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L.A.'s $350 Million Deficit Explained: City Employees Spent Years Collecting $215 Fine from Franklin Hanock. But He'd Already Paid.

An employee mans Los Angeles City Hall's state-of-the-art collections system.
An employee mans Los Angeles City Hall's state-of-the-art collections system.

Valley Village resident Franklin Hanock, featured in an L.A. Daily News column by Kerry Cavanaugh, says "Where [LA] is heading scares the hell out of me."

He got a $125 fine for a malfunctioning burglar alarm that went off in 2008. He decided to challenge it. His odyssey reveals the inability of wildly inefficient staffers at the L.A. Department of Finance (Van Nuys and downtown), the "Alarm Section," and the Police Commission to grasp that Hanock changed his mind and paid the $215 in 2010. Baffled city staffers sicced a collection agency on Hanock and twisted themselves in knots of pointless paperwork. You're paying for this.

Ever see that brilliant, dark movie "Brazil"?

Cavanaugh offers a dystopian look at why the Los Angeles City Council and Antonio Villaraigosa's huge administration face a $350 million deficit, yet can't figure out how to collect $500 million in unpaid debt from L.A. citizens and businesses.

Los Angeles City Council at a pressing luncheon.
Los Angeles City Council at a pressing luncheon.

As the L.A. Weekly showed, in the absolute must-read cover story "Los Angeles on $300,000 a Year," the City Council does have loads of free time.

The 15 council members spend every Friday in Council Chambers awarding plaques and "honoring" movie stars, helpful citizens, childrens' groups and the like.

Hours of this, every week. Year in and out. All 15 members. The one you voted for, included.

But the 15 and Villaraigosa cannot bring themselves to put in the elbow grease needed, the brainpower required, actually do their jobs, and enact the measures and reshape the broken city departments so as to be able to collect the $500 million.

Several measures designed to snag a lot of the uncollected $500 million were recommended five months ago by CORE, the city's hapless and powerless "Commission on Revenue Efficiency."

Lost in the vastness of Los Angeles' bureaucracy.
Lost in the vastness of Los Angeles' bureaucracy.

Terry Gilliam's movie "Brazil" had a Ministry of Information whose sub-ministry, "Information Retrieval," oversaw the Departments of Records, Information Adjustments and Information Transit -- and the torture of the citizens.

Kinda makes you think of the crowd over at First and Spring doesn't it?

As of the fiscal year beginning on July 1, Villaraigosa and the 15 City Council members will be overspending by $1.095 million a day.

Trapped in red tape of their own making.
Trapped in red tape of their own making.

$1.095 million. A day.

And wringing their hands over and over about the $500 million in unpaid fees, fines and taxes that they will probably never get their act together to collect.

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