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Transferring Jobs No Panacea For City Budget Crunch

On a week when Los Angeles city administrative officer Miguel Santana expressed optimism that half of the city's planned 1,000 layoffs could be spared through job transfers to independent city departments such as LAX, the L.A. Daily Breeze reported that only 86 open positions could be found for city hands identified as layoff targets.

That harsh reality apparently got the reality-challenged City Council, which has yet to endorse layoffs or any serious elimination of city departments, worked up like a crazy American Idol contestant with no talent. "We're in a fiscal crisis and we want you to look with more than double vision, really scrub your departments," said Councilwoman Janice Hahn, according to the Breeze.

The quasi-independent departments with deep pockets include Los Angeles World Airports (LAX, et. al.), the Port of Los Angeles and the Department of Water and Power. But they've all had budget crunches of their own as a result of the same economy that has reduced city tax revenues.

"We're not in a position to have people working here that we don't need," Airport Commissioner Walter Zifkin said at a commission meeting, the paper reports. "We would be doing a disservice to our responsibility by employing people here that we don't really need."

Indeed, the council's delusional, make-work solution smacks of old-school union cronyism, but it doesn't help solve the core math of not enough money coming in and too much going out -- a solution the city needs to look at for long-term fiscal health. L.A. is battling a $212 million deficit and an additional $485 million in red ink looms in July. Shifting workers around is baby Band-Aid solution for an arterial wound.

The council's wack-a-mole approach assumes that any old worker will do for any open job in the city. But as LAX executive director Gina Marie Lindsey pointed out, the reality of employing people at a complex operation such as the world's sixth-busiest airport is not so simple.

" ... We are trying to staff appropriately," she said. "We are not filling every vacancy we have."


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