Herb Wesson forfeited all credibility when he failed in his blatant attempt to squeeze $216 million out of taxpayers to please his labor union bosses and the assorted greed merchants who have gotten so rich off of City Hall’s dirty deals.
Now, it’s time for Herb to pay the bill for rushing Measure A to the ballot without proper public hearings or analysis and then coercing business interests that do business with the city into funding the campaign. The unions needed no coercion since they are all set to get their deferred raises in a year along with new lucrative contracts.
He should resign as Council President immediately or the weasels around the horseshoe should fire him.
Of course, that won’t happen because they are all just as responsible for the state of this troubled city as he is.
The least we could expect from Wesson if he has an honor left at all is that he appoint Councilman Bernard Parks, the only elected official who knows anything about the budget and who is fiscally responsible, to head a Citizen’s Commission of his own choosing to offer solutions to the unending budget deficits and cuts in public services.
Of course, that won’t happen. But it doesn’t have to. Parks took the stage at the steps of City Hall on Monday to make a last-minute appeal to voters to reject Measure A’s sales tax increase precisely because it didn’t fix anything at all.
He also put forward a “Catch 22″ of talking points –22 specific measures that have been talked to death at City Hall for years without action, steps that could begin to turn L.A. around financially and, more importantly, politically by sparking a genuine public and open discussion of how we move forward together.
We don’t need Wesson or any of those people so let’s start the discussion now and challenge Garcetti and Greuel to offer their own specific plans on how to fix the budget:
Councilman Parks’ “Catch 22 Budget Fixes:”
- Take all taxation issues off the table until the new administration takes office July 1.
- Freeze hiring citywide. Stop filling vacancies unless critical in nature.
- Cut the size of the city’s workforce to a sustainable level. Contract out work that can be done by private industry, local entrepreneurs or local contractors.
- Reduce full-time city worker positions, where appropriate, to part-time positions, reducing costs and allowing for a more strategic deployment. The best example in the city is the recent deployment of part-time traffic officers at the Department of Transportation.
- Establish new budget priorities, deployment strategies and department organizational structures.
- Maximize civilianization.
- Prepare the legal basis for a city position to defer, mitigate or eliminate the current proposed employee raises and initiate the formal process for negotiating new contracts as current contracts expire in 2013 and 2014. Replace percentage increases with flat-rate increases. Eliminate all bonus-paid positions as pension based. Require re-opener language in all contracts. Future raises should be based on revenue projections, not cost-of-living increases. Value contracts on total compensation.
- Increase employee contributions to pension, current medical and retiree medical plans.
- Implement the recommendations listed in August 9, 2011, Parks – Perry letter to the Executive Employees Relations Committee which requested: 1–Compliance with Parks-Smith motion CF# 11-0690 through 11-0690 – S4 to identify cost containment and mitigation of medical costs within the Department of Water and Power(LADWP). 2–Creation of strategies to reduce LADWP’s salary and pension costs. This report identified 197, common job classes within the city and LADWP and 15 job classes performing similar duties. Of the 197 job classes, 195 classes received higher salaries working for LADWP, ranging from 1% to 43% with an average of 16.4%. All 15 job classes performing similar duties received higher salaries at LADWP; from 6% to 35% with an average of 18.1%. This letter also contained a recommendation to replicate the strategies within LAPD which reduced salaries for all entry-level positions by 20%.
- Study the “DROP” program that allows police to retire and draw their pension while they stay in their jobs and draw salaries should be cost neutral as mandated by city ordinance.
- Implement the negotiated “no code seven” policy within the LAPD to get 250 more patrol cars deployed. LAPD officers’ workdays were cut from 12 hours, 45 minutes to 12 hours in exchange for formally requesting a 45-minute lunch period. Officers have continued to get permission to eat while on duty, reducing officer availability by 90 minutes a day.
- Eliminate the three-and-four-day work week (12 and 10 hour shifts). Within the LAPD alone, uniform car deployment would increase 20% to 30% annually.
- Re-evaluate LAFD’s “constant staffing” requirements and criteria with the emphasis on reduction of over-time allocations. Refine the recently-implemented deployment model which is based on incident response data that allowed the department to match current resources with the real needs of the city’s diverse communities. Study the potential financial benefits and savings of contracting out paramedic services.
- Support the recently-approved “feed in tariff “ordinance, which will initially pay over market rate for excess solar power as an incentive to encourage community participation. Then, after the first two years, support the recommendations of the ratepayer advocate on solar costs due to “feed in tariff”(CF# 11-0617-S8). This change of reducing pay to market rate for excess solar power from private parties would mitigate, reduce and possibly eliminate proposed rate increases in the near future. Also, include a requirement that storage batteries be included in future “feed in tariff” infrastructure.
- Seek state workers’ compensation reforms and the city’s administrative rules on overtime pay.
- Reject the current approved recommendations regarding the “exclusive commercial and multi-family solid waste franchise hauling system” and implement a non-exclusive system immediately with revenues to the general fund.
- The gross receipts business tax should not be eliminated until a new source of can be found to replace this $480M in revenue. No further reductions or reclassification without an independent economic analysis.
- Expand Public-Private Partnerships, such as the Convention Center, Zoo, Information/Technology Agency and paramedics.
- Evaluate and implement appropriate recommendations of the Commission on Revenue Efficiency (CF#12-0430 thru 12-0430-S6) and gain full adherence to Executive Directive No. 5 and the Citywide Guidelines to Maximize Revenue Collections.
- Reduce the use of “one-time revenue” expenditures on multi-year/ongoing debt. Return special fund revenue (e.g. Special Parking Revenue Funds, ITA’s Public Access and Infrastructure Funds,…etc.) back to their intended purposes rather than filling budget shortfalls elsewhere.
- QUIMBY Funds- Revise city policy to expand area of usage, mandate usage within a short period after its allocation, concentrate on design build, local hiring, contracting for the construction. Allow interest earned on QUIMBY deposits to remain under the jurisdiction of the city’s Recreation and Parks Administration so that consistency, continuity and accountability can be clearly established. The goal is to prioritize, facilitate job creation and accelerate completion and expansion of green space and park land by using the millions of dollars that have stockpiled over the years.
- Explore the feasibility of creating expanded maintenance districts modeled after the current city’s lighting districts which would include tree trimming, sidewalk, curb and American Disabilities Act curb cuts repair. The goal is to create a vehicle for local communities to generate local revenue, hire local contractors, repair and maintain basic infrastructure needs and reduce liability to the city and adjoining land owners.