At the 11th hour before layoffs of a couple of hundred city employees become official on Thursday, the City Council stumbled over the question of whether any “new” information justified an emergency debate and vote whether to back down to the unions once again.
Janice Hahn, Paul Koretz and Richard Alarcon led the charge after a 90-minute closed door session attended by the mayor on the last day of the current financial year.
“I don’t relish having to lay people off, but we’re laying off a few hundred employees so we can save 30,000 (other employees),” the mayor told reporters.
Those urging the Council blink at the last minute argued their request was both urgent and new -requirements of city and state laws – to justify debating a motion that was not on the agenda.
But Greig Smith, in an impassioned speech, threatened to walk out if they went forward since nothing had changed since the Council agreed to the budget for 2010-11 six weeks, including layoffs of 761 employees and furloughs for thousands of others.
Those actions will trigger double pay increases totaling 5.75 for 15,000 workers under terms of contracts negotiated in October in the face of a deepening budget crisis. Unions agreed to defer this year’s wage increases in exchange for no layoffs or furloughs with a guarantee they would be repaid in full if those actions are taken.
Bernard Parks warned that the motion to back down on imposing
layoffs of 232 workers – the first of several expected layoff actions -
violated the City Charter and municipal code and was based on a false
claim the unions had made concessions.
The Council then voted 8-4
to consider the back down motion despite the legal cloud – a vote that
apparently convinced the appeasement group they lacked sufficient
support to overturn the budget plan and reverse course.
in the session, the Council voted to raid transportation funds,
jeopardizing DASH and other basic services, to provide $1.5 million to
bus inner-city families to the Santa Monica Mountains for conservancy
and nature programs.
It also ignored 30 years of promises to
restore Lopez Canyon Landfill to green open space and the pleas of
residents of Kagel Canyon and other hillside areas throughout the city
by approving use of the area of a truck driver
training program for 120 people.
It was a victory for the
Teamsters Union and Alarcon, who acknowledged his own promises to
completely close the landfill completely had been broken.