The new city budget year began July 1 with a $500 million hole in it and the promise that payroll cuts, parking structure sales and other measures would close the gap with temporary borrowing of a sum equal to the deficit.
A hundred days have passed since then and the city still has a $500 million budget gap, and it’s increasing by $1 million a day because spending exceeds revenue.
The early retirement deal with half the city work force will do little to solve the problem before the fiscal year ends June 30 because the costs come close to equal the savings which only will start to trickle in about Christmas.
I’m tired of invoking the fiddling and eating cake or naked emperor images but it’s hard to avoid them.
Call it arrogance, indifference or panic but the fact is City Hall is paralyzed, incapable of doing anything about anything.
Have you heard even one intelligible word from the mayor about the budget crisis that serious and informed people believe can only be solved through bankruptcy?
Far be it from me to suggest the nation’s highest paid municipal officials are wasting our time and money but they did spend almost the entire session Tuesday debating how many dogs a dog walker should walk at a dog park.
Oops, there’s goes another million bucks down the drain without any effort to stop the budget bleeding.
And Wednesday’s abbreviated session was entirely devoted to the umpteenth plan to subsidize Hollywood to stop runaway production as if studio executives will change their ways anymore than all the other business people who find LA less than desirable.
Oops, there goes another million bucks plus millions more in a headline grabbing stunt that will have little or no impact.
Today, the Council will undoubtedly find other distractions. I can’t tell you what they are since the City Hall website is down again, probably because the check bounced.
Bankruptcy is serious business.
A lot of people think it’s the only way out since it could lead to labor contracts being rewritten to affordable levels and elimination of wasteful programs and costly political gimmicks.
But if city workers are so spoiled that they are angry over paying 1 percent more for pensions and ready to strike over deferring raises for a year or two, what do you think will happen when they face actual reductions in pay of 10 percent or more?
What do you think will happen when grossly overpaid DWP workers turn off the lights and shut off the water or the cops take a few days off to show who’s boss?
Personally, I like chaotic situations for their creative possibilities but outright anarchy with murder and mayhem on the streets is not up my alley, common as they have been in LA’s history.
For my money, there’s only one solution and it should have been taken a year ago. It’s the same solution that will inevitably have to be taken because sooner or later the bills will have to be paid for all the city’s borrowing and deferrals.
The mayor — whose silence on the budget is the ultimate in irresponsible leadership — and the rest of the city’s elected leadership need to sit down with the unions and lay out a plan for salary and benefit cuts, elimination of non-basic services and a temporary two-year tax hike that truly brings city spending in line with revenue.
The real crime for which our officials should be thrown out of office isn’t their incompetence, which is well documented. It’s their cowardice, which is unforgivable.