The case for City Hall’s failure – for the failure more
broadly of the city’s leadership – has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt,
beyond a shadow of doubt:
– Failure to bring spending into line with
revenue despite three years of staggering budget deficits.
· – Failure to collect hundreds of millions of
dollars owed the city every year.
· – Failure to stop welfare to the rich, tax
breaks and subsidies for luxury developments while cutting services to everyone
· — Failure to reduce the cost of salaries,
pensions and benefits – 85 percent of the city budget — to affordable levels
after years of sweetheart union contracts.
· – Failure to fix gross mismanagement of numerous
departments that have allowed fraud, bribery and waste to flourish.
· – Failure to end the corruption by free-loading
elected officials and the corruption of the political process by special
What more can be said when all these failures are so
well-documented in the blogosphere and in mainstream media, when anyone who has
paid the least attention in recent years knows with certainty that City Hall is
broke and broken.
The only thing that matters is what is to be done to fix
Their solutions are to put lives at risks by taking cops
off the streets and closing fire stations, reducing library and parks programs,
letting the streets and sidewalks crumble and trees grow wild. Furloughs,
layoffs, costly early retirement packages, juggling money between accounts,
stealing money intended for at-risk youths, the poor, the elderly, for public
access – none of these solve a thing.
My opinion is there is only one way out of the calamity
that is staring us in the face – and it isn’t municipal bankruptcy, or deeper
cuts, or more rounds of coerced union contracts that aren’t worth the paper
they are written on.
Bankruptcy allows the possibility of reopening all city
contracts but it doesn’t resolve anything. The level of conflict will escalate
into labor actions, even strikes. City government, already in chaos in so many areas,
will only become more dysfunctional.
That is the road we are headed down unless you believe
that an economic boom is coming soon that will fill coffers of the city and put
half a million jobless people into decent-paying jobs.
That’s what City Hall has put its faith in and made its
operating principle throughout this crisis. It’s not what I believe.
I believe we need leadership to emerge in this city that
can bring all segments of the community together into an honest and healthy
public conversation that will create a new spirit of L.A. and restore our faith
in our city and in each other.
Out of that spirit, anything is possible – even a new deal
for city workers, residents and businesses that respects and balances our
conflicting values, interests and needs.
Yes, it will be public employee salaries will have to be
cut to pay our bills now and reduce the pension liability for the next
That isn’t going to happen without strikes and conflict unless
the residents and businesses are willing to do the unthinkable — pay higher
taxes – to protect the jobs of the people who provide public services to them.
Both the cuts and the taxes can be short-term if fraud, waste,
inefficiency and the incompetence that are the hallmark of city government are
Of course, I may be wrong, I usually am. But what’s your