FROM THE AMNESIA FILES: ROBERT GARCIA’S CITY COUNCIL VOTING RECORD AND 2008 PROMISESBy LBReport.com
LONG BEACH — On December 14, 2008, Robert Garcia held a press event to announce his candidacy for a no-runoff special election to fill the 1st district Council vacancy created after Bonnie Lowenthal was elected to the state Assembly.
Candidate Garcia told supporters and multiple media outlets: “What do I see as a vision for the 1st district and for the rest of the city quite frankly? The first and the most important is always a commitment to safe and clean streets. And you can be sure that my number one priority will always be the safety and security of the people that live in the city.” LBReport.com, which carried his remarks with audio at the time, provides the pertinent audio clip. To hear it, click here.
Garcia had previously headed LB’s Young Republicans, worked as a City Hall aide to Councilman Frank Colonna and after hours on Colonna’s 2006 Mayoral campaign. Following Councilman Colonna’s unsuccessful run, Garcia moved into the 1st Council district and changed his party affiliation to Democrat in the Dem-majority district where a Council vacancy was anticipated if then-incumbent Bonnie Lowenthal prevailed in her 2008 race for state Assembly (which she did).
In early 2009 in a multi-candidate special election with no runoff, Garcia (backed by sizable contributions from the 3rd district) won the 1st Council district seat with less than a majority of votes cast. He took office in May 2009.
Five months later in September 2009, Councilman Garcia voted (with a 9-0 Council) for a budget that significantly cut LBPD’s budget, producing lower police staffing for taxpayers and failing to conduct a replenishment police academy class (to offset expected retirements/exits). The budget was advocated by Mayor Bob Foster, who’d promised voters in 2006 to put 100 more police on the street in his first four year term of office.
Following the 2010 reelection loss of Val Lerch, Mayor Foster named Councilman Garcia to chair the Council’s Public Safety Committee and in September 2010, Councilman Garcia voted for a second time (with a 9-0 Council) to cut to LB’s police budget and again failed to run a replenishment police academy class.
The two votes make Councilman Garcia one of only five incumbents (Garcia plus Suja Lowenthal, Gary DeLong, Patrick O’Donnell and Dee Andrews) to have voted for budget cuts that through Sept. 2012 have that produced the largest cut in LBPD staffing for taxpayers in Long Beach history (there was Council dissent in 2011, see below).
Other area cities, which also faced an economic downturn, didn’t cut core services to their taxpayers to this extent because, unlike Long Beach’s City Hall, they hadn’t agreed in 2007 and 2008 to legnthy contracts (2008 five year agreements) that gave pay and benefit increases — advocated by Mayor Foster without pension reforms — to the three major city employee unions whose political action arms had endorsed Foster and other candidates in the 2006 election cycle.