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Sat, Jan

LA’s Abbey: The Plot Thickens

PERSPECTIVE - There is no apparent heir to the estate of Los Angeles Abbey. The leadership vacuum that will be left in the wake of the current lord’s departure (as if there was any leadership in the first place), will be filled through a process only the Dowager Countess of Grantham would appreciate. 

 

After the relative pleasantries of the primary – which resembled an Edwardian dinner party with only an occasionally thinly disguised barb spoken around the table – the gloves are coming off and the maids and butlers are choosing sides. Former mayoral candidate Emmanuel Pleitez has already endorsed Garcetti. Kevin James and Jan Perry are deliberating. Together, they have the potential to swing about one-third of the vote – which could be a knockout punch to either of the candidates. 

The first major accusation of the campaign was hurled by Wendy Greuel. She all but accused Eric Garcetti of being public enemy number one of the city’s unions. That would not be too far from saying President Obama is opposed to immigration reform. 

As reported by the Los Angeles Times, Greuel compared Garcetti to Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. The article went on to report she would reopen negotiations that could lead to a rollback of retirement terms offered to new employees. The rules governing new employees amount to almost no savings in the short-run; they would take 20-30 years to make a meaningful difference in pension and health benefits costs. 

Greuel has also unequivocally offered her support to the public unions in general. 

“I’m gonna stand with labor, not stand up to labor,” she told the L.A. County Federation of Labor. 

She tried to qualify her remarks after the news broke, claiming she had failed to read the complete text of her statement. Right, the “press release controller” cannot read a prepared statement. 

Greuel claims she is in favor of the terms offered new employees – it is just that she believes they were not secured through collective bargaining. However, she was as quiet as a mouse at Downton Abbey when the issue was before the City Council last fall. And these changes had been under discussion long before that. 

As City Controller, she was free to weigh in on any development affecting the city’s finances, or at least that is what a controller should do. She could have vocally opposed it and raised public awareness if she had truly thought an injustice had been done. Avoiding controversy is Greuel’s style, unless there is payola involved….or maybe a dowry from the unions for her ladyship’s loyalty. 

By contrast, Garcetti took a stand and supported the passage of the limited reforms. Granted, there is much more needed to protect the taxpayers from the fastest growing segment of the city’s budget; Garcetti is learning just how difficult that will be. Maria Elena Durazo of the LA County Federation of Labor lambasted the Councilman in a letter to the editor in today’s Times: “Garcetti’s dishonesty on this issue is a major factor in our deliberations on who is the best choice for mayor.” 

With that much blowback on such a small, very reasonable piece of reform, just what does Greuel think she is going to achieve by reopening talks? 

If you are thinking that Greuel will secure anything more than window dressing when it comes to compensation and benefit reforms, then you can “fogettaboutit,” as they used to say in another popular series about an extended family.

 

(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: [email protected]) –cw

  

 

CityWatch

Vol 11 Issue 24

Pub: Mar 22, 2013