the “non-binding” football stadium deal signed, sealed and delivered
on time to meet the ultimatum from AEG’s Tim Leiweke, the City Council moved on Wednesday to protecting the Community Redevelopment Agency’s funding to subsidize more downtown luxury hotels and condominiums and looking at numerous schemes to raises taxes to keep the city afloat.
Even as City Administrative Officer Miguel Santana noted in passing that the financial problems the city faces are entirely due to soaring costs of salaries, pensions and health care and not the modest decline in revenue in the recession, Chief Legislative Analyst Gerry Miller was outlining ways taxes could be raised on just about everybody on top of the planned massive hikes in water, power and sewer rates.
There was even a lot of talk about all the money “left on the table” — and they didn’t mean the tens of millions of dollars that no one of the Council dared to seek from AEG as part of its lower-than-market-value-keep-all-the-revenue stadium deal.
For his part Leiweke made it clear after the unanimous vote Tuesday (reopened Wednesday so the sycophantic Tom LaBonge could join in the unanimity) said that reopening the deal to look at
profit sharing would not be in the cards because it wouldn’t “inspire confidence” with the NFL — far different than the official reason that the stadium is a low-profit margin operation with a return of just 6.7 percent.
“Let’s not revisit deals that have already been done,” he said without apparent irony about a deal that was done in back rooms long before he ever went public with it.
The curve ball about money left on the table that did come up before the Council was thrown by Ron Galperin’s Ad Hoc Commission on Revenue Enhancement which suggested that the looming deficits of $200 million or more could be wiped out if the city merely operated in an efficient and competent manner.
For instance, there’s the $18 million in tax revenue due the city from the county from 2004 to 2008 that no effort was made to collect and the millions more that are lying around in the state and federal treasury because Controller Wendy Greuel doesn’t bother to track and audit money owed the city from other government agencies.
Then, there’s the commission’s chance discovery that the proprietary departments — DWP, Harbor, Airport — made $322 million in purchases in a six-month period without making any effort to support LA-based businesses that would pay sales taxes on the purchases as well as providing jobs and paying business, property and other taxes.
Only five of 69 bids that were examined went to local companies and those accounted for only 2 percent of the value of the purchases.
In addition, the departments spent $60 million in eight bids for fleet vehicles — none of which went to an L.A. firm.
You would think at least one of the Council members would lose their temper and demand that heads will roll for this bungling incompetence.
Instead, there was a lot of backslapping about how they solved all the budget shortfalls to this point and only laid off fewer than 500 of the city’s 50,000 workers and got pension and benefit concessions that do nothing to solve the underlying problem that costs of payroll and benefits are beyond the city’s ability to pay unless there is an economic miracle sooner rather than later.
And if there isn’t — if there is a double dip recession that goes on for years?
Not to worry. This crop of do-nothing politicians will be living high on city pensions and lifetime health benefits themselves.