Richard Alarcon faces felony voter fraud and perjury charges for lying on his voter registration form about actually living in the district he represents.
His 14 colleagues on the City Council ought to be indicted for putting 10 and probably 11 measures on the March 8 ballot that are nothing but a fraud upon voters.
They range from the meaningless to the timeless and do little or nothing to solve a single problem the city faces.
Their only purpose is to confuse and tire apathetic and defeated voters into staying away from the polls so the six incumbents and the anointed incumbent for Greig Smith’s seat can eke out re-election despite the Council’s grotesque failures on every level and its total loss of credibility.
This is a swindle that makes the deceitful tricks that were used to befuddle voters into giving them a third term in office in the name of ethics reform or to hike the telephone tax by calling it a cut.
Under the City Charter, libraries get 0.0175 percent of the city’s share of property taxes with the rest of their funding coming through the budget process from the General Fund.
The mayor and Council showed their utter contempt for the public by slashing funding to the libraries to the point that L.A. became the first big city in America to shutter its public libraries two days a week, denying this basic service to students and other frequent users on Sundays and Mondays.
The libraries need just $10 million to reopen but they chose to spend that money on all kinds of peripheral programs and giveaways, including many social welfare programs of questionable value to anyone — other than the politicians who prefer to buy support from favored constituencies rather than earn it by doing a good job.
This measure, if passed, doesn’t actually reopen the libraries right away because the increase to 0.030 percent is being phased in over five years and nearly all the money is being taken back by charging the libraries for every kind of direct and indirect cost that can be applied.
fiscal year 2014-15 and thereafter, the Library Department shall be responsible
for payment of all of its direct and indirect costs, which shall include, but
not be limited to, health, dental, pension, building services and utility costs,” the measure says.
In theory, the libraries eventually would have sustainable funding but that presumes that revenue from property taxes rises as fast as wages and benefits, cost of resources, water and power, maintenance and everything else that the mayor and Council decide to call “direct and indirect” costs.
The cost of public employee pensions and lifetime health benefits is bankrupting L.A. — an unfunded liability running into billions and billions of dollars that the public is liable for, costs that take hundreds of millions of dollars out of basic services and DWP infrastructure investment every year.
This is the heart of the budget crisis and all the mayor and Council can come up with to fix it is a deal with the police and fire unions that will require new hires to pay 2 percent of their salaries for health care while being guaranteed the same 90 percent pensions and benefits that existing cops and firefighters get.
‘Given the monstrous size of the looming budget deficits over the next several years, it seems unlikely there will be a lot of new hires for the police and fire departments without slashing other basic services even more sharply than they have been.
Quite simply, this does little or nothing to solve the pension crisis and won’t even have any impact for years to come. And it doesn’t even apply to the civilian work force or the DWP workers.
They know full well the public won’t put up with any more tax increases, not to support a government that costs too much and delivers too little, a government that panders to special interest without regard to the public interest.
So why not, a century after the vast oil and gas fields under L.A. were first exploited, get around to joining every other city in the region by imposing a tax that will produce all of $4 million a year in revenue or 1 percent of next year’s deficit.
Why not, why now? Because it’s an easy target, clog up the ballot that also has school board and community college board elections on it and confuse voters into thinking this will actually have any impact.
The tax on medical marijuana sales is far worse.
First of all, it’s medicine for seriously ill patients — at least that’s what the state law says — and medicine isn’t taxable.
Then, the state law doesn’t allow for selling marijuana, only recovery of costs and there’s not supposed to profits which is why only non-profits are supposed to be running dispensaries.
Thirdly, they are seeking to tax a substance that is illegal under federal law to possess.
This isn’t only a bad law proposal but an illegal one.
By practice in recent years, the mayor and Council raid the reserve fund accounts throughout the year and then repay it and the end of the fiscal year.
They are supposed to set aside 5 percent of general fund revenue but aren’t close to reaching that during this budget crisis.
This measure requires setting aside 2.75 percent of general fund revenue into an “emergency reserve fund” that they want to pretend is untouchable except in a catastrophe.
The truth is they can take money out of it any time they want as long as they “make a finding of urgent economic necessity” with a two-thirds majority — something that isn’t hard to reach when the Council votes unanimously 99.93 percent of the time.
“The basis on which a finding of urgent economic necessity may be made includes, but shall not be limited to, a significant economic downturn after the budget is adopted, a natural disaster, such as an earthquake, civil unrest, or other significant
unanticipated events requiring the expenditure of General Fund resources,” the measure says.
This is about as meaningless as you can get and would include, you can be sure, not having enough money to pay the city’s bills because they are overspending like drunken fools.