With its $530 million deficit erased with a few strokes of a pen and the budget balanced with the kind of creative accounting that get executives of public companies thrown into jail, the LA City Council is naturally in a self-congratulatory mood.
There are back-slaps and high-fives for all, dozens of unanimous votes to cast and heroes to celebrate.
Bill Rosendahl faced down the most untouchable cop since Eliot Ness. Auxiliary cop Greig Smith stood up for the rank-and-file who face a 10 percent cut in pay through furlough days while rookies patrol the streets. Ex-chief Parks got the momentary satisfaction of shooting holes in the myth of the magic of 10,000 cops.
But it was Navy Officer Eric Garcetti, speeding home from active duty in the reserves, who saved the day and the failed political culture of City Hall at least for a day or two.
Talk about magic, get this: Over the weekend, Garcetti with a little help from his friends found $22 million more in property taxes and $20 million more in another hidden pot and suddenly there was enough to keep on hiring cops no matter how much other services have to be slashed.
It’s not like Chief Bill Bratton got off unscathed. One after another, council members took their shots at him, put him in his place, for his overstepping the bounds with his threat to pull 30 patrol officers out of the Westside in retaliation for Rosendahl in Budget Committee for voting to halt police hiriing.
“So, while it may have been interpreted by the
council member … that it was specific to him … it’s actually
specific to every part of the city,” said the unrepentant Bratton.
Community activists might take a lesson from Bratton on how to treat the City Council. After all, the council voted without any sign of shame to give Bratton his cops with only the begrudging Parks holding out.
They rolled over so totally that even if the expected failure of the ballot propositions occurs today and the city loses $120 million in state funding, they will borrow to keep hiring police in the expectation the state will pay them back in three years.
They don’t have a clue how they will pay for the cops in the future, or come up with the billions needed to keep city pension funds solvent or the hundreds of millions for golden handshakes for city workers being laid off.
This is a situation where forgiveness isn’t easy for they know exactly what they are doing.
The budget the mayor proposed was a work of fiction. The budget the council adopted is a myth. They backed down to Bratton, to the unions and even the Neighborhood Councils.
But it is all meaningless. They will be grappling with the financial catastrophe they created for weeks and months and years to come.
They will sell off parking structures and everything else they can. They will pay off city workers to get them to leave. They will keep cutting and cutting services to the public. And they will keep back-slapping and high-fiving as the city falls apart.