It took only seven weeks for the LA
city budget to blow up.
Imagine that: Thousands of
six-figure workers with huge lifetime pensions and health benefits, the nation’s
highest paid municipal elected officials with huge staffs and lucrative perks,
and the $4 billion budget they put into effect 49 days ago is no longer valid.
And it only gets worse.
Revenue projections are turning out
to be overly optimistic, as everyone knew when the budget was written The
plan to lease parking lots for 50 years is running at least six months late and proving to be a
lot less certain than, as everyone knew when the budget was written. Hopes for
some sort of Wall Street miracle that would fatten the pension funds and reduce
the city’s liability are turning out to be pipedreams, as everyone knew when
the budget was written.
City Hall is sinking into the
quicksand of financial mismanagement, chasing declining revenue numbers
downhill toward bankruptcy, making matters worse with almost every decision
they make – and all the tough decisions they don’t have the courage to make.
City Administrative Officer Miguel
Santana sounded the alarm Tuesday, warning that failure to move quickly on the
parking lot deal will lead to up to 1,000 layoffs immediately, force other
drastic cost-cutting measures and “lose the option of securitizing parking meter
revenue at a future date.
“If we don’t have the money
this year, we are going to have to take extraordinary steps to make it
up,” Santana told Rick Orlov of the Daily News.
“We would begin the (layoff)
process immediately. Any money beyond that will be used to mitigate next year’s
shortfall, which is at $320 million. If we decide not to go ahead, then we
should begin to make the cuts now.”
He proposes making departments savaged
of their senior staff by the costly Early Retirement Incentive Program pay the
city’s $21.2 million bill – police, fire, planning, City Attorney,
transportation and so on.
Then, he wants library and parks
volunteer programs gutted and $2 million or more from parks, fire and public
works programs as well along with increasing the number of furlough days for
thousands of city employees from two to three days a month.
Almost all these cuts impact the
services provided to the tax-paying public which routinely is expected to pay
the full cost of most services they do get from trash collection to ambulances.
If there is a method to this
madness, it is to force the unions to the bargaining table to make concessions.
But what would motivate the unions
to do that after City Hall has betrayed one deal after another and still doesn’t
have a plan to actually solve the financial problem?
They are running city government as
if it were a business that can get rid of the services to the public – those that cost money but making a
city livable — while preserving revenue-generating positions as if turning a
profit is the goal.
The mission ought to be to create a
great city with great core services – not a social welfare system for wealthy and
influential developers and corporations.
They are drowning in the muck of
their failure of leadership and taking us all with them.
Think about this: All the City Council wants to do with the fantasized $53 million from leasing parking structures is to keep the endangered employees on the payroll for nine more months.
They don’t have a plan to solve the problem. They face a $320 million deficit next year and a $1 billion deficit the year after.
What will be left when they are done?