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
While not denying the severity of the crisis, the Coalition argues that the city has moved slowly in processing the early retirement of 2,400 city employees. Such inefficiency does not inspire confidence that 1,000 layoffs could be handled quickly, in the Coalition's view.
"It's ludicrous," says Victor Gordo, a Coalition lawyer. "If they can't get 2,400 people out the door voluntarily, how are they going to get 1,000 out involuntarily?"
The mayor's press conference was designed to demonstrate resolve in the face of a severe fiscal crisis — to the general public and, just as importantly, to the analysts who sit at municipal credit-rating desks at Fitch and Moody's. But Villaraigosa has also signaled that this is just the opening position in what will be a protracted negotiation.
"We don't have to go there, but I am prepared to go there," he says. "We could avoid layoffs if everybody agreed to take a cut, but there's an unwillingness to act."
Villaraigosa was booed by city employees when he addressed the council on February 9.
"There's a climate of trepidation," he acknowledged. "But it's important for us to face reality here."
As for Trutanich, Matt Szabo, Villaraigosa's deputy chief of staff, argued on February 4 that the city attorney's office was disproportionately targeted for cuts because it employs a larger portion of non-Coalition employees, who are vulnerable to layoffs this year.
Trutanich's office fired back last Friday. Carter issued a memo to employees arguing that the mayor has no authority to lay off anyone in the city attorney's office.
"The City Attorney has no intention of laying off any of our staff unless and until such action is compelled by action of the City Council as an exercise of its power over the City budget," Carter wrote.
Meanwhile, the council still has to close a budget gap far greater than can be fixed with 1,000 layoffs. Some council members, including Janice Hahn and Rosendahl, have suggested putting an array of proposed new taxes before voters.
As for Trutanich, he would do well to befriend council members. Many are sympathetic to his argument that his attorneys generate revenue from fines and collections, and therefore ought not to be let go. But council members will want some proof.
"He's a straight shooter," Rosendahl says of Trutanich. "But if he can't show us how he's going to save us money or make us money, he's going to take cuts like everyone else is."
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