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The LA Dilemma: Your Money or Your Life — What to Cut, Who Will Pay?

Never one to miss an opportunity to promote himself, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa took the occasion Tuesday of the formal release of the LAPD’s 2010 Homicide Report showing murders at the lowest level since 1967 to declare:

“This is not just a year-end statistic. It is perhaps the most powerful statement on the state of our city and our Police Department.” 
A perfect half-truth if ever there were one.
Clearly, the image of the LAPD, the performance of the LAPD, has not been better in anyone living’s lifetime — a tribute to the impact of nearly 20 years of reform efforts, the federal court consent decree, stronger leadership inside the department and strengthened civilian oversight.
The mayor says the drop in murder is due to the 800 officers added to the force since 2005 without noting most of them are doing jobs that used to be done by civilians whose numbers have been cut sharply to preserve his commitment to the magic 10,000 cops number — well almost 10,000.
But others raise questions about why the murder rate has fallen in LA and why the rate of solving the murders that do occur has suddenly dropped from 83 percent to 70 percent.
KFI’s Eric Leonard reported that last week the LAPD didn’t have even one detective available to go to the scene of a five-victim shooting in North Hollywood because officers aren’t paid for overtime and the cap on how much can be accumulated forces them to take more time off.
With the department millions of dollars over budget, the cap is being enforced so rigorously that a police captain was formally reprimanded for ignoring the overtime cap so detectives he supervised in South L.A. could solve a murder.
Many experts in crime question just how much impact improved community relations, widespread use of video cameras, DNA testing and other police technologies have contributed to a nationwide trend that has seen dramatic drops in crime in many cities, including Chicago which reports the fewest homicides since 1965.
“It
is instructive to look at the individual precincts and compare their
year-to-year homicides,”  Lisa Smith, a professor of criminal law at Brooklyn Law School, told the Christian Science Monitor in an article about the mayor’s press conference.
“How many of those homicides
involve strangers and how many are interpersonal disputes? How many
homicides are solved versus unsolved?” 
Indeed, some news reports show Watts and Westlake and some other neighborhoods still have high murder rates.
Jerry Sullivan, writing for New America Media, noted that on the day the LA Times ran a front page story headlined ”Killing in L.A. Drops to 1967 Levels,” it ran a brief buried in the second section on the Christmas Day murder of a woman named Kashmier James, who was shot to death in front of her daughter at 85th Street and Western Avenue.
“The Times reported that there have been 137 murders within a two-mile radius of the scene of James’ death since January 2007,” Sullivan noted in questioning why mainstream media are not exploring what is going on in these homicide hotspots.
The issue of how important having nearly 10,000 LAPD officer is to keeping crime down is at the heart of the matter of what to do about the city’s massive budget deficit that is certain to get worse next year — $350 million — and far worse in the following years.
A report released Wednesday by the City Administrative Office and Chief Legislative Analyst (ALTERNATIVE PLAN TO THE CONCESSION AGREEMENT FOR A P3 WITH RESPECT TO THE CITY’S PARKING STRUCTURES C.F. NO. 10-0139-S1).pdf) details scenarios for immediate budget cuts just to deal with the $62 million deficit this year — none of which involve reducing the number of police officers — if the fire sale of the city’s parking lots is rejected.
The officers’ union, the Police Protective League, has taken a strong stand against continued hiring, arguing that restoring overtime to experienced officers will do more to keep a lid on crime at a lower cost than training new recruits. 
The mayor’s greatest failure is not “Ticketgate” or his gifts of enormous amounts of public money to friends and contributors. It is his failure to offer leadership to deal comprehensively with the budget crisis, offering only piecemeal solutions that have sharply reduced core services to the public while protecting officer hiring in the name of crime reduction — his only claim to fame.
“People often say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” the mayor said Tuesday. “Well, the LAPD isn’t broken, and it doesn’t need fixing to the extent that we are providing the resources that they need.
“I would submit to you that as we begin budget deliberations — we’re looking at a $360 million deficit in the coming year — our commitment to maintain the ranks of the Los Angeles Police Department at least at attrition levels today will go a long way to ensuring that we’ll continue our efforts to draw down crime in the city of Los Angeles.”
The CAO/CLA report reflects the mayor’s commitment.
It is a gun to the City Council’s head to approve the sale of nine city parking lots to net $53 million after paying off $250 million in debt on them just to get through the next six months without more furloughs, more spending cuts, more cuts in services.
There is no plan to deal with next year or beyond without more of the same — a downward spiral that threatens the quality of our lives and the future of the city.
Phase 1 of the CAO/CLA plan — if the parking lot deal is rejected — calls for more juggling of funds from one account to another and another round of funding cuts to  Recreation and Parks and Planning Departments and the City Attorney.
Hardest hit would be the Fire Department with a cut in funding of $10 million of the $53 million in proposed savings, putting the lives of many people at risk.
Many fire and ambulance stations already are closed on a rotating basis and deeper cuts will lead to even more. Paramedics only have four or five minutes to get to a person suffering a heart attack or other life-threatening crisis so people will die if it takes to long to get them help.
Phase 2 of the CAO/CLA plan would suspend police hiring until June and hit several other areas, including further cuts to the mayor and Council offices, to save $10 million.
What happens July 1 is anybody’s guess but it’s certain that one way or another city spending will have to be cut 10 percent more.
The city’s leadership has burned the civilian work force and the public for so long that all credibility has been lost which makes getting unions to the table for honest negotiations on how jobs and services can be preserved all but impossible — as impossible as selling the pubic on higher taxes.

This is the road to ruin. Nobody wins except the City Hall insiders and profiteers who still are feeding on the public trough.    

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14 Responses to The LA Dilemma: Your Money or Your Life — What to Cut, Who Will Pay?

  1. Anonymous says:

    LA Daily News
    City must rethink policies instead of cutting LAPD
    But before the city cuts away desperately needed LAPD civilian employees, it needs to examine some of its own practices that are causing multimillion-dollar losses of taxpayer money.
    The most recent payout involved 18-year veteran Officer Richard Romney, who was fired in retaliation for truthful testimony against the department in another officer’s labor dispute. In November, a Los Angeles jury awarded him nearly
    $4 million.
    The case stems from Romney’s sworn statements in a lawsuit accusing the LAPD of violating a federal law on overtime compensation. Romney revealed that there were so many calls for help during a typical patrol shift in South L.A. that there was often no time for him to take his 45-minute meal break. He said that despite the extra time worked, he didn’t ask to be paid for it because of an unwritten department policy that forbade officers from requesting overtime pay for anything less than an hour. After his testimony, the department investigated Romney, outrageously claiming he violated the overtime policy. Then-Chief William J. Bratton brushed aside a recommendation that Romney be given a one-day suspension and instead prevailed on a disciplinary panel to fire him, despite our insistence that such an action would be unwarranted and in direct violation of federal law. Nevertheless, Romney’s termination was upheld and his only recourse was to sue.
    The city had plenty of time to correctly address the Romney matter before it escalated into a full-fledged lawsuit with a multimillion- dollar payout.
    City leaders should be tracking and questioning these losses. Here’s a partial three-year tally, not including Romney:
    Sgt. Blaine Blackstone – $2 million (including legal fees); Officer Paul Waymire – $125,000; Officer Malcolm Thomas – $700,000; Officer Melissa Borck – $2.3million; Officer Patricia Fuller -
    $2.5 million; Officer Donald Bender – $3.5 million; Officer Robert Hill – $3.1 million; Sgt. Ya-May Christle – $1 million; and Officer Richard Joaquin – $2 million.
    This list doesn’t include an additional $20 million paid to Officer Paul Harper and Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy, whose earlier verdicts were upheld by an appellate court in 2008.
    These figures are staggering and will likely climb even higher. More suits with facts nearly identical to Romney’s are working their way through the pipeline.
    The people of L.A. cannot afford any wasteful spending, but especially not such a massive hemorrhaging of their tax money as a result of systemic abuse within the department. Before the city puts any more LAPD administrative positions on the chopping block, it needs to stop these abuses and stem the loss of millions in taxpayer dollars.
    http://www.dailynews.com/opinions/ci_16924260

  2. Sandy Sand says:

    Has anyone compared the murder rate to the attempted murder rate?
    First espoused by radio host Doug McIntyre, is that possibly the murder rate has gone down is because of better medical care/better techniques to save lives.
    Of course, that won’t make any difference — if it’s true — if there are fewer ambulances and paramedics to treat and transport or if response times begin to increase.
    Then again, it might just take people dropping dead all over the city and a zillion law suits filed before the mayor and council figure out that cutting police and fire services saves no one money and only costs more money.
    It’s also no small wonder that the fact that solving murders has dropped by 13 percent, a stat that’s buried so well that few have heard about it.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Over the years, LAPD has sucked the city dry. With their three day work week, which guarantees OT, they are either being sued for their trigger happy ways or suing for internal problems. LA can’t afford LAPD and the force should be disbanded and policing given to LA County Sherrifs. Bad as they are, they are better and cheaper.

  4. Anonymous says:

    12:29pm You are so wrong. For decades WE, LAPD has been doing a good job with fewer cops then 5 major cities. Don’t believe BECK or Mayor saying it has to do with gang prevention. BULLSHIT. The gangsters are the ones still banging and wasting our tax dollars. WE, Officers know we work in a city run by corrupt, gangsters. Yes, you ask of us and we will tell you WE don’t respect nor like our Mayor or city council members, WE’RE sick of OUR own union PPL spending wildly and not doing crap for us. WE know where their bodies are buried. The Mayor isn’t fooling anyone. He’s a gangster in a suit and helloooo voted twice not to add more cops when he was a councilman. Now he jumps on our, LAPD bandwagon like the Mexican Mafia thug he is. IF only the morons on city council would put the trash fee hike where we were told it would go most of the financial mess would be solved because it was for Public Safety including Fire. WE meaning officers hate when the Failure of a Mayor grandstands and intrudes but we can’t do anything about it. Everyone knows LAPD Command are crunching and playing with the numbers. Did you all know there are less then 2,000 officers on the streets for 4 million people. Most of those 9,683 are stuck in headquarters or inside a station. BECK needs to clean house of sworn wasting money inside headquarters and all sworn hanging out with command staff. Clean out CRS and Special Agents to CHIEF like Gerald Chalef making a ton of money. Officers feel just like the people who post on this blog. We’re fed up but unlike many of you we can’t say a damn thing about it.

  5. Anonymous says:

    So we have 2,000 police officers less on the streets for 4 million people. We also have less of everything else for the population; less parks, less libraries, less affordable housing, less jobs, less infrastructure and so forth. There is a lot more to quality of life issues than having a huge police force. We are also tired of this idiot Mayor misusing statistics and using the police as both his crowning achievement and bargaining chip to sell of our assets for short-term cash infusion needed for future generations.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Gotta it incorrect. LAPD maybe on a good night has less then 2,000 officers covering for 4 million people. You can tell which side the media is on with the lame numbers, why dont’ they ask the Mayor that question at his next dog and pony show? Ask the Mayor how many police officers patrol the streets of Los Angeles on any given night not how many LAPD has??? Add to that about minus 500 officers every deployment because if you’re a gang cop you don’t get paid OT so to solve your case you need to be a wizard and get it done pronto which isn’t happening. Add to that veteran officers retiring every month. To fix this headache would be to get every available sworn out in the field. Cops will tell you tooooooooooooo many are doing fluff work for the command staff

  7. Anonymous says:

    Chief Beck is nothing more then a lapdog to Gerald Chalef who is running the show and the Mexican Mafia Thug Failure of a Mayor. You know the criminal defense lawyer who use to criticize and demean LAPD officers in court against his murder suspects. This is a load of crap Beck shoving “Constitutional policing” This is nothing more then ACLU bullshit terminology. What happened to “Community Policing”? Constitutional policing is negative term. No one likes that term but Beck kiss butts

  8. The Mexican from Encino says:

    There are a few facts you need to apprise yourselves of :
    1/ The City rakes in well over a billion bucks a year from PROPERTY TAXES IT SHARES WITH THE COUNTY AND STATE!
    2/ The CRA (Community Redevelopment Association)
    has another BILLION bucks sitting around for play money (that’s where the NFL stadium fun money is set to come from)
    3/ The City will pay out a BILLION DOLLARS to the various PENSION funds and BOND HOLDERS this year alone for it’s round of payments.
    4/ The City could DISBAN the LAPD and contract for police services with the SHERIFF’S DEPT.
    5/ Gerry Brown has a great news for L.A. residents: A LOCAL CITY OR COUNTY INCOME TAX WILL SOON BE IN THE WORKS!
    THANK YOU, ALL YOU DEMOCRAT/LIBERAL BLIND AS BAT VOTERS, NO SCREW YOU!

  9. Anonymous says:

    5:50:
    I’d enjoy so much if LA will have a city tax. This way all these phonies will need to pay up. Afterall they re-elected Villar after seeing what kind of failure he is. Oh, and the stadium will be so sweet. All Villar’s & Astin’s friends will make tons of money but these suckers here will be left holding the bag. I love it.

  10. Anonymous says:

    The below explains how fast Constitutional Policing went down the drain. Where is the Los Angeles Police Commssion?
    “Then-Chief William J. Bratton brushed aside a recommendation that Romney be given a one-day suspension and instead prevailed on a disciplinary panel to fire him, despite our insistence that such an action would be unwarranted and IN DERECT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW. Nevertheless, Romney’s termination was upheld and his only recourse was to sue.
    The city had plenty of time to correctly address the Romney matter before it escalated into a full-fledged lawsuit with a multimillion- dollar payout.”

  11. Anonymous says:

    The below explains how fast Constitutional Policing went down the drain. What is the Los Angeles Police Commission’s position on Constitutional Policing?
    “Then-Chief William J. Bratton brushed aside a recommendation that Romney be given a one-day suspension and instead prevailed on a disciplinary panel to fire him, despite our insistence that such an action would be unwarranted and IN DERECT VIOLATION OF FEDERAL LAW. Nevertheless, Romney’s termination was upheld and his only recourse was to sue.
    The city had plenty of time to correctly address the Romney matter before it escalated into a full-fledged lawsuit with a multimillion- dollar payout.”

  12. Walter Moore says:

    Why does the press never ask the Mayor, Cortines, and the City Council why they aren’t cutting the CRA’s budget?
    Hundreds of millions of dollars per year in subsidies to politically connected developers and businessmen — why is that more important than police and libraries?
    And why are local journalists so uninformed that they never bother to ask? Oh, that’s right. They never talk to the loyal opposition. They just repeat press releases, and broadcast press conferences.

  13. Walter Moore says:

    I meant Santana, not Cortines.
    Slight case of CRS here.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I’m tired of the Failure of a Mayor trying to take credit and telling the media bullshit lies on the low homicide rate. Any cop will tell you there continues to be fewer officers on the streets today then ever. Everything Beck and Mayor are telling the media are outright LIES. Cops need backup and can’t get it because cops are inside working civilan jobs. The media needs to start reporting the TRUTH and stop writing what the Mayor tells them. LAPD continues to hire but we also continue to lose veteran officers every month. No one believes 10,000 number. Its an outright LIE.

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