In Face Of City Hall Budget Crisis, Everybody Goes To Washington

You might have gotten the idea somewhere that the city's facing a historic budget crisis with 4,000 layoffs planned, departments closing, libraries cutting hours, less cops on the beat, and fire engine companies being furloughed. But someone has yet to inform the Los Angeles City Council that a little austerity might be in order. Good thing Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's recent spending and travel freeze provided a loophole for trips to the nation's capital. Because this week it seems like everyone is going to Washington.

The city's who's who of D.C.-bound travelers includes Villaraigosa (he was just there last week; this guy moves around like a vice president during a terrorist attack), city controller Wendy Greuel, council President Eric Garcetti, Councilmember Richard Alarcón (and anyone looking for a good place to squat should note here that he's out until Thursday), Councilmember Ed Reyes and Councilmember Greig Smith. Whew. That's like 1,000 pounds of solid, grade-A, allegedly eco-conscious leadership we're shipping across the nation at taxpayer expense.

Other Washington-bound city officials include Marisela Caraballo of the Port of Los Angeles, Mitch Englander, Greig Smith's chief of staff and a City Council candidate himself, Larry Frank of the city's Workforce Investment Board, Kaylynn Kim of the Port of Los Angeles, Michael Molina of Los Angeles World Airports, and Julia Nagano of the Port of Los Angeles.

It's all for a good cause, for sure: The Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce organized the gang bang in the name of getting more federal dollars to our fair city. The Tuesday through Thursday pile-on aims to get more congressional funds for airports, tourism and the L.A. River; tax breaks for businesses, more small business loans and educational investment will also be encourage.

But really, do we need so many people there on the city dime when L.A. is facing a near $700 million deficit come July and fewer cops are on the streets?

All kinds of strange bedfellows are heading to Washington with your city representatives, too, including Thaddeus Hunter Smith of the recently renovated Music Box nightclub. Huh? And, yes, Tom Baiz of the Chicana Service Action Center, Inc. is in the house too. Powerful law and P.R. firms will be on those planes. And reps from the Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, South Coast Air Quality Management District, Southern California Edison, Metropolitan Transportation Authority, and the Los Angeles Community College District were onboard.

In all, more than 200 people are headed to D.C. for what feels like spring break for City Hall and the people who feed it. It's North by Northwest for the big kids. See the full list (PDF).


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