It is a sign of the times that the mayor has actually been forced to engage the public in discussions, preliminary as they might be, about how LA is going to survive as a city even as it brings spending into balance with revenue for the first time in years.
A sign of his own weakness and the failure of the city’s leadership, to be sure, but a positive step toward actually coming to respect the public and share power with the civic, business, labor and community leaders.
Deputy Mayor Larry Frank, assigned to co-opt and calm the anger of Neighborhood Council members, was assigned the unenviable task of meeting Saturday with Budget LA, the group that has been brought dozens of community activists together every Saturday for weeks to try to develop a strategy for saving the Charter-created civic empowerment movement from destruction.
The mayor has fired the head of the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment and plans to eliminate the department entirely with the full support of the City Council to reduce this year’s $212 million deficit by $2 million.
It is Frank’s job to make it look like this is being done in the name of efficiency and cost saving, to hide the truth that it is being done because they fear the growing influence and organization of community groups across the city.
Frank, in a lengthy and detailed explanation, laid out the mayor’s plan such as it is to fix the massive budget deficit as if he were talking to fourth graders.
But it’s nonetheless instructive because it’s the first time anyone from the mayor’s office has actually tried to explain why nearly 7,000 jobs of people who run the parks and libraries, do the community planning and building code enforcement, and provide dozens of other basic services to the general public are proposed for elimination.These are more than half the jobs in those positions.
I know most of you will not actually watch these videos and see for yourselves what a fairy tale Frank spun for the Neighborhood Council people on Saturday, a fairy tale that does not have a happy ending.
So here’s the takeaway: Setting aside the obfuscations and outright false statements, the mayor’s plan is to slash basic services, sell off valuable assets like parking structures and the Convention Center to his pals, and borrow billions of dollars just to get through this year and next.
He has no plan to deal with the $775 million deficit the year after or the more than $1 billion deficit equal to more than 25 percent of the city’s operating budget the year after.
If you believe in miracles, economic miracles in this case, everyone will live happily ever after. If you don’t, maybe you better watch these videos and know for yourself what is going on.