Long Beach enters contract with two cat-protection organizations

City council also officially changes election dates to coincide with state’s

At its Jan. 8 meeting, the Long Beach City Council approved an agreement for the City to work with two cat-protection groups to operate an adoption program at a California Heights location.

The council also officially changed the dates of upcoming elections to coincide with statewide elections.

Mentoring Month
In honor of National Mentoring Month, the council heard a presentation from participants in Power 4 Youth, a local nonprofit that provides one-on-one academic mentoring to middle- and high-school students.

Standing next to Jim Doan– his mentor of five years– Danny Chambers, a high-school senior who is a Power 4 Youth mentee, said the program has impacted him in positive ways and made him hopeful about his future.

“It has given me hope to believe that, despite the negativity in the world, there is a way out,” Chambers said. “It has made me believe that I can do things others can’t do. I have learned many skills that I can apply in my life and which I can [use to] help others around me.”

Several of the councilmembers thanked the mentors who were in the audience and spoke about how important their work is. 7th District Councilmember Roberto Uranga also said that having a mentor when he was in junior high helped to get him on a path of finding good influences, thanks to a coach who guided him.

Adoption promotion
The spcaLA gave a brief presentation about Benny, a 9-year-old chihuahua available for adoption.
Those interested in adopting a dog or cat may call (562) 570-7722 for more information.

Election dates
The council conducted a second reading of an ordinance to amend the municipal code by adding Chapter 1.15 and by repealing Sections 2.01.210(b) and 2.01.1010, all related to changing the regular election dates of the primary nominating and general municipal elections to March and November, respectively, to coincide with statewide elections, as required by SB 415.

The council approved the measure by 8-0.

Consent calendar
The council voted 7-0 to approve the consent calendar, however items 5, 6, 7 and 13 had been pulled prior to the vote.

City Attorney Charles Parkin explained why the first three had been withdrawn.

“Items 5, 6 and 7 all deal with the destruction of records for various departments,” Parkin said. “Item 5 is the Department of Development Services. Item 6 is records from Financial Management. And item 7 deals with records from three of the council offices– districts 2, 4 and 5.”

Parkin explained that, since the time the agenda had been posted, there had been several public-records requests to inspect what was being destroyed.

“So, what we ask tonight would be to amend the motion on all three of these items to authorize the City to destroy these records once we have completed and complied with the public-records requests that are currently pending at the City,” Parkin said.

Animal Care Services
The councilmembers voted 7-0 to approve an agreement with the Helen Sanders Cat Protection and Welfare Society of Boulder, Colorado, and The Little Lion Foundation, of Long Beach, to partner with Long Beach Animal Care Services for the Long Beach Little Paws Project, to be housed in a commercial property at 1179 East Wardlow Rd., which is in the California Heights neighborhood.

The contract is effective Jan. 1, 2019, through Dec. 31, 2019, with annual renewal options through Dec. 31, 2023.

The council’s approval of the motion also increased appropriations in the general fund in the Parks, Recreation & Marine Department by $50,000, which will be offset by revenues from animal-care donation trust accounts.

Ted Stevens, outgoing manager of Animal Care Services, said his department has been working with the two organizations the last two years to save the lives of hundreds of underage kittens.

“The focus of this [new] nursery is the ‘bottle babies,’ the kittens under 8 weeks old, but even more specifically, under 4 weeks old, that need 24-hour care,” Stevens said, adding that the City will be supporting the facility financially and with social media, adoption processes and spaying and neutering.

Fifth District Councilmember Stacy Mungo thanked Stevens for his work on the project, as well as during the last few years.

“We will be sad to lose you in the next few weeks,” Mungo told Stevens, “but congratulations on your new opportunities and thank you for all that you’ve done.”

Second District Councilmember Jeannine Pearce also expressed support of the item.

“I also want to say that this is a great step in the right direction,” she said, “and I look forward to more good steps in the right direction.”

However, during the public-comment portion for the item, several individuals expressed dismay with a particular provision in the contract with the two agencies that will be working with the City, because, they said, it restricts free speech and would undermine the success of the shelter.

Patricia Turner, director of No Kill Long Beach, said, although her organization is “very happy to see this kitten nursery,” the clause restricts the right of free speech of “those who will be doing this heroic and wonderful work for you all.”

Turner then read from the contract, which states, “No one affiliated, staff or volunteer, with any party in this agreement will engage in negative verbal behavior or written postings toward another party on social media or other online or public venues, to make negative, defamatory or inciting remarks about another party in this agreement […] LBACS reserves the right to determine, at its sole discretion, what is negative verbal or written posting behavior.”

Pearce agreed that the provision is restrictive and asked Parkin if the language can be revised so that legitimate criticisms based on factual information are not being censored.

“It seems like a poor direction for us, as a council, to just put something that says ‘up to one party’s discretion’– that we can put that in any agreement in any department,” Pearce said.

Mungo added that the provision was included, not to censor comments from volunteers, but to avoid harassing remarks about City staff members.

The city attorney responded that the change can indeed be made, however Mungo asked that it be done later so that the council could go ahead and approve the agreement to get the cat program in place.

“I don’t want to delay the ability to have the agreement with them, because we’re getting a ton of little kittens at the shelter at this time,” Mungo said.

Pearce then asked that the item come back to council for review in nine months rather than in a year, a request to which the council agreed.

The Long Beach City Council will have a special meeting at 3:30pm on Tuesday, Jan. 15, in council chamber, 333 W. Ocean Blvd.