I’ve suddenly got second thoughts about this initiative drive to cut the salaries of the Mayor, City Council, Controller and City Attorney in half — it doesn’t go far enough.
They should all get the “living wage” they’re so proud of. So instead of $180,000 a year, or half that, they would be paid the same $14.50 per hour, or $10 per hour plus $4.50 toward health
insurance they awarded Wednesday to non-city workers at LAX.
Amid cheers and tears, the Council brushed aside all questions of costs and the impact on contractors, sub-contractors and the woebegone public to unanimously approve what amounts to as much as 30 percent raises for 5,000 low-income workers.
If they were honest about what they really believe, they would require that everyone in LA earn at least what city workers are paid with lucrative pensions and first-rate health insurance, that everyone actually work for the city or for the contractors, consultants, lobbyists that live off the city.
After all, City Hall has pursued this as an unspoken policy for years. It’s why I mock them for conducting a failed experiment in municipal socialism, an appropriate oxymoron for their futile efforts to redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor.
The actual impact of their policies has been to dramatically shrink the middle class and dramatically increase the poverty. The rich, of course, just keep getting richer as far as I can see, especially those who contribute heavily to political campaigns and buy the politicians fancy wines and expensive meals that never get reported on conflict of interest statements.
The living wage is not the problem. Except for the few who it benefits, it is nothing but a symbolic feel-good gesture.
The problem is those people who hold these high offices act like there is a bottomless pit of money to siphon off from the residents of the city.
This was also visible Wednesday when the living wage debate was interrupted by a hearing at which DWP officials were called on the carpet to answer softball (or were they just) ignorant questions about the bursting water main disasters in the Valley.
The Council’s newest member, Paul Koretz, showed how quickly he has fit into the City Hall mentality by gushing during the living wage debate: ““I think this is really a no-brainer for us…We can’t do less.”
And in the next breath, he suggested that the DWP’s $4 billion program to replace old water pipes should be accelerated no matter what it costs.
He called the broken pipe problem a “wake-up call,” which may be forgivable since he’s a carpetbagger who moved into LA from West Hollywood to run for the Council.
The rotting pipes and failing electrical grid problems are the direct result of taking DWP revenue and putting it into the inflated salaries and benefits of DWP workers and transferring what was left in the city treasury to pad the salaries and benefits of the rest of the city’s employees.
To hell with the infrastructure, to hell with clean energy, public be damned — those have been the official policies for far too long.
And now the bills are coming due. The city is running out of cash and bankruptcy looms but they keep on writing blank checks without any means of raising the money to cover them except borrowing more and more at ever higher interest rates.
I’m torn between metaphors to describe this, whether it’s more apt to see them like Nero and his fiddle or Marie Antoinette and her cake.
Both work well enough: LA is burning and the people are rebelling. It’s a crying shame things have to get so much worse before they get better.