Declaring “we are the heart of LA,” city workers plan to rally at City Hall on Monday for a Valentine’s Day lovefest “to the city we love and the services we love to provide.”
There is the self-interest element that city unions are trying to stave off layoffs and furloughs of their members as the mayor and City Council look at slashing nearly 10 percent of general fund spending come July 1 to eliminate a deficit of nearly $400 million.
And there is a public interest element: The 4,000 jobs already eliminated and the abusive use of furloughs for one-time savings mean drastic cuts services to the public from closed libraries to reduced parks programs to the breakdown in competent planning and the quality of emergency and public safety services.
This is the road to urban suicide, not the path to improving the quality of life for LA’s 4 million residents or creating a healthy business climate that generates goods jobs and economic opportunity.
It’s hard to believe that deep into the third year of the city’s fiscal crisis, we don’t have coherent plan to solve the problem.
This is at its heart a spending problem, not a revenue problem.
Salaries and benefits cost more than the city can afford. Tens of millions are dollars are wasted through inefficiency and incompetence from buying 16,000 new shovels to paying for a fleet of 30,000 vehicles.
The Coalition of City Unions has compiled a chart showing what they call their “love savings” — how much money that have given up in the last two years just to keep the budget balanced without the structural deficit actually being addressed (Love savings.doc).
There is a total leadership vacuum caused by a mayor who has yet to put two intelligible or intelligent sentences together on the budget and there is daily exposure of poor management by the bloated ranks of highly paid top bureaucrats.
The unions have invited the city’s elected leaders to come to the Valentine’s Day rally and listen to their demands and their proposed solutions, many of which are similar to those proposed by Ron Galperin’s Commission on Revenue Efficiency.
The city’s business and civic leaders, in the absence of any political leadership at City Hall, could seize on this opening and take the unions at their word that they want to preserve their jobs and city services.
They could begin a real dialogue together with labor and community leaders and come up with a framework of a deal that gives meaning to the mayor’s phony “shared sacrifice” and moved the city forward to a comprehensive solution to its budget problems.
Or we can just go on talking to ourselves like crazy people oblivious to the world around us and let the mayor and Council go on floundering and failing.