Thu05282015

Last updateMon, 25 May 2015 2pm

LOS ANGELES Thursday, May 28th 2015 12:52

WAGE RAISE RAGE

  • WHO WE ARE-Nearly half of Los Angeles just gave itself a raise. Following a wave of state and local minimum-wage bills and initiatives, Los Angeles became one of the largest cities to dramatically raise its hourly base pay and join Seattle to hit the magic $15-an-hour demand pushed by labor and community groups nationwide. The City Council…
  • ​City Snookered by Westfield Billionaires

    Jack Humphreville
    LA WATCHDOG-In March of 2014, the Herb Wesson led City Council and Mayor Eric Garcetti approved a 25 year, $48 million giveaway to help the $28.5 billion Westfield Corporation finance its $250 million development, The Village at Westfield Topanga. (Photo) But this subsidy championed by Councilman Bob Blumenfield was hardly necessary as The Village…
  • Slick With Denial: ‘Self-Regulation’ and the Latest Oil Spill

    Judith Lewis Mernit
    HISTORY LESSONS IGNORED-On Wednesday, May 20, the day after a Santa Barbara County fire inspector discovered a stream of contaminated crude oil flowing onto a pristine segment of the Southern California coast, a group of researchers published a study linking the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill to a mass die-off of bottlenose dolphins. The 46…
  • Scaremongering about the Patriot Act Sunset

    Jameel Jaffer
    FALSE CLAIMS EXPOSED-In a last-ditch effort to scare lawmakers into preserving unpopular and much-abused surveillance authorities, the Senate Republican leadership and some intelligence officials are warning that allowing Section 215 of the Patriot Act to sunset would compromise national security. (One particularly crass example from Senator…
  • Still the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave

    Ken Alpern
    ALPERN AT LARGE-It's been another year and another successful Flag Placement at the West Los Angeles National Cemetery. Crawling out of bed in the morning on a holiday weekend to show up bright and early for a show of American patriotism and respect to our veterans and fallen heroes, the region and nation saw yet again how the Boy Scouts, Girl…
  • Retaliation: VA Police Target Veterans

    Robert L. Rosebrock
    LOS ANGELES – Recently, I was interviewed by John Ismay, an Iraqi War Veteran who is the “Veterans and Military Issues Reporter” for Southern California Public Radio. We met at the Los Angeles VA to discuss the never-ending misappropriation of land at this largest VA in the nation, within our nation’s capital for homeless Veterans. We were…
  • 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…




ICYMI-Amy Schumer shows Dave her vagina

Remembering Ann Meara: 1929-2015

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

 

 

 

 

  

 

 

 

Who Is Going to Represent Us?

LA WATCHDOG -On Friday, May 4, at the invitation of City Council’s Budget and Finance Committee, 12 representatives of the Coalition of LA City Unions made an unprecedented presentation to this committee in an attempt to avert the layoff of 231 City employees.

And while this informative two hour presentation was designed to provoke further dialogue and negotiations with the Mayor and the City Council, what was also interesting is what was not discussed on the floor of the City Council.  

The well prepared union representatives rightfully claimed that the proposed layoffs would result in an even further lessening of City services.  Even wannabe-mayor Controller Wendy Greuel intervened with a four minute speech saying that layoffs were not the solution, once again invoking her old standby line of waste, fraud, and abuse.


There was also the very valid discussion of how it makes little sense for the LAPD to replace 157 knowledgeable civilian workers with specialized expertise with higher paid, but inexperienced police officers, especially when those officers should be on the street.

The union representatives referenced their history of helping “balance” past budgets, whether through the elimination of almost 5,000 positions through early retirements and transfers to proprietary and special revenue departments, or through contract modifications that lowered the City’s projected contributions for pensions and health care.  

But most of the two hour presentation focused on the Coalition’s ten solutions designed to provide the City with over $100 million in savings and revenues, more than enough to offset the $20 million “savings” from the proposed layoffs.

The most significant and intriguing solution, the “sweeping” of appropriated and encumbered but unspent funds from City departments would result in a cash infusion into the General Fund of $60 million.

Other solutions for the General Fund included the implementation of recommendations by the Commission on Revenue Efficiency ($10-$25 million), the more efficient collection of reimbursements for ambulance services ($11 million), borrowings to finance capital improvements ($7.5 million), lower contributions to the Reserve Fund ($9 million), and voluntary ambulance and first aid fees ($10 million).

However, and most importantly, there was no discussion about how to eliminate the Structural Deficit, where the City’s expenditures are growing faster than its revenues, where the average deficit over the following four years exceeds $250 million a year, and where the four year cumulative deficit is more than $1 billion.

And underlying the rapid increase in expenditures is the out of control escalation in salaries, medical benefits, and pension contributions.  

During the profligate Villaraigosa era, personnel expense has increased by estimated $1.3 billion, where salaries (excluding overtime) have increased by almost 25% and benefits have increased by 50%.  And when combined with the projected increases over the next four years, the total increase in salaries, benefits, pensions, and workers’ compensation will more than likely exceed a whopping $2 billion, crowding out most other programs, including the repair and maintenance of our streets and infrastructure.  

Nor was there any conversation about the desperate need for money to repair our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure such as our streets, sidewalks, curbs, parks, buildings and facilities, street lights, and information technology systems.  

Nor was there any discussion about the Early Retirement Incentive Program where 2,400 employees were offered over $350 million in retirement benefits plus another $30-50 million in cash to retire early, a total package approaching $170,000 per early retiree.

Nor was there any discussion about the shenanigans and gimmicks employed by the City to lower its contributions to its two pension plans that are already $10 billion underwater, and that is assuming overly optimistic investment returns.

Nor was there any discussion about interim budget solutions if the City fails to meet its overly aggressive revenue goals or the gimmicky solutions fail to generate the necessary cash.

But the utter lack of any concrete analysis and discussion about the Mayor’s Proposed Budget and the City’s pending insolvency is not surprising since the Mayor, City Council President Herb Wesson, and their cronies on the City Council have all agreed to “kick the can down the road” for another year so as not to upset the apple cart during an election year.  

We have already seen some showboating by mayoral candidates Eric Garcetti and Wendy Greuel, but neither has offered any meaningful solutions to the City’s Structural Deficit or pending insolvency because those solutions would upset their Partners in Labor, the campaign funding unions.

Rather, we have seen the Coalition of LA City Unions flex their political muscles on the floor of the City Council as its dozen representatives made an “historic” two hour presentation to the members of the Budget and Finance Committee.  

So who is representing us, the 99% who do not occupy City Hall, who have zero control over the City’s out of control spending, and who have to endure our lunar cratered streets?

And do you trust the Mayor and the members of the City Council who have been kissing the rings of the campaign funding unions?   

Angelenos must demand that the City reform its finances by placing a charter amendment on the ballot that requires the City to “Live Within its Means,” where multiyear budgets are balanced based on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, where our infrastructure is repaired and maintained, where our pension plans are funded, and where no new spending is authorized unless there is actual funding.

While it is unlikely that we can toss the fiscally irresponsible bums out of office given the financial muscle of the campaign funding unions, we can flex our muscles at the ballot box by rejecting any increases in taxes and fees.

Without real reform, the Mayor, the City Council, and the other City Hall ring kissers can say goodbye to any new taxes and fees.  

(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and the Ratepayer Advocate for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. Humphreville is the publisher of the Recycler -- www.recycler.com. He can be reached at:   lajack@gmail.com) –cw

Tags: Jack Humphreville, LA Watchdog, LA Unions, City Budget, City Council, Mayor Villaraigosa, LAPD, Wendy Greuel, Eric Garcetti, union campaign support, union campaign contributions










CityWatch
Vol 10 Issue 39
Pub: May 15, 2012

 

Share