“From down here on Skid Row, taking 10 percent from their own budget tells me they’re out of touch with what’s happening in their own city,” says Alice Callahan, an Episcopalian priest who works with the homeless. “The wheels at the Los Angeles City Hall just turn and turn, but no one is ever held accountable for anything that goes wrong. And now there is no civic brain to save them.”
From a different political view, Doug McIntyre, the morning drive-time host on Talk Radio KABC, who often focuses on City Hall, says the council is so fiscally inept that L.A. may need to undergo a cathartic near-death experience, then chart a new path of fiscal responsibility — much as New York City did after its mid-’70s meltdown.
“Hey, I’m not rooting for L.A. to fail... [But] I think it has failed,” he says. “City Hall made deals they can’t pay, pensions they can’t pay. Who is going to tell the people that?”
Garcetti says the council has been proactive, giving up “more than $6 million from our office budgets in the last fiscal year and this fiscal year.” And Hollywood-area council member Tom LaBonge sounds almost wistful, talking of how he “started here as a city council aide making $18,000 in 1976. I’m making a little more now, but this is a fiscal emergency and we all have to share in the sacrifice.”
But as of now, only Valley council member Dennis Zine — who enjoys an LAPD pension on top of his council pay — voluntarily took a modest 10 percent pay cut of about $18,000. Zine hopes the other 14 members will set an example “in tough times,” but he may be hoping for a while.