EDITOR’S NOTE: The mayor issued a predictable statement of support endorsing the Council’s action on parking lots, calling it “a critical part of our plan to restore Los Angeles to financial health” and promising to continue to make the “difficult choices.” (Mayor-parking.rtf) Writer/activist Jack Humphreville filed a Public Records Act request with the city demanding a wide array of documents about the deal, especially the modified terms in the request for proposal (CPR-Humphreville.rtf)
City crews, funded with money intended for graffiti-removal, are out fixing a few thousand of the potholes in LA streets that are cracked and rutted after two decades of covering them with slurry instead of repaving them.
It’s like covering up skin cancer with a Band-aid and hoping it will heal itself. The backlog for repaving has reached the century mark and the nation’s worst urban streets aren’t going to get better on their own.
Taxpayer money went into worker paychecks and benefits to hold together the City Hall political machine just as the mayor and City Council now are giving tax breaks, tax holidays and reduced rates to businesses to buy their indulgence for disastrous policies to prop themselves up.
In a moment of rate honesty, presumably unconsciously, Council President Eric Garcetti justified the city parking lot sale by telling Rick Orlov in the Daily News:
“We can reduce the compensation of our workers or we
can accept this Frankenstein system. I don’t want a
city with a few firefighters, a bunch of cops and crumbling streets.”
Clearly with the Council’s unanimous support Wednesday for the fourth time to conduct a fire sale of parking lots, the choice of the city’s leadership is a Frankenstein City.
Perhaps that LA ought to be renamed that given Hollywood’s love of horror films and City Hall’s love of horrible policies.
Has Garcetti not noticed that fire stations are being closed, a huge bunch of cops are doing civilian jobs and not out on the streets and the streets are crumbling?
Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed reducing the compensation of state employees, getting rid of the CRA, even raising taxes among a long series of measures that got high marks from the independent state Legislative Analyst for charting a course to eliminating the $25 billion-plus budget deficit in three to five years.
City Hall too has a plan: Protect city workers pay and benefits, sell city assets, gouge the public with high fees, rates and penalties for infractions, and borrow ever more to defer judgment day until they are out of office.
The goal isn’t to solve the financial problem. It’s too hold the political machine together and pray for an economic miracle that even the President and his fiinancial advisers don’t see possible for five years — at the earliest.
The city’s gross mismanagement of the parking lots and just about everything else except the parks and libraries — which is probably why the cuts to those departments have been so steep — is well documented in numerous audits, studies and analyses.
Selling non-core functions like the parking lots actually might make sense if it was part of a comprehensive solution to the city’s financial crisis.
But it’s not. It’s just a political deal with the unions — the civilian unions that have taken the brunt of furloughs and other cost-saving steps — that solves nothing.
There cannot be a solution to reducing the cost of city government until all unions — including the IBEW at the DWP — are brought to the table and offered the choice between their jobs or reductions in the cost of salaries and benefits.
Brown understands that the only way the unions would accept that is if the public agrees to pay higher taxes until the deficit is wiped out.
That is what “shared sacrifice” is all about. It’s the only way out of the dilemma.
To City Hall, it’s just a political slogan without meaning. The sacrifices being made during this three-year nightmare of budget crisis are being borne almost entirely by the political weakest segments of the community: Residents, particularly middle-class people, small businesses and the city’s lowest paid workers.
Many in the most engaged communities among business and community leaders believe they can fight in the courts or work with the political leadership to solve the city’s problems.
But judges can overturn all the planning policies intended to give developers whatever they want and it won’t stop the politicians from finding other ways to achieve the same ends.
The problem is political and the playing field isn’t even.
Brad Smith, running in CD12 in the Northwest Valley, has found out just how hard it is to raise even modest sums of money for his effort to stop the anointing of Greig Smith’s chief of staff Mitch Englander.as his successor.
Other candidates with integrity, experience and the intelligence to turn City Hall around have run into the same problem.
The Democratic Party has endorsed all the incumbents except blood enemy Bernard Parks, the only fiscally responsible Council member. The IBEW and SEIU have decided to try to unseat Parks in order to get a Council member who will do their bidding mindlessly.
It’s time Neighborhood Council members, homeowner groups and every other local community group come to realize they have to put their money and their time where their mouths are — in the campaigns of candidates or in the hands of the Clean Sweep political action committee where there are no limits on contributions.
You can’t turn City Hall around unless you change the political culture with new energetic leaders who will go to work for the benefit of the whole city.
If anybody has got another way, step forward and lead the way.