The greed of AEG’s Tim Leiweke, the egotism of billionaire Eli Broad, the self-service of unions are understandable enough — they’re just pursuing their own self interest, though hardly enlightened self interest despite the piety of their narratives.
The same is true of LA Community Redevelopment Agency and other CRA officials across the state with their six-figure salaries and vast stores of taxpayer dollars to bestow upon wealthy and politically-connected developers.
They don’t give a damn about Gov. Jerry Brown’s efforts to restore California to fiscal responsibility, or the needs of the state’s 35 million people for good schools, safe streets and merciful programs for the poor, the sick and the elderly.
What seems incomprehensible is the silence of the lambs who carry the public trust to provide the best education possible to our children, to ensure the public safety, to keep libraries open and park programs operating.
Where are the school boards, the teacher unions, the school superintendents, police chiefs and unions, firefighters and all the rest whose budgets are being slashed mercilessly?
As much as $350 could be freed up for every student in California if Brown gets his way and abolishes the 400 CRAs in the state — as much as $200 million a year for LAUSD alone.
There would be less strain on city budgets with an average of 20 percent of CRA money freed up for general funds to reduce the impact on public services — not an insignificant sum with LA facing a $400 million deficit which inevitably means fewer cops and fewer firefighters, even shorter library hours and reduce programs for youths in city parks.
Yet, there is silence — or even worse acquiescence.
Connie Llanos in the Daily News captured a lot of this issue in an article this week headlined: “.Schools may gain from loss of redevelopment agencies.”
She talked to a lot of school officials and one after another hemmed and hawed but “avoided taking a position on the governor’s
proposal, citing concerns about the vague language and whether it would
actually result in increased funding for education.”
Only John Mockler, a Sacramento-based education consultant, would speak out, declaring: “This plan would be astoundingly good news for
school districts statewide … an incredible change of course.”
““If they don’t step up to the plate … the
naysayers will continue to steal the money to build parking lots for Eli
Broad and downtown football stadiums,” he added. “When your governor promises to
give you $10,000 for every classroom in this district you kind of want
say thank you … if you care about education.”
Yet, the officials entrusted with the responsibility to look after the education of children — remember their mantra “it’s for the kids” — keep sillent and don’t even demand a seat at the table of power to fight for the funds they need to avoid firing teachers, closing magnets, overcrowding classrooms.
Mockler suggests they are silent “because they are worried that the mayor will slap them for it” — a comment that points to the contradiction of the mayor bludgeoning the teachers union into withdrawing endorsements for its candidates and squeezing special interests for money to elect his “reform” school board slate.
You can assume the mayor or his minions have made it clear to Superintendent Ramon Cortines and his successor Dr. John Deasy that they need to keep their mouths shut about this pot of gold if they know what’s good for them.
In the mayor’s mind, what’s good is to protect the nearly $1 billion in the LA CRA’s accounts so he can use it to political advantage and the personal advantage of insiders, wealthy developers and giant corporations so they can build more luxury projects in Hollywood and downtown.
That isn’t what is good for the kids. Or their families. Or neighborhoods. Or the city or the state.
“This isn’t an either/or situation, and we hope to
work with the governor and Legislature to find a solution that continues
to provide funding for education while maintaining the focus on job
creation and getting Californians working again,” said Villaraigosa
spokeswoman Sarah Hamilton.
What a joke!
The mayor has never in the last three years offered a single solution to the city’s budget crisis let alone how to deal with the $25 billion state budget deficit.
So here’s what we get as the official LAUSD position:
“The state has made promises to schools before and
then when you look at the details, things are not quite as promised,”
said LAUSD spokeswoman Lydia Ramos.
Adds School Board member Steve Zimmer: “No doubt this would bring in good revenue to the
school district … but you never want to be fighting something that
could potentially stimulate jobsd You don’t want to rob Peter to pay Paul.”
No. you don’t want to do that but what’s the alternative: Robbing the kids of a decent education or enriching the rich?
Think about this when you go to the polls in coming weeks.