Once upon a time there was a big-city mayor who ignored a looming budget deficit by trekking to Europe, appearing on a soap opera and hosting an Oscar party. He avoided the problem until last-minute, when it was almost too late. But the mayor had a plan. He would raise taxes indirectly through Department of Water and Power rate hikes while also laying off workers who aren't part of powerful unions with political pull.
That's a story that librarians were telling Sunday morning outside Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa's official residence in Windsor Square. In a demonstration against the mayor's planned layoffs of 160 library workers -- and against the reduction of library hours, including Sunday closures -- librarians read to children on a lawn outside Villaraigosa's house.
"If the mayor is successful in his effort to slash the library budget, we will have hardly any library services available in any community,'' said Roy Stone, president of the Librarians' Guild, AFSCME Local 2626. "The mayor will single-handedly be the most destructive force in the history of the Los Angeles Public Library System."
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The city is facing a $222 million deficit, with another $485 million in red ink expected to hit come July 1.