Mon05252015

Last updateThu, 21 May 2015 9pm

LOS ANGELES Monday, May 25th 2015 4:19

ONE MOTHER'S PERSPECTIVE

  • WHO WE ARE-Women did it again. The annual Memorial Day tradition of placing flowers on graves of fallen soldiers was begun by women in the South after the Civil War. Who knew? Who now remembers that it was originally Decoration Day? Or that it is a day to decorate the graves of soldiers who fought for a better future. Memorial Day is a great deal…
  • 453 Days Later...

    Tom Rubin
    OFFENSIVE BUT PROTECTED SPEECH-Welcome news this week from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. By a vote of 11 to 1, the court overturned its injunction against the controversial video called "Innocence of Muslims" that it had ordered off YouTube back in February 2014. Here's the background. Actress Cindy Lee Garcia (photo below) was…
  • What LA Educators Should Learn From Bell Gardens High School’s Shocking Turnaround

    Jay Mathews
    VOICES FROM THE SQUARE-Bell Gardens High School in east Los Angeles County was a sorry mess when science teacher Liz Lowe arrived in 1989. It was overflowing with trailer classrooms and graffiti. More than 3,000 students crowded into school buildings surrounding a concrete quadrangle with patches of grass and some trees. Expectations were low. Not…
  • The Clean Sweep Election Finally Happened

    Bob Gelfand
    GELFAND’S WORLD- A few years ago, a group calling itself Clean Sweep argued that the voters of Los Angeles should defeat all the incumbents and replace them with fresh blood. On Tuesday, the results came close. There are two distinct lessons, one of which is quite ominous for elected officials. This election demonstrated the end of voter patience…
  • What Did Tuesday’s LAUSD Election Results Prove?

    Paul Hatfield
    PERSPECTIVE-Did the LAUSD election results signal a change for charter schools? Perhaps. Possibly. Maybe. You can make a decent case that Ref Rodriguez’s victory in District 5 points to strong support for charters. It was a battle between two well-funded candidates with diametrically opposed views on the issue. The effectiveness and fairness of…
  • (Train)ing Ourselves to Confront Modern Mass Transit

    Ken Alpern
    GETTING THERE FROM HERE-It's great to learn that Metro has an excellent new CEO with the hiring of Phillip A. Washington who comes to us from Denver. Following in the footsteps of his predecessors, Roger Snoble and Art Leahy, Mr. Washington has a first-rate reputation to maintain--but his first job will be to pass Measure R-2. Measure R-2 (perhaps…
  • City Controller’s Grandstanding DWP Audit is the Real Waste of Ratepayer Dollars

    Dennis Zine
    JUST THE FACTS-City Controller Ron Galperin’s Grandstanding DWP Audit results were finally released. Unfortunately, the conclusion and political spin that came afterwards from the controller was misleading. Here are the FACTS: The DWP’s Joint Training Institute and Joint Safety Institute are administered by DWP managers and representatives of the…
  • A Place Where ‘Special Interest’ is NOT a Dirty Word

    Denyse Selesnick
    MY TURN-We need to have a new word to differentiate the villainous “Special Interest” that everyone is always complaining about and the “Special Interest” that almost all of politicians and civic and social activists have adopted as a cause. It is impossible to have passion about multiple issues. I know I have mentioned this before, but it seems…
  • Alert! America’s Small Businesses are Being Screwed by Big Business

    Robert Reich
    THE ECONOMY-Can it be that America’s small businesses are finally waking up to the fact they’re being screwed by big businesses? For years, small-business groups such as the National Federation of Independent Businesses have lined up behind big businesses lobbies. (Photo: small businesses in Studio City) They’ve contributed to the same Republican…

 

  • Can Strawberries Help Fight Cancer?

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-There have been a number of studies over the years that could show evidence of strawberries fighting off cancer. Tong Chen lead a study…
  • Study: The Best Way to Quit Smoking … Bet On It

    Francie Diep
    WELLNESS-Oftentimes, money speaks louder than words. Apparently, that aphorism applies to cigarettes too. A new study finds that money incentives…
  • Exercise Can Help Anxiety … Here’s How

    Christian Cristiano
    WELLNESS-Statistics show that over 3 million American adults suffer from anxiety and there is no evidence that number will be declining any time…




Memorial Day 2015- Freedom Isn’t Free

J. Cole raps on the Letterman show: “Be Free’

The Star Spangled Banner … like you’ve never heard it before

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

LA on Edge of Bankruptcy … What Happened to the Daylight?

PERSPECTIVE - Every career politician currently serving in City Hall will deny that bankruptcy is an option for the City of Los Angeles.

Don’t get me wrong – bankruptcy is something I would like to see the city avoid, but if our present officials do not deal with growing cost of retirement and health benefits, we will head down that path.
The problem is that the City Council and Mayor live in a virtual reality where public employee unions rule at any cost.

Many experts talk about the unfunded pension liability of public retirement plans and how it will bring municipalities down.  They are correct.  Unfortunately, the solid math behind these calculations is enough to make your eyes glaze over. If you ever want to get rid of houseguests who have overstayed their welcome, just talk about unfunded liabilities and they will be out the door within five minutes. I can offer a few other accounting subjects if you are interested or just invite me over for dinner and I will guarantee that the evening will end by 9 PM.

Unfortunately, most registered voters in Los Angeles react with the same disinterest when it comes to this complex subject.  They don’t realize it is no different from the negative amortization that was at the root of much of the nation’s mortgage crisis. You can’t keep piling on accrued debt and not expect to pay the bill.

The city does not have the power to create money as the federal government does. If it does not restructure its labor contracts (either through bankruptcy or renegotiation) the only choices left are to pass these costs on to the residents in one of two ways:  higher taxes and/or fewer services.

Since higher taxes are a hard sell (and who could blame taxpayers for their reluctance to pay more for incompetence), our elected officials are committed to reducing services.

The city’s Chief Administrative Officer, Miguel Santana, projects that retirement benefits will consume over 30% of the general fund within a few short years – that’s up from 20% today. That is a 50% increase in retirement costs with no services to show for the added drain on the city’s treasury. That is a ratio the public can understand, but it underreported in the local media and rarely discussed in town hall meetings with city officials.

That’s unfortunate.

As long as they can turn the lights on, take a shower, flush the toilet and drive on the streets, residents will not care if city employee compensation is strangling the general fund. They will not notice that services and quality of life are slowly but steadily eroding.

It is what I refer to as virtual bankruptcy.  It is an insidious process that strips away expectations by gradually lowering the bar of service.  Our leaders know that and are counting on us to not compare performance levels from year to year. For example, how frequently does the average person call for assistance from the fire department?  Not very often. For most of us, we cannot recall how long it took for emergency services to respond to our last 911 call. There is no frame of reference.

Eventually, a tipping point will be reached.  It will be similar to what many of us experience around early September. After over two months of diminishing daylight we suddenly realize that the days have become shorter – no more time for an evening walk after a hard day’s work; night closes in earlier; we hunker down by 7 PM and watch one-sided cable news shows to ward off the gloom.

And just like in the Direct TV commercials, we get mad. We pick up the phone and call our city council members and give them an earful.  They finally listen because our votes cannot be taken for granted any longer. If they don’t, they end up tarred and feathered.

So, the question is, when will night fall on the City of Los Angeles?

Will it be too late before we notice?

Will we all end up in anger management?

Will our officials be tarred and feathered?

(Paul Hatfield is a CPA and serves as Treasurer for the Neighborhood Council Valley Village.  He blogs at Village to Village, contributes to CityWatch and can be reached at:  phinnoho@aol.com)
–cw

Tags: Paul Hatfield, City Hall, City Council, bankruptcy, Los Angeles, unions, LA unions, Miguel Santana







CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 39
Pub: May 15, 2012

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