LA WATCHDOG--Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council are at odds over how to spend almost $90 million of the $150 million that was reallocated from the Police Department to be reinvested in disadvantaged communities.
On December 21, Garcetti vetoed a proposal by the City Council to allocate $88.8 million to 132 programs and services “based on the ‘highest need’ census tracts identified by the Economic Workforce Development Department as part of their assessment of disadvantaged populations.”
Under this plan, 75% of the funds ($67 million) will go to a third of the 15 Council Districts represented by Curren Price (CD 9), Harris-Dawson (CD 8), Buscaino (CD 15), Cedillo (CD 1), and Martinez (CD 6).
However, Garcetti believed that the City Council’s plan was more business as usual and was not a “progressive vision for the future.”
“Los Angeles should be leading America by piloting bold ideas like exploring a guaranteed basic income, confronting the stark Black-White disparity among people experiencing homelessness, driving racial reconciliation, protecting jobs held by people of color with new opportunities in the City workforce, and working in closer collaboration with our communities on allocation decisions. Instead, this plan in too many places elevates what should be routine over what could be revolutionary. Where we could fund a pilot to finally begin separating police and mental health work in L.A., we are instead looking at a plan that funds more business-as-usual when Angelenos are clearly anxious and ready for fundamental change.”
On the other hand, the City Council’s proposal was focused on basic services such as the repair of streets, alleys, and sidewalks; the trimming of trees; the installation of speed bumps and left-hand turn lanes; and many other infrastructure projects that have been crowded out by ever increasing personnel costs.
According to an article by Dakota Smith of the Los Angeles Times, Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson intends to override Garcetti’s veto by rounding up ten votes because Garcetti’s letter is just a lot “progressive gobbledygook that does not mean anything.” Furthermore, who is Garcetti to question the local Councilmembers about the needs of their districts?
There are also other constituencies that have their eyes on the remaining $90 million, including the City Council which recently rejected the City Administrative Officer’s budget balancing recommendation to layoff an additional 1,051 employees of the Police Department, including 596 officers and 455 civilian employees. The allocation to the Police Department will have the backing of the Police Department and Police Protective League as well as many Angelenos, including those in disadvantaged communities, who are worried about public safety, especially given the unacceptable escalation in crime, including homicides and car jackings.
This argument over $90 million is just the beginning given that next year, the City is looking at a “budget gap” of over $1 billion. This requires the Mayor and the City Council to look at the allocation of the $90 million in light of the City’s financial crisis. And in looking at next year’s budget, Garcetti’s progressive gobbledygook will have to take a back seat to ensuring public safety, basic services, and the City’s financial integrity.
(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: email@example.com.)