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
Weiss, who was busy campaigning for city attorney, issued a statement late last Tuesday afternoon that he had decided to take a voluntary pay cut — of 2.5 percent.
His press secretary, Lisa Hanson, explained that Weiss, who was one of those who declined the relatively recent $7,100 raise, was now following the mayor’s request last Monday that each “city worker” take one hour off their 40-hour work week. And after all, a City Council member is a city worker — even if the City Council does earn 400 percent of Los Angeles median household income.
“One-fortieth [one unpaid hour per week] calculated out to be 2.5 percent,” Hanson said.
But community activists say the council members should be considering much higher cuts. “A council member’s family can live well on $100,000,” Callahan said. “We don’t want our City Council members so worried about personal income that they take bribes or take night jobs, but $180,000 is too much money.”
And Dan Wright, a land-use attorney and community activist from the Mt. Washington area, said it is important for the City Council to share in the deep financial pain that is spreading throughout L.A.
“Leadership begins at the top, so it would be a symbolically important gesture,” Wright said. “But it is not going to solve the budget crisis.”
Council President Eric Garcetti signaled that the council was bowing to the new fiscal realities last Wednesday morning, when he didn’t even wait for the Weekly to finish asking whether the council should take a pay cut. “Whatever we’re asking of our city employees, we have to mirror on the council,” Garcetti said. “If that means furloughs, if that means salary cuts, or if that means changing the way our pensions are calculated, then that’s what we’ll do.”
Garcetti, however, said he preferred to wait for the mayor’s new budget before committing to a specific percentage.
“We know it’s a tough time, and we know we have to do more with less,” he said. “But we haven’t finalized negotiations with the unions so I think it would be unfair to ask the council to take a blank cut at this time.”
The bottom line for the council, he said, is simple: “Our salary cuts have to be at least as high as what we’re asking of our employees.”
Doug McIntyre, a talk-radio host at KABC, who frequently features experts on the problems besetting City Hall, said that while the council is clearly overpaid, “If they take a 25 percent cut, a 50 percent cut or even 100 percent, it’s largely symbolic, which sometimes you need to do. . Let’s say they finally give 25 percent back. That’s still chump change compared to what they’re costing us every year by passing all this crazy spending.”
In fact, McIntyre said, he has a better suggestion. “I’ll give them a 100 percent raise if they just stop passing laws,” he said. “I would tell them, ‘Why don’t you guys go home for a year?’ It would do more to balance the budget than anything else they could possibly do.”
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