By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
The staff knew of the budget crisis and the need to cut staff, she said. They’d been to retreats on this subject, and then they’d got the memos. And then Moore told us this amazing thing: This same CRA staff had, over the past eight months, been ordered to compile programs for its own attrition. Moore claimed she had no idea as to why it repeatedly failed to do so.
I wondered if I’d heard her right. Let’s see. The CRA board orders employees to decide who among them must be fired. Then its head feigns surprise that they didn’t come up with any names. Why didn’t she simply and flatly ask all redundant or incompetent CRA staffers to quit?
Actually, with two major CRA projects (Hollywood and North Hollywood) well under way and a third (East Los Angeles) almost ready to go, the CRA staff is now spread very thin. Cochran says there are only two civil engineers left on staff to handle the very considerable oversight work that remains on the Hollywood and NoHo projects.
Despite these ongoing projects, Coch ran said, "There are no long-term plans for the agency." He noted that the council keeps authorizing CRA enterprises for which there is no funding; he called this "a budget shell game." This budgetary boondoggle was reportedly a key factor in this week’s sudden retirement of CRA director John E. Molloy four days after the meeting.
But by now, the CRA’s unwinding budget tragedy is an old story: In 1995, a judgment in a suit by former Council Member Ernie Bernardi cut most of the CRA’s access to the downtown property taxes that fueled its glory years; the tax share it still manages to collect mostly goes to pay its hefty debts. Furthermore, as the Controller’s Office has repeatedly shown, the CRA is bad at collecting its own outstanding obligations, which include many defaulted community-development loans.
Further, about the time the Bernardi judgment went down, Mayor Richard Riordan decided to abstract more than $80 million from the CRA to plug his overall city budget. No wonder the appointees of the mayor — who’s sometimes seemed to favor a new redevelopment process — have been acting as though the CRA embarrassment could be wafted away by budgetary legerdemain.
But that’s wishful thinking. Recent studies suggest that the City Council, for all its inherent problems, might do a better job of running the CRA than the current board of mayoral appointees. For starters, the council, at least, represents all the city’s regions.
And it’s at least shown that it knows how to meet an annual payroll. If Dick Rior dan hasn’t been able to make the CRA run better in six years of trying, maybe it’s the council’s turn.
Something for Nothing
Last week I thought that Los Angeles County’s new Living Wage Lite law was about as bad as it could get. You’ll recall that the ordinance fails to protect part-timers — the work force’s fastest-growing segment. And also lacks an effective worker-retention measure. Upsetting enough.
But later, the ordinance was diluted even further by one of its opponents, Supervisor Don Knabe. Just after last week’s vote on the matter, Knabe managed to propose a provision that would mitigate its effectiveness even further: this by making the law inapplicable to businesses with 20 or fewer full-time employees earning under a million dollars annually; or, "if the business is a technical or professional service," $2.5 million.
What was amazing was the politics of this further omission: Knabe offered the amendment; the three liberals on the five-person board voted to accept it. But he had just voted against the entire package. So what did the majority get in return? Repeated attempts to secure a comment from the usually accessible Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky were unsuccessful.
Thus, the liberal majority agreed to dilute the already pale ordinance for the sake of someone who’d voted against it. Hey, any of you supervisors know how to play this game? Apart from Knabe, of course. Who played Supervisors Gloria Molina, Zev Yaroslavsky and Yvonne Burke for chumps.
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