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Terms of Endearment Deal: 15 Reasons Why You Can’t Trust City Hall

No. 34 — that’s how many water main breaks it takes in a two-week period for the City Council to start demanding answers from the DWP about why the blowouts are occurring.

Almost from the first blowout at Coldwater Canyon, outside engineers have speculated about whether limiting lawn sprinkling to just two days a week overstressed the rotting water pipe system with pressure surges, and many skeptical residents wondered if the whole problem was just another dirty DWP trick to squeeze a billion dollars or so more out of ratepayers.

I bring this up because it raises the issue at the heart of so much that’s wrong with the way LA is managed: Competence.

DWP officials routinely fob off the Board of Commissioners, the Council and the public with answers like LA has :fewer water leaks than other comparable cities” or the “the inquiry is not complete.” 

Scratch the surface of almost anything City Hall does and you see the same kind of acceptance of non-answers, lack of transparency, managerial effectiveness. Incompetence is the word for it.

This is a critically important question now that the Mayor and Council have declared a $325 million deficit represents a balanced budget because unions and bureaucrats are working together like a loving family to manage the city’s finances day-to-day to avoid the chaotic catastrophe that going bankrupt would cause.

How’s the seven-year effort to get an effective billboard policy going or even to identify where the thousands of illegal billboards are? Or the promise to deliver updated community plans that protect neighborhoods? Or the million trees? Or the greenest city in the nation? Or dozens of other unkept promises and unresolved issues?

I concede crime is down and LA is the safest big city in America, at least one of them, and violence is down to 1950s levels, or is it?

Just look at the 30 whereas-es in the resolution the Council adopted Friday to fix the budget crisis, declare a fiscal emergency, furlough police officers two days a month, halt police hiring, subject police trainees to probationary termination and ban the Fire and Police Departments from outside contracting for consulting or other services.

By my count, the resolution contains 15 specific things that have gone haywire in the three months since the budget took effect and the unions were offered a sweetheart early retirement (ERIP) deal:

1. ERIP salary savings $23 million, not $111 million
2. Only half the ERIP salary savings can go into the general fund.
3. Employee contribution of .75 percent extra far short of covering cost of early retirement.
4. $10 million savings lost because 400 layoffs anticipated in budget not implemented.
5. $16.5 million savings lost because furloughs not implemented.
6. $75 million short in estimated tax revenue
7. $89 million in extra liability claims.
8. $5.8 million  in extra subsidies for the poor to cover solid waste fees.
9. $247 million cost increase this year — $1 million per working day — over failure to win civilian and sworn  labor concessions by expected deadlines.
10. Unknown loss of revenue due to state budget crisis.
11. $100 million taken from Reserve Fund to meet excess costs, leaving less than $150 million which could be exhausted by May.
12. $1.1 million for Station Fire.
13, $46 million less for Reserve Fund from carryover from last year that already was spent.
14. $13 million in Fire Department savings lost because of failure of negotiations.
15. $129 million in LAPD savings lost because of failure of negotiations.

If they were that far off the mark just three months ago, why would anyone believe they can do any better over the next nine months or next year when the deficit doubles or when it triples in the following years?

It’s a question of trust. And for my money — and yours — you can’t trust people who cause more problems than they solve, who spent more money that the city took in for years, did nothing about it when it became a problem and offer nothing more than a “trust us” solution as they did on Friday when let the city’s budget woes had become a true crisis.

I say put a “No Confidence” measure to a vote on the June primary ballot and we’ll see how the electorate feels about a City Hall that routinely sells out the public interest to special interests.

With regard to unions, here’s how Councilman Bernard Parks put it recently before he succumbed at the end of a week of back room negotiations and closed door sessions on how to spin the public:


COMING NEXT: Terms of Endearment: The Deal



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16 Responses to Terms of Endearment Deal: 15 Reasons Why You Can’t Trust City Hall

  1. Anonymous says:

    I guess someone forgot to tell Butcher and Parsini that you are not supposed to go “full-retard”. For years they have been doing “half-retard”, but now they’ve gone full-on. Their members, all city employees, and the public will pay for their lack of judgement for years to come.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Congratulations Ron, you have now met the two sides of Bernard Parks. I wouldn’t have given him the time of day. I cringed when I saw all of them self congratulating themselves in the media on Friday stating “we wanted to protect the best interest of the tax payers and people.” Astounding incompetence at the highest level.

  3. Anonymous says:

    There’s no incompetence there. They are quite competent in their deceit.
    Anybody who believes that Los Angeles is the safest city in the nation aught to have their heads examined. Los Angeles has more gang members than any city in the nation. And gangs are criminal enterprises. Gangs breed crime and violence. How in the hell can anyone say that we are the safest city in the nation with those issues at hand.
    I say the the statistics are not believable. Anybody who believes these statistics aught to have their heads examined. Los Angeles manages are liars and deceivers, a proven fact. Anything that distorts the truth and sways the public is acceptable, Los Angeles supervisory behavior. It’s unfortunate that there is not a “star” after every LATImes, LADaily News, and Ron Kaye blog entry referenced statistic indicating that the information is NOT CREDIBLE.

  4. Anonymous says:

    To 8:35 am – Apparently the full Council and Mayor have gone “full retard”!

  5. Sandy Sand says:

    I dispute that crime is down and have since they first made that bogus boast.
    Just as the Bush administration fudged the labor stats by saying “X” number of new jobs had been created by reclassifying low-paying service industry jobs, such as hamburger flippers as “MANUFACTURING” jobs, LAPD reclassified certain crimes to make them seem as if they are less felonious.
    In their public posting of recent crime stats they also carefully neglected to post large areas of the city, making it look as if there were fewer crimes.
    When called on it, they said ‘too bad;’ ‘too late;’ ‘it makes no never-mind.’
    Can they do nothing that isn’t a LIE or a SECRET?

  6. Anonymous says:

    About Bernie Parks’ about-face, Zine-Trutanich supporters are boasting that “they’ve got” Parks and Garcetti, strung along by their ambitions. Eric of course wants to be Mayor, and Zine wants to be Chief, would support Eric if Eric supports him in his own scary ambition — while Parks wants to get involved in meddling with LAPD and public safety again somehow. Having been responsible for the Consent Decree in the first place, he’s never lost a chance to criticize and bash Bratton who transformed the corrupt, demoralized, scandalized mess that Bernie left.
    This is a terrifying scenario and with their diverse politics just underscores how amoral they all are, never lose a chance to use any crisis for personal ambition. But very telling, since Trutanich is talked up for Mayor by his hardcore – but with all his negative backlash so fast, suggests that he’s reverting to original career charts showing him aiming to replace DA Steve Cooley who will finally be retiring.
    This was the talk from all inside the DA’s office before Nuch’s head swelled to the size of a Goodyear Blimp before he even took office. Thanks to fans like Ron Kaye and his “best public comment ever” thread for bashing LAPD’s doing such an exemplary job keeping order at the Lakers and Jackson events. Since his own top deputies were given him by Cooley, Carter and Livesay, and they really run the office, they could just go back to the DA’s office and keep on running that without a missing a beat, is their argument. All he has to do is lie low and avoid further negative feedback piling up, and try to attack and take out as many Democrats as they can. Starting of course with Villaraigosa, who they fantasize about recalling, and Greuel. As for other “competitors,” Rosendahl wants to be Senator, Hahn Lt. Gov. Eric figures if Trutanich can help him defeat Greuel, he’ll be on board with his and Zine’s ambitions, would concur in pushing for Zine for Chief.
    The Police Political Protective League’s money would help them get elected, they all hope: note how Garcetti and Trutanich are co- honorees at the big awards bash this week, and how they’ve all gotten thick as thieves behind the scenes and in finally putting the cabosh on the gadflies at public comment – now that’s it’s being turned on THEM. This sudden lovefest of “even budget hawks Parks and Zine” getting on board and Garcetti taking credit, all part of the carefully mapped-out trajectory of their careers.

  7. Anonymous says:

    P.S. It goes without saying that in the previous scenario, once they all got what they wanted they’d quickly set about throwing each other under the bus, racing to see who could do it first. Soon as Zine and Trutanich got in as Chief and DA, they’d try to get rid of their tool Garcetti, who’s betting that sucking upto billboard companies, CIM and other big money will save him. He knows the PPL at THAT point would go Republican as long as Weber’s still around, and having hired the former head of the Prison Guard union as their “political advisor,” they’re dug in, so they hope.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Anonymous at 11:02AM: You forgot to mention the law school Trutanich attended. What’s wrong with you this morning?

  9. Anonymous says:

    Can someone throw 11:05 Trutanich-hater vermin under the bus.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Bad enough that it is a Trutanich hater, but it it just goes on….and on…and on….and on…..

  11. Anonymous says:

    If you’re voting for any of the “Big 3” (Chris Essel, Paul Krekorian, Tamar Galatzan) its a wasted vote.
    Don’t be fooled by the wolves dressed in wool.

  12. Anonymous says:

    “How’s the seven-year effort to get an effective billboard policy going or even to identify where the thousands of illegal billboards are? Or the promise to deliver updated community plans that protect neighborhoods? Or the million trees? Or the greenest city in the nation? Or dozens of other unkept promises and unresolved issues?”
    Ron, you sure ask excellent questions. Will anyone respond from the city? Does anyone in the city even care that millions of dollars are wasted on these programs with no results. Gross mismanagement of public money and incompetence across the board. Any wonder why we are in a financial hole.

  13. anonymous says:

    Ron, thank you for spelling it out in dollars and, well, dollars.
    I know you feel the politicians are to blame, not the unions. I feel both are to blame.
    Yes, the politicians gambled our future,last week and the past several years. So did the unions.
    Contrary to popular belief, the unions are no longer about the workers. It’s only about the workers when it comes to a showdown like last week-as though their leaders are their voice. Even after screwing the citizens with increased taxes (higher rates), neither considered the long term ramifications which could, ultimately, result in lay offs.
    I recall there were talks several months ago about the unions paying back more into the pension account. The leaders said “no.” The politicians succumbed.
    The unions are about power and increased membership (more resources=more union money). The unions threaten strikes with every contract deal pending (that keeps their leaders in place). They intimidate. They can protest and paralyze city operations if they don’t get their way. They intimidate city managers who, if not union bought, try to hold them accountable. Look how they locked in “no outsourcing” for fire.
    Unions have the bucks to pick their political pawns. Yes, the SEIU employees are amongst the lowest paid. However, consider the comparable jobs in the private sector and they make out okay-not great, just okay. No offense to their work. It is tough and demanding. What other private sector jobs have such pensions attached? Most people have to plan their own retirement.
    The seniority deal keeps the city from keeping the good workers and laying off the less than stellar ones. On the flip side, there are some really good senior workers that we need because of their institutional knowledge. Then there’s the division of duties in the contracts. It defines tasks to a point that three people have to fill out the same form before it goes to three more people to approve it-something one person can probably do. Such divisions ensure more union members, more money to the union and less accountability if something goes wrong (hard to trace with so many layers). Of course, if you remove a task, union leaders get upset because each task is a “bargaining tool” for future contract negotiations. General Managers cannot tell an employee what to do. They have to tell the next level to tell the next level to investigate and get back to the next level and, maybe, write it up. Each level (not counting exempt management) is a union member that wouldn’t turn on their own. I heard of General Managers and supervisors that agreed to erase years of bad records in workers’ files in exchange for union support.
    Looking at Bill Rosendahl speak of the kumbaya moment of their hand holding prayer time, it’s clear they rely on union support and grandstand to make it appear like the workers (oops, I mean unions) matter. The politicians and union leaders know better, but their grab for personal power enables the dysfunction. Neither cared one iota for the tax payer. For Bill to say that being elected did mean support of the other 4 million is wrong. Not everyone has the bucks to donate to campaigns that unions and their friendly companies have. The tax paying public is the grass roots. The unions are the big business. Rarely is it about the worker. Sadly, most of the workers don’t know that.
    I know of many union members who felt their leaders threw them under the bus by gambling lay offs long ago. Some wanted to not be in the union; ‘pay into their own retirement account, and not have the union dictate how they feel. Sadly, the one union that allows the members to have a say will probably pay the highest price. It just goes to show that no good deed goes unpunished. ‘Hard to be rewarded for good amongst so much evil.
    Along with the vote of no confidence amongst our city leaders, there needs to be a ballot measure that decides whether the “non-profit” unions, as a whole, should be allowed to endorse candidates and contribute to political campaigns. Ideally, there should also be a ballot measure where the tax payers decide how much unions should pay back into their pensions, or whether such benefits should be decided by the employee who can chose how/if she wishes to pay into an account and which account.
    The cycle of abuse of power at the tax payers’ expense must stop.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Blame the politicians and not the unions? Hm-m-m…
    Who put the current pack of politicians in power? The unions.
    Workers pay union dues. Labor unions use those dues to elect politicians. Those politicians then sit across the table in bargaining sessions and give wage and pension concessions to the unions.
    How do local union bosses get to be local union bosses? Mostly, they’re appointed by, and accountable only to, the national federation.
    What makes the national federations so powerful? Dollars. –Dollars taken out of the paychecks of hard working rank and file union members.
    As it’s been said here many times, it’s a numbers game. More union members = more union dues = more money to pour into political campaigns = more laws that assure more union members.
    Making a new law that bars unions from endorsing candidates won’t pass Constitutional muster.
    Little is going to change until union management is democratically elected all the way up the line, at the local, state and national level.
    The crazy part of this is that rank and file union members fail to understand that every time their wages go up it affects their own cost of living. When wages go up, costs go up. When city employees get a raise, and city hall passes it on to the taxpayer, union members’ taxes go up, too. It naturally follows that union members then need another raise to compensate for the cost of living increases generated by their last raise.
    This vicious cycle provides beautiful job security for appointed union bosses whose whole reason for existence is to increase union membership.
    Here’s a thought, maybe workers would have more money in their pockets if union kingmakers weren’t siphoning off so much of their paychecks.

  15. anonymous says:

    “Making a new law that bars unions from endorsing candidates won’t pass Constitutional muster.”
    My understanding is “non-profits” have limitations on political endorsements. I’m not sure how it works for them to be able to endorse candidates, lobby and donate to political campaigns. I think they have to register in some way.
    My hope is that more limits are placed on non-profits in this arena-an across the board move.
    I don’t think the election process for union leaders will yield any desirable results.
    We really need to come up with a solution to curb their power. There must be a way to prohibit their endorsing/contribution/lobbying power. If there’s already a provision in the tax laws about non-profits not being allowed to do this unless they meet certain criteria, then why couldn’t we study cracking down on that criteria?
    I know it’s a long shot. However, perhaps it can be a ballot initiative. We can call it an “ethical tax reform” initiative or something like that. In the spirit of past “ethical” ballot measures, we can add something to the end of it like increased term limits (just kidding).

  16. Anonymous says:

    what is the mayor and council doing? are they being furloughed to help out with the budget? how can they be so deceitful!!!!!

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