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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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stories along The Way

Monday, January 25, 2010

Public hearings on our quality of life in LA start tonight

The City's Budget and Finance Committee's 2010-2011 budget hearings road show cranks up tonight at Van Nuys City Hall. At stake are only all basic human services provided by the City to you and I.

Mismanagement by City electeds, excessive political influence of unions, and criminal pension mismanagement coupled with tax revenues dropping at rates not seen since the Great Depression are colliding. Right here, right now.

Police and Fire represent roughly 80% of Los Angeles's budget. Yet with crime in LA at reportedly historic lows, Villaraigosa is moving again to balance the City's budget on the backs of service departments while he continues to hire more police.

Balancing the budget this way while keeping basic services reasonably intact can't be done. Loss of services, severe layoffs, and a version of the the so-called "libertarian state" Mulholland Terrace described is eminent if no one has the guts to change the course. So far, no one  -especially our electeds- has had the guts to do it.

The Mayor and City Council brought us to this point and they did it with full knowledge and a lot of incompetent denial. They have refused to do anything fiscally responsible to correct the course, instead playing convoluted debt deferment games like "the Mayor's Early Retirement Packages (E-RIP)" that defers employee raises and the impact to the budget. E-RIP provides many union City employees with a cash incentive and five years of pension credit to retire, while resulting in the greatest loss of experienced employees ever seen in Los Angeles and defers costly pay raises to those remaining.

This has been the only substantive "solution" our electeds - the people looking out for our welfare - have put out there. Anyone watching knows it's bullshit. Addition cannot ultimately equal subtraction, no matter how long you wait for some economic miracle to occur.

Griffith Park Wayist is a local politics blog in the context of Los Angeles parks, environment, and recreation. The potential impact of our ourselves and our readers not responding to the situation is absolutely catastrophic. As it stands today, the status quo leads to public recreation in Los Angeles becoming extinct with the Mayor now cutting so many positions out of that department that no one will be left to do anything but maintenance.

This is not an exaggeration. Recreation requires face-to-face customer contact, and the City has a legal liability to keep up maintenance in parks facilities.

If there aren't enough employees to do both, where do you think the cuts must be made?

Do you actually think that service departments like Libraries, Street Services, Public Works, Sanitation, and Recreation and Parks can provide basic, fundamental functions with just 50% of the people needed to do the job?

Do you?

If you do, then just sit it out.  Everyone else, see you on the steps of Van Nuys City Hall at 5:15 for rally for a sustainable budget then testify at the public hearing at 6pm.

Budget on the Road1