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Thursday, February 11, 2010

Mayor keeps kicking 'em while they're down

By "'em" we mean "us" - the recipients of constituent services. Oh yeah, the unions too.

From the LA Times today.

Villaraigosa plans new round of L.A. City Hall job cuts, says services will be fewer

February 11, 2010

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa said Thursday he is planning a second major wave of City Hall job cuts, moving to eliminate between 1,200 and 2,000 positions to get the struggling city through the remainder of the calendar year.

Appearing at a luncheon hosted by the Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce, Villaraigosa said the reductions would be sought for the fiscal year that starts July 1 — and come on top of the 1,000 jobs that he targeted last week for elimination. Villaraigosa said the cuts would lead, at a minimum, to reduced library hours and parks and recreation programs. And he dismissed suggestions that he lacks the legal authority to slash the size of the city’s payroll. “I can order layoffs, and I am,” he told the audience.

The mayor and City Council have been struggling to find ways to eliminate a $212-million shortfall this year and a $484-million gap in the fiscal year that starts in five months. Councilman Richard Alarcon responded to the announcement by warning that such reductions would lead to a “dramatic” loss of city services. He also signaled that such a large cut to the civilian payroll would prompt calls to halt hiring of officers at the Police Department — an idea that Villaraigosa has so far refused to embrace. “I don’t think you can have that discussion without talking about equitable cuts in the Police Department,” Alarcon said.

Villaraigosa announced last week that he would seek to scale back the workforce by 1,000 positions, either through layoffs or by transferring workers to vacant positions not affected by the budget crisis. In his remarks Thursday afternoon, Villaraigosa said he expected that at least one-fourth of those positions would be eliminated through layoffs.

Leaders of the city’s employee unions voiced their own dismay about the mayor’s announcement, saying he had proposed a number with “little to no analysis.” “Each and every cut represents a loss of services,” said Victor Gordo, an attorney and a leader of the Coalition of L.A. City Unions, which represents 22,000 workers. “The council is engaged in a balanced and thoughtful approach to this fiscal crisis. We would urge [the mayor’s office] to do the same.”

-- David Zahniser and Phil Willon at City Hall