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Your GPW Editor-on-Occasion is Petra Fried in the City.
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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Upcoming Rec & Parks Budget Hearing -- don't waste your time.

For the past decade or so, a number of parks advocates including myself have braved the annual May Day labor protests downtown to go to City Hall in person and express our support for City parks and recreation in Los Angeles.

This Thursday the May Day cycle continues - City Hall's Budget & Finance Committee will be holding their public hearing on this Mayor's proposed budget for the Department of Recreation and Parks.

This year, however, I won't be wasting my time on this sorid farce.

The farce:

Since 2007, our electeds have happily stripped more than $155 million and almost half the workforce from the Dept. of Recreation and Parks via "chargebacks" - the almost-certainly illegal act of taking City Charter-mandated money designated specifically for this department. Until Mayor Villaraigosa,  City Hall rightfully recognized these monies as untouchable. They were granted to the Department of Recreation and Parks by The Citizens of Los Angeles in the 1920s and continued to be so in every update of the City Charter to date.

Mayor Villaraigosa, his Chief of Staff, Jeff Carr, and his CAO, Miguel Santana, came up with "chargebacks" as a way to effectively steal these funds. We've discussed ad nauseum the perversion of the public will that are "chargebacks" here on this blog over the years.

 $155 million in taken Charter-mandated monies later, Santana is still CAO. His budget continues to balance the City's budget on the backs of the Children of Los Angeles. Our new Mayor apparently sees no reason to stop this shameful theft. 

Neither does Recreation and Park's (Interim) General Manager, Mike Shull, apparently. His response to the Mayor's budget? An apothetic, simple letter that nit-picking a couple of things and essentially fails to discuss the big picture in context.

And then there's the Budget and Finance Committee's handling of last year's Recreation and Parks hearing. The only thing the shameless members of the Budget and Finance Committee actually accomplished was to make sure the individual parks and recreation facilities in their own districts received special treatment.  Paul Koretz was the worst offender in this area. Finally, CAO Santana actually taunted Rec and Parks' Regina Adams after her impassioned plea to correct the City's path.

Expect the same shameless behavior this year; the Budget and Finance Committee membership is essentially unchanged from last year, and, amazingly, Santana is still CAO.

Taken in totality, there is absolutely no reason to go Downtown this week. There is no swaying this much groupthink. Who wants to waste their time trying to talk ethics, logic, and priorities to these people?

I won't be bothering. You probably shouldn't be bothering, either.