Even Dennis Zine can get lucky and make sense once in a while but twice on the same day? It must be his ambition talking.
First, as chair of the Council’s Audits and Governmental Efficiency Committee, the wannabe City Controller demanded the Department of Transportation report back in a month with the details of every one of the 1,000 parking tickets fixed by the so-called “Gold Card Desk” — “who was it, what was it, where was it, who requested it.”
Then, just an hour later during the full Council meeting Tuesday, he cast the lone vote against creating the so-called “Collections Sheriff” – an inspector general for revenue collection so the city stops writing off hundreds of millions of dollars every year in parking lot taxes, ambulance charges, housing fees, even parking tickets that were never paid or fixed by the Gold Card Desk.
“Creating an inspector general position will create more government. Putting more layers on top of the inability to collect is not going to collect more. It’s just going to waste more money,” Zine said.
“The inspector general will not have the ability to do anything. They’re going to be able to write reports. We don’t need any more reports or recommendations. We need to actually get things done to collect money that’s due the city.”
I know it’s just his ambition talking but Zine has a point.
City Hall shouldn’t need a Collections Sheriff to make sure various departments do the jobs they are supposed to do.
The city needs leadership from the Mayor, the Controller and the Council members to hold these highly-paid bureaucrats in the Finance, Transportation and other departments accountable.
This endless turning to powerless “inspector general” positions is an admission of failure, a failure of leadership, a failure of management, a failure of workplace discipline.
Far more troubling than the sweetheart deals for unions and contractors, and the tax breaks and subsidies to developers – all of which have put the city into financial hell – is the organizational breakdown that has been exposed as officials dance around the budget problems.
Waste, inefficiency, lack of coordination and communication between departments – not to mention bribery and widespread abuses of power – have become visible in almost every area of city government.
The shotgun approach to early retirement packages and transfers of 4,000 workers – 90 percent of the general fund job eliminations they are so proud of – have added to the chaos at City Hall.
Furloughs, layoffs, paid overtime bans, deferred raises, endless rewriting of union contracts, bullying of top managers by the mayor’s office and to a lesser degree by the Council have combined to create a politicized and toxic work environment.
The fact is the Collections Sheriff, the DWP Rate Payer Advocate and other attempts to add layers of government on top of failed systems will achieve nothing of significance without the political will at the top to face up to the fiscal and organizational problems.
What the public wants, what city workers need, is straight talk from the top and real solutions – not the hot air of political ambition and phony inspectors general without power.
Let’s see those ambitious officials like Zine, Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, Jan Perry step up to the plate and show they are prepared to lead the city without favor or fear. Let’s see any of the others who yearn to be mayor show how they will break the reign of special interests at City Hall and fix all that is broken.