LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti, City Council President Herb Wesson, and Councilmen Paul Koretz and Paul Krekorian knew well in advance that the new labor agreements would blow a $1.4 billion hole in the City’s budget over the next five years. And now they are trying to ignore and coverup the fiasco they created.
In August and September, Paul Koretz and his Personnel Committee held slap dash hearings on these back room deals where information was less than transparent and public comment was limited.
Paul Krekorian and his Budget and Finance Committee did not even hold any meetings to discuss and consider these budget busting labor contracts with the police, firefighters, and several civilian employee unions.
City Council President Herb Wesson aided in this coverup by railroading these overly generous contracts through the City Council without any discussion or public comment.
[No wonder the police and firefighter unions endorsed Wesson for County Supervisor.]
Without any hesitation, Mayor Garcetti approved these contracts, knowing full well that these labor agreements would cost a princely fortune and result in a river of red ink. But like the labor contracts for the Los Angeles Unified School District, Garcetti was and is relying on a “Leap of Faith” to finance these fiscally irresponsible contracts.
No wonder Angelenos do not trust the less than transparent City Hall that covers up budget busting labor contracts negotiated behind closed doors with campaign funding labor bosses.
This financial fiasco is proof positive why we need real time oversight of the City’s budget and finances.
One possibility is the creation of an independent and well financed Office of Transparency and Accountability (“OTA”) that was proposed by the LA 2020 Commission in 2014. But this idea never saw the light of day as it was buried by City Council President Herb Wesson despite his endorsement at the press conference where this idea was introduced.
The OTA would oversee and analyze - in real time - the City’s budget and finances, including its two underfunded pension plans, its deteriorating infrastructure, and the efficiency of the City’s operations, including Public Works, the Department of Transportation, and the Police and Fire departments. It would also, among other things, take a proactive role in analyzing ordinances and policies that impacted the City’s budget and finances.
The OTA is not a foreign or off the wall concept, but similar to the State’s Legislative Analyst’s Office, the Congressional Budget Office, and New York City’s Independent Budget Office.
Importantly, the OTA would be a source of unbiased information for Angelenos, Neighborhood Councils, and the media.
Without doubt, Mayor Garcetti, the Herb Wesson led City Council, and the rest of the City Hall establishment, including the leaders of the public sector unions, will oppose increased transparency and oversight because it will result in the shutdown of their gravy train that is fueled by our hard earned cash.
But until we have meaningful budget and financial reform, we can send a message to City Hall that “We Know” by voting NO on any tax increases, including any “Leap of Faith” financing scheme proposed or endorsed by the silver tongued Mayor Eric Garcetti who is the primary culprit for this budget fiasco.
The following articles were published in CityWatch since the October 24th release of the First Financial Status Report that exposed the estimated $200 million budget deficit for this fiscal year and the budget deficits ranging $200 to $400 million for each of the four years
31 OCTOBER 2019
14 NOVEMBER 2019
18 NOVEMBER 2019
21 NOVEMBER 2019
(Jack Humphreville writes LA Watchdog for CityWatch. He is the President of the DWP Advocacy Committee and is the Budget and DWP representative for the Greater Wilshire Neighborhood Council. He is a Neighborhood Council Budget Advocate. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)