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
Where does all this leave things now?
If you were an analyst at a major credit-rating agency whose job included figuring out what letter grade to assign to the city's debt, you might be a little confused.
"Hopefully, the city is committed to a fiscally responsible 2011 budget," says Ian Carroll, an analyst at Standard & Poor's in San Francisco. "Because that's what it'll take to maintain high credit quality. That's going to include a number of layoffs. The precise number is the city's call — not ours, of course."
The most significant proposals for job cuts fell on two departments: Recreation & Parks and the Library Department.
Though several city departments have grown quickly on Villaraigosa's watch, staffing in the Library Department has stayed flat. Under the mayor's proposal, which would cut 122 workers from the department, the staff would be almost 25 percent smaller than it was a decade ago. If those cuts are approved, the library plans to cut its opening hours to five days a week for the first time in the department's 140-year history.
"This is going to destroy library service," says Roy Stone, president of the Librarians' Guild. "The mayor is going to be worse than any disaster in the history of the L.A. Public Library — worse than the arson, worse than the earthquake, worse than Prop. 13. It's going to cause the library to be so depleted that it's going to take generations to recover."
The situation is a little less dire over at the Recreation & Parks Department, which would lose 93 workers. Most of those are in a program of subsidized child care. Other cuts include closing the Griffith Park Observatory on Tuesdays and ramping down other operations after the end of summer.
At the heart of such proposals is tension between cutting too little and draining the city's meager reserves — and thereby risking its credit rating — and cutting too much and laying people off for no reason. Since the future is unknowable, it comes down to which mistake you'd rather make.
"If I'm wrong, I hope I'm wrong by being a little bit too conservative," Olliff says. "But I don't want to be too conservative. There's enough problems without making them up."
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