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Terms of Endearment: Do You Trust City Hall?

“A love cannot be an irresponsible love. It can’t be an easy love. where we say we’ll do whatever even if that’s going to hurt more next year and the year after because it feels easy now.” — Eric Garcetti, in “How They Saved LA, The Movie.” 

The President of the LA City Council basked Friday in the warm glow of his love affair with his colleagues and the Coalition of City Unions, his preening humility fully on display.

The glory of making the city’s $405 million deficit vanish in an instant was his.

The unions made concessions, he said. The budget was suddenly balanced, the cash flow crisis eliminated and a new era of partnership born so that labor and management will be able to triumph together over any difficulty that might arise City Hall was just one big family.

It was so easy, such an easy lovefest.

So much is uncertain, so much of the pain put off for another day, maybe even all the way until spring when they have to overcome a shortfall twice today’s deficit, at $800 million — almost 20 percent of the city’s disposable revenue.

Living on credit for so many years — what they call a structural deficit – the city is in a money crisis.

It already was a year old when they finally cut a tentative deal Friday. At its heart, the deal did little but  put off all the real decisions until yesterday’s problem that became today’s crisis becomes a shattering catastrophe tomorrow  — an economic earthquake that will require rebuilding the political system and reorganizing the functions of city government.

In a phrase, your City Council gambled the city’s future.

They did it unanimously with the full involvement and support of a mayor dizzy from all his flip-flopping and twisting out of responsibility.

The city cut a deal that requires bigger but still small sacrifices from city workers to pay for the enhancement of the already lucrative pensions for some 2,400 of their colleagues who get to retire in the early- and mid-50s..

It depends for its success on the agreement of the unions to accept layoffs or furloughs, maybe even pay cuts as an alternative, if the situation deteriorates further.

The city’s hands are no longer tied. It’s the will that’s missing, the integrity.

But they put it on the line and said they had found a solution and that we the people of the city back them.

I think they are dead wrong on both counts. They have solved nothing and they could not win a vote of confidence of the people.

Let them put it on the June ballot next year: Do you have confidence in the mayor and City Council? Yes or No.

If they are right about what they have set in motion, I will happily stand before them and eat humble pie. But if I’m right and the people watch what happens to the city over the next nine months and decide they have no confidence in the leadership, then the mayor and council members should be declared ineligible to ever hold city office again when their terms are up.

These are people who take an oath of office to do right by the people, not the unions.

You never hear a meaningful word from them about how cutting city services as they intend to do, padding the payrolls of the DWP, AIrport and Harbor with regular city workers and doubling and tripling our rates for water and power is good for anyone other than the unions.

So I don’t expect them to willingly agree to my suggestion. But I intend to do all I can to build a political movement around it and the replacement of all of them by people who will do what’s right for the people, and not just the few.

Petitions to cut the mayor and council’s salaries in half will soon be circulation. Let’s add a “No Confidence” in City Hall measure to that.

The workers at City Hall chanted “Save LA” on Friday. I think they meant it. I know I mean it

If our city leaders really want to save LA, they will put their jobs on the line and let us vote up or down on their collective performance in June. It’s the least — the very least — the could do.

COMING: What are the terms of the deal and more

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5 Responses to Terms of Endearment: Do You Trust City Hall?

  1. Anonymous says:

    I am struck by how the speakers in the videos use buzz words like “thinking outside the box” and other terms to describe the fix to the City’s finances. It seems awfully vague what was done to achieve the fix and it seems too easy. In a few days huge fiscal imbalances are corrected. Count me as skeptical. What happens if revenue continues to drop, is the City prohibited by this deal from implementing furloughs and layoffs?

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Ron for remembering that the Engineers and Architects Association Union has been the whipping boy for the City Hall Politicians.
    It was fully expected that SEIU would take us over this year, but we remained firm in our vote against takeover by SEIU, a corrupt organization so closely tied with ACORN.
    Be reminded that we remain furloughed by the punitive politics of city hall, and although not allowed to vote on ERIP will be penalized further by an increased payment we did not agree to. I have heard EAA will sue because basic contract law was not followed, if so, what will the city do when they have to repay millions to EAA.

  3. Kate Barner says:

    As you develop the story treatment for this movie, feel free to borrow (fitting when our story deals with the City budget), from other script like Love Story:
    “Love means never having to say you’re sorry”

  4. Anonymous says:

    I can’t wait to see the movie adaptation of the prayer circle.

  5. Anonymously says:

    It is interesting to note that our union the Engineers and Architects Association Union continues to inform the council and mayors office of their error, yet we still get punished for not toting the party line. Our members are still furloughed and looked upon as lepers for accepting a modest 3% raise, that after the inception of the furloughs was basically a pay reduction of approximately 15%, I am being conservative in that approximation.
    When the council and especially the mayor’s office recognizes that the best interest of the city and it’s employees is for all to share in the misery then we will all work for a common goal. The ERIP is a joke, when we look at a basic civilian retirement earned thru LACERS, the city saves money by employees retiring.
    Lets look at the basic retirement. Every employee who works for 30 years and is the age of 55 on their 30 year anniversary with the city
    will receive a retirement that lowers their yearly salary by 35.2%. How does this occur you may ask? Well it happens in this manner, the city calculates a full retirement at a rate of 2.16% for every year of employment. At 30 years of employment a city workers receives a pension of 64.8% of their yearly salary.
    At that rate an employee making $81,000.00 dollars a year, will receieve a pension of 64.8% that eqautes to a dollar figure of $52,488.00. Which equates to a savings for the city of $28,512.00 dollars. With that being said, yes it probably is a better pension than most workers receive, but in reality it’s a modest pension and with inflation on the rise city employees are not getting rich on their pensions, just surviving nowadays!

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