by ensuring development regulations that are aligned with park uses.
What are 2 key improvements or initiatives you wish to implement as City Attorney?
1) Fiscal Responsibility and Public Accountability: Quite frankly, taxpayers are tired of being assessed higher taxes, utility rates and City fees such as parking tickets. They don’t understand where all the money has gone when there are still a shortage of police and fire, streets and sidewalks remain unfixed, and homelessness is growing. One of the highlights of serving on the Long Beach City Council was being honored at the White House by President Barack Obama as one of only seven “Champions of Change for Open Government.” As City Attorney, I will continue my efforts to ensure that Long Beach City government is open, transparent, and accountable, which is critical to fiscal responsibility. I will establish an “Annual Accountability Report” to provide an overview of how the Office of City Attorney performs each fiscal year and include:
A detailed explanation of legal services performed.
Payments for judgments and settlements of claims and lawsuits by category with details.
Office and budget expenses, including use of outside legal counsel.
Dollars recovered by the City Attorney. I will also expand the Office of City Attorney’s website so that the public can access real- time information on how the City Attorney is striving to safeguard taxpayer dollars by providing the highest quality legal services to the City and its residents in the most efficient and just manner. The following postings will be added: Legal Opinions, Memorandum of Law, and Reports to City Council. The City Attorney is now the highest-paid elected official in Long Beach. Since 2017, the City Attorney has raised his salary from $279,000 to $319,525, which substantially increases the calculation for his pension. By comparison, the Mayor earns $166,000. City Prosecutor $249,930 and City Auditor $237,739. And the State Attorney General only earns $159,000. I will roll back the massive increase in the City Attorney’s salary to make it more in line with other elected officials and to lead in fiscal responsibility. The salaries of the hard- working men and women in the Office of the City Attorney will remain at their current levels.More communication and public outreach regarding the activities of our office
Work with City departments to find ways to reduce litigation against the City
2) Preventing and Not Just Paying Legal Claims Against Long Beach. Why the City Attorney Needs to Implement Aggressive, Proactive Risk Management. - As the news media details yet another settlement paid by the City of Long Beach, voters are asking why isn’t something being done to prevent these claims from happening? - The Office of City Attorney must proactively assess and advise the City on potential risks and to provide training on how to avoid such risks. - The City currently utilizes what is termed: “Traditional Risk Management” that typically only occurs after an incident has already happened and is done to prevent that situation from happening again. This is a very limited and costly approach. - As City Attorney, I will establish a Task Force on Potential Risk Events and Situations utilizing Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) which looks to the future and attempts to determine potential events and situations that could or are likely to occur. Every effort needs to be made to prevent claims against the City, not just pay them. ERM is a best practice for government, although not currently required for local governments. - I especially believe that the City Attorney needs to create a “Legal Exposure Reduction Committee” that will establish an annual Citywide and departmental legal exposure reduction goal; create proactive City Attorney procedures to advise departments on various methods to reduce legal costs; create procedures to discuss areas of potential exposure; develop and implement specific strategies calculated to prevent future claims and lawsuits; provide updated training on new changes in laws and policies for each appropriate department to implement; assess the efficacy of corrective action plans; review management training and implementation of City policies; review lessons learned; discuss areas of potential exposure; and report annually on their progress and efforts. - We need to put in place a requirement before settlement of amounts over $100,000 that the named department will provide a Corrective Action Plan (or CAP) that specifies how the finding(s) or non-compliance issue(s) will be corrected. The CAP must detail policies and/or procedures put into place to ensure the findings have been permanently resolved. More specifically, a corrective action plan explains what the program is now doing differently to ensure the finding(s) do not occur again. The CAP is confidential.
- The Summary Corrective Action Plan (SCAP) mirrors the Corrective Action Plan, but removes all confidential information and is intended as a public document that will be posted on the City Council agenda. - We can bring the reform so much needed in Long Beach. You can read more about my priorities at www.schipske4LB.com or www.gogerrie.com . Please contact me at gerrie@schipske4LB.com with your questions. - As an experienced, qualified attorney, I promise to be the leader that brings reform to Long Beach. You, the voters, deserve no less. Vote Gerrie Schipske for City Attorney on June 7th.