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Why Can’t Antonio Be More Like … Mayor Bloomberg

Two weeks ago, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg bloomberg.jpgannounced a plan for $1.5 billion in budget cuts to help the city deal with its soaring deficit that could reach $4 billion over the next two years..

Today in L.A., the task was left to Ray Ciranna, the interim City Administrative Officer, to outline a plan to cut spending on libraries, the zoo, tree trimming, new police cars, left-hand turn signals and hiring in the City Attorney’s and Controller’s office.

Those cuts would only save $55 million, half the current deficit, and not make a dent in the $400 million shortfail for next year — both low-ball estimates of how serious the  city’s money problems really are.

So you ask why was this left to acting budget numbers guy? Where was Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa? Isn’t this a crisis that calls for bold leadership?

It’s not like Villaraigosa isn’t aware of the problem. He was briefed on the crisis and did issue a statement which said “immediate and dramatic budget adjustments” are needed but it’s not his job to take the heat..

“The revenue picture for the city is grim, and it is nearly certain to get worse before it gets better,” Villaraigosa said..

In contrast, Bloomberg stuck his neck out and is feeling political heat because he wants to cancel a promised $400 rebate to taxpayers, cut 1,000 police positions and raise the city income tax by as much as 15 percent.

In L.A. the solution to a dire budget crisis is to stop buying library books to save $1.45 million out of a $79 million library budget and $800,000 from tree trimming.

Here’s more items from the LATimes report:
* $1 million from the crossing guards program — a 20 percent reduction.
* $650,000 less for installing left-turn arrow signals.
* $1.92 million from the LAPD’s plan to older squad cars. The city had budgeted $4.3 million to replace 118 black-and-whites but 53 older cars will stay in service.
* Transferring $1.14 million from a Los Angeles Zoo trust fund — money set aside for the long-delayed Golden Monkey exhibit.

I know the detailed savings don’t come close to adding up to $55 million but you get the gist of the penny-pinching proposals that do nothing about the overspending problem.

There’s also that favorite cash cow, the Department of Water and Power which is overflowing with cash from all its rate increases so you be sure those funds will be raided and the infrastructure allowed to continue to rot.

It will be amusing to see the council grapple with this and to see if they actually pay attention to the details supply an overall vision for the city’s economic future.

That would entail bringing up the problem which is the payroll and benfits costs of the city are out of whack with the city’s financial reality. Police and Fire unions already are demanding the same 5.9 percent raises DWP workers just got and the city still is paying for every type of community event even though they said they would stop.

L.A. doesn’t have a revenue problem. It has a spending problem. Taxes, rates and fees have gone up and up to the point that there’s nothing left to tax. You can see City Hall can’t find anything else to cut much.

So that leaves the one place where spending has gotten out of control: Wage and benefit costs. But to stand up to the unions would take political courage and require the mayor to take a stand where he’s the Mayor of City Hall or the Mayor of Los  Angeles.

Bloomberg took a stand in New York. He ordered the heat turned down in city buildings to save fuel costs and when criticized for it, responded: “Wear a sweater if you’re chilly.”

Council members accuse Boomberg of taking a “let them eat cake” attitude. But his taken a stand in public and facing the criticism.

In L.A., it’s just the opposite. City Hall’s attitude to the people is “let them eat cake” and the mayor is invisible on the subject of what must be done.

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8 Responses to Why Can’t Antonio Be More Like … Mayor Bloomberg

  1. Anonymous says:

    Raigo make serious cuts to the City budget? You’re kidding, right? Wait, I see coming another increase in the Trash Fees.

  2. Minnie Lee says:

    “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to cut $1.5 billion in budget cuts”
    Hey Ron, I think you wrote a double negative. My guess is he is cutting this amount from the budget as opposed to eliminating the cut.
    Nitpicking aside, I love your blog and wish you would run for office.

  3. Minnie Lee says:

    “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to cut $1.5 billion in budget cuts”
    Hey Ron, I think you wrote a double negative. My guess is he is cutting this amount from the budget as opposed to eliminating the cut.
    Nitpicking aside, I love your blog and wish you would run for office.

  4. Minnie Lee says:

    “New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced a plan to cut $1.5 billion in budget cuts”
    Hey Ron, I think you wrote a double negative. My guess is he is cutting this amount from the budget as opposed to eliminating the cut.
    Nitpicking aside, I love your blog and wish you would run for office.
    I hope this isn’t posted multiple times. I had to hit “submit” three times before it would “take.” :)

  5. Nancy Norris says:

    We should demand that the L.A. city councilmembers cut their operating budgets by at least 1/3, which includes closing one of their 3 offices, and laying off the staff that works at that office, and saving the money on the cars, car expenses, blackberries, and other perks that they get. City councilmembers admit they are not qualified in many areas, and never take on the controversial issues, like illegal gang bangers shooting down law abiding citizens, regulating sober living homes in RA-1 and R-1 zones, or getting to the bottom of the reason why the rape kits sit untested. City councilmembers spend a significant amount of time patting themselves on the back, and honoring the public employees who are already well paid for their jobs. City council spends a significant amount of time honoring the special interests that got them elected, and the vicious circle continues. Go to the websites of the city councilmembers. What are their major accomplishments? Why do they need staffs of 15-20 to do nothing significant. Making a motion for a photo op, putting that issue into committee until it is forgotten does not count. We need to give city council a big pay cut to help our city budget. We need to vote them all out of office, and start over, electing only those who are brave enough to make the tough choices. Vote for Walter Moore for Mayor.

  6. Anonyous says:

    “City Hall’s attitude to the people is “let them eat cake” and the mayor is INVISIBLE on the subject of what must be done.”
    It appears the mayor is missing in action.

  7. spiffy says:

    I don’t always agree with Ron, but I agree on this one. I think the city leaders are slow to catch on to the financial crisis facing families, the city, the state and the country.
    Rather than getting out in front of this problem that everyone has been reporting on for a year, they are being REACTIONARY. They react. They don’t see the writing on the wall and create a comprehensive plan to deal with all the changes.
    However, most of our gov’t leaders do that. Most politics in this country is reactionary in nature. Truly, the thing that is so amazing about our President Elect is that he is not a reactionary. He gets wise counsel, lots of it, and plans ahead for reality.
    How darned refreshing!

  8. Anonymous says:

    by Wayne Barrett in the Village Voice: “The Transformation of Mayor Bloomberg: How a Benevolent Billionaire Mayor Ended up Owning Us All.” Maybe if you knew about about what you write instead of just going for an Anyone but Antonio and Anyone Antonio Knows approach to every “article” we’d actually learn something now and then. (Seems this is really wishful thinking on having Caruso run, not really about Bloomberg at all. Just someone rich enough to take on Antonio.)
    I say this as someone who isn’t happy with the dysfunctional spend with the left-hand/ tax with the right approach to city and state government, but this kind of dysfunction government where left and right, the political and financial extremes, never meet in the middle is only exacerbated by this kind of knee-jerk “analysis.” If you’re just lobbing blind hatred at Antonio and everyone at City Hall, regardless of what they do, on every single policy and comment even if you actually agree with them (but want to tear THEM down for saying it), what incentive to they have to listen to you? None. If I were them, I’d just say, hell with them, I’ll shore up my positives. That’s all you people have accomplished, that I can see.
    Beware what you wish for with Bloomberg, by the way. A multi-billionaire you hate and who blows you off because you did the same to him, is NOT a good enemy to have. As New Yorkers have learned.

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