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How They Wrecked Rec and Parks: Stealing $43 Million from Kids to Mask Their Bungling

Antonio Villaraigosa, with the full support of the City Council, introduced the revolutionary notion into city government that requires anybody who has any money to pay for all the services that their taxes had paid for all along.

Remember how he tripled the trash fee to hire more cops and then used two-thirds of the $36 a month homeowners were paying to cover the growing shortfall everywhere else?

Then, he introduced, with the full support of the City Council, the revolutionary notion that parks and libraries — unlike every other department in the city — should pay other city departments the full cost for all the support they get.

The result was that libraries were closed two days a week and parks programs gutted as the economy declined and City Hall proved itself incapable of getting a handle on soaring costs — 85 percent payroll, pensions and benefits — and falling revenue.

Since 2006, the mayor has bled $61 million from the Department of Recreation and Parks and has been “forced to lose over 500 full-time employees and the equivalent of
,000 part-time employees … (leaving) a significant void in professional and management experience which has caused the elimination of some services, the reduction of some programs,
and reduced hours of operations,” according to a letter and supporting material submitted by Recreation and Parks Department GM Jon Kirk Mukri.(RecParks-Impact.pdf)

This year the full cost recovery hits on the department amount to nearly $44 million — a quarter of its budget — to pay for water, electricity, pensions, trash and early retirements.

The Parks Department gets $138 million — more than 75 percent of its revenue — mandated to it under the City Charter from property taxes.

Voters over decades have designated giving parks and libraries alone among all city departments for a share of property taxes because they are so important to the health of the community.

What voters hath wrought, the mayor and Council hath put asunder by slugging them with outrageous charges to fund other departments.

Parks Department volunteer Kris Sabo spoke passionately Thursday to the Budget Committee for park users and Department Executive Officer Regina Adams methodically set out the case of what the mayor and Council have done to wreck the department.

The video of their presentations shows how the mayor’s office and City Administrative Office mumbled, dissembled and deceived in response to questions about why the Parks Department was used as a cash cow for other departments.



FY 2011-12

Percent of












Retirement, Health & Flex Benefit Costs




Trash Services





ERIP Payout









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7 Responses to How They Wrecked Rec and Parks: Stealing $43 Million from Kids to Mask Their Bungling

  1. Anonymous says:

    This is such an important message that I wonder why there are no responses. Apparently laws mean zilch to these budget committee
    members, the Mayor and the city council.
    My property tax bill includes only parks and recreation as an asset to the city, not billboards, retirements, etc..
    Aren’t you all getting fed up? I know I am.
    Thank you, Ron, for calling this out to our attention.

  2. Walter Moore says:

    Eighty-eight percent of L.A.’s registered voters don’t give a damn how much money the Spring Street Gang steals or squanders.
    Eight-eight percent can’t be bothered to show up for municipal elections.
    That is why Villaraigosa and the City Council continue to loot taxpayers.
    It’s as if the owners of a grocery store paid no attention to what the managers and employees were doing. Shoplifting, looting the till, kickbacks — that’s what you get when you don’t mind the store.

  3. Anonymous says:

    9:02 – you betcha I’m fed up & I’m voting with my pocket.
    My house is sold, I’m wrapping up the business side & I’m outta here. Hasta La Vista, Villar, all you idiot voters who keep re-electing the thieves and whores like Brown, Villar, the rest of clowncil and such.
    My money & I are moving to a nice place in the NorthWest. Maybe the weather is not as good but I tell you — it feels great to see American families on the street when I go for my morning latte. Glad to be out of this mexical hell hole of the San Fernando Valley.

  4. Kristin Sabo says:

    Thank you Ron for shining some light on this cowardly attack by the Mayor and City Council on the children and people of Los Angeles.
    My comments in full – as opposed to the highly abbreviated version I was forced to deliver at the meeting in which no one was listening – are here:
    “Mayor’s budget for Rec and Parks targets LA’s most underprivileged”

  5. I support the concept of chargebacks. It is the only proven way to motivate the users of support services to be efficient. It is common in the corporate world, too.
    However, allocations can be abused by the provider (i.e DWP) when the user has no other option than to use an internal service. Chargeback rates must be negotiated BEFORE budgets are even developed. There should be no surprises for anyone at this stage. The City Council should be on top of this long before budgets are formally presented.
    Oh, Rosendhal’s plead for a creative solution to the ERIP cost allocation just proves how disconnected the Council is with reality. Rosenthal and his peers approved ERIP. Someone has to pay for it. Maybe he should have thought about that when he voted for it.

  6. Kristin Sabo says:

    “I support the concept of chargebacks. ”
    I do too Paul, on a fair playing field where Rec and Parks can choose the provider with the best services and best prices.
    This isn’t that world. Not even close.

  7. Hey there! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers? My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up losing months of hard work due to no backup. Do you have any methods to stop hackers?

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