The clock is ticking on the mayor’s plan to gut city services and sell its assets, and every day the City Council dawdles revenue falls and the budget deficit grows by nearly $340,000.
On Saturday, activists at the Saving LA Project meeting discussed the issue of what is in the best interests of the community as a whole and the city’s workforce and reached a consensus.
No Layoffs of city workers, because every worker eliminated from the general fund or transferred to the Harbor, Airport or DWP means less service for the city’s four million residents, the people who pay the bills.
No Payoffs like the early retirement plan that is getting rid of nearly 3,000 senior city staff or the kind of deals our elected officials cut with contributors and special interests, deals that have allowed billboards, pot shops and over-sized developments to pop up everywhere.
No Selloffs of parking lots and meters, the zoo, golf courses, the convention center, airports, even the power system they are now talking about — deals that based on past performance will surely benefit the few at the expense of the many.
The budget plan put forward by the CAO’s office on instructions of the mayor and Council leadership is nothing but a hodgepodge of gimmicks that punish city workers and slash city services in order to cook the books so they can borrow billions to have the cash to get through this financial year and next.
The so-called restructuring plan — like the ERIP and layoff strategies — is nothing but a shotgun approach to effective and efficient government.
There is no coherent logic to the strategy, no details of what they really intend to do, no idea of how it impacts departments and the ability to provide basic services. Parks, libraries, planning, building code enforcement will be decimated. The City Attorney’s ability to prosecute criminals, solve neighborhood problems and defend the city against nearly $1 billion in lawsuits, mainly of the frivolous, will be undermined.
There are no negotiations with the unions or effort to implement their cost-saving strategies.
There is no engagement of community leaders or respect being shown to the public or their needs.
There is no plan, just a desperate attempt to defer cleaning up the budgetary mess they created in the vain hope that somehow a miracle will save them from wrath of the people.
There is another way.
Bring community, union and business leaders to the table and come up with real solutions that actually solve the fundamental problems and get LA moving forward again.
Those are the views of SLAP activists and many others I have spoken with.
My own view is that city workers in all departments need to take a step back financially and the public needs to take a step forward to provide a new revenue source for two or three years to bring the budget into balance without destroying our human capital, our services infrastructure.
I have run this idea past dozens of people in the political and civic culture of LA and the response is unanimous: No one will support higher taxes because they don’t trust the city’s leadership.
That I think goes to the heart of the matter. The financial troubles facing LA are simply the monetary manifestation of the loss of confidence and trust in our leaders.
The only real solution is to bring us all together to find a consensus. It may involve unions’ and the community giving ground but it will produce a transparent strategy that will create a new spirit of LA, mutual respect and trust.
The alternative is to see more jobs disappear, the value of property and businesses continue to decline and the acceleration of middle class flight.
Stop the nonsense. Let your voice be heard. We want real solutions, not gimmicks.