Wednesday, May 20, 2009

EXCLUSIVE Villaraiogsa Budget Analysis & Questions From Smart Sounding LA Daily Blog Reader

[I don't know who wrote this, but thanks for the take. Not too many people in the city could have typed up this analysis. THANKS FOR HELPING WITH THIS INSIGHTFUL CONTENT! ZD]

Dear Mr. Dogg,

I have been following your recent LA City Budget articles, and I wanted to know why the media has not expressed concern over the Proposed Budget which was heard by the City Council on Monday.

Last week Councilmen Parks, Rosendahl, and Smith voted to suspend the hiring of police officers next fiscal year due to the City's financial constraints. I applauded their willingness to stand up and recognize the City's financial situation and take steps to correct a poorly written budget.

Then on Monday, with the exception of Councilman Parks, our City Council fell for the Mayor's lies and half truths and voted to hire officers using the $22 million revenue source the Mayor's Office magically found over the weekend after the Budget and Finance Committee voted to freeze Police hiring; a revenue source which is a one-time fix that will not be available in future fiscal years.

The budget will be adopted next week completely misinterprets the City's current fiscal situation. Both the CAO and the CLA have expressed concern with items in the Proposed Budget, and the Council and the Mayor failed to address those concerns. The City is facing a looming pension system crisis and the Mayor and the Council responded by adding additional positions and salaries to the LAPD, LAFD, and other Departments that cater to their pet projects which places a further burden on a pension system that currently requires hundreds of millions of dollars to remain solvent and will require billions in the coming years. Is it responsible to add $26 million in sworn salaries without having an ongoing revenue source to pay for those salaries?

Is it responsible to layoff 1,200 employees who have devoted their careers to the City after finding $22 million that could be used to avoid layoffs? Are the service cuts associated with 1,200 layoffs offset by the Mayor's desire to hire 480 officers next fiscal year? These are the questions that I would expect the media to address.

The Los Angeles City Charter requires the Mayor and the City Council adopt a balanced budget. The Mayor's Proposed Budget is far from balanced and will lead the City down the path to bankruptcy by the end of next fiscal year. The Public Private Partnership (P3) is a $95 million farce. The ten percent Shared Responsibility and Sacrifice (SRS) cut is a $287 million hole that the Mayor's Office is unable to fill. The Mayor failed to bring union leaders to the table to negotiate pay reductions and furloughs and the Mayor cannot legally implement furloughs without first implementing a City-wide hiring freeze.

Since the Mayor still clings to his goal of hiring 1,000 new officers, the City's leadership will be unable to force labor into taking the 26 mandatory furlough days mentioned by the City Council.

As long as the City continues to hire additional police officers, union leaders will not come forward with concessions that pay for the expansion of the LAPD and further add to the City's pension woes. A Public Records Act request of all of the Mayor's Office's budget preparation documents, especially those related to the early retirement package, the proposed budget cuts and additions, the P3 proposal, and the SRS will shed some light on the Mayor's mistruths and will give readers an intimate knowledge how the Mayor and his staff have mislead the citizens of our proud city.

Sincerely,

A Friend of the City

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