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LA Weekly Blockbuster: Wretched Excess at City Hall

Los Angeles on $300,000 a year

Why next week’s City Council “coronation” will cost you far more than money

Those are the headlines on lacouncil.jpg
Patrick Range McDonald’s
devastating story in the LA
Weekly
about what the princes and princesses who serve on the City Council are really paid in salary and perks — and how little they do to earn it.

Filled with telling detail, McDonald condemns “the council’s double standards for itself, its frequent hypocrisy and
its continual self-congratulations for performing “services” and
official favors that subvert municipal processes…”

Here’s the heart of the story:

“With the highest city council salaries in the nation, at $178,789 per
year, Los Angeles City Council is possibly the highest-paid elected
city body on the planet. Its pay far outstrips that of councils in
costlier New York City, whose members earn a mere $112,500, and San
Francisco, whose members earn $95,868. Los Angeles council members earn
about 70 percent more than the piddling pay of the Chicago City
Council, at $110,556…

“The L.A. City Council salaries are not just overinflated in an era of
belt-tightening. They are only a hair below the salaries of Congress,
and are higher than those of federal judges. They amount to a
staggering 400 percent of Los Angeles’ median household income of
$46,000 — and no other city council, in cities poor or rich, comes even
close to that troubling disparity between public servant and the
public.

“Each council member enjoys a free car, maintenance and gas costing
$6,000 to $15,000 annually (Garcetti’s electric-car lease costs
taxpayers $3,900 but saves on fuel); each gets a petty-cash fund of
$5,000; and each receives a dubious, $100,000, yearly taxpayer-financed
slush fund, which amounts to walking-around money that they can dole
out to anyone — family members or gangbangers if they choose — as long
as they don’t spend it on religious proselytizing or political races.”

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15 Responses to LA Weekly Blockbuster: Wretched Excess at City Hall

  1. Anonymous says:

    Atleast they dont make the half a million that worthless Housing Auth. CEO- PRESIDENT bandit Rudy Monteil makes. You talk about do nothing, slush funds, housing allowance. cars One at the office and one at the train station being used everyday. laying off poor people for no reason and then some. Makes more than the chief of police.

  2. Anonymous says:

    City council members and their staffs routinely get recognition,honors and free lunches from non-profits with whom they are affiliated. They are affiliated in most cases for the “free” publicity they get for their next run at office. The time they spend working for the non-profits is time for which they are well paid by the city. Campaign contributors and special interests who can expect to receive and do receive favors or special treatment by the electeds and their staffers donate to the non-profit and the city council member who solicited the donation looks like a hero. This is a contribution made at the Behest of the office holder and his staff and this should be considered Compensation to the council member. The ethics commission needs to make tougher laws that require scrutiny of all donations made at the behest of a council member no matter what the value. Further, let’s stop pretending. A memorial funded by a private citizen is a genuine gift. A memorial sponsored by council member’s office is a publicity stunt at taxpayer’s expense in more ways than one.

  3. Anonymous says:

    In fairness to objectivity, the Weekly should have noted in its comps that although New York councilmembers are paid “a mere $112,000″ they are PART time, and there are over 50 of them total so they cost a lot more, and each runs a district of far fewer people with less responsibility. Their perks are at least as much or more, and dining, car service and other tabs in New York are much higher. There are valid reasons to criticize them but these apples/oranges ones just reflect their/ Jill Stewart’s bias. Akin to yours — surely no coincidence that you two moderated the Candidate Forum for (gadfly) Mayoral hopefuls and use your forums to endlessly bash the Mayor and current Administration. Just do it responsibly with basic journalistic foundations or you lose credibility.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Also compare them to the higher salaries and perks of County Supervisors (who get chauffeurs as well), with base pay starting closer to the $300,000 which CEO Fujioka also gets as a base. Credibility credibility credibility.

  5. Anonymous says:

    Council member / aide at 9:06:
    The part-time / full-time distinction is a red herring, as there is no meaningful difference in commitment of a “part-time” member of the NYCC and the putatively “full-time” members of the LACC.
    How many votes did Janice Hahn miss last year? More than 2,000, according to KNBC. How many votes did Jack Weiss miss? Wendy Greuel? The whole lot of them have a piss-poor record…
    Fact is, I’d support paying a legitimate public servant double what council members now make. Unfortunately, we don’t have any public servants on our council. We have political hacks sucking on the government teat, worried only about two things: protecting their current seat for as long as they can (see: Measure R extension of terms) and sizing up the next seat they can hop to when ultimately termed out.
    They’re whores, welfare queens in Armani suits, driving subsidized cars to every free dinner and event they can cadge. Take a look around Dodger Stadium on Opening Day. Count the council members. They’ll be there on free tickets, eating free hot dogs and peanuts, all cadged from special interests who want to curry their favor.
    Shame on them. And shame on us for tolerating it.

  6. Last week at Council there was a citizen who addressed this issue and pointed out that there are several full time councils that make nowhere near what the Clowncil makes. The next highest paid elected official is the President of the United States (at least when our governor is taking $1 a year).
    How undignified it was that Greig Smith – who has been caught napping during meetings (at least a step up from Janice Hahn) – stood up to defend his salary and say he was worth every penny, the usual line about how LA City Council members work harder than any other elected officials, etc. The trouble is those other elected officials – including the County Supes – are performing at a higher level.
    We already know that our Mayor works 11% of the time. Perhaps the weekly needs to review the schedules of our council members as well, starting with Smith.
    It’s easy to toss out Mayor Sam, Jill Stewart, Ron Kaye, or Zuma Dogg as red herrings. But the truth is the truth, reporters like Pat McDonald, Daniel Heimpel, etc. are established, experienced reporters who do their homework. There is no honest way that the Clowncil staffers can show otherwise but to lie, bloviate, spin, lie, bloviate, spin.
    Let’s hope the word is getting out. The defeat of Measure B will be a good start.

  7. Anonymous says:

    The LA Weekly isn’t a real newspaper anymore — its a twist and distort rag.
    Luckily for all of us, the LA Times, Daily News and the LA Weekly will be greatly diminished within the next 12 months.
    And the 22 people who make up what ours news says everyday (21 of them white) will have less power, less money and be irrelevant.

  8. Anonymous says:

    10:52 = Mike Trujillo in the house!

  9. KK says:

    The problem of looking a salaries is that it really misses the big bucks. What is the pension and retirement that the City Council gets? What are the health benefits? Rather than whining about city council salaries which are set to move in tandem with state Judges salaries by city charter as I recall, lets start talking about where the real dollars lay…pensions and life time health care.
    Do you think one of the reasons why Bratton is all over endorsing the mayor and Jack Weiss is that salary reviews for police and fire department are slated right after the election? Lets remind everyone that starting salary for LAPD is $60,000 per year with 4 weeks off first year and 3 day workweeks. IF this rookie stays at this level for 20 years and retires, that is the equivalent of having 1 million dollars in a retirement fund. Should this base and benefit be increased? Maybe yes but how is it going to be paid for?

  10. spiffy says:

    Why do they need a free car and free gas with salaries like that?

  11. Anonymous says:

    So grateful that we have a newspaper like the LA Weekly which has picked up on reporting that should have been done by the fishwrap “LA Times”. A Charter reform is needed. We need a City Manager, and part time council members, at least 25 committed community members willing to take care of the City. The current set-up is not working. Period.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I am officially announcing my candidacy for city council. I like the big bucks.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Every City Council of which I am aware conducts the People’s business at Council meetings that begin at 7:00 pm. This allows the residents of such cities to participate in and monitor decision making of their elected council members. It also leads to better decision making because the Council has to be more accountable to the people.
    The norm everywhere else DOES NOT HAPPEN at Los Angeles City Hall. The Los Angeles City Council meets at 10:00 am on weekdays when the average resident is working and unable to attend meetings. This is done on purpose to discourage public oversight and avoid accountability. There is one group for which the 10:00 am start time is very convenient: the well-heeled cadre of highly paid lobbyists and lawyers who ply the halls of City Hall. The Los Angeles City Council meeting time is very convenient for them.
    This is not just symbolic irony. It is a symptom of a sick City that desperately needs the change the people have brought to the White House.
    I cannot think of one better single issue of reform of the Los Angeles City Council than to amend the City Charter to require all regular City Council meetings to be scheduled to begin no earlier than 7:00 pm.
    Would this impose hardship or greater cost? No. Such a charter amendment should also require the City to implement a flexible work schedule for the hourly staff of the City (City Clerk’s office staff, Information Technology technicians, security officers,and maybe some Council aides who are not salaried) to cover the nighttime Council meetings for the same cost.

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