The LA City Budget now enacted into law without a single line-item veto is not worth the paper wasted on printing it or the ink of the mayor’s signature.
It’s as phony as the baloney of the “Shared Responsibility and Sacrifice” slogan used to sell it.
For one thing, there’s a $326 million payroll hole that can only be filled by furloughs, wage increase deferrals, layoffs, buyouts, sweetened retirement packages — none of which the unions have agreed to despite many months of talks. Then, there’s the problem of the $60 to $120 million the state is about to “borrow,” which will put the deficit back to the just about where it was when the process began a month ago.
You can be sure the final deal with the unions will provide as soft a landing as possible.
Not so for the public. It is a certainty that public services will be cut sharply: Libraries, street paving, planning, code enforcement, everything even that sacred cow the LAPD will have fewer cops on the street.
Everything that is except the city’s cash cow, the DWP (DWP-Budget.pdf).
There, the sacrifices will be entirely the public’s. With a long list of pass-throughs, the cost of water will rise 16 percent and power 28 percent, probably even more. Pass-throughs, for the uninitiated, are surcharges for renewable energy and purchased water that don’t have to go through the normal rate hike process and the DWP wants to lift the cap on how much they can charge extra for these costs by up to 4,000 percent.
Yet, there’s no talk of furloughs, wage increase deferrals, layoffs, buyouts, early retirement. In fact, the DWP added 300 workers this year and plans to keep on increasing wages — even in the face of its own massive pension liability problem.
The mayor’s message (Mayor Budget Letter.pdf)to council approving the budget captures — in all of its contradictions, deflections and obfuscations– just how pathetic the city leadership has been in dealing with this crisis.
“Our work on this budget, however, is far from
complete,” Villaraigosa conceded. “The nature of the
economic crisis will require us to calibrate and adjust the budget to
constantly evolving realities. The duration and depth of the recession, the
impact of the state budget crisis on the city and the outcome of
negotiations with our labor partners remain uncertain.”
In other words, forces beyond the city’s control are the problem — not the failure of the mayor and the council to do anything about employee salaries and programs that are, and were for years, unaffordable.
The ship of the city is sinking and the captain is oblivious, planning trips to Kenya with his latest TV anchor flame while the council is allowing 600 marijuana dealers to operate legally on every street corner and approving massive high rises that will clog the streets with more traffic and use up more of our precious water and power resources.
Burning Rome and fiddling Nero got nothing on LA.
Quit your job, close your business, sell your house, run for your life. Sorry, it’s too late for that. You’re just going to have to stay and fight or remain apathetic and helpless while the fat-cats feast and the city rots.