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My Sunday Column: Empty Desks, a New Way of Life for Fiscally Responsible Cities

The email from Moody’s credit rating service that popped up on my computer screen boggled my mind: Glendale was among 40 California cities that were downgraded or are facing downgrades, but Los Angeles and San Francisco could get upgrades.

I’m an old newspaperman who knows a lot more about words than money, but that made no sense at all. How could a fiscally conservative city like Glendale be a worse credit risk than free-spending Los Angeles?

So I dropped by Glendale City Manager Scott Ochoa’s office last week in search of answers. What I found were a lot of empty desks everywhere I looked.

“It’s a new way of life for us,” explained Assistant City Manager Yasmin Beers, “after the 122 retirements and the 55 layoffs and the 100-plus vacancies and the 28 positions that we eliminated with redevelopment, and now the 28 with Glendale Water & Power. We’re just going to try to settle in and see what this all means for us.”

Since the economy crashed four years ago this month, Glendale has gotten wage concessions and increased contributions to pensions and healthcare from its employee unions — concessions of up to 13.5% of salaries for police and firefighters.

The exception is utility workers who are in stalled talks on an initial contract since voting to be represented by the IBEW.

That’s a lot different than L.A., a city 20 times the size of Glendale, where union concessions have been far less substantial and fewer than 500 workers have faced layoffs while three times as many have been transferred to the harbor, airport, utility or other departments that don’t rely on the General Fund.

Real budget cuts in tough times versus kicking the budget can down the road so the big bills will come later — that’s the way I see the difference between Glendale and L.A.

(READ FULL STORY)

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12 Responses to My Sunday Column: Empty Desks, a New Way of Life for Fiscally Responsible Cities

  1. Teddy says:

    Los Angeles is a mess. Tried to get Zine’s phone number.

    I went to his website.
    Try it. He has every neighborhood
    listed with a manager and the managers each have a staff

    • MissAnthrope says:

      try these numbers, Teddy–

      west valley office: 818-756-8848

      city hall: 213-473-7003

      fax: 818-756-9179

      email: councilmember.zine@lacity.org

      someone with no answers to any question usually answers the phone in the west valley office, then has someone — a deputy of some sort — call you back.

      bad as zine is, his staff has always been good about calling me back and answering my emails. of course, now that he’s termed out they might not give a damn, but they should if they want to (heaven forbid) follow him to his next office.

      hope this helps and these numbers are still good…

    • L.A. "Corruption is thy name" says:

      But Ron you did not answer your own question? Why does the city that practiced austerity face a drop in bond rating? If forcing large concessions from Unions is such a great idea, why does Glendale face a drop in bond rating?

      Why would people loan LA money if LA is merely kicking the can down the road for BK later, i.e. before they have repaid the loans? Why would LA’s kicking the can down the road harm Glendale’s credit rating?

      Your focus on the Unions does not answer your question.

    • L.A. "Corruption is thy name" says:

      Teddy,

      Would you have expected John Gotti to return your phone cal? If not, why Zine?

      And, if someone calls, do you think they would tell your the Truth?

      What do you plan to answer him, “How much dirty money did you launder while on the council?” Oops, that one of those double questions, first ask, “Did you launder money”? and then ask, “If so, how much?”

      Now ask yourself this, “Is the person who loans the money to LA, the same person who is paid to set the bond rate”? Answer. No! Weenie Obama did nothing to stop the criminal fraud on Wall Street so they can still lie about interest rates and the ratings of securities!

      Now ask yourself, “where is there more money to be made by Accounting Control Fraud” In a profligate City of 3.7 Million person or a conservative little town like Glendale?

      Come man, wake up! We haven ‘t recovered from this same fraud with the mortgages and LIBOR and you guys are falling for it again!?!

  2. Teddy says:

    Dear Misanthrope, sometimes I do believe you know me. Neighbor?

    Club? Teddy

    • MissAnthrope says:

      No, Teddy, I don’t believe we’ve ever met. I haven’t belonged to a club in eons and I live in the West Valley and I believe you live quite a bit to the east of here.

      And, BTW, Zine having all those managers with each having his own staff, is just another example of how badly and inefficiently this city is run.

  3. Teddy says:

    Oh, I found a phone # – several- but when I got to someone
    who agreed to have someone return my call, never did get one.

    I did not call back beause I already know the answer I would get:

    It is on the schedule. What unimpressed me is what I listed:
    All these managers and their staff members must number very high
    (three figures?) Our city budget is untenable and unfair.

  4. Bob "Mitt" Blumenstuff says:

    Each Councilmember has 20 0r 30 staffers plus an “office holder” account. The campaign donors contribute SEPARATELY to that office holder account so that Zine can amass a million dollar fortune to use for whatever projects he pleases to run for office. Unless you’re an office holder account donor, don’t expect any help. One constituent recently told me he can’t get Zine to remove trash out of alley that was illegally dumped 4 MONTHS AGO! The pile of trash keeps getting bigger like Zine’s big fat ass! When I get appointed to CD3, I’ll just ignore everyone and spend far more time with the 75 highest campaign donors. I think that’s more fair than these needless calls and “promises” of help.

    • LA Moderator says:

      (how do I say this while maintaining my mild mannered LA Moderator cred…with puns involving piles and dumps so tempting, to highligh how Zine’s fat assets might be deploy cameras, or provide funding so as to prompt Metro to provide an indoor (or outhouse) alternative for Orange Line riders who are leaving…or, relieving…in the alleys nearby, all the more a public health issue, since the homeowners who used to be able to park in front of their houses now have to park in the back during rush hour…)

  5. Bob "Mitt" Blumenstuff says:

    RE: LA MODERATOR: Vote for Brazeman for CONTROLLER and all of Zine’s big fat (Issues and garbage) WILL DISAPPEAR! He didn’t endorse me or share his warchest with me, so screw the bastard! My Pets have submitted their absentee ballots and they voted yes for all the tax increases. Imagine that?

  6. DraimanForMayor
    The City of Los Angeles is on verge of bankruptcy “The City’s financial crisis is dire … worse than you are being told … and the Mayor and the LA City Council is in denial.”
    Is this a way to run a City?
    You be the judge! Voice you opinion …at Election Day March 5, 2013 by voting for a new leadership in Los Angeles City Hall!
    Help in saving the City of Los Angeles from Bankruptcy and replace the dysfunctional and corrupt LA City Hall.
    YJ Draiman
    http://yjdraiman.org

  7. John Noguez says:

    Property values are on the rise! Next year, alot of you Jews will be getting REASSESSED higher back to your normal pre-2008 prop 13 levels! You’ll see a huge bump in next years property tax bill as a result. I wont be there to reset those computers backwards like I did last year—you’re all on your own. Growing up as a poor Mexican Boy living in East L.A. I made it to the top! Now, I’m back at the bottom of the human food chain, awaiting word if some of my campaign donors will raise my bail so I don’t have to rat out more of my co-workers and wealthy Jews I helped to the Feds! BAIL ME OUT SO I MAY FLEE TO PARTS UNKNOWN.

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