[Pictured: Villaraigosa "backseat-driver advisor" Zuma Dogg (l), and Zuma's advisor. (r).]
The information that I will be presenting in this post is based on about five different conversations with city hall insiders who know what is going on.
And I have to say, I am more confident in my sources, as everything I have been coached to say, that I have been blasting in council chambers during public comment and blogging about regarding the budget crisis (why we are here, and what it will take) has just been said, virtually word-for-word, by Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
And that is not because Zuma Dogg is smart. (Fredo voice: "I'M SMAT! NOT LIKE EVERYBODY SAYS!") But seriously, in this case I wasn't smart: I just merely listened to what no one else was listening to: Budget & Finance Committee Meetings as broadcast at LACity.org, and the words of budget-master CM Bernard Parks.
He says it FIRST, Zuma Dogg says it SECOND, then Zuma Dogg waits in his car, listening to AM radio round the clock for signs of the mayor finally saying it.
AND LAST NIGHT, the sound clips started to roll across the airwaves of the mayor plagiarizing Zuma Dogg's public comment from a couple weeks ago, saying what it is going to take.
So now, the article really starts here. Here's what happened, and what WILL be happening, and of course it has a Hollywood movie ending. (If you are shooting a disaster flick!)
The city was way too generous in it's salary increases and pension benefits -- AND was way too generous in it's hiring practices.
BOTTOM LINE: The city has too many employees with too fat of pensions, and the city cannot afford it by any stretch of the budgetary imagination.
Then pile on top of this regular ole $1 Billion budget gap, the $7 Billion bailout that will be coming out of the general fund to cover the LACERS (city employee pension and retirement fund), due to Wall Street and Real Estate losses.
(The mayor's supporters would like me to remind you that LACERS wasn't the only fund to have a bad year on Wall Street, and the city line [INCLUDING MS. LAURA CHICK WHO I WISH WOULD ALSO STOP SAYING IT] is "No one could have seen this bad a Wall Street loss coming.")
I BEG TO DIFFER! EVERYONE AT CITY HALL KNOWS ZUMA DOGG SAW IT COMING AND PREDICTED THIS EXACT WALL STREET AND ECONOMIC SCENARIO, SO SPECIFICALLY...SO THAT MEANS YOU SHOULD HAVE KNOWN.
So YES, it's frustrating to the mayor's people for me to hold them to such high accountability...but I am frustrated that they use the Hellen Keller defense, when ZD was warning them all along. So that means I knew, so why didn't they?
O.K., I'm over that pain.
So the City was too generous with too many people, and now it is either union giving back the pay raises and benefit increases the mayor had no right to hand out, as now everyone else can clearly see.
Because it's sad to say: Villaraigosa is a politician. And all the people who thought they were getting raises were INDEED bamboozle by the slickest politician since Slick Willie, himself.
The mayor made the promise and struck the deal when he was running for re-election, and as soon as he was re-elected, he announced that the city can't afford it, and either you give it back, or people will be fired.
SO UNFORTUNATELY, THAT IS THE SITUATION WE WILL BE DEALING WITH KIDDIES. AND YOU BETTER STOP BEING SELFISH CRYBABIES.
But first, Dr. Deming's 14 Points must be noted for the record, because the internationally praised document, "Interpreting Deming's 14 Points" has entered the room, for the record.
And everyone who hates when I mention Deming, will all of the sudden love the 14 points, when I mention the FIRST thing it calls for ARE CUTS AT THE TOP!!!
YES, city workers will have to reduce or be fired. BUT THAT IS DOWN THE LINE. The city has it backwards.
FIRST, the mayor will be cutting his excessive and exorbitant staff. So will City Council. However, it shouldn't be a standard, "Fire 20 people," but an overall budget reduction by a certain amount, and then it is up the the councilmembers to decide how and where to make the cuts in their own staff/department.
BUT THE CUTS MUST START AT THE TOP. With the Mayor, his senior staffers, Councilmembers, and other elected officials and staffers and top management.
ONE AUTOMOTIVE ISSUE THAT ZUMA DOGG WANTS ADDRESSED BY THE MAYOR, ARE THE CITY COUNCIL STAFFERS WHO DRIVE THEIR OWN PERSONAL CARS TO CITY HALL, then drive out with their city vehicle, and drive that home and back the next day. CITY HALL PARKING GARAGE AND CITY VEHICLES ARE NOT CITY STAFFER VALET VEHICLES TO BE OPERATED OUT OF GENERAL FUND MONEY! So that stops now.
And Zuma Dogg feels that the mayor already knows he will have to make these cuts. So no more breath mint lady, and take it from there.
HOWEVER, IF YOU LOOK AT THE NUMBERS...THIS IS NOT NEARLY ENOUGH!!!! (It's the type of stuff you must do, or you cannot be respected, or have any dignity or credibility and are a hypocrite:
But in this economic circumstance, cuts at the top will not make a dent. It's not enough people/numbers, statistically.
THE BIG STUFF IS CITY WIDE!
And if NOTHING is done (nothing given back) we are talking 5000 job losses/firings. So depending on what is done (hopefully, something), the number should be less.
BUT HERE'S PROBLEM ONE AS TO WHY ZD SAYS IT IS NOT AN OPTIMISTIC SITUATION: The Mayor talks about heritage and city pride, not firing anyone since Flock of Seagulls ruled MTV.
DON'T SAY THAT! If people are saying this is the worst economic disaster of our lifetime, then it will call for measures we have never seen in our lifetime.
In radio, you would always have the sinking station, that failed to innovate, and failed to do anything, finally tank in a new more competitive marketplace; and the GM would say, "We're a heritage station. We've done it this way since 19(fill in the blank.)
It's an excuse to put on the blinders, do nothing, and hope conditions just turn around. And that's how you get blindsided and situations continue to plummet.
BUT ZD IS CONVINCED THE MAYOR KNOWS THAT THE MEAT CUTTER IS GONNA FALL, NO MATTER HOW MUCH LOS ANGELES LIKES A FAT, INEFFICIENT CITY ROSTER AND PAYROLL.
HOWEVER, here's problem number two. The goal is to keep as many workers working, not only for economic reasons that you don't want people out of work, but because we don't want a reduction of the most important city services.
SO THE PRUDENT THING TO DO, IS TO HAVE THE UNION VOTE TO GIVE BACK JUST ENOUGH TO AVERT TOTAL ARMEGEDDON, AND A LOWER NUMBER OF FIRINGS.
BUT, the people who decide are the senior union members who will not be the ones being fired. And they don't give a shit about the city, or anything besides their own lifestyle. SO YOU WILL SEE THEM VOTE TO SIMPLY FIRE AS MANY PEOPLE AS NEEDED, AS LONG AS THEIR PAYCHECKS AND BENEFITS DON'T TAKE A MINOR PENNY-PINCH.
ADDITIONAL INFO: The mayor has said publicly, no new taxes. (Cause he can't think of any news ones. They've all been enacted on anything and everything. So thanks.)
If workers are fired, some of it may affect the LACERS pension situation. If you are already fully in the plan, and promised whatever, it can't be modified.
But the newer employees, if they get fired, that's pension money that the city will save.
SO LOOK FOR THE YOUNGER, MORE PRODUCTIVE WORKERS TO BE FIRED, SO THE CITY CAN SAVE PENSION MONEY THERE, ALSO. (Not to be insensitive, but this ain't warm and fuzzy time people. If this were the movie "Titanic" we're at the "who gets in the lifeboat" part of the movie.
TIMING CRISIS: CM Parks tells me what needs to be noted, besides what is being discussed IS THE URGENCY IN TIME THAT THESE DECISIONS BE MADE. Parks says if it isn't wrapped up by July, IT'S OVER! TOO LATE!
Someone else added, that it is really MAY, that the decision has to be made, because that's when the budget is due. So maybe Parks is thinking they can work on it up till the last minute, but the bond issuers won't like that too much.)
SO IT REQUIRES "URGENT" ACTION!!!
But again, no one is going to want to give back a penny of their own money. So as I've been saying all along, you aren't going to have to make these decisions. There simply won't be money to pay people, and they won't show up anymore and the city will fall apart.
SO THE ONLY THING I HAVE NOT HEARD ALOUD, PUBLICLY, IS THAT THE CUTS THEY WILL BE ASKING 200,000 OTHERS, CITYWIDE, WILL BE STARTING AT THE TOP WITH THE MAYOR AND COUNCIL AND OTHER ELECTED OFFICIAL OFFICES.
That's a starting point:
SUMMARY: Due to the fact that the city has always been overly generous, and never more so than when Antonio was running for re-election, we are about to see 5000 people get fired, because Zuma Dogg knows the human nature of the people in charge of making the decisions. They are soft, irresponsible, selfish and greedy.
(WHICH IS WHAT GOT US INTO THIS MESS!) So why do you think they are going to change now?
If the City of LA were a gambler in Vegas (because it basically has been), it only walks away from the blackjack table when it is completely, 100% out of chips.
Now celebrating three years of "I told your ass!"
NEW INFO UPDATE:
CITY MAY PASS ORDINANCE REQUIRING CIVILIAN WORKERS TO PAY MORE INTO THEIR LACER PENSION FUNDS!