Los Angeles city leaders are apparently no more responsible or accountable than the self-serving Wall Street banksters who set up America to fall with an impossible Jenga tower of home loans.
A new Los Angeles Times expose outlines a series of politically motivated, built-to-fail budget decisions by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and his lapdogs on the L.A. City Council -- ones that perfectly align with the principles of the 1 percent.
Villaraigosa has bragged about bolstering the Los Angeles Police Department with 1,000 new officers since he took office in 2005. But, seeing as we can't afford them, that decision might have doomed the safety of future generations:
Mayoral hopeful Austin Beutner, a private equity baron hired by Villaraigosa last year to help create jobs, tells the Times that "putting off personnel costs today will leave the city with fewer dollars for services in coming years."
A few of the personnel payouts currently weighing on the city credit card:
- By mid-November, officers were owed a total of 1.5 million hours of overtime, a sum worth $78 million, nearly double the amount in 2009.
- The mayor and council also have put off paying thousands of hours of sick time by increasing the amounts employees can save. The tactic will cut outlays $16.7 million over the next three years, but the cost to future city administrations has not been calculated, officials said.
- Nearly two years ago, 2,400 workers were allowed to retire up to five years ahead of schedule. That action was designed to save $1 billion in payroll costs by 2024, according to city officials. But giving pensions and retiree healthcare ahead of schedule cost $355 million in the short term -- too much for the city to absorb in a single budget year.
- The next mayor also will have to deal with pay raises negotiated in recent years. ... The first increase of 1.75% goes into effect July 1, 2013, the next mayor's first day on the job. By July 2014, two more raises totaling 5.5% will be added. When all three are in place, the raises will cost the city $60 million annually, analysts said.
Beutner has compared the city's "fraudulent" accounting practices to those at Enron.
Forget the Responsible Banking Ordinance -- a spineless peace offering that City Hall made to Occupy L.A. amid pressure from the highly publicized Occupy Wall Street movement. (And even that piece of legislation is still being watered down with further redrafting.) City politicians might need to start with an accountability ordinance for themselves.
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Villaraigosa has had his eye on Washington for a while now. He obviously doesn't want to carry a legacy of unpopular budget cuts and layoffs (like Governor Jerry Brown has had to make) into a larger-scale campaign -- so why not just leave the tab with future L.A. politicians? And the damage, of course, with future residents.
Not every elected official responsible for this mess is getting out of dodge, though. Will the City Councilmembers who held up Villaraigosa's credit bubble be held responsible for their actions?
We've begun contacting all those seeking re-election. Question of the hour: How could you possibly have thought this was a good idea? Check back for updates.