A year ago today, at his inauguration to a second term, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa promised many things, from relieving traffic congestion to making the schools great and turning LA into the greenest city in America.
Most of all, he promised to create jobs and to be held accountable for delivering on his promises by meeting “deadlines,” not making “headlines.
.”You have this in writing: We’re going to track every promise and put
the results online for you to judge.”
irresponsibility or that his budget for the year was a work of fiction
full of gaping holes — a problem now openly acknowledged by City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana.
“We have a budget that is balanced on the first day of the fiscal year,
in contrast to the last fiscal year, when we approved a plan that had a
giant hole in it,” he said Wednesday.
That was the last day of the 2009-10 fiscal year, a year marked by weekly budget revisions, slashing of basic services, sweetheart contracts with unions that gave raises to DWP workers and promises of no layoffs or furloughs to most other city workers in exchange for deferring raises — not reducing them.
So how did things work out?
Layoffs are under way today, the first day of the new fiscal year, furloughs are coming and 15,000 workers are getting double raises.
As for tracking every promise, you can read all them at the mayor’s website but you won’t find a trace of whether any of them were met in whole or part in the past 12 months. So much for accountability.
In fairness, the City Council shares full responsibility for this disaster. The Council went along for the ride and still is.
Their only goal is to protect city jobs, not protect public services or fix the city.
They handsomely paid off 2,400 senior workers paid from the general fund that provides basic services, moved more than 400 to the DWP, harbor, airport and special funded positions that by definition are special, not basic services to the public.
Today, they are firing 232 workers out of the more than 50,000 on city payrolls, bringing the total layoffs to 300, Up to 500 more layoffs are authorized in the budget — for a total potential downsizing of the workforce of about 7 percent.
The impact is almost entirely on basic services: Closing libraries two days a week, reducing parks programs, all but ending effective planning and enforcement of building codes, weakening Neighborhood Councils.
What is protected is services to developers, police but not fire services, gang programs, wages and pensions of city workers.
And they are selling revenue-producing assets like parking lots while raising water and power rates yet again, increasing parking and other fines, raising fees everywhere they can.
This is no way to run a city.
It hasn’t worked and it won’t work this year because the revenue projections are based on an economic recovery that isn’t going to happen for years.
Next year will be even worse when the cost of pensions and salaries keep rising and the costs of “buying” jobs and tax breaks to business prove to be greater than the revenue they generate.
There is only one answer, the same answer that was there last year and the year before and the year before that.
City unions including the DWP’s IBEW must take a step back and make concessions to reduce the cost of payroll and benefits, basic services must be restored and the public must pay their fair share.
But that can’t happen because City Hall has lost all credibility with the public and the unions.
It is going to take new leaders with new ideas and a commitment to serve the public, not special interests, to put this Humpty-Dumpty city government back together again.