Bits 'n' Pieces

Queen Mary Repairs Not Spent as Intended

Long Beach City Auditor Laura Doud released a report to verify that Urban Commons, the previous leaseholder and operator of the Queen Mary, used the $23 million as agreed upon to fund the 27 urgent and critical repair projects and to determine whether the City of Long Beach (City) provided sufficient oversight of the funds for these projects.

The auditor’s office directed the forensics accounting firm, Hemming Morse, to perform an analysis of financial transactions and activity between Urban Commons and the city. Based on this analysis, the report includes these conclusions and recommendations.

The key issues of the report were the following:

  • Missing payment information;
  • Excessive subcontractor markups and management fees;
  • Items purchased were not for urgent and critical repair projects;
  • Lack of vetting subcontractors and a competitive bidding process; and
  • Lack of consistency regarding scopes of work and subcontractor invoices.

“We know the city paid more than necessary for some of the projects due in part to the excessive markups and management fee,” said Doud. “We cannot tell in detail how much or where all the repair money went due to a combination of missing payment information from Urban Commons and subcontractors and the lack of detail in subcontractors’ vague invoices breaking down labor and material costs.

“We do know that only seven of the 27 repair projects were completed and that a lack of sufficient management oversight contributed to these problems. The city’s funds were at risk, because the city used its own cash as well as city issued bonds for the $23 million in upfront funds and ultimately ended up making the bond payment for $2.4 million when it came due last year since revenues expected to fund this payment were not realized.”

The report recommendations focus on how the city needs to ensure lease agreement terms and oversight are aligned with city policies and procedures.

Library Spotlights VetNow

The Long Beach Public Library (LBPL) showcases different digital resources each month, and this month’s spotlight is on Brainfuse’s VetNow, which provides live veteran-to-veteran guidance to help current and former military personnel and their families apply for the benefits they are eligible for as well as advice and resources to transition to civilian life.

VetNow navigators help veterans and their families understand and apply for local, state and federal benefits, ranging from housing and healthcare to education, mental health and more. The program also offers assistance and guidance for those transitioning from military to civilian careers, helping translate military skills for civilian job roles, restructure resumes and practice interviewing. VetNow also features college preparation and academic tools, including live online tutoring, video lessons, comprehensive practice tests and more.

VetNow is provided digitally to public libraries across California by the California State Library. Access is supported in whole or in part by the U.S. Institute of Museum and Library Services under the provisions of the Library Services and Technology Act, administered in California by the State Librarian.

To use VetNow and connect with a veteran navigator or find resources, go to https://www.longbeach.gov/library/digital-library/. VetNow can be used within library branches or anywhere the internet is available. Live navigators are available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday, with other services available 24/7.

MemorialCare’s New President of Foundations

Rob Gunsalus has been named the president of the both the Long Beach Medical Center and Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach Foundations – the exclusive fundraising arm for MemorialCare’s two Long Beach hospitals – which, combined, is the second largest medical campus in the west. The foundations have supported the hospitals for more than 55 years raising between $7-15 million annually. The 501(c)(3) is led by a 26-member board of directors.

In the role of overseeing the philanthropic foundations, Gunsalus will serve as the development strategist overseeing fundraising activities for both hospitals, serve as the liaison between hospital administration and the foundation board of directors, and provide oversight for the development and implementation of strategy to strengthen and grow fundraising support. Fundraising support can come from estate planning, grants, major gifts and charitable contributions from employers and community members all to support programmatic growth as well

Gunsalus comes to the foundations with more than 30 years of experience in development. Prior to his new role, Gunsalus served as vice president for university relations and advancement, and president of the California State University Northridge Foundation, where he served one of the nation’s largest and most diverse universities by leading all external relations activities and select strategic programs.

He led the university’s highest-level volunteer board and oversaw management of the endowment and all philanthropic assets, which totaled more than $250 million.

Rocket Lab Appoints Andrew Bunker as VP

Rocket Lab USA, Inc. of Long Beach announced the appointment of Andrew Bunker to the role of vice president of government operations and business strategy.

Bunker will be primarily responsible for the development and execution of company’s federal, state and local government strategy. He will also play a leading role in strengthening Rocket Lab’s engagement with industry associations. The appointment comes as Rocket Lab expands its end-to-end ecosystem footprint with the acquisition of flight software company Advanced Solutions Inc. in Colorado, and also narrows down potential locations for a new production facility and launch site for the reusable, medium-lift Neutron rocket.

Bunker brings more than a decade of experience in legislative affairs and space regulation to the Rocket Lab team. Prior to joining Rocket Lab, Bunker held the role of director of government operations at United Launch Alliance (ULA). In this role, he was responsible for representing ULA before Congress on matters of importance to the company, including national security, civil and commercial space. He also supported ULA’s engagement on regulatory matters before various federal agencies.

Prior to working at ULA, Bunker worked for House Speaker John A. Boehner, where he served in a variety of positions supporting legislative efforts and operations on the House Floor.

Pet Owners Reminded to Vaccinate Dogs

Although there are currently no reported cases of canine influenza or leptospirosis in Long Beach, an outbreak has been spreading since mid-July in Los Angeles County, impacting two animal shelters, multiple boarding kennels, dog parks and doggy day care centers, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health.

The county outbreak includes seven deaths and more than 800 confirmed and suspected cases of canine influenza as well as six deaths and 150 confirmed and suspected cases of leptospirosis, Public Health officials reported.

In preparation for the potential further spread of the infectious leptospirosis and the contagious canine influenza — also known as CIV H3N2 or simply the dog flu — Long Beach Animal Care Services (LBACS) is reminding pet owners to be aware of the illnesses and get their dogs vaccinated.

The dog flu is a contagious respiratory disease known to infect only dogs. No human infections with canine influenza have ever been reported. Infected dogs exhibit cough, runny nose, fever, lethargy, eye discharge and reduced appetite, but not all dogs will show signs of illness.

A potential winter surge in both diseases is anticipated because of the increased holiday season use of pet boarding, dog sitting, daycare and grooming services where more dogs come in contact with each other in close corridors.

LBPD Receives Grant

The safety of everyone traveling is the focus of a grant awarded to the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD). The $380,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) will assist in the LBPD’s efforts to reduce deaths and injuries on Long Beach roads.

The one-year grant is for the 2022 federal fiscal year, which runs from Oct. 1, 2021 to Sept. 30, 2022.

Kojian Departs DLBA

After 25 years of service to the organization, the Downtown Long Beach Alliance and President/CEO Kraig Kojian have “mutually agreed to part ways, effective Nov. 17, 2021,” according to a DLBA statement. “The DLBA and Mr. Kojian wish each other well. Because this is a personnel matter, the parties will not comment further on this action.”

An August letter written by a former DLBA employee that was sent to City Councilwomen Mary Zendejas and Cindy Allen accused Kojian of “workplace bullying and a toxic work environment, largely inflicted upon women workers.”

Zendejas and Allen forwarded the letter to the city attorney and the DLBA board of directors, which hired an outside investigator to “interview potential witnesses and establish the facts,” according to an October statement by the City of Long Beach.

The nonprofit DLBA supports Downtown Long Beach businesses and manages two business improvement districts.

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