“Today we are facing the consequences of the city’s failure to enact the
necessary rate increases with Fitch Ratings, a major credit rating
agency, withdrawing the DWP’s AA- bond rating, thereby costing the
ratepayers more in the long run.” — Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa on blaming the City Council for possible downgrading of DWP bonds..
“It seems they are holding the whole city of Los Angeles hostage because
of their inability to hold up to their word.” — Council President Eric
Garcetti on DWP’s refusal to turn over $73 million in surplus power revenue to the general fund.
”We have two weeks to address this crisis, which is why you must act
immediately. I cannot be more clear that urgent action is needed.” — Controller Wendy Greuel on discovering the city will run out of cash May 5.
Leave it to our city leaders to point fingers at each other and act like they suddenly awakened to find that thieves had looted the city treasury and left it broke.
They are all to blame. They are the thieves who looted the treasury and bankrupted the city. They must be held accountable or our collective guilt over having elected them in the first place will become our collective responsibility for the destruction of our city.
This is an artificial crisis over the $73 million the DWP promised the city. It was engineered by the mayor more than month ago as part of his strategy to win approval for an endless series of huge electricity rate hikes to force the City Council to approve his green energy scheme to enrich his friends, appease IBEW boss Brian D’Arcy and fund a “job buying” plan.
The real crisis occurred 18 months ago when the mayor and Council were told by city financial analysts that they were on the road to bankruptcy and must act urgently.
A year ago, they were told the city’s financial situation had gotten worse and this year and every year after for the foreseeable future would be even worse. They did nothing.
Six months ago, they knew they would run out of cash by May unless they took drastic action. What little they did was worse than doing nothing. They papered over the problem by transferring money and workers from one fund to another, approving plans to borrow to the hilt and sell off valuable revenue-generating assets.
Most of all, they talked about laying off 4,000 workers and slashing services and imposing backdoor taxes but it was all just talk that achieved nothing except to expose how badly they had managed the city, how little they knew about the havoc and inefficiency their policies had caused in virtually every department.
This is no longer a political machine feeding itself and special interests at the public’s expense. It is a chaos machine cannibalizing itself and the lives of the four million people who call it home.
The mayor has conducted a pogrom against our democratic institutions, politicizing every member of every commission, people who are supposed to be citizen watchdogs protecting the public interest, and every top manager of every department, people who are supposed to be the public’s servants.
It’s clear that commissioners and bureaucrats alike will be fired for even the slightest hint of disobedience to mayoral orders that are ill-conceived or even corrupt.
It’s easier to understand why people who are paid will knuckle under than to understand why reputable people with private lives and incomes would be part of this, yet only Nick Patsaouras and Jane Usher showed the moral courage to resign in protest.
It is going to take a massive uprising by the public to turn LA around. It won’t be done by the politicians or civic leaders, by the business community or by labor.
To do nothing now is to be the moral equivalent of a ‘good German,’ complicit by passivity. There is no time to waste.
Today, the DWP Commission will approve spending hundreds of millions of dollars despite its fantasy financial crisis, some of which will be payback to AECON Corp. for helping to fund Deputy Mayor Austin Beutner’s “job-buying” program, the greatest achievement of which is giving away $6 million to buy 30 sweatshop jobs. The DWP can afford to spend so casually because it has $1 billion in cash lying around.
Today, the Council will take steps to eliminate virtually all of the public’s protections against destructive development projects and will give final approval to massive expansion of Playa Vista to enrich Goldman Sachs in gratitude for its help in funding Beutner’s efforts.
And they will sit around the horseshoe at City Council as they run through their agenda and blame the mayor for all that has gone wrong even as they put the bureaucrats once again through the fires of inquisition over why they have to cut services just because they are losing 30 or 40 percent of their staffs.
This would all be the stuff of comedy and farce if the consequences to kids and families, to businesses and workers, to health and public safety, to the future of the city were not so great.
We need new leadership. LA needs you. We need to fight them on every destructive act they attempt to make. We need credible new leaders to step forward and run for the seven Council seats on the ballot next March
If the mayor or Council members had a shred of common decency left, they would call together civic, business, labor and community leaders from across the city and start to go to work on how to rebuild LA together.
It’s not a mystery. It means real power sharing, complete transparency and accountability, a balance of competing interests and a commitment to the greater good of the greatest number.
If you won’t do the right thing now, it won’t make any difference later.