LA WATCHDOG-The candidates looking to replace the termed out Tom LaBonge in Council District 4 each tell us that they will fix our streets and sidewalks, protect our neighborhoods from overdevelopment, relieve traffic congestion, restore City services, and improve public safety.
But they fail to tell us how they will pay for all of these promises, a not so minor problem since the City’s finances and operations are an absolute mess.
The City’s Structural Deficit is projected to total $425 million over the next three years, including $165 million of red ink next year.
The City has long term liabilities of $25 billion (unfunded pension liabilities, deferred maintenance on our infrastructure, and existing debt) and no plan for paying down this mountain of debt that will swamp the next generations of Angelenos.
The City’s inefficient operations are wasting hundreds of millions of dollars a year as they are burdened by poor management, excessive overhead, a bloated bureaucracy, overly restrictive work rules, Stone Age management information systems, and know-it-all Councilmembers.
This begs the question: who of the 14 candidates to replace Tom LaBonge deserves our votes?
None of the top six fund raisers (David Ryu, Carolyn Ramsay, Steve Veres, Wally Knox, Teddy Davis, and Joan Pelico) have offered any real solutions to eliminate the Structural Deficit, finance the repair and maintenance of our streets and sidewalks, fund our shortchanged pension plans, or rationalize the City’s operations.
Rather, they deal in platitudes since they are too close to the City Hall and Sacramento political establishments, making them part of the problem and not part of the solution.
For example, none of the top six fund raisers have called for Council President Herb Wesson and the City Council to consider the recommendations of the LA 2020 Commission regarding the Office of Transparency and Accountability to oversee the City’s budget, the Commission on Retirement Security to review the City’s two underfunded pension plans, or the Los Angeles Utility Rate Commission that would limit political interference in the affairs of our Department of Water and Power.
Only three candidates have specific recommendations for reforming the City’s budget and its operations on their web sites: Tomas O’Grady, Sheila Irani, and the underfunded Fred Mariscal . Interestingly, they are not part of the political establishment, but are products of the private sector with fresh ideas where balanced budgets are mandated.
While their specific ideas and solutions may differ, these three candidates agree that we cannot continue with the current system where the City refuses to engage in long term planning and relies on accounting gimmicks to balance the budget. Rather, there is a need for an open and transparent discussion of the City’s finances, its operations, and personnel costs (salaries, pensions, and benefits) with the idea that the City must embrace real reform in order to gain the trust of the voters.
Needless to say, the idea of transparency and reform will not be well received by the City Council or the leadership of the City public unions.
But City Hall and their cronies need to realize that it is our City and they work for us, not the other way around.
Voters of Council District 4 have the opportunity to send a message to the rest of the City by electing a non-establishment candidate who endorses reform of our City’s upside down finances and inefficient operations.
That is why we need to support Tomas O’Grady and Sheila Irani for City Council.
On a side note, Steve Veres is trying to buy the election with the help of his boss, State Senate leader Kevin de Leon, and a gaggle of Sacramento politicians. He has benefited from a large network of out of district, big ticket contributors, many of whom benefit financially from their relationships to the political establishment.
An Independent Expenditure Committee supporting Veres has also been established, funded by contributors who have contracts with the Los Angeles Community College District where Veres is an elected Trustee. Needless to say, this raises many questions as to Veres’ qualifications to represent Council District 4 and the City.
Vol 13 Issue 14
Pub: Feb 17, 2015