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City Council Passes Panic Button Ordinance

Five members of the Long Beach City Council passed an ordinance on October 23 requiring hotels and motels to provide their workers with panic buttons. Third District Councilmember Suzie Price added language to the item to allow small motels six months to comply with the new ordinance. Four councilmembers – Lena Gonzalez, Jeannine Pearce, Roberto Uranga and Rex Richardson – left city council chambers during the vote in protest because they felt the vote was intended to interfere with a November 6 ballot initiative, Measure WW.

Council Meetings Could Be Shorter In The Future

On October 23, city council requested city staff to review best practices for streamlining council meetings, and report back within 90 days. The item was introduced by 4th District Councilmember Daryl Supernaw, who noted that city council meetings have run four hours and 20 minutes long, on average, so far this year. One-third of meetings have lasted six-and-a-half hours or longer, ending past 11:30 p.m. Staff are to examine what other municipalities and government entities have implemented to prevent lengthy meetings. Supernaw noted that “discussion of important public business in the late hours of long meetings diminishes public participation.” The Business Journal has noticed that during the past several years, topics that draw larger crowds have often appeared on the same night, causing meetings to run long. Also, the city council does not meet the last Tuesday of each month, which often does limit city staff in presenting items in a timely manner. Further, on occasion, councilmembers add items to the agenda over the weekend. An earlier deadline time might be considered. Lastly, several councilmembers take too long to make their point and are often redundant in their statements.

Port Of Los Angeles’s $34 Million Rail Project Moves Ahead

The Port of Los Angeles is moving forward with a $34 million plan to expand the existing intermodal rail storage yard on Terminal Island. The Terminal Island Railyard Enhancement Project will add over 31,000 linear feet of track, increasing the number of storage tracks from six to 11. The project will increase capacity and use of the Pier 400 on-dock railyard, optimize on-dock rail operations and improve cargo flow, according to a port statement. The increased use of rail should also reduce truck trips, tailpipe emissions and congestion on local streets and freeways. The port received a $21.6 million grant from the state’s Trade Corridor Enhancement Program for the project, and is funding the remaining $12.4 million. The construction contract is expected to be awarded by June 2020. Project completion is expected in 2022.

Long Beach Named #4 In Digital Cities Survey

Long Beach placed fourth in a ranking of top 10 digital cities by the Center for Digital Government. This is the eighth year in a row that Long Beach has appeared on the list, moving up two spots from last year. Long Beach’s implementation of a new customer relationship management system, use of online crime mapping and reporting applications, new state-of-the-art civic center and production of Long Beach TV videos for city departments are some of the reasons the city ranked higher on the list, according to a city announcement. An award ceremony to recognize honorees is being held November 8 in Los Angeles.

Aquarium Of The Pacific Joins Campaign To Reduce Plastic Straw Use

Twenty-two aquariums across the United States, including Long Beach’s Aquarium of the Pacific, are calling on individuals, businesses and cities around the country to reduce their use of plastic straws by Earth Day 2019. As part of the Aquarium Conservation Partnership, these institutions have already eliminated a combined five million straws as a first step to create plastic-free waters. They have partnered with nearly 500 businesses to reduce the use of plastic bags and beverage bottles by 2020. The #FirstStep campaign will begin during #NoStrawNovember, a nationwide movement asking people to refuse plastic straws for 30 days. In the months leading to Earth Day 2019, aquariums hope to partner with an additional 500 more businesses to reduce usage of plastic straws.

Stolen Luxury Vehicles Recovered At San Pedro Bay Ports

United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers working at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have recovered 23 stolen luxury vehicles. The vehicles, valued at nearly $1.9 million, were being exported to China, according to a CBP statement, which noted that a global black market exists for luxury brands and vintage models. Officers discovered the stolen vehicles while conducting an outreach operation at two major vehicle export facilities. CBP has turned over the vehicles to state authorities to return to their rightful owners. In fiscal year 2018, CBP has seized 66 vehicles at the local ports. The total value of the seizures: $4.3 million.

Economic News

U.S. Economy Ranked #1 In Competitiveness In The World

The United States economy ranks No. 1 in competitiveness worldwide, according to the World Economic Forum’s annual Global Competitiveness Report. It is the first time since 2008 that the U.S. economy has bested the rest of the world, according to a Reuters analysis. Singapore, Germany, Switzerland and Japan took the other spots in the top five. American companies “are the fastest when it comes to embracing change,” a WEF report summary stated. The U.S. topped rankings measuring countries’ “business dynamism,” labor markets and financial systems. However, it lagged behind other economically advanced countries when it came to social indicators such as life expectancy and the murder rate.

Jobs Were Gained And Wages Increased In October

The economy added 250,000 non-farm related jobs in October, and the unemployment rate remained unchanged at 3.7%, according to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics. Job gains were concentrated in the health care, manufacturing, construction, and transportation and warehousing sectors. Wages increased by 3.1% compared to October 2017, the best year-over-year gain in hourly wage earnings since 2009, according to California Business Roundtable.

Personal Income And Expenditures Increased In September

Americans’ personal income increased by $35.7 billion in September, while personal consumption expenditures increased by $53 billion, according to the United States Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA). Personal expenditures were driven by a demand for goods, with an additional $33.5 billion in spending in September. Spending on services increased by $3.5 billion. The BEA attributed the growth in income and expenditures to increasing wages, salaries, rental income and government benefits.

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